Even now, with our incalculably firmer-attached armature, it is well known that in the hunting-field, when crossing heavy ground, a leather sole acts like a sucker, and is almost certain to cause the shoe which covers it to be left in the mire. Suspecting once during a journey that his mule-driver had alighted to shoe his mules, in order to have an opportunity for allowing a person they met, and who was engaged in a law-suit, to speak to him, he Vespasian asked him how much he got for shoeing the mules, and insisted on having a share of the profits.
The passage in Suetonius is against such an inference. And Ribauld de la Chapelle,  in the last century, was also of opinion that the ancient Romans did not put the modern-shaped shoe on their horses or mules, but enveloped them in a sock sabot , an act indicated by the words, 'Jumentis soleas inducere. Suetonius, in commenting on the great extravagance of Nero A.
In Dion Cassius' History of Rome, it is mentioned that this Sabina had her mules shod with gold, and that the milk of 50 she-asses was devoted to her lavatory. Aldrovandus  remarks, that Suetonius, in his Life of Caligula A. He remembered when a journey was to be undertaken, if the country to be traversed was mountainous or rough, that, instead of eight, fourteen nails were to be affixed; because such ground wore away the nails rapidly. For reasons which will be hereafter given, it might be concluded, that when shoes for horses or mules are mentioned by any of the Roman or Greek writers immediately preceding or following the commencement of our era, that the modern method of applying a shoe to these animals' feet is not meant, and that there is no proof that it was known.
Columella, the agricultural writer already noticed, and who lived near the time of Augustus, prescribes a shoe or sandal of broom, or wicker-work, for lame oxen, though not for ordinary wear, but only as a surgical appliance, under the designation of solea spartea.
Theomnestus, a Greek veterinarian of the Byzantine empire, of whom extremely little is known, save what is to be casually gleaned from his vivacious writings, but who is supposed to have lived in the 6th century, speaks about excessive abrasion of the hoofs, and the application of this rush or wicker slipper.
If they the feet should inflame, let blood be abstracted from the coronets, and cause the horse to remain in a warm place where there is sunshine, or let a fire be kindled if it be winter-time, and make him a bed of dry dung, that he may not stand on what is hard. The feet may suffer in this way without being much inflamed. Let him be attended for eight days, and stand in-doors on dung; also have his water brought to him, that his hoofs by walking be not torn asunder, but may grow, being nourished by what comes from the dung. The word spartum , as used by the Greeks and Romans, was meant by them to indicate several species of plants which, like hemp or flax, could be easily manufactured into various articles of utility.
At the present day, the people of Lower Languedoc, towards Lodeve, manufacture it into various household textures, such as tablecloths, shirts, and other things, employing the bark as fuel. It is the species called by Pliny Book xxxix. This last variety certainly grows in Spain and Africa, and is there designated sparto or esparto.
As described by him Book xix. The Spaniards make of it a kind of shoes called alpergates , which form a large export commodity, being in popular demand in the Indies, where these sandals are more suitable than anything else. It is also an essential material for the fabrication of coverings for rooms, balconies, and chairs; and makes, besides, excellent panniers for mules. It is most likely that the Greeks employed the spartium and the Romans the stipa , in making shoes for their beasts of burthen.
In more modern times, however, sandals for horses have been made from spartum , as appears from J. We have already examined what Vegetius had to say about horses' feet, and their injuries from non-shoeing.
Also when his feet are worn and bruised underneath, they are washed with ox's urine made warm; then he is forced to tread upon the burning-hot embers of vine twigs, and his hoofs are anointed with tar, together with oil and hog's lard. Nevertheless, they do not go so lame if, when they are unyoked from their work, their hoofs be washed with cold water, and their pasterns and coronets, as well as the cleft of the hoof itself, be rubbed with old hog's lard. It is not improbable that the portion covering the front of the hoof may, when display was wanted, have been gilded, or covered with gold or silver, and the under portion also strengthened by gold, silver, bronze, or iron plates.
That this was the case we find amply illustrated elsewhere in Vegetius writings, where he speaks of lemnisci , which were doubtless intended to strengthen the solea , and may have been of strong leather, or even iron; a circumstance of some importance to remember. The glante ferreo is found for the first and only time here, and Bracy Clark thinks that it may have been only an insertion into, or corruption of, the text with which, by frequent transcription, the work abounds.
At the present day, in this country, what are called poultice-bags or boots, and which are made of leather, fastening with a strap round the pastern, are very frequently shod with an iron shoe to guard them from wear. There is danger of this accident proving fatal if it happen to both joints. It is proper, therefore, in the first instance, to apply wine, vinegar, or brine and vinegar; next, to use the lipara and soft applications of white plasters; and, to complete the cure, of ceruss one part, of ammoniacum one half, of myrtle-berries a sufficient quantity—then triturating the ammoniacum, mixed with the ceruss, pour upon them the myrtle, and use it.
