Horseshoes Rules

Basic Rules of Horseshoes
The idea is to pitch or toss a horseshoe at the stake trying to circle or get as close to the stake as possible. 

For 2-4 players

52 feet by 12 feet is the official court size. You can play horseshoes on sand, dirt, or grass. 

horseshoes court setup

Playing the Game

  • Toss a coin to determine which player or team pitches first. The first player or team pitches all their horseshoes. 
  • Then the opposing player or team pitches all their horseshoes.
  • Teammates play at opposite ends of the court.
  • The horseshoes can be held in the middle, on one of the legs, or any position that is comfortable. The horseshoes must be pitched underhand, with the palm facing up, from behind the foul line. 

Only the horseshoe that is closest to the stake scores. The horseshoe has to land within 6 inches of the stake to score or within any distance agreed on by both players or teams. 

A ringer is when a horseshoe encircles the stake. To qualify as a ringer, a straightedge held against both heels of the horseshoe must not touch the stake. A ringer is the highest score a player can achieve with one horseshoe. 

  • A horseshoe closer to the stake than any of the opponents scores 1 point. 
  • 2 horseshoes closer to the stake than any of the opponents scores 2 points. 
  • A ringer scores 3 points. 
  • A ringer and closest horseshoe pitched by the same player scores 4 points. 2 ringers for 1 player or team and none for the opposing team scores 6 points. 
  • The number of points needed to win the game is 21. This number can be changed if players agree before the game begins. 
  • The game is divided into innings. Each inning consists of 4 pitched horseshoes; 2 by each contestant. An inning is completed when all 4 horseshoes have been pitched and measured. 
  • A horseshoe that is struck and moved by another horseshoe, is measured again from its new position. If a player knocks 1 of his teammate's or opponent's horseshoes from a non-ringer position to a ringer position, that horseshoe will count as a ringer and 3 points will be awarded to that horseshoe.