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Front Page » July 19, 2012 » Focus » A Game of Shoes
Published 1,174 days ago

A Game of Shoes

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Staff Writer

Those looking for a wholesome group activity that involves the outdoors and is also inexpensive to play may want to consider the game of horseshoes.


Horseshoes is a very old outdoor game that has its roots in ancient Greece. According to the National Horseshoe Players Assocation, discus throwing served as the initial inspiration for the game. Legend says that peasants who could not acquire proper Grecian discuses started using discarded horseshoes in their place.

By the 19th century, the game had made its way to nearly every corner of the globe. In fact, it has been said that tossing mule shoes was a favorite pasttime of Union Army soldiers during the American Civil War.

In 1869, rules were finally established in England to regulate the game. Today, the National Horseshoe Players Association (NHPA) is recognized as the governing body of the sport.


While the game of horseshoes continues to be popular around the world, not everyone follows the recognized rules of the game exactly, and many play using a variation of the rules.

One of the great things about this classic "game of shoes" is that it has a low cost of entry. It doesn't require expensive equipment, nor does playing require any special skill or expertise. It is also an activity that can be enjoyed by people of almost all ages, from the relatively young to the old.

Most people that want to play at home should probably invest in a horseshoe game set which can usually be purchased for less than $100. Most sets include two metal stakes and four horseshoes.

It is important to note that the horseshoes used in gameplay these days are not at all like those worn by animals. Game shoes are much larger and are shaped specifically for the sport.

Gameplay is relatively straightforward. Each player (or team member) stands at one stake and takes turns tossing (or pitching) a pair of horseshoes (in succession) at the opposite stake. Depending on where each shoe falls in proximity to the stake, points are tallied. The process is then repeated with the players tossing at the opposite stake. The first player (or team) that reaches a certain agreedupon point limit - which is typically 21 - wins the game.

Regulation says that the two stakes should be placed in a sand pit and located 40 feet apart. Considerations such as available yard space for a horseshoe pit and tossing distance of younger children who might want to play may need to be considered before stakes are put into place.

Those that may not have the space, money or time to set up their own horseshoe pit have the opportunity to utilize the pit located on the east side of Price City's Washington Park.


Scoring is probably the most complicated part of the game, although the rules are pretty straight forward. Some of the scoring rules are:

A shoe that comes to rest within six (6) inches of the stake has a value of one (1) point. This includes "leaners" - shoes that find themselves leaning against the stake.

If both of a player's shoes are within six (6) inches of the stake and both are closer to the stake than the opponent's shoes, then they are worth a total of two (2) points.

A ringer (when the shoe is wrapped around the stake) is worth a total of three (3) points.

If one of the player's shoes becomes a ringer, and the player's other shoe ends up falling within six (6) inches of the stake and is closer than the opponent's shoes, then the player scores four (4) points.

If each player throws a ringer, the ringers cancel completely and no points are scored for either player.

If one player throws a ringer, and the other player throws two (2) ringers, then the player that throws two ringers gets a total of three (3) points.

If a player's tossed shoe comes in contact with the opponent's shoe, and causes the shoe to slide or move within scoring range, then the game does not immediately end if the resulting score would put the opponent at or over the point limit needed to win.

Those that want more information about the sport can find more at the NHPA Website at

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