How to Throw A Horseshoe: Grips, Stance, and Swing 2020?

Are you planning to throw a backyard party this weekend? Indeed, you have an entire list of refreshing items ready, but will it not be monotonous without outdoor games? If you are already fishing out for some fun, then Horseshoe pitching is worth the try.

The game requires two or four players wherein they attempt to throw a horseshoe to target the stake as closely as possible. As it is one of its kind, the game will undoubtedly draw your interest to learn everything about it.

As like most of the games, tossing becomes the deciding factor. The players must throw a horseshoe after another at the opposite stake on their turns, which is reversed after an inning.

NHPA (National Horseshoe Pitchers Association) sanctioned games are played for 40 points. However, the casual backyard games are played for 21 points. In a tie-breaker match, each player can either take a half win or opt for a two-inning.

Horseshoes: Game Outline

Horseshoe Throw Game

There are two ‘pitching boxes’ of around six square-feet in a typical horseshoe pitch at the two ends of the platform. The pitching boxes consist of ‘pits,’ which measure around three by six feet and are centrally oriented, such that its longer side is in alignment with the longer edge of the pitch.

The pits are usually filled with sand, clay, or sawdust for absorbing the landing shoe’s thrust and shall match the platform’s level. A metal or hollow-steel stake of one-inch diameter is placed at either end of the courts in an inclined position, fifteen inches above the ground, in the middle of these pits.

A gap of forty feet is to be left in between the stakes. There are two strips on either side of the pitching boxes wherein the players will have to stand and pitch. The players switch alternately, tossing horseshoes aiming the stakes.

Components of horseshoes and its modification:

Base: The U-shaped middle section of the horseshoe.

Shank: The extended straight ‘arms’ from the base. They are wide and flat in most traditional horseshoes.

Heel caulk: The blunt projection on a horseshoe shank.

Hook: The caulk’s inner edge is developed in a way that helps the horseshoe remain encircled around the stake in case of scoring a ringer.

Thumb cleat: The raised ridge on the base is specially designed for a flip throw.

Edge: The sports horseshoe is different from the traditional one owing to the comfortable gripping edges for a smooth and controlled throw.

Close only counts in Horseshoes: The Scoreboard

The game requires 21 points to win. 

Six-pointers: If a player scores two ringers and the other manages to score none, six points are awarded.

Four-pointers: A ringer plus the closest shoe together can fetch four points.

Three-pointers: A ringer is awarded 3 points. A horseshoe with a straight edge that surrounds the stake and not touching it is called a ‘ringer.’ If a player scores one ringer but the other pitches two, even then three points are scored.

Two-pointers: It is scored when both the shoes are closer to the stake than the opponent.

One-pointer: If not a ringer, the shoe that is much closer to the stake scores one point. It includes ‘leaners’- shoe within six inches from the stake.

Count-All rules: Players get credit for all the points scored, maximum being six points for two ringers and minimum being zero points when the shoes are beyond six inches from the stake or outside the pit.

Cancellation rules: Horseshoe game is viewed as more fun because of the twists in its rules as it lines up the possibility to cancel out opponents’ points. Most cancellation games are played for 40 points. If both players score a ringer each, then the points are canceled out. The same is applied for all other equal plays in one turn.

Rules of Horseshoes:

Throw A Horseshoe

The best way to master any game relies on knowing the rules of it.

  • If one is aiming for league competitions, each horseshoe’s weight should be around two pounds and ten ounces, length around seven and five-eighths inches, width seven inches, and the gap no wider than three and a half inches.
  • Each player pitches two shoes in succession to one pit, called an inning.
  • The opponent is required to patiently stand at the rear of the other platform while a player is pitching.
  • Foul lines are drawn at 27 feet and 37 feet from the opposite stakes across the platforms. For adult males, pitching must be done behind 37 feet line. For women, players under 18 years of age, and the elderly, pitching needs to be done from behind the 27 feet line. A player must not cross the foul line.

To gracefully throw a horseshoe and its perfect landing around the stake needs the right style and practice, which involves three steps:


Throw a horseshoe in a manner that it encircles around the stake before coming to rest. The best way to achieve the goal is to learn about the rules governing the game, types of pitches that are usually followed, and tips to master the process with perfection. 

Flip Grip: It is seen as the most common grip for shorter courts. The horseshoe is held with thumb flat on top, index finger at the ringer breaker’s right, two fingers around the inner edge, little finger at the bottom for support. The aim is to throw a horseshoe in a way that it flips with the lugs down.

One and one-quarter turn grip: The grip requires you to hold the shank and throw a horseshoe such that it rotates one and one-fourth times in the air before smoothly landing around the stake in a ringer. The horseshoe is needed to point in a direction opposite to your handedness.

The thumb is then placed at the top with the three fingers curling up underneath, and a little finger is used to provide support. Wrist motion is restricted, and thus, the shoe lands too flat around the stake after a nice wobble flight.

Three-fourth and one and three-fourth turn grip: The shank is required to point right (left for the left-handers) throw a horseshoe in a counter-clockwise manner. Finger positions are almost the same as the above one. A little practice can help give extra control over the wobbling when the shoe flies.

The shoe held near the toe:

The shoe pitches higher in this case than one and one-quarter turn. Pitching can be made low, and the shoe wobbles nicely in flight.

The shoe held near the heel:

Gripping the shoe near the heel makes it easier and quicker to open.

Off-turns: Besides, there are single and double flop shoes, otherwise called tumble shoes. At times, a turn and a flop are combined. Reverse and backward turns are also familiar. However, all these are considered as orthodox turns.


Square Stance: The grip follows stance. It requires an erect, relaxed posture for the best shot. Usually, for a right-handed player, standing on the left side of the stake with squared shoulders (called ‘square stance’) helps to position the right arm in line with the stakes.

The reverse applies for a left-handed player. Pitching should always be done from the same side as the stakes from either end of the court.

Perfect balance: One way for a perfect stance is to shift the entire body weight on foot placed six to eight inches back of another. For a backward shoe swing, slightly bend your body forward till the waist, relaxing hip and knees.

The body weight remains on the rear foot and then is smoothly shifted to the front foot after the forward step is complete. You can straighten your body up after swinging the horseshoe and release. Perfect balance means proper coordination with precise alignment.


As ‘bowling’ is in cricket, so is ‘swinging’ in a horseshoe. Following the square stance and the desired grip, the delivery-arm will be brought backward and then swing it forward, restricting the wrist movement. Swing of a horseshoe has three types:

  • The Backswing
  • The Front-Swing
  • The Follow-Through

The right time to release the horseshoe in the swing is when it has reached your eye level.


  • Selecting a vast, open space with level patch ground is ideal for horseshoe pitching.
  • An underhand swing to arc the shoe seven to ten feet over the ground to land smoothly around the stake can give that efficient pitching you strive for.

The ideal way of manifestation of one’s skill is through sports. Practice is the key when you want to master a fun game, like throw a horseshoe. As the basics are now well versed by you, it is time to rub some dirt on your hands and start playing!

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