Even an individual who has virtually no experience with horses can recognize a horseshoe when they see one. Many individuals mistakenly believe that these are simply designed to dress up of horses or that they have long been relegated to little more than symbols of good luck. The truth is, horseshoes are a vital accessory that can provide protection and safety for horses in a variety of circumstances. Long ago, horseshoes were simply rawhide devices designed to give a little extra protection to a horse's feet. Nowadays, horseshoes are made from several different materials and are designed to meet the needs of just about every circumstance.
The vast majority of horseshoes are made from steel. Steel horseshoes are extremely durable and very strong and can provide maximum protection for horses. Race horses, workhorses, and even horses used for just casual rides can benefit the protection provided by heavy steel horseshoes. Steel horseshoes are especially valuable when the horse does a lot of jumping or steeping. Regardless of the material, horseshoes are fastened in place either by nails or glue, and must be inspected regularly in order to ensure that they are doing their job properly.
Aluminum is also used in some horseshoe applications. Since they are much lighter than steel, they are often used on racehorses. Aluminum, however, is a much softer metal the steel so they are not nearly as durable and can be more expensive. Aluminum horseshoes are generally best suited for specialty applications, whereas steel horseshoes are more of an all-purpose product. Most horse owners do not shoe their horses themselves. It is important that the individual doing the horseshoeing is experienced and well-qualified in order to prevent any injury to the horse or damage to its hooves. Properly shoeing a horse can prevent injury to the end.
Lameness of horses is often caused by leg and foot injuries. Just because a horse has the proper shoes on it does not mean that it is immune from any of the most common ailments associated with these amazing animals. Whether a horse has been shoed or not, its feet must be inspected and cleaned regularly. An animal that is allowed to spend a great deal of time in moist or unsanitary conditions can get infections which can be dangerous if left untreated. It is important to regularly clean the horse's feet and inspect the shoes for damage and wear.