There is no greater symbol of good luck than finding a horseshoe with the open hoof space facing toward the fortunate discoverer. No ill omens seem to be connected with this particular superstition. Even if a person merely dreams of finding a horseshoe, good luck will come to him or her. In the modern world, it is not quite as easy to find a discarded horseshoe as it was in the days before the automobile became the principal means of transportation, so perhaps the horseshoe is even luckier in the twenty-first century than it was in the past.
According to one application of the old superstition, the individuals who find a horseshoe must first examine it to see how many nails still remain in the holes. They must next count the number of holes, which then determines how many weeks, months, or years (depending upon the beliefs of the region) it will be before they will become rich or will be married. In a variation on this process, it is the number of nails remaining that must be counted to determine the length of time before good luck arrives. According to yet another interpretation, the number of nails remaining in the horseshoe indicates the number of years of good luck that the finder will enjoy. Some traditions advise that one shouldn't even bother with a found horseshoe unless it still has some nails remaining in it.
Some old accounts advise that one toss the horseshoe over the left shoulder and spit after it to increase the good luck that will soon arrive.
The last letter in the Greek alphabet, Omega, is shaped like a horseshoe, and perhaps the ancient Greeks used reverse psychology when they tacked a symbol of "the end" on their walls to protect themselves from the plague. The Romans must have thought the horseshoe was an able defender against the terrible disease, for they followed the Greek custom of placing a horseshoe on their walls.
The U-shaped image of the horseshoe was undoubtedly revered even before humans domesticated horses and shod their hooves. Many prehistoric stone monuments and structures, such as Stonehenge, are set in a horseshoe shape, quite likely associated with the early humans' attempt to trace the movements of the sun.
Nailing a horseshoe to the threshold of one's home helps to bring good fortune to the family. The horseshoe, tacked in place with three nails and the open end down, wards off evil.
In the old days, sailors used to see to it that a horseshoe was nailed to the foremast of their vessels to keep witches and wizards from cursing the voyage or damaging the ship.
Some traditions prescribe the hanging of a horseshoe in the bedroom to prevent nightmares from invading one's sleep. If the horseshoe is tacked points upward, the sleeper's masculine powers will be increased. If the sleeper is female, her latent powers will be awakened if the points are facing downward.