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Horseshoes Is A Sport Of Champions

Updated on July 20, 2015
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Readmikenow likes sports, professional and amateur. He especially likes sports stories of courage and overcoming adversity.

Focusing Before Tossing Horseshoe
Focusing Before Tossing Horseshoe

It's common to see the game of horseshoes being played at summer picnics, festivals and other events. There are even people who regularly play horseshoes because it's fun. It's a game that can trace its origins back to the times of ancient Rome. Horseshoes has developed into is a very competitive sport. Today, it's a game that is taken very serious by its participants. There is even a horseshoe pitching World Tournament that designates a horseshoe playing champion. This has been happening since the early 1900s.


Horseshoe pitching was a game played by Roman soldiers. At that time, it consisted of throwing a metal ring over a stake placed in the ground. The officers of the Roman army played a very similar game called quoits. During this game, the officers would try and toss a disk over a pin that had been placed in soft clay. The game of horseshoes became very popular over the years. In the late 1300s, English leaders felt it interfered with military training. Playing horseshoes was then outlawed in England. During the 1500s, peasants began to regularly play the game. The English took the game to North America. It became very popular with Revolutionary soldiers. During the Civil War, union soldiers would use mule shoes for the game.

Horseshoe Clubs

There is some evidence that shows the first horseshoe club was formed in Pennsylvania during the late 1800s. At a horse show in Kansas, the first world horseshoe championship took place during 1909. Over thirty men entered the contest. The winner was given a belt that had a horseshoe buckle. The first horseshoe world champion was named Frank Jackson. After winning the first championship, he went on to win half a dozen others. He still holds fourth place in winning horseshoe world championships.

Horseshoe Ruling Body

The first organized ruling body for the game of horseshoes was created in 1914. It was called the Grand League of the American Horseshoe Pitchers Association. The members drafted a Constitution, wrote By-Laws and created a set of standard rules to follow. They granted Charters to horseshoe leagues around the United States. The rules they created were utilized with all sanctioned horseshoe pitching tournaments. Another governing body for the game of horseshoes was formed in 1919. This was the result of The National League of Horseshoe and Quoit Pitchers joining the Grand League of the American Horseshoe Pitchers Association. The merged organizations now called themselves the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association.

National Horseshoe Pitchers Association (NHPA)

The NHPA estimates that over 14 million people a year regularly play the game of horseshoes for recreation. It is a sport played all over the world. Playing horseshoes is most popular in the United States and Canada. There are over 14,000 people who are members of the NHPA. More than 5,000 individuals participate in the league programs offered by the NHPA. The first horseshoe world championship for men was awarded in 1909. The first world championship for women was awarded in 1920. There are now horseshoe championships awarded in boys and girls divisions. There is also a senior division.

Scoring For Horseshoes

Scoring each game starts with a toss to determine who will go first. When a horseshoe encircles the stake, it is called a ringer. This is worth three points. When the horseshoe comes within six inches or closer to the stake, it is worth one point. During the game, a single player will toss two horseshoes toward a stake in one pit. After the other player does the same, it is called an inning. If each player tosses a ringer, they cancel out. No points are scored by either player. This is referred to as a “dead ringer.” The winner in a non-tournament game has to score 21 points and win by at least two. Participants in an NHPA tournament will have to reach 40 points and win by at least two.

Longest Game Of Horseshoes

The official longest recorded game of horseshoes took five months and four days to complete. It took place at Hayward, Minnesota during 1930. They actually played a series of games during this time. The participants were R.E. Dewey, who was the towns Postmaster and J.C. Hanson, who was the train station agent. It was originally agreed they would play to 5,000 points. The scores were very close. Each man agreed to extend the game to 10,000 points. When 10,000 points were reached, the score was still too close. They then agreed to extend it to 25,000 points. When it was all over R.E. Dewey won the game with 25,000 points. J.C. Hanson had 24,949.

Ringer in the game of horseshoes
Ringer in the game of horseshoes | Source
Horseshoe Toss
Horseshoe Toss

Horshoe Pitching World Tournament


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