The horseshoe is a symbol of luck in many cultures, especially when found by chance on the trail. The fact that it is considered lucky has to do with the awe that the process of making it left on people back in the days. Horseshoes were probably some of the earliest items produced in the blacksmith, or more precisely, farrier craft. The whole procedure of heating iron with fire up to such high temperatures that it changed colour and became soft enough so as to hammer it in the shape of the horseshoe, obviously impressed people. And the fact that they were nailed to the hoofs of the animal without causing pain went further so as to even mystify some.
It is also worth noting that horseshoes also had added material value as a result of the scarcity of the metal. At some point during the Crusade periods they were said to be accepted as tax payments. As a result, iron, of which horseshoes were made, acquired, itself, spiritual value of its own and was believed to ward off evil spirits.
Further, many horseshoes had seven holes (and nails), a number which was also considered lucky at the time.
Finally, there is also a legend in the Catholic Church, dating from the 10th century, which gives further weight to the horseshoe superstition. According to it, one day the Devil walked into saint Dunstan’s shop, who was working as a blacksmith then, and asked him to shoe his horse. Dunstan pretended not to recognize him and agreed to his request, only he shoed the horseshoe on the Devil’s foot rather than the horse’s, causing great pain to him. Dunstan only agreed to remove it when the Devil promised not to enter another house with a horseshoe on the door.
So should a horseshoe be hanged with its ends pointing up or down?
It depends on where in the house one wants to place it. When held upside down it is believed to catch and hold more and more luck everyday, so most people use it as such. But when placed above the main doorway of the house, it is believed to ‘shower’ the passage below with luck and thus keeps evil out. Some people also keep horseshoes in bedrooms. In a male’s bedroom it is held pointing up, in a female’s pointing down.