The Essential Guide to Build a Horseshoe Pit

Horseshoe Pit
Horseshoe Pit Photo 96627448 / A © Amelia Martin | Dreamstime.com

It’s finally spring, and the weather is warming up, which means it’s time to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. If you’re seeking a fun backyard activity that everyone can play with, building your own horseshoe pit is an excellent choice!

In this article, we will discuss the building of a horseshoe pit. We will also talk about the history behind this fun game, how to play it, and why building your own backyard horseshoe pit is such an excellent idea for anyone who wants a new activity to enjoy with family and friends.

History of a Horseshoe Pitching

History of Horseshoe Game is old like this random Horseshoe.
The history of the Horseshoe Game is old like this random Horseshoe. Photo by https://unsplash.com/@mikael_seegen

The history of horseshoe pitching dates back to the 1st to 5th centuries. This backyard game closely resembles quoits. Throughout the first century Roman invasion of Britain, Roman soldiers lacked quoits. So, they started using horseshoes instead. However, the existence of a u-shaped horseshoe at that time is unclear.

In medieval Britain, the working-class people embraced horseshoe pitching as a revised version of quoits. Quoits is thought to have originated in ancient Greece. In the USA, English settlers introduced these games during the colonial period. In modern times, America’s national horseshoe pitcher association holds national and world championship events every year.

 How Do You Construct a Proper Horseshoe Pit?

Horseshoe Pit
Horseshoe Pit Photo 23609756 / A © Njnightsky | Dreamstime.com

Building a backyard horseshoe pit isn’t anything complicated. It might be preferable if you had some simple DIY tools that most people have in their workshops. Here is how to build a horseshoe pit in your backyard:

Official Dimensions

According to the national horseshoe pitchers’ association, the dimension of a horseshoe pit should be no less than 31×43 inches and no bigger than 36 x 72 inches. For a backyard horseshoe pit, the ideal and commonly used dimension is 36×48 inches.

Tools and Materials

  • Pressure-treated lumber
  • Circular motorized saw
  • Screws
  • Fasteners
  • Measuring tape
  • 1 36″ stake
  • Shovel
  • Play sand

Process of Building the Pit

  • Put the stake into the ground so that about 14 to 15 inches stay above the ground. There is no specific length for the stake. It’s all good as long as it remains firmly in the ground.
  • Incline the stake about 12 degrees forward. Make sure the stake is about 21 inches from the front of the box.
  • The stake may get loosened after a few games. You can prevent that by reinforcing the stake with concrete.
  • Then build the box around the stakes according to the specific dimension for backyard games which is 36×48 inches, while the regulation size is 36 x 72 inches.
  • Cut the timbers according to precise measurements and secure them to the ground using suitable types of fasteners. You will need the wood screws if you want to make a raised backstop.
  • Now it’s time for digging the pit. The minimum depth must be four inches, and recommended for professional play is eight inches. Dig the box evenly with the shovel.
  • After digging, disperse sand evenly until the entire depth is levelled. The best type of sand for this purpose is play sand. Play sand is made of granite which gives it a glittery look. It is also cleaner because it has been sifted and washed. Due to being less dusty and dirty, it will stay inside the pit easily.
  • Now your horseshoe pit is all done. If you want a second horseshoe pit, follow the same procedure opposite the first pit, making sure the distance between the two stakes is 40 feet.
  • Draw the foul line 37 feet from each stake or 3 feet in the front of the stake.

The Fundamentals of Playing Horseshoe 

In tournaments or professional play, there are two horseshoe pits opposite at 40 feet apart. When playing in your backyard with your friends or family, the rules can bend as long as everyone agrees. Here are the widely accepted rules of horseshoe pitching:

Fundamentals

Each game is divided into 25 innings by each player, so 50 innings in total. Each player will throw two horseshoes in succession in one inning, followed by the second player. Who throws first is determined by a coin toss. The player must throw the horseshoe from the opposite pit, behind the designated foul line.

If there is only one pit, the thrower has to maintain a distance of 40 feet which is the standard. After each player completes 25 innings, the result is determined. In the case of a tie, an extra-inning is pitched to each player as the tiebreaker. Alternatively, the first player to reach 21 points or any other given point can determine the winner.

Scoring

When a horseshoe surrounds the stake, it’s called a ringer. A ringer equals 3 points. A horseshoe that hasn’t scored a ringer but within 6 inches of the stake scores 1 point.

