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The Horseshoes of Oakham Castle

By Carole Herder

During recent research in the UK, I was intrigued to travel to the quaint little village of Oakham, a couple of hours north of London. Here lies the Great Hall of Oakham Castle, built in around 1185. This was a time of fortresses, moats, drawbridges with iron chains, crusades and battles. Battles fought on horseback. And what could be better for stomping on the enemy than metal shoes? Yesiree that is truly effective.

Now here’s a question: is there any reason to do this now? Must we compromise our horse’s natural function, health and wellbeing by nailing metal into their feet? Really why, oh why are we carrying on this age old tradition? Well I suppose we’d do it if we had to win a war on horseback. Luckily we don’t.

So here at Oakham Castle is a better use for horseshoes. If you like horseshoes, you could bring them as a symbol of affection when you go to dinner at your friend’s house.
Decorate them with coats of arms, fancy crowns or any fun quirky design you like. That’s better than nailing them to the live tissue of your horse’s feet, don’t you think?

In this historic stone castle are the gifts of beautifully decorated horseshoes, a tradition with its link to the Norman French de Ferres family, who arrived in England in 1066. Of course we think this is where the word farrier came from. And talk about way back when. The oldest horseshoe presented came from Edward IV in 1470. In all shapes and sizes these metal pieces bestow their symbolism on the castle walls, somewhat beautiful to look at and quite horrendous in any other function.

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