2. For Want of a Nail For want of a nail, the shoe was lost; For want of the shoe, the horse was lost; For want of the horse, the rider was lost; For want of the rider, the battle was lost; For want of the battle, the kingdom was lost, And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
This rhyme appears to be an old English proverb designed to instruct blacksmith apprentices to remember to properly look after small details. In one version of the rhyme, the young apprentice fails to put a nail in a horseshoe. As a result, the knight cannot ride to battle and the kingdom is lost.