Ringers cancel each other out, meaning if the first player scores one or two ringers and the second player scores the same, both the player’s ringers are nullified. Suppose both horseshoes of one player are ahead of the two horseshoes of the other player. The player that ahead scores two points.

After four pitches by both players, the player whose horseshoe is the closest scores one point. A player will only score two points if the second closest horseshoe is of the same player. One ringer and one closer horseshoe score four points.

Foul may be ruled in the following cases:

  • All throws must be underarm. Overarm throws are considered foul.
  • If a player crosses the designated line, it will be a foul.
  • Touching the shoe before measurement
  • If a participant interferes with his opponents pitching.

Why Is It Such a Popular Game?

A group of seniors playing a game of horseshoe
A group of seniors playing a game of horseshoe Photo by ID 25966715 © Joe Sohm | Dreamstime.com

Among the many backyard pastimes available, such as Cornhole, Horseshoe is a competitive sport in its own right. There are quite a few games of this kind, but they can’t match its popularity. Let’s see why it is such a popular game:

It’s Fun

In competitive sports, prize money comes first. In casual sports among friends or family members, the only thing that matters is the fun. And horseshoe pitching is a lot of fun. It isn’t physically or mentally exhausting. It is also easy to grasp. Even if you have elderly family members, they can participate with ease.

The excitement behind each pitch is real. Every moment of the game is exhilarating. There is rarely a quiet moment from beginning to finish. No matter who you are, no matter where you are, the fun aspect remains unscathed. This is the chief factor behind the appeal of horseshoe pitching.

Simple Rules

If a game is challenging to grasp, it is likely to be rejected by the general population. The rules play a significant role in the popularity of a game. The easier the rule, the more it is embraced by the crowd and vice versa.

Horseshoe pitching has one of the most specific sets of rules among backyard games. Although it’s played competitively, the rules are still easy to comprehend. The crowd can easily understand the game and enjoy it. Its simplicity is one of the factors that makes it popular.

Simple Instruments

Not only are its rules easy, but the equipment required to play it is also simple. Horseshoes are portable, simple to use and understand. Their manufacturing process is also effortless, super cheap and widely available.

Easy rules, simple instruments, and their availability are the metrics that make a game popular. These factors work together in the case of horseshoe pitching and automatically make it popular in many places.

This Game is Old

Horseshoe pitching originated about 1500 to 2000 years ago. Catching up to people’s tastes is difficult for anything new, and the same applies to any game. You will see that all the popular games are pretty old.

Horseshoe pitching had its time to travel from place to place in the hands of colonials. Many different people could give it a go, and gradually, they started to like it. Also, back then, there weren’t any other significant games that it had to compete with. This is one of the fundamental reasons underlying horseshoe pitching is so popular.

Suitable for All Ages

Games that require razor-sharp skills and stamina, like a cheetah, are youth games. Older people and women can’t play such games even if they are fun. If you follow esports, you will notice that most players retire at the age of 28 to 30, which is pretty surprising.

People are full of strength at around 30. But younger players can offer so much that 30-year-olds can’t match up with. For other sports, the limit is 40 to 45 years. In horseshoe pitching, age is just a number. People of any age can play it and even participate in tournaments. It doesn’t require superlative skills; the skill ceiling isn’t high and forgiving for most people.

As so many people can play it at higher stages, this automatically made the game immensely popular.

Places in the World Where Horseshoe Pit is Played

Horseshoe Pit is primarily played in the United States and Canada. 

As you can already understand from the history of this game, horseshoe pitching originated from Europe by the Romans. The Romans most probably got it from the Greeks. After Romans had been introduced in England, the British colonials took it to the United States.

Following history, horseshoe pitching is famous and extensively played in these lands. It is trendy in the United States, Canada, South Africa, Italy, and Israel. In all these countries, this game is both popular as a backyard game and professional sport.

In the USA, every year, national and international championship tournaments are held. Besides the mentioned countries, horseshoe pitching is prevalent in many other countries near Europe and the United States.

Why Would Horseshoe Make a Fantastic Backyard Family Activity?

Man throwing horseshoe game
Man throwing horseshoe game Photo by ID 124513786 © Juliedeshaies | Dreamstime.com

There are many fun backyard sports and other activities. Among them, horseshoe pitching takes the cake. You might wonder what this game offers that other games can’t. Well, there’s a lot. Let’s take a look at why horseshoe pitching makes a fantastic backyard family activity:

It doesn’t Take Much Space

Most soccer, football, and basketball games are not suitable to play in your backyard because they require quite a lot of space. Hence, they are less popular as backyard games. This factor is the exact opposite for horseshoe pitching.

