Nineteenth Century Horseshoes

Historical Significance

The use of putting horseshoes on horses goes back to when horses were first domesticated. Domestication robs the wild horse of a wide variety of natural food that acted to harden and condition a horse’s hoof. Riding and using the horse as a pack animal put additional pressure on the hooves. Changing the environment and feed of domesticated horses resulted in hooves being prone to cracking and their feet to injury. Throughout history, man has tried using cloth or animal hide to protect the hooves of horses. Metal shoes were used as early as the 2nd century. The game of horseshoes is based on the old game of quoits when metal rings were thrown at stakes. The circular rings were replaced by a more common item, the horseshoe.

How Playing Horseshoes Relates to Tipton-Haynes

Col. John Tipton (1730-1813) owned well-known thoroughbreds. One Washington County, Tennessee tax records shows that in 1803, Col. Tipton paid on “1 stud, called Diomede.” An article in the Tennessee Historical Quarterly (Summer 1970) states that “During his retirement, John Tipton cared for his estate and bred racing horses. Tipton appreciated fine horses and owned several thoroughbreds, including Diomede which was of the celebrated Diomede imported to Virginia from England.” Other thoroughbreds Tipton owned included Don Quixote, Irish Grey, and Paunch. Horseracing was very popular in Northeast Tennessee in the early years particularly the quarter mile race.

Student Activity

Today at Tipton-Haynes we play sock horseshoes, a much safer game than using iron or steel horseshoes. Students will learn about the history behind horseshoes and the game that developed from shoes of horses. Students will learn about Colonel John Tipton and his love thoroughbreds. Also, students will learn about horseracing of Northeast Tennessee. Students will then learn the rules of sock horseshoes and will be given ample opportunities to throw and score as many points as possible.