One of the best things about seeing a tattoo is talking to the person about that tattoo. The story of why someone got a tattoo is usually the best part about getting inked. People will ask you these same questions and then a conversation gets started. Every tattoo seems to be symbolic of something whether it is the person’s opinion of what it means to them or stories and lore from a long time ago telling us what the symbol represents.
One simple image that will talk about is the horseshoe tattoo. These are no different than any other symbol in that it can come with multiple meanings depending on who is wearing it and what symbolism is paired with the image. We know the horseshoe is a symbol that has stood the test of time and whether they are tattooed on your arm or hanging on your doorway, it is important to you.
In this post we will talk about the horseshoe and what the symbol means when tattooed on your body or hanging on your necklace. We will also talk about the different variations of the horseshoe tattoo and talk about what it means to those that have it. You should feel a more informed about the horseshoe tattoo meaning when you are done reading this and maybe you will be in the market for your own tattoo.
About the Horseshoe
The horseshoe is a created, mainly out of metal, to protect a horse’s hoof from being worn down. These shoes are generally nailed to the bottom of the hoof where the horse will not feel anything. The palmar surface can be compared to the human toenail. However, it is obviously much bigger and thicker.
Most horseshoes are made of aluminum or steel, but they have also been made of plastic, rubber, copper, titanium or plastic. Metal shoes are preferred for active horses participating in events like western riding, eventing, show jumping or polo. However, in sports like horseracing, the preferred horseshoe is made of aluminum to not slow the horse down.
You might be wondering, how is something so simple attached to so much symbolism? You have probably heard of a lucky horseshoe but most of us never ask where that came from.
Horseshoe Tattoo Symbolism
For starters, the horseshoe is said to bring good luck when kept as a talisman. The belief is that hanging a horseshoe with the ends up is a way to collect the good luck that happens to be floating around the area. It is also said that it is bad luck to have the horseshoe with the ends down as it empties the horseshoe of all the good luck it collected. On the other hand, some feel that turning the horseshoe upside down disperses all the collected good luck to other people.
The symbol of good luck didn’t just come out of anywhere. Blacksmiths are traditionally known to craft horseshoes. It is said that using one of the main elements, fire, was good luck so the blacksmith essentially passed on any good luck he had to the horseshoe he was crafting.
You can trace the story of the lucky horseshoe all the way back to a blacksmith named Saint Dunstan. Legend has it that he had an experience with the devil when he later became archbishop of Canterbury. This story has several versions, but they all end up the same way. No one can agree on how he did it, but it is said that Saint Dunstan was able to nail a scorching hot horseshoe to the devil’s hoof and during the time the devil was in agony from the burning pain, the hashed out a deal. The deal was the devil would never enter a home with a horseshoe above the door.
Horseshoe Tattoo Variations
This is just one story and other cultures have their own symbolism behind the horseshoe. However, depending on the culture or the objects involved in the tattoo, the meaning could change. Below are some of the variations of horseshoe tattoos that we have seen and the meanings behind them.
Horseshoe with Dreamcatcher Tattoo
The horseshoe and dreamcatcher tattoo seem to fit well together as both symbols are protecting you from unwanted energy. The dreamcatcher is used to catch any negative dreams that try to enter your mind when you are sleeping. Combine this image with the horseshoe and you have got a tattoo that represents some serious good luck.
You might also see the horseshoe with feathers around it in a representation of Native American pride. Horses were an enormous part of Native American life. To have horses meant you were wealthy. You could travel further and fight better. The symbol of the horseshoe for Native American seem to be more of an ode to their history.
Two Horseshoe Tattoo
Two horseshoes in a tattoo might symbolize a couple of things. First of all, we see a lot of matching tattoos, so a couple of besties might get two horseshoes tattooed on each other as a representation of their friendship and giving it good luck. Two horseshoes in a tattoo might also just be another way to increase the chances you are going to have good luck. The say two is better than one and those with two horseshoes tattooed on their body are really going to give that theory a shot.
Floral Horseshoe Tattoo
You might also see many versions of the horseshoe tattoo with a floral theme around it. This meaning behind this tattoo will be up to the person wearing it. You might see flowers as a means to make the image more beautiful and delicate. You might also see this variation of the horseshoe tattoo from someone that raced horses as the winner of the Kentucky Derby received the Garland of Roses.
Horseshoe with 13 Tattoo
In most cultures, the number 13 is bad luck. Friday the 13th is a day where bad things tend to happen. It is unlucky to sit 13 people at a dinner table. If you notice, not many hotels even have a 13th floor. The horseshoe tattoo with the number 13 in the middle could be a symbol of balance. The mixture of good luck from the horseshoe and bad luck from the number 13 creates sort of a Yin Yang in which we experience balance.