I read somewhere that outlaws trying to escape a trailing posse put their horseshoes on backwards to fool the posse. Is this true?

I read somewhere that outlaws trying to escape a trailing posse put their horseshoes on backwards to fool the posse. Is this true?

Mike Davis
Seattle, Washington

A horse could be shod backwards but it would be uncomfortable and the animal could go only a short distance. A good horseman wouldn’t be fooled because when a horse plants its feet in a walk, trot or run, the front part digs a divot. They say when, on May 9, 1897, Fleming Parker escaped jail in Prescott, Arizona and stole Sheriff George Ruffner’s favorite horse, “Sureshot,” he put the shoes on backwards to fool his pursuers. They caught him anyway and brought him back to Prescott where he was hanged. Sureshot was never the same horse after the ordeal, and he was retired to a pasture in Phoenix at the site of today’s famous Biltmore Hotel.

What do you think?

Marshall Trimble

Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian and the Wild West History Association’s vice president. His latest book is 2018’s Arizona Oddities: A Land of Anomalies and Tamales. Send your question, with your city/state of residence, to marshall.trimble@scottsdalecc.edu or Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327.