How to Throw Horseshoes Properly – Pitching Techniques

We last mentioned horseshoes in this post, our first post actually, but since then I have promised to write an advice-ridden post on how to actually get better. I have only recently adopted the hobby, but some of my good pals have taught me the proper techniques of the game, and from that experience I wish to relay to you via this blog article. The game is similar to any other in that you need to put in time to truly get better at it, but the rules of the game are very simple and actually playing it is one of the least complex experiences I’ve ever dealt with. We even got the kids to play the game just fine, so do not worry on that front.

The goal for pitching a horseshoe

The goal for pitching a shoe is simple. You want the “open” side of the shoe to hit the stake, the term we use for the pole/target you aim for in order to score points. You want your pitch to be consistent, so that the horse shoe actually spins from your hip to the stake every time. The way to do this is to have the same form and alignment with your body.

Starting position

Your starting position should be the horseshoe in hand, with your wrist facing your body. There is much debate on where your hand should actually grip the horseshoe. As a beginner, I didn’t really feel it mattered, but my friends who have played the game much longer than I have argue otherwise. They assured me that while it is mostly preference, where you hold the shoe actually determines a lot, from the amount of rotation to the amount of power you put in. For this, I would just have to say experiment with it. You have a few options on where to hold the shoe:

  1. Right at the top. Again, your wrist should be facing your body as the starting position. But you can hold the horseshoe at the top of it if you’d like. This is best for more experienced people, as they can better determine how much flick they should apply for the best spin.
  2. At the curve. This is ideal for most everyone else, mainly beginners and intermediate players. Even the pros would recommend this stance because it leaves the least room for error. Grip the horseshoe from the top, and then adjust it slightly to the side where the curve is. This gives you an optimum amount of spin if you use the standard throwing technique.

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So to throw the shoe from the starting position (wrist facing you), all you have to do is rotate your arm so that the ending position is your wrist facing the sky. From the start of the pitch, your wrist is facing you and as such, the horseshoe is perpendicular to the ground. When you end your pitch, your wrist should be facing the sky and the horseshoe should leave your hand just parallel to the ground. At the end of the pitch, it should look like you tossed your phone on the bed (underhanded).

One important step before you release the horseshoe, though, is to take your step mid-pitch. What I mean by this is that as you go from your starting position, your opposite leg (eg. if you pitch with your right hand, step with your left leg) should step forward to give you enough power to lodge the shoe toward its target, since in the game of horseshoes, you are usually 10s of feet away from the stake.

I always find myself referring to this particular video. The pros pitch consistently each time and are a basis to follow with.

A word on flicking your wrist

Flicking your wrist is usually a bad habit in horseshoes. With the standard form, you should have enough power to have the shoe reach its target, but whether or not it reaches the stake in the “open” position is up to your wrist and accuracy. When perfecting your form, try to perfect the actual technique first, focusing on being able to bring the horseshoe from your position to where the stake is, regardless of if you hit it with the shoe open. Then, once you get a good feel of that distance throw, focus on hitting the stake with the open side of the horseshoe. The only way to adjust this is the rotation of the shoe, which comes from your wrist. Experiment with the movement of your hand as you throw.

It all varies, since not everyone has the exact same form throughout. Just like games such as basketball, the basic layout of the form is all very similar. But every player has their own techniques that they add in that works just perfectly for them. The point is to get started with this horseshoe pitching technique that I have laid out for you, and then add in your own wrist movements after practicing to get that personal method of hitting the stake with the open side of the shoe. Good luck and contact me if you have any questions! I’d even be happy to review any videos and tell you what I think of your form!

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  1. Myra

    just started playing horseshoes yesterday and have been using your post as a guide. Though I’d love to have you make a video for us, it’s still helpful and the links/resources you provide are excellent for starters such as myself

  2. Christopher Ares

    Great piece, Gary and Richie. I’m just getting into horseshoes myself. Also, I would suggest adding a picture or two to the article. Just my opinion

    • Gary Baker

      Hey Christopher,

      Thanks for stopping in! Also, thank you for the feedback. It’s definitely on our to do list for this week. We’ll add some relevant pictures soon as well as maybe search for a helpful YouTube video to supplement the article.

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