Looking for a great way to keep everyone entertained at the next cookout? Horseshoes is a fantastic activity for all ages! You don’t have to be in great athletic shape to enjoy this game. It’s fun for everyone, and there are even great horseshoe sets that younger children can enjoy. So what are you waiting for? Let’s pitch!
Horseshoes is one of those games that can be tons of fun, but it’s also great because it doesn’t require a whole lot. It’s normally played with four players, although it can be played with two. And the only equipment needed is two poles and four horseshoes.
Of course, you need a nice strip of lawn between them – the official tournament length for men’s horseshoes is 40 feet; for women’s and youth events, it’s 30 feet. Sandpits at either end are nice to keep it official, but you can get by without those. But for backyard games, you don’t have to be precise with the measurements.
Let’s have a look at what comes in a regulation horseshoe set, what to look for in a kids’ set, and which sets you should consider buying!
Regulation Horseshoe Equipment
An official horseshoe set is accessible to anyone. It’s not so complicated that it has to be reserved for the pros! Here is what the rules lay out for competitive horseshoe pitching:
As we mentioned, for men’s competitions, the stakes are positioned 40 feet apart. For youth and women’s competitions, it’s 30 feet.
The stakes are one inch in diameter and 30 or 36 inches long, although many backyard sets feature 24-inch stakes. When driven into the ground, about 14 or 15 inches should be exposed.
Horseshoes should be no wider than 7 ¼-inches wide and 7 ⅝-inches long. The ends – known as “calks” – should have a gap between them of 3 ½ inches. A horseshoe should weigh no more than 2 pounds and 10 ounces.
Many backyard sets come close but don’t quite live up to regulation. The stakes are shorter and sometimes narrower. Sometimes, the shoes are lighter than the standard. However, we’re going to mainly look at these because of their accessibility.
Horseshoe Sets For Youngsters
Most teenagers will find pitching horseshoes with regulation equipment enjoyable. But younger children might find the shoes too heavy and the distance too long. Fortunately, they can be involved in a version of the game more suitable to their size and strength.
Many of these sets feature rubber horseshoes. They’re still sturdy and heavy enough to throw, but lighter than the regulation version. Also, the stakes are moveable; they have bases that can be placed at whatever distance is suitable. They can even be used indoors!
Best Backyard Horseshoe Sets
Here are a few of our favorite horseshoe sets. Since there isn’t much that can change, we won’t have much to say about any of them. We’ll just highlight anything that makes them unique!
These blue and silver horseshoes are made of forged steel – by far the best option! They’ll hold up much better than cast iron shoes.
The stakes are 24 inches long. That’s typical for backyard sets but shorter than the ideal for competition. They’re also less than the normal one inch in diameter.
The set comes in a molded plastic case which isn’t the best. It gets banged up easily, so if you plan to carry your set from place to place, you may want to invest in a heavy canvas gym bag instead.
Black and gray horseshoes weighing 2 ¼ pounds each are the centerpiece of this set.
Like other sets, the stakes are 24 inches long. And these are only ¾ inch in diameter, a good bit below the norm for competition.
On the other hand, the shoes are made of forged steel, so they’ll hold up well.
The nylon carrying bag is also put together well.
This set features horseshoes in red and blue. That makes it easy to discern whose is whose!
The stake is 24 inches long. The shoes weigh only two pounds, which is pretty light for a typical set.
Be aware, though, that the shoes seem to be cast iron despite being advertised as forged steel. We’ve seen a few reports of them breaking after limited use (although one of these reports said they were playing on concrete!)
Best Horseshoe Sets Suitable for Younger Children
Everyone can enjoy these children’s sets but they’re specifically designed to be lighter so kids can pitch these horseshoes.
This set of rubber horseshoes is ideal for children and adults. It can also be used indoors or outdoors!
It comes with two sets of stakes. For indoor use, they have bases that will sit flat on the floor. This also makes them great for playing in a driveway or parking lot.
On the lawn, you can plant the short plastic stakes into the ground.
The stakes are plastic; the mats are hard rubber and the mats are rubber.
The components of this set are identical to the one listed above: two red and two blue horseshoes, two mats with posts, and two plastic stakes.
The plastic posts and stakes aren’t great – they’re pretty flimsy, in fact. However, the shoes themselves hold up well.
It’s a lot of fun for kids and adults as well!
This set also includes rubber mats with poles, plastic stakes, and four horseshoes – 2 each green and blue.
The posts, again, aren’t great. They’re not durable, and they’re not long enough to stick firmly in the ground. So they probably won’t stay upright for long, except maybe if preschool children are playing. The mats work well on concrete and asphalt, though.
Still, it’s a good set for the under-10 set!
Horseshoes is a summer tradition that goes great with cookouts and get-togethers of all kinds! The requirements are simple, and it’s easy to learn and play for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a set for adults or kids, you’ll find a lot of great options!