In professional horseshoe pitching, the two pits are 40 feet apart. That shouldn’t be the case when setting up a pit in your backyard.

Quality Pastime with Friends and Family

There are countless activities to choose between in your backyard. But not all of them generate as much fun as horseshoe pitching. Every second of this game is exciting, and people of all ages can be a part of it.

Whether you have elderly grandparents or kid nephews, all of them can participate and enjoy each other’s company, thanks to the beautiful game of horseshoe pitching.

Takes Less Time

The fun aspect of a game diminishes if it’s time-consuming. Irrespective of how much pleasure you have playing a game, you will likely lose interest in the game if you wait long for the results.

The pitcher is where horseshoe pitching shines. It takes so little time that you can start and finish a game in minutes. Each of your friends can throw one horseshoe and call it a day and still have a winner.

In backyard family gatherings, there is usually limited time. Sports like table tennis or something similar are fun but are completely irrelevant because of the time it takes. That’s why horseshoe pitching remains the game of choice in such events.

Playable with Multiple People

As you have already seen above, each game of horseshoe pitching is playable among two players. But that only applies to the competitive scene of the game. When playing in your backyard, multiple members of your family can join in the same fun.

You don’t have to divide the game into specific numbers of innings strictly. All of the participants can throw once or twice, and whoever scores the highest wins. You can play it with two to as many people as you have. You can even play it alone for a fun time.

You Can Bend the Rules to Add More People

The rules regarding this game aren’t that specific that you have to stick to it. You can change the rules the way you want to have fun. According to official rules, each game of horseshoe pitching consists of two players playing multiple innings. You can convert that to three or four players to several innings that you are all comfortable with.

The complexity of the rules and the player’s ability to change them make this game forgiving and easy to play and enjoy. And thus, the popularity of horseshoe pitching as a fun backyard activity remains.

DIY Home Games is a channel that demonstrates how to make fun outdoor games. In this video, they show us step-by-step instructions on making your own horseshoe pit with just some sand and a few more things in the backyard!

How to build Horseshoes – DIYHomegames. (2012, March 27). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbNnuNN4EsI&t=180s

Conclusion

Horseshoe is a great game to play. It’s also an easy-to-learn activity that doesn’t take much space or time to complete, making it the perfect backyard sport for parties.

I promise that if nothing else; The time spent building your very own backyard horseshoe pitch will make for some fun memories and good times with friends and family… not to mention all those extra people stopping by who see it.

Source of Information

Horseshoe pitching | game. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved August 31, 2021, from https://www.britannica.com/sports/horseshoe-pitching

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Horseshoes. (2021, March 21). In Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horseshoes

Home Depot Product Authority, LLC. (n.d.). How to Build a Horseshoe Pit. Homedepot.Com. Retrieved August 31, 2021, from https://www.homedepot.com/c/ah/how-to-build-a-horseshoe-pit

Noonan, J. (2020, October 19). How To: Build a Horseshoe Pit. Bob Vila. https://www.bobvila.com/articles/how-to-build-a-horseshoe-pit/

McGilvray, J. (n.d.). How to Build a Horseshoe Pit. DIY Network. Retrieved August 31, 2021, from https://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/skills-and-know-how/carpentry-and-woodworking/how-to-build-a-horseshoe-pit

Value, T. (2021, June 21). How to Build a Horseshoe Pit | DIY: True Value Projects. True Value https://www.truevalue.com/diy-projects/post/patio-and-garden/how-to-build-a-horseshoe-pit

Bergosh, J. (2016, September 19). The Best Sands for your Horseshoe Pit. JURASSIC SANDS. https://www.jurassicsand.com/pages/best-sand-for-your-horseshoe-pit

Trimarchi, M. (2021, February 17). How to Play Horseshoes. HowStuffWorks. https://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/backyard-fun-games/horseshoes.htm

Kane, E. E. (2017, November 15). How To Play Horseshoes | Everyday Health. EverydayHealth.Com. https://www.everydayhealth.com/healthy-living/healthy-home/how-play-horseshoes/

HORSESHOE STUDY GUIDE. (n.d.). Home Depot. Retrieved August 31, 2021, from https://images.homedepot-static.pdf

Horseshoe pitching | game. (n.d.-b). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved August 31, 2021, from https://www.britannica.com/sports/horseshoe-pitching

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