Page:Horse shoes and horse shoeing.djvu/637

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IMPORTANCE OF SHOEING TO CIVILIZATION.

that from these people the art, more or less modified, and perhaps improved, has descended to our own days, a thousand-fold more necessary to us than it was to them. It is quite possible, and even extremely probable, that for a long period shoeing was but rarely resorted to by the people who were aware of its utility; and if, as is surmised, the art was kept a secret by the Druid priests, this may account for the Romans being unacquainted with its application for some time after their having been in contact with the so-styled barbarous nations of Gaul, Germany, and Britain. Before this device was adopted, horses must have been almost exclusively employed to carry riders, who were nearly always warriors; or to drag those light tiny chariots said to be the invention of Erichthonius, the Athenian, or their modifications—the currus arcuate, the lectica, the carpentum, and the carrucæ, which, drawn by one or more horses, were seldom used except in the Grecian or Roman games. In the heroic ages, indeed, they appear to have been almost solely employed for the speedy conveyance of warriors on the march or into action, that they might be vigorous for the fight, and attack where most suitable. When these war-chariots appear with three horses, one of that number was often a spare steed to replace either of the other two that might be disabled from wounds, or perhaps have its feet worn to the quick. For long journeys, mules were preferred either for riding or draught purposes, because of the natural thickness and resistance of their hoofs; so that it may not have been a matter of fashion, but necessity, which compelled the Roman emperors and the Roman ladies to go about in equipages drawn by mules