questionswhat is a horseshoe?

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My understanding is that it prevents premature wearing down of the hoofs caused by hard surfaces. As for horsesocks. . .you did say "socks' correct? Well, I can't help you with that. The answer to your final question would apparently be, just me.

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Yes, there are horse socks http://www.whinnywarmers.com/ and horse blankets (but they usually aren't made of horsehair. Neither are horsewhips).

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Oh, my, I'm surprised that no one has offered up horseshoe crabs, yet.

Yes, horseshoes are meant to protect the hooves from hard surfaces, and splitting, among other things. Here's the ubiquitous Wikipedia entry.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horseshoe

There is the immortal poem, For Want of a [Horseshoe] Nail, the Kingdom was Lost.

For Want of a Nail

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Horseshoes are not required by wild horses (obviously), and this is as much due to diet and lifestyle as anything. Their hooves are naturally worn smooth. Splitting is something that only happens through traumatic injury, unlike the domesticated horse. A good farrier is required, too. You don't want injuries due to bad shoeing.

Aren't you glad you asked?

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@woothulhu: Saw your tags, but I'm not a Sandler fan so I ignored the reference.

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@pickypickypicky: I meant here, on the question, not as a deal. Yeah, I saw those, along with all the other crazy stuff. I probably voted for some of that. I know I voted for that kind of thing, last time around, and I have the shirt to prove it. ;-}

[Edit] Yep, I checked. I voted on it (I vote on a lot of things if they make me laugh). I like voting; heck, I just voted on your comment (because it made me smile). Vote early, vote often (RIP Mayor Daley).

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@shrdlu: I always thought that was Huey Long, I stand corrected. :) I'll vote yours up as a TY.

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@pickypickypicky: Ah, yes. Huey Long was pretty funny in his own right, of course, but that phrase seems to be particularly associated with Chicago politics. Here's a link that says Daley got it from an earlier mayor, William Hale Thompson.

http://www.cs.hmc.edu/~geoff/classes/hmc.cs070.200401/votequote.html