History of Horseshoes
Dating back as early as the second century, iron plates
or rings were nailed on horses’ feet in Western Asia and Eastern Europe. Horseshoes
is thought to have evolved from a couple of different games, the Grecian game
of discuss and the game of ring toss called Quoits. Horseshoe historians have
not been able to discover when the game of quoits or horseshoes was changed
so that it was pitched at two stakes, but it is pretty well established that
horseshoe pitching had its origin in the game of quoits and that quoits is a
modification of the ancient Grecian game of discus throwing.
Horseshoes Playing Surfaces:
You do not need to build a formal pitching court to enjoy
the game of horseshoes. The game can be played simply by driving two stakes
40 feet apart. A layer of sand around the stakes is recommended.
Horseshoes Rules of Play:
1. Horseshoe tradition holds that no contestant should
make any remarks, sounds or movements that might distract or interfere with
the opponent’s play.
2. In the course of play, no contestant should walk to the opposite stake
prior to the completion of the inning and no shoes should be removed until
the winner of points has been agreed upon by all contestants, or a decision
is rendered by a referee.
3. While not pitching, a contestant should stand on the opposite side of the
pit at least 2′ behind the opponent.
Playing the game:
1. The game is broken down into innings, each consisting
of 4 pitched horseshoes, 2 by each opponent. A coin toss determines who pitches
2. The first player will pitch both shoes and then wait while the other player
does the same. Each player must take care not to cross the foul line which
is 3′ past the stake.
3. After all shoes are pitched, both players move to the opposite stake to
determine the point allocation for that inning.
4. Games length can be limited by either a predetermined number of points
or shoes. Official horseshoe tournament play is either 40 points, or 40 shoes
(20 innings). However in backyard play, it is common to play to 15 or 21 points.
In the case of a tie in horseshoes, a two inning tie breaker is played.
1. In order to be considered for points a show must
lie within a 6″ area from the stake. The distance between the open ends
of the staked is 6″ for easy measurements.
2. If multiple shoes are within this 6″ area the closest shoe gets one
point. If one player has 2 shoes closer than the other player, it’s worth 2
3. Leaners are shoes which lean against the stake and are worth 1 point and
are considered closer than shoes on the ground.
4. Ringers are shoes which completely encircle the stake so that both ends can
be touched with a straight edge. Ringers are worth 3 points.
5. Cancellation scoring: Anytime the shoes of opposing players are equal distance
from the stake or of equal value hey cancel each other out and score no points.
A ringer can be topped or cancelled by the opposing player.
6. In order to win the game the player must reach the determined point total
or be ahead after the set number of innings.