Frequently asked questions


How do you play horseshoes?
Horseshoes is a (traditionally outdoor) game played between two people/opponents. Horseshoe players may also be referred to as "pitchers".
During the game, both players stand at one end of the horseshoe court. Each side of the court has a "pit" filled with clay (or sometimes sand) with a metal stake sticking up out of the pit at a slight angle. The first player tosses (or "pitches") two horseshoes underhand at the opposite side of the court, followed by the second player. The goal is to pitch each horseshoe either around the stake (this is called a ringer and is worth 3 points) or close enough to the stake to be considered a "close shoe" (worth 1 point). After each player has pitched their shoes, the players will walk to the other side of the court, retrieve their shoes, tally any points earned and pitch the shoes back to the other side of the court. This continues (traditionally) until 40 shoes have been pitched by each player.
The game is scored through a cancellation process where ringers cancel points earned by the other player and ringers also cancel ringers scored by the other player. Only one player may earn points for each set of shoes thrown. At the end of the game, the player with the most points is declared the winner.
The game can also be played between four people (during doubles play). Occasionally team tournaments may involve even more players who work together as a single team. 
For more information on how the game is played. Please click HERE.
When does the horseshoe season start?
Most clubs start their spring/summer horseshoe season the first or second week in May.
Some clubs also have fall and winter seasons which start at various times pending participation and weather.
Are there costs associated with playing horseshoes?
League and Tournament Play Costs
MGSHPA & NHPA membership costs $50 each year. Additional fees of approx. $30 may also apply to participate in league play each spring/summer. This covers the cost of all league play and costs associated with the Ringer Digest (the MGSHPA e-newspaper publication). Some leagues offer trophies and cash pay-outs to top players at the end of the season. Participation in tournaments costs additional fees (generally $30 - $40 per entry). Top players in each class during tournaments receive cash prizes.
Equipment Costs
The only required equipment is a pair of horseshoes which can be purchased at multiple price points from about $30 to $100. Some players may choose to purchase accessories including; a horseshoe box, towel (for removing clay from the horseshoes), pick (to assist in picking up the horseshoes) or a tool (to help measure ringers and close shoes). Horseshoe products can be purchased at:
How competitive is the sport of horseshoes?
Horseshoes can be as competitive or laid back as a player chooses. Most clubs use a handicap system of scoring during spring/summer play which allows every player to be competitive no matter their skill and experience level.
Tournaments divide players into "classes" which allows players to pitch against those who are closest to their ability level. Some tournaments use handicap scoring while others do not