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How to Play Horseshoes

You don't have to get anywhere near a real horse for this family-friendly summer pastime.


  • Step 1: Set up your court Measure a 40-foot line on a flat patch of land. At either end, anchor a three-foot spike so that about 15 inches are visible above ground, and the stake is angled slightly inward.
  • TIP: Go to to find regulation courts and leagues.
  • Step 2: Draw foul lines Using chalk or string, mark two foul lines between the spikes. Each line should be three feet in front of the nearest spike. You’ll have to stand behind that line when throwing at the far target.
  • TIP: If you’re playing with little kids, move the foul lines another 10 feet closer to their targets.
  • Step 3: Pick your teams Split into two teams of one or two people each, and dole out two horseshoes to each side.
  • Step 4: Team one pitches The first team stands behind their foul line and pitches - or tosses underhand - both of their horseshoes, trying to get them on or as close to the stake as possible.
  • : Make sure the opposing team is a safe distance away before pitching, and never throw wildly.
  • Step 5: Team two pitches When the first team has had their turn, it’s time for team two to try to take the advantage.
  • Step 6: Score it up Total up your score. There are a few different methods of scoring, but the simplest is to say shoes that land within six inches of the target count for one point each, and 'ringers,' or those that land on the stake, count for three. Keep going until someone reaches a preset limit, like 20.
  • FACT: Actual horseshoes can vary in weight and size, so the game is played with standard, regulation shoes weighing two and a half pounds each.

You Will Need

  • Horseshoes
  • spikes
  • and a hammer
  • A tape measure
  • Chalk or string
  • A stretch of outdoor space at least 40 ft. long
  • Two to four players

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