How to Play

Weekends are getting longer and warmer. No more time spent sitting indoors waiting out the winter months. It is officially time to get outside and have a good time. If you like competition, you should learn how to play horseshoes for some summertime fun. This is a great way to get some exercise and show off some skills. Many friends like to hang out and drink some beer while playing this friendly fun filled game. When someone gets a ringer, then this is when you know that the competition is on.

In order to compete with your friends, you need to learn how to play horseshoes. First, you need four horseshoes and two stakes. You can usually pick these up at any local retailer like Wal-Mart, or a sporting goods store should have plenty of styles. These horseshoes are actually larger than real horseshoes and they should have some weight to them. The stakes are placed into the ground approximately 50 feet apart. You should beat them down in the earth far enough to not be knocked over, however, you will need to leave enough of the stake out of the ground to hook the horseshoe. Now you are almost ready to play.

With most friendly games of horseshoes players win by reaching a score 21, but you can play to win at what ever point system you like. Players will stand at opposite ends of the stakes. The object of the game is to ring the horse shoe around the stake for the most points. Each player will have two horse shoes each. Players will toss a coin to determine who goes first. The winner of the coin toss will throw one horseshoe and determine the score, and then he/she will toss the remaining horseshoe. Scores are tallied, and then it is the next players turn. When this round is complete, it is referred to as an inning. Opponents will play until a player reaches 21 points first, but the winner also must beat their opponent by 2 points.

Scoring in Horseshoes

Ringer - 3 pointer

Leaner - 1 point

Live Horseshoe - 1 point

When learning how to play horseshoes it is important to know the terminology. Ringers are horseshoes that completely encircle the stake. Disputes can be settled by lining a straightedge up against the heel caulks, or ends of the horseshoe to make sure that they do not touch the stake. A leaner is a horseshoe that is leaning against the stake, and a live horseshoe is one in which it is within six inches of the stake. During competition only the player making the highest score per inning gets the points, or players can use the count all scoring system where points are added for each player at the end of the round. If both opponents throw ringers, then points are cancelled out. If one opponent throws two ringers and the other player throw one ringer during an inning, then the person throwing two gets three points because the other ringer cancels out their opponents ringer. This is known as a dead ringer. In the event that a tie occurs, the game continues until one player is at least 2 points ahead of the other.

To learn how to play horseshoes, you need to learn how to pitch the horseshoe. When holding the horseshoe, you should basically grab it about half way down the heel and toe caulk. Watch the instructional video below for different pitching techniques and learn how to play horseshoes like a pro.

Pitching a Horseshoe

Additional Horseshoe Information

To learn everything that there is to know about the sport of horseshoes go to the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association of America.  Here you will find more pitching techniques that will take you from an amateur to a pro.