The example is certainly, so far as I can ascertain, unique; but taken in connection with what the ancient authors have said in regard to this matter, it would appear to afford conclusive evidence. The bas-relief exhibits a chariot-race, having something of the Greek character in design.
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The upper part of his body appears to be swathed in his robe, and the reins, four in number, two in the left and two in the right hand, according to the fashion of the times, encircle his waist. The bits are the simple snaffle, and not the curb, which we know the Romans introduced; and Combe,  who has made these terra-cottas his particular study, says the instructions of Nestor,  that in turning round the goal, the right-hand horse should be urged on with a loose rein, are exactly followed in this instance.
The reverse, however, appears to be the case. Most important of all, however, for our present purpose, is the representation of what look like bandages on the fore limbs of all the horses—a little rubbed on the nearest, but certainly most distinct on the middle and left-hand horses. There is nothing of the kind on the hind limbs, and this may easily be accounted for. Admitting that these are the bands of the hippopodes, it is well known to all horsemen that the fore feet are more liable to suffer from attrition, when unshod, than the hind ones, simply because they have to support more weight and strain.
In India, for instance, cavalry and other horses are frequently only shod on the fore feet, as they require this defence; while the hinder ones can be submitted to a great deal of wear without suffering at all to the same degree. In the same collection of terra-cottas are some very fine bas-reliefs in which horses are admirably represented, but none have their limbs swathed liked these, which had probably been subjected to an extra amount of racing, being noted horses, and had consequently become foot-sore.
From the attitude of a warrior, who kneels down in front of a horse, and with his right hand seizes its right leg, while another soldier is aiding him by holding up the left one as high as the elbow, it has been conjectured that this boot is being attached to the animal's foot.
But even these defences must have been rarely resorted to, as the above are the only two instances in which there is any attempt to represent them. It may also be observed, that in the Greek or Latin languages there are no words corresponding to those we employ to designate a horse-shoe, or the artisan who applies it, and there is nothing to prove in a logical manner, in ancient history or the writings of veterinarians, that hoofs were furnished, as now-a-days, with a defence attached by nails.
As before observed, this subject has given rise to much dispute and research for very many years. Fabretti says, that among the great number of horses which occur in ancient monuments, he never saw more than one which was shod, though he made it his business to examine them all, both upon columns and other marbles. As to the mules, both male and female, they are often said by writers to have been shod. There are, nevertheless, certain and undoubted proofs that the ancients shod their horses; thus much Homer and Appian say?
Fabretti's remarks are valuable in many respects, but with regard to shoeing it can scarcely be doubted that he has allowed himself to be deceived. See above for Winckelmann's notice. For neither in the marble nor old brass statues, as it would seem, is a single thing else excepted. It would be by no means vain to assert that the Romans at this time did not shoe their war-horses, for lack of which they were not a little lightened in their work, and were less liable to receive injury from each other when at large.
This conclusion only do we arrive at, that those authors are ignorant of this matter who suppose that the application of iron shoes to the hoofs of horses was first made at the time of P. Nearer to the time of Trajan we find the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, and another marble one on the first platform of the orator's staircase, nudas ferro ungulas habent ; at the bottom, also, two statues of Trajan himself on each side of the Arch of Constantine. But lest it should be asserted that details were not intended to be shown on these statues, it so happens that the artist has designed the soles of the shoes worn by the soldiers with iron nails, which Festus and Isidorus in their Orig.
Joachim Camerarius asserts that the ancients were not accustomed to shoe their horses. Guido Pancirolus observes, that some are of this opinion, because such shoes are not seen in the equestrian statues; the reason for which was not known to him. Isaac Casaubon  was of opinion that shoeing was not known very anciently. Pegge  asserts that there is no clear, express, or positive proof that the Greeks shod their horses very anciently , or even customarily, in later times. This is scarcely correct. The use of the horse for draught and riding purposes was very limited, principally because shoeing, as now practised, was, if written testimony be accepted, unknown to the Romans.
Mules and asses were probably preferred, because their hoofs are far more strong and durable than those of horses. These animals are also much less tractable, and, as a rule, are more difficult to shoe, from their obstinate and often vicious tempers. A contrary conclusion may be inferred from several passages in the poets; and the figure of a horse in the Pompeii battle-mosaic leaves little doubt on the question. When the engraving of the Pompeii mosaic was drawn and published, shoeing had been long known in Italy.
