Appalachia Folklore

Horseshoes Are Lucky


Horseshoes are lucky-at least they’re supposed to be. My Granny Gazzie had horseshoes wrapped in aluminum foil above a few of her doorways. Seems like I remember at least 2: one in the kitchen and one at the front door. You’re supposed to hang them with the curve facing down and the two sides facing up so all that good luck doesn’t just poor out.

I found the horseshoe in the photo several years ago in Pap’s big garden. Pap said it probably came off his Grandpa’s horse or mule. Since I found it-it’s been hanging outside my front door.

According to Frank C. Brown’s Collection of NC Folklore:

  • You know the old saying if the sun is shining while it’s raining it means the Devil is beating his wife? I’ve heard that all my life, but not this part: if you lay an old horseshoe on the ground place a white cloth over it and put your ear to the cloth you can hear the beating. I’m not sure I want to hear actually hear the Devil beating his wife, but hmm…it is tempting.
  • To ward off evil carry a horseshoe nail. (I used to have a ring made from a horseshoe nail have you ever seen one of those?)
  • Nail a horseshoe to the hog trough to protect the hogs.
  • While churning butter if it fails to come and gather put a horseshoe in the fire.
  • If you find a horseshoe hang it in a tree for good luck.
  • Horseshoes nailed above the door will keep conjuring spirits out.
  • A horseshoe can be placed in the fire to protect your sheep herd.
  • Place a horseshoe at the bottom of your bed to ward off evil.

Unless you have horses yourself, its not as common for folks to come in contact with horseshoes today, especially old ones. Makes me wonder if kids today would know what an aluminum foil covered horseshoe hanging above a door means.


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  • Reply
    lynn legge
    July 27, 2018 at 5:02 am

    aww tipper I love these folklore posts….and I would love a you was from paps garden..just think of the stories it could tell. I find these are really the treasures that make our lives full. remembering the past and actually being able to hold something from a long ago time and place…hope you and yours have a wonderful weekend….sending love and big ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    July 26, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    I’ve found a few horseshoes around the place, and it’s been ages since there were horses here so the shoes must be pretty old. Keep thinking I’ll hang them up by the doors and maybe now that you’ve brought it up, I’ll finally get around to it. Goodness knows I can always use good luck!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    July 25, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    Ever so often when Mom was in her sprucing up moods…she took her horseshoes off the nails over the doors..and her iron (arns) that propped up her cookbooks and a few old cast iron flower pots…and gave them a new coat of flat black paint…Some of the old pots had some holes in just the right places and were repurposed for her flowers…she brought all this from her Mother’s old home…We found an aluminum small horseshoe in a load of compost we purchased a few years ago…It was a small on so guess it was for a pony…I had never seen an aluminum ponyshoe…LOL
    Thanks for the memories…

  • Reply
    Melissa P. (Misplaced Southerner)
    July 25, 2018 at 1:57 pm

    I find that having the actual horse is pretty darned lucky, too!

  • Reply
    July 25, 2018 at 9:22 am

    And here all these years I been thinkin’ the Devil WAS a woman. Now I find out she has a wife? Must be modern times with same sex marriage and what not.

  • Reply
    July 25, 2018 at 9:13 am

    I’ve always heard to hang horseshoes with the curve at the bottom so your luck won’t run out.

  • Reply
    July 25, 2018 at 8:57 am

    There used to be horseshoes hanging on nearly all my outbuilding. I don’t know what has happened to them throughout the years. One still remains nailed to the post that supports the roof on the old well box. Plenty of luck was needed to keep that old well from going dry.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 25, 2018 at 8:53 am

    I came along too late and in the wring neck of the woods to boot to hear much horse lore. The only one I know is hanging the horseshoe over the door (caulks up) for good luck. We were a lot more likely to find a mule shoe than a horseshoe.

    Grandma used a horseshoe nail to pick out nutmeats. And I have seen a few horseshoe nail rings back when.

  • Reply
    Colleen Holmes
    July 25, 2018 at 7:14 am

    Why cover a horseshoe with aluminum foil? Never heard of that before.

    • Reply
      July 25, 2018 at 7:19 am

      Colleen-I don’t know for sure but I’m thinking she did it to make it prettier or maybe cleaner 🙂

  • Reply
    aw griff
    July 25, 2018 at 7:05 am

    Some of those I’ve heard but definitely not heard the one about the devil beating his wife.
    Yes, I used to see horseshoe nail rings but not for many years. I had a different use for them. I would (borrow) them out of my Papaw’s blacksmith shop and make arrow points for my homemade crossbow.

  • Reply
    July 25, 2018 at 6:40 am

    I still find joy every spring when plowing the fields to find a horse shoe. Didn’t know that the placement of the horse shoe was important when hanging. Maybe that explains my luck.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    July 25, 2018 at 6:25 am

    I have a horse shoe nail ring! My son James is really into horses so we really started to study horse folklore which led me to blacksmith stories. The story of St. Dunstan tells one story about why horse shoes and horse shoe nails ward off evil. I also read that a horse shoe represents the waxing crescent moon.

    I can tell you that my students don’t know about horse shoes. The first time I do horse shoe folklore, they think I’m talking about the game!

    But, I bought James a horse shoe necklace made out of a horse shoe nail. I figure you need all the luck you can get.

  • Reply
    July 25, 2018 at 6:10 am

    Around here you use to see horse shoes above the door more often, but not so much anymore, funny how times change, you use to see more folks on horse back, riding down the edge of the road, not anymore. Where I was raised, there was a lot of pasture land and one of the owners had a horse he would carry in the back of his 1/2ton pickup without side boards the horse would ride back there going down the road, when he’d get to the gate, he’d stop the truck, he’d speak to the horse and the horse would spin around in the truck and jump out, stand there until the gate was open walk thru and Mr Strawn would close the gate, mount up on the saddle and go check his cows, he had several horses he’d train that way over the years, as he was getting up in age, the family begged him to buy a 4wheel and quit climbing up on those horses. Well, one day he didn’t come home and they went looking for him found him laying on the ground where he fell off, and had passed away, but he was doing what he loved and had done all his life, riding and carrying for those horses.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 25, 2018 at 5:30 am

    I would doubt that kids today would not even know what a horse shoe covered with foil is! I’ve heard all my life that a horse shoe is good luck.
    There is a horse shoe over the door to my house, it was there when I bought it. I also have one that one of the girls mounted to a hook for hanging at one of their classes at the folk school, and I have lots of good luck!

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