Since historians can’t agree on what is surely a very important subject, who am I to weigh in on which now-popular backyard game came first?
In my research, however, I did find that both games originated with roman soldiers in the 2nd Century. “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and these soldiers found themselves needing to pass the down time. When they weren’t battling or marching to battle, they got bored. I’d like to think it was the 19-year-old joker of his platoon, who very bored one day, just started pitching discarded horseshoes at a tent stake – challenged a few of his buddies to see who could get closer, and voila! The game of horseshoes was born.
The exact details may never be known – but what started out as a way to pass the time for Roman soldiers 1,900 years ago, grew, developed and became popular around the world. So much so, that in 1910, the “sport” required a World Championship Tournament. Frank Jackson was crowned the first Horseshoe Pitching World Champion Bronson, Kansas.
One reason horseshoes is so popular is the easy set up, little equipment needed, and the ability for everyone to play! Young, old, man, woman, child, senior citizen – and everyone in between. You can play with two people or two teams of two people. You simply need two stakes pounded into the ground (officially 40 feet apart) and four horseshoes.
Players take turns pitching their horseshoes toward the stake, trying to get a “ringer” – when the horseshoe completely encricles the stake. Scoring is easy – a shoe that is not a ringer, but comes to rest six inches or closer to the stake, has a value of one point. If both of one player’s horseshoes are closer than the opponent’s, two points are scored. A ringer scores three points.
I’m unsure how Roman soldiers first scored the game. I do know that I’ve kind of fallen in love with this easy-to-learn, easy-to-play game, and it will be part of my upcoming backyard bbqs and house parties!
And don’t forget, artificial grass is the perfect companion to to horseshoe pits and all other outdoor living areas and outdoor backyard games. – See more at www.easyturf.com.