The 'Chroniques de Saint-Denis' recite some wonderful stories of Charlemagne's strength, such as his cleaving a warrior in two with a blow of his sword, and carrying a heavily-armed man by one hand. Shoeing must have been practised in his day, for tradition says of him that he bent, and even broke, with his hands alone, a shoe that had been made by a smith for his horse. He was, however, outdone by the farrier, who, to show his strength, broke in like manner the piece of gold paid him by the Emperor for his shoeing.
The revival of Celtic legends and traditions may have operated largely in infusing into Charlemagne and his successors a love of the horse and equestrian exercises—a revival due, perhaps, to the arrival of St Columbanus and his followers from Ireland. The historian Nitard is particularly careful in informing us how the two kings, Charles and Ludewig, arranged troops of cavalry, consisting of Saxons, Wascons, Austrasians, and Bretons, and manœuvred them against each other, causing them to gallop their horses fiercely, and brandish their arms.
Shoeing would therefore appear to have been practised, though perhaps only occasionally; indeed, there is some ground for believing that the Celts, Gauls, and Franks (when the latter began to avail themselves of this defence for their horses' feet), only resorted to iron plates for the hoofs of their steeds when the horn had been considerably worn way. No implements have been discovered which one might infer were employed to remove the superfluous growth consequent on the wearing of shoes, and it is not at all unlikely that the
- Martin. Hist, de France, vol. ii. p. 114.