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Snowshoes Help Keep Horses on Top of Snow

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

A discussion – more likely an argument – among the “Ol’ Geezers” at morning coffee the other day prompted this week’s “Postcard.” Although I have run this in the Roundup before, it is worth retelling. Following last week’s major snow storm, a couple “newbies” in the group doubted my word when I mentioned that snow used to get so deep they had to put snowshoes on horses.

Of course, this prompted me to produce the following pictures and articles concerning use of Norwegian snowshoes for horses. If you have seen this story before, enjoy again. However, if you are a newbie, I hope you will enjoy this true story for the first time. 

These interesting items called “Norwegian Snowshoes for Horses” were used in the late 1800s in logging camps, mining towns and by mail carriers and freighters to help the beasts of burden trek through deep snow in Wyoming mountains.

 The snowshoes were made of heavy rope woven together to form a pad. They were then tied to the hooves of horses to provide support for winter trips over snow and drifts.

A 1900 newspaper article noted, “The roads, though packed, continue on a level with the surface of the surrounding snow, and when softened by the warm sunshine of spring, they became impassable for teams without the Norwegian snowshoes for horses.”

Another article stated, “Over the mountains piled with snow, the carrier and horses’ stride on their cumbersome shoes; bringing to those in the snowbound camps, tiding of home and the latest news.”

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