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Why Is A Horseshoe Considered To Be Lucky?

Horseshoes protect the hooves of horses. As tradition in many cultures has it, nailing a horseshoe above the front door or on the wall of a room is thought to bring good luck. Where did this superstition come from?

In minor part, the superstition has to do with the fact that iron was considered to be a ‘lucky’ base metal. It was also attached to the hoof with seven horseshoe nails, again by tradition, and seven was considered to be a lucky number. However, the reason horseshoes are supposed to be lucky is because of the Catholic Saint Dunstan, who at one point served as the Archbishop of Canterbury in about 960 A.D.

According to legend, St. Dunstan was an extremely talented blacksmith. The devil, having heard about Dunstan’s prowess, went to Dunstan with a business proposition. The devil wanted Dunstan to shoe his horse. The wily Dunstan agreed, but instead of shoeing the horse, Dunstan nailed the horseshoe on the devil’s cloven foot. This cause the devil intense pain and Dunstan agreed to remove the horseshoe…for a price. That price was that the devil had to agree not to bother the occupants of any home that had a horseshoe affixed to a wall or door. The devil, in agony, agreed to the terms and Dunstan removed the horseshoe.

Thus, the horseshoe became a symbol for luck because St. Dunstan was said to have outwitted the devil with a horseshoe. There is some disagreement regarding which direction the horseshoe is supposed to be pointed, though. Some people maintain that the ends should be pointed up so that the luck doesn’t run out. Others maintain that the points should point downward, so the luck will cover anyone in the home or who passes through the door.

Either way, this is a superstition that is based on Catholicism. Interestingly, though much of his life is supposition, St. Dunstan was indeed a craftsman and was trained as a silversmith, before becoming a monk. Perhaps Indexer could be persuaded to write an article about St. Dunstan.

What do you think?

18 points

Written by Rex Trulove

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  1. Very interesting, I have a horse shoe that someone gave me but I haven’t put it up yet
    cause I’m trying to get my place redone where I can put it up just where I want it, but
    as far as which way to put it up I have always seen it up & not down so you got me there.

  2. Very interesting,. Thanks for sharing. The only time I know when the horseshoe brought no luck was the time when I saw someone nailing it to the door of a barn and the horseshoe fell off the nail and gave him a lump on the forehead lol I have a horseshoe on the door of my garage but I don’t know how much luck it has brought me.

    • I’ve known quite a few people who’ve used horseshoes for luck. However, I don’t think that any of them knew why horseshoes were supposed to be lucky. lol For some time, my mother even had one nailed to the door of an outhouse, which is sort of funny when you think about it.

  3. Rex, Another challenge, I see! One thing I do know about Dunstan is that he rebuked young King Edwy (or Eadwig) who was cavorting with a young women and her mother when he was supposed to be attending his coronation. By the merest of coincidences, our Siamese cat is named Edwy!

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