Some years ago, while workmen were excavating on the site of that buried town, the ruins of an inn were reached, and in it were found the bodies of cars, with iron rings for fastening horses to the wall; bones of horses in the stables were also discovered, but no shoes. This sock was not permanently worn, but was put on by the driver during the journey in places or upon occasions when the state of the roads required, and taken off again when no longer necessary. Both the nature of the contrivance, showing that it was a close shoe covering the entire foot, and the practice of putting it on and removing it occasionally, is sufficiently testified by the particular terms employed to designate the object itself and the manner of applying it— mulas calceare, mulis soleas induere.
Nickard,  a careful investigator, who has examined all the accessible ancient records and monuments, in order to satisfy himself with regard to this subject; though, as an archaeologist, he has ignored this modern science. So much for the written history of this art in the ages preceding the Christian era, and for some centuries subsequently.
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Notwithstanding the various assumptions put forward by modern writers, founded on obscurely written or incorrectly rendered passages, that nail-shoeing was in use, the balance of evidence, it will be seen, is of a negative character. The frequent allusion to the injuries caused by travelling; the mention of losses incurred in war-time by the horses breaking down from over-worn hoofs; the repeated occurrence of words implying that the feet were unprotected; the studied and judicious manner in which strong hoofs are spoken of and commended by the Greek and Roman horsemen; the limited use made of the horse, with its comparatively easily damaged hoofs, and the extensive employment of the mule and ass, inferior animals, but whose feet are so much better protected by horn;—all would go to prove that no effective armature for this vulnerable part of the horse's body was then known.
At any rate, there would be no difficulty in employing it; as a rider or driver, when apprehending injury to his horse or mule, could easily apply the solea , whether of broom, leather, or other materials; though he would always have to guard against the evil results incidental to the too prolonged use, or the constriction of the bands which bound it to the limb. Had such a handicraft been in existence among them, without a doubt it would have obtained particular notice in more ways than one, but especially by the veterinary writers.
And so proud were the Romans of everything relating to the horse, that shoes on his hoofs, making him a still more perfect animal, and adding to his appearance, would have been portrayed by the chisels of their sculptors, who, faithful to their art in every respect, never omitted the most apparently trivial or minute detail from the subjects they have immortalized.
We find them, for example, giving an exact representation of the shoes worn by the soldiers, with the nails that oftentimes studded the soles; and even in the carriage-wheels depicted by them, we can see the nails or rivets which bound the iron hoops to their circumference. Yet neither in the remains of ancient sculpture, among the ruins of Persepolis, on Trajan's column, or those of Antoninus, Marcus Aurelius, and others, nor yet on the equestrian statues which still remain to us, is such a trophy of man's skill to be found.
Among the Afghan tribes, for instance, not satisfied with the natural qualities of the horn, even when best developed, the native shoers adopt the following means for increasing its resisting powers. After removing the old shoe, and cutting away enough of the superfluous growth of horn, the lower margin of the wall and the sole are pretty freely charred by a red-hot iron, and while these parts are yet in a state of partial fusion, the whole foot is dipped into a strong solution of alum.
In some of the islands of the Eastern Sea—Java, Manilla, and Singapore—where shoeing is not practised, and the small horses have no defence to their feet, the stable floors are constructed exactly as Xenophon, Varro, Columella, Palladius, or Vegetius recommends, with the object of making the horn hard and keeping it dry. Those of the latter are made of straw, and are fastened with ropes of the same to the feet of the horses, instead of iron shoes, such as ours in Europe, which are not used in this country.
As the roads are slippery and full of stones, these shoes are soon worn out, so that it is often necessary to change them. For this purpose, those who have the care of the horses always carry with them a sufficient quantity, which they affix to the portmanteaus. The frontlet has a golden or gilt horn projecting. The mane is carefully plaited, and worked in with gold and silver, as well as silken threads. The saddle, which is a Japanese imitation in leather, lacquer, and inlaid bronze, of those in use amongst the Portuguese and Spaniards in the days of Albuquerque, is a perfect work of art, and only excelled in workmanship, weight, and value by the huge stirrups.
The reins are of silk; a rich scarlet net of the same material hangs over the animal's shoulders and crupper. The saddle-cloth is a leopard's skin; and lastly, as a perfect finish, the long switch tail is encased in a blue-silk bag reaching nearly to the ground; whilst, instead of the shoes being of ordinary straw, they are made of cotton and silk interwoven. My horse's straw shoes, having already been half shuffled off, were tripping him up at every step, and compelled me to dismount in order to get rid of them altogether.
High, black, and small hoofs are with the Japanese, as with the Greeks and Romans, in most favour, and for the same reasons.