|
Nevada County Picayune-Times - Prescott, AR
  • Family fun: How to play horsehoes

  • Horseshoes dates back to ancient times, when Grecian soldiers, attempting to model Olympic discus throwing, started pitching their horses’ discarded shoes. These days, shoes thrown by players are about twice the size of actual horseshoes.

    • email print
  • Young or old, you know the game of horseshoes. That unmistakable clank of the shoe wrapping around the stake signaling a ringer defines summer like iced tea or watermelon.
    And while you’ve likely played at family get-togethers or in the park, you might consider setting up a court in your own back yard this summer — especially after you learn all the game has to offer.
    “Pitching is a family sport,” says longtime pitcher Joe Beneky, of Springfield, Ill. “You have to be a good baseball player to play baseball or basketball player to really enjoy basketball. But with horseshoes, everyone can play, and it really brings the family together.”
    Horseshoes dates back to ancient times, when Grecian soldiers, attempting to model Olympic discus throwing, started pitching their horses’ discarded shoes. These days, shoes thrown by players are about twice the size of actual horseshoes.
    “It’s not hard to get started,” says Austin Bailey, also of Springfield, how is a nationally ranked horseshoe pitcher. “Your 7- or 8-year-old can hold the shoes and play with you. It’s good family-friendly competition.”
    Kits that include the shoes and stakes are available at local retailers, such as Target or Wal-Mart, and range from $20 to $60.
    “A lot of people don’t even realize they’re doing it, but pitching is also really good exercise,” Bailey says. “You’re walking back and forth down the court almost 20 or 30 times.”
    An average-sized person typically burns up to 150 calories an hour pitching horseshoes. That factors in the walking but also the constant bending and continuous swing movements that work your back and shoulder muscles.
    Instead of plopping down on the couch after dinner to watch the latest rental with the kids, challenge them to a game of horseshoes.
    Here’s how to get started:
    Shoes
    Standard horseshoes weigh 2 pounds, 10 ounces. Stronger-quality brands, such as Ted Allen or Six Pac horseshoes, can be ordered online or by phone.
    Beginners start with flip shoes. You grip in the middle and the shoe stays open when it hits the stake. Experienced players use turn shoes, which must be rotated a certain way to stay open on the throw.
    Court
    The stake — often iron — should rise 14 inches above the ground and should be about 1 inch thick. Install your stakes so they lean toward each other slightly.
    You need a barrier around the stakes to protect the grass. Beneky recommends blue clay, which doesn’t stick to your hands or shoes. You could also use strips of carpet or sand.
    “Put the stake in a piece of wood so it doesn’t come loose,” he says. “If you just put it in the dirt, it’s going to go one way or the other when you toss.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Keep on hand rulers for measuring close shoes and a straight edge for determining points.
    How to play horseshoes
    • The horseshoe court should be 40 feet long with stakes at both ends. Senior citizens and women throw at 30 feet. Juniors pitch at 20.
    • Horseshoes is a two- or four-player game. Either compete against a single opponent or play with another person as a team.
    • At one horseshoe pit, start your backswing. Before your backswing is complete, step forward. Bring your arm forward and release the shoe at an eye-level. Aim for about 3 to 4 inches off the ground.
    • Ringers, where the shoe encircles the stake, earn you three points. If the shoe lands within 6 inches of the stake, you score one point. If you throw one or two ringers and your opponent does the same, your points are canceled out. Shoes that land more than 6 inches from the stake earn zero points.
    • You have 30 seconds to throw your shoe(s).
    • Games typically last until someone earns 40 points. Beginners start around 25.
    Sources: National Horseshoe Pitchers Association, local horseshoe pitcher Joe Beneky
    On the ’Net:
    National Horseshoe Pitchers Association
        • »  EVENTS CALENDAR