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The Horseshoe Theory


One wonders which requires more maintenance – a car or a horse? A car needs petrol, it needs tune-ups, oil changes, mufflers, sometimes a new battery or a new tyre, and it needs something like a tyre pressure monitor to ensure that the tyres are properly inflated. On the other hand, a horse needs food and water, it needs someone to clean up after it, it needs exercise and occasionally medical attention. And just like a car needs proper tyre care, horses need horseshoes. A horse that’s improperly shod will slip and potentially damage its hooves, like how a car without properly inflated tyres suffers a range of drawbacks, from reduced traction and poor handling to an increased risk of blowouts.

In the olden times, one of the most important roles of a blacksmith was to shoe horses. It was their job to shoe any horse that was brought to them, and some stories have taken this to extremes – in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books, the blacksmith Jason Ogg shoes Death’s horse, and even a unicorn. Likewise, mechanics have to change tyres on all sorts of vehicles, keeping them in good shape so that the vehicle is roadworthy.

One of the major differences between tyres and horseshoes is that when a horseshoe is damaged, there’s nothing to be done but to give it a new horseshoe. Another difference is that it’s easy to tell when the horseshoe isn’t its best, at least with a bit of training. Tyres are the opposite. An underinflated tyre is indistinguishable from a pumped up tyre to the human eye, which is why a tyre pressure monitoring system is so important. But once the TPMS lets you know that your tyres need some more air, you can get right on that and give that to them, keeping them in tip top condition and staving off tyre wear.