It is a lawn game, which makes it very attractive to families. The name is in reference to the horseshoes that are used in the game.
The horseshoes could be made from metal or plastic, although the former makes a better ringing sound. They also tend to be more durable.
Actually, the game was originally intended for just two people. But since it’s a competition between two sides, it can also be played by two teams of two people with the rest of the family cheering along the sidelines.
The origin of horseshoes was linked to quoits, which was widely played in the 19th century. However, its discovery was dated back between the 1st and 5th centuries when Romans invaded Britain.
Roman officers were known to play the game of quoits.
The goal of the game was to throw a metal or rope or rubber rings as near to a spike as possible. The spike is placed at a specific distance agreed upon.
Horseshoes are played the same way. The player will throw horseshoes at stakes.
The game became popular in the 20th century wherein matches were organized everywhere. There was no predetermined set of rules.
By that, I meant this:
The goal of the game remains the same. However, different organizers put out various specifics to the game.
So that players won’t be confused by the variety of tournaments, rules were published in newspapers.
It may be popular then
Today, not many people know a lot about the game of horseshoes. Although, U.S. president George H.W. Bush was seen playing the game at the White House.
It was President Harry Truman who had the horseshoe pit built at the White House. This was in the 1940s and horseshoe champion Jimmy Risk showed off his skills for Truman at the pit.
There is an annual competition called the NHPA (National Horseshoe Pitchers Association) World Horseshoe Tournament. This year, the competition is in Winnemucca, Nevada.
But it doesn’t have to be all that serious. You can play this game on your lawn with family and friends.
Your gatherings will never be the same again.
How Do You Play It?
As earlier mentioned, there have been many rules for the game. But since the NHPA was created, which governs the annual world tournament, a formal set of rules has been created.
Formally, this is a two-player game, so let’s look at the rules for two people:
1. Horseshoe toss
Both players will toss a horseshoe to determine who goes first. In some cases, this could be a coin toss.
2. First set of throws
The winner of the horseshoe toss will then throw the two horseshoes toward the opposite stake–one at a time. The second player will do the exact same thing.
The scores are then calculated.
This set is called an inning.
3. Second set of throws
This is done by throwing the horseshoes at the other direction or the other stake.
The goal is to make a ringer, which is when the horseshoe completely surrounds the stake. It makes a ringing sound, hence, it’s the ringer.
A ringer scores three points but it could be cancelled by the opponent’s ringer.
However, there could be questions if the horseshoe completely surrounds a stake, even if it does make a sound.
How to determine?
A tool with a straight edge, aptly referred to as straightedge, can be used to determine if the horseshoe is a ringer or not. Put the straightedge as if you are measuring the two edges, known as heel cakes, of the horseshoe.
If the ruler-like object doesn’t touch the stake, then it’s a ringer.
Other things to note:
A ringer can be cancelled out by the opponent’s ringer. However, in some tournaments, all scores are counted and totalled–the outcome will be the same in terms of winner.
Another point is awarded to a horseshoe that comes within six inches of the stake. Some tournaments also award two points when the horseshoe is leaning on the stake. The first one is called a live shoe while the other is called a leaner.
In cases of a tie, two additional innings are called for. More would be added if necessary.
Based on the NHPA rules, the first round ends with one player reaching 15 points. The game could be decided when one reaches 40 points.
Backyard games can be decided by 21 points or whatever it is the group decides.
The field or pitching box is a marked six-foot square. Inside the box are two three-by-six-foot (or less) pits where the metal stakes are found.
Outside the pit, but inside the pitching box, there are two strips to the right and left, which would indicate where the player should stand when throwing the horseshoes. The player should have both feet behind the line when throwing.
They are found in the middle of the pit. It should stick up 15 inches above ground and has a diameter of one inch. It also has a three-inch inclination towards the player.
The horseshoe is shaped exactly like the shoe of the horse but is twice as large. It can be made of metal or plastic.
In competitions, the shoe should be metal and weigh around two pounds or so. It is also seven and five-eighths inches long by seven inches wide. The gap is around three and a half inches.
Why You Should Play Horseshoes
Have you ever been to a party and just thought: This gathering is quite boring.
Don’t ever let that happen again by bringing a horseshoe set to a party.
Let’s dive in
This is a great game for your family and friends. If you have a backyard, then you are set. While this is originally a game for two people, you can always improvise the rules so you could play a team game.
It’s so much fun to just cheer for your team and jeer for the opposite side.
Don’t you think?
Most horseshoe sets come in a bag, which makes it easy for you to take it from one place to the next.
This game is really meant to be played everywhere!
We already mentioned the backyard, but you could also take this to the beach. If you want to congregate in the local park, you can do that too.
It’s just fantastic!
Not to mention, this game could also make you sweat–literally. In a way, it could be a form of exercise.
The best part is that most people could play this game–children, teenagers, adults, and seniors.
It’s definitely a great bonding experience for all members of the clan.
How to Choose a Horseshoe Set
You buy a horseshoe set because you want to have fun with friends and family. In order to maximize the fun, there are some considerations to choosing the best horseshoe set.
What’s the point of having fun when it will just be cut short? You want a set that is durable.
Some horseshoe sets are made of plastic and some are made of metal. If you choose the former, make sure that it’s not flimsy. If you prefer the latter, make sure it won’t rust.
The components of the entire set are the most important thing. But the packaging is also worth thinking about.
When we say packaging, we mean that bag or container that the set comes with. We consider this important because you should be able to play horseshoes wherever you are.
That’s why, it would be really nice if the set comes in a nice package that is easy to carry around in case you want to bring it to a party or to the park. Maybe you can even take the set to the beach.
This is not the most important thing to consider, but in case the color matters to you, then we’ve included it here anyway.
You might want something that will stand out, so think about the color that you want in horseshoes.
Look, if you are just out having fun with family and friends, you can just buy any of the horseshoe sets on the market. However, if you are thinking of having a mini competition with family and friends, then you should look for a set approved by the NHPA.
An NHPA-approved set comes with the proper measurements used in actual tournaments.
Obviously, this is an important consideration, too. You want something that is within your budget.
On the other hand, you want to make sure that you invest in a good horseshoe set. Sometimes, a great play set doesn’t come cheap. Always look for something that is value for money.
Interested in the game? Know more about it by watching this video:
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Are you looking for something fun to play in the backyard with the entire family or with friends? We’ve got you covered! We have the list of the best horseshoe sets in the market.
Further, here are some of the sets based on what you may be looking for:
Best Horseshoe Set for Durability
If you’re planning on being serious with horseshoes, then you should play with a set that has been approved and tested by the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association. Get the Baden Champions Horseshoe Set.