Why were only the front hooves of mules shod?
The front legs carried most of the mules’ weight, so having shoes on the hind hooves wasn’t so important; they didn’t chip and wear like the front hooves. Mules also kicked with their hind legs, so unshod hooves helped prevent injury.
Also, if mules are pastured with other horses and mules, the hind legs should be unshod. Some outfits require it.
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and vice president of the Wild West History Association. His latest book is Arizona Outlaws and Lawmen; The History Press, 2015. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or email him at email@example.com.