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Manual The History of Horseshoes

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Petersburg, Florida, with representatives from 29 different states attending.

The league was given a charter under the laws of the State of Ohio , June 17, In the tournament, the distance from each stake was changed to 40 feet, which is in effect today. Games were 50 points. In , the game rules were changed drastically. Stakes were raised to 10 inches, stakes were one inch in diameter, ringers counted three points, close shoes one point, and leaners were abolished, counting the same as any close show. The winter and summer world champion, George May from Akron, Ohio, is considered the father of the "open" shoe style, meaning that his pitch was designed to approach the stake with the open side of the shoe facing the stake.

He won the title in with a record and a ringer percentage per pitch. However, in the winter of , a game was played in Florida in the sand where sometimes all four shoes would bury themselves so deep in the sand that they would all be covered out of sight. While digging out the shoes that had been pitched by Dr. Robinson from New York, and one of the pitchers who was digging out the shoes made a new discovery and said, "Doc, your shoes all come fork to.

The other pitchers then began to question the doctor to find out how he did it, but the doctor didn't know, only that it became natural to him to release his shoe so that it fell open toward the peg with a one and a quarter turn. He had held the shoe with his first finger around the heel calk as all others did at the time.

As far as is known, this was the beginning of trying to control the open shoe in pitching, now known by every good pitcher. Within two years, the two national organizations were consolidated under the name of the latter. It was not until the late s or early s that the stake was raised to 12 inches, and in , the stake was ruled to be between 14 and 15 inches high. The present-day rule of 40 points for an official game was made effective January 1, , the last major rule change governing play. The game begins with a coin toss to decide who goes first. The winner of the toss throws both horseshoes at the opposite stake, and then the second player throws both of his horseshoes at his end.

After scoring, the next round is done in reverse order, or by throwing back at the original stake. Play continues until one player has at least 15 points at the end of a round. NHPA-sanctioned games are generally played to 40 points, or to a pitch limit of 40 or 50 shoes.

Try It Out

The game is divided into innings, each consists of four pitched shoes; two by each contestant. The contestant pitching first delivers both shoes one at a time and then the other contestant delivers both shoes one at a time. A contestant may deliver the shoes from either the left or right pitching platform, but in any one inning, both shoes must be delivered from the same platform.

A contestant must deliver both shoes within 30 seconds, beginning from when the contestant steps onto the pitching platform with the intention of pitching and is in a set position for the first pitch. There are two ways to score: By throwing a "ringer" a shoe that comes to rest while encircling the stake , or by throwing the horseshoe nearest to the opposite stake.

Why Are Horseshoes Considered Lucky?

This scoring system gives rise to the popular expression "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. The nearest horseshoe to the stake within six inches counts one point.

If both of one player's horseshoes are closer than the opponent's, that player scores two points. A ringer scores three points. A leaner, the case where a horseshoe literally leans on the stake, counts for one point in the official rules. In amateur games, a leaner usually counts for two points. In the case of one ringer and a closer horseshoe, both horseshoes are scored for a total of four points. If a player throws two ringers, that player scores six points.

If each player throws a ringer, the ringers cancel and no points are scored. Such occurrences are called dead but are still used towards the ringer-per-pitch average. It is estimated that upwards of 15 million enthusiasts enjoy pitching horseshoes in the United States and Canada in tournaments, leagues, recreation areas, and backyards. The NHPA membership totals about 15, with 6, in the league program. This successful handicap league program allows beginners as well as seasoned players to pitch together. It is a good program for attracting new players to take their first step into organized horseshoe pitching.

The NHPA strives to promote and organize the sport and to standardize the rules, equipment, and playing procedures. The top priority is to serve as a unifying agent between state associations, local clubs, unorganized groups, and individual players. Indoor courts are constantly becoming more popular.

Year after year, more indoor courts are being built in the non-sunbelt areas. These courts make horseshoe pitching a year-round sport. Six classes are recognized as Championship. They are: men, women, boys, girls, senior men, and elders plus-years old and pitch from 30 feet. Women and juniors also pitch from 30 feet. In horses expected to perform arduous rides on hard surfaces, horseshoes can prevent particularly weak hooves wearing and splitting. Even so, unnatural domestic environments and diets can still weaken donkey hooves. So some donkeys enduring extended strenuous rides over hard surfaces may require shoes too.

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The History of Horseshoes

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