Horseshoes: America's Popular Yard Game
A picnic or backyard party just isn't complete without a friendly game of horseshoes… at least in the more suburban or rural parts of the country. And while there's no doubt that horseshoes is an extremely popular yard game in America, the title of this article is actually a bit deceiving since this sport is popular all over the world.
In fact horseshoes is thought to be an offshoot of a game called quoits that Roman officers played during their occupation of Britain, though other historians suggest the ancient Greeks indulged in this game too. Exactly where the game originated may be hard to uncover, but one thing remains certain: quoits has a long history spanning hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
A game of quoits consists of competitors tossing metal rings weighing about 3 pounds each at a distant stake, hoping to either land nearer than any of his competitors or ideally encircle the stake. Sometimes this game would be played using rope or rubber circles instead, but metal is the officially recognized metal to be used for this game. Quoits branched out into what we now know as horseshoes due to the fact that horse shoes were much more commonly available, and thus starting up a game virtually anywhere was quite easy. (If you wish to learn more about the ancient game of quoits you can click here.)
Horseshoes is generally thought to be a simple yard game to be enjoyed among families and friends, and while it's true that the game is played mostly under these circumstances, many people take the sport very seriously. Some strong advocates of the game have even formed an official association to oversee the sport, run tournaments across the country, and more: the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association of America.
Most of us will just plant a stake in the floor, step away a few feet and take turns tossing a horseshoe at it, and this is fine when enjoying a simple yard game. But if you want to be official, you should know that the game is actually played using two stakes set at a distance of 40 feet apart. Ideally the stakes would be set within a square "pit" measuring 6 feet in width. The floor of each pit would consist of clay or sand with a depth of 8 inches.
Would you like to see blueprints to create your own horseshoe pit? Just click here.
Not in the mood to tear up your beautiful lawn to play horseshoes by official rules and regulations? No problem! Ultimately horseshoes is about fun with friends and family – you need not worry about such matters unless you wish to become an actual horseshoes "professional."
If you are interested in learning more about horseshoes - specifically how to play and score a game – continue on to our article Horseshoes: Rules & Scoring.