Richie and I were looking for something to do this past weekend and came across a simple hobby while doing searches online: horseshoes. What better way to spend a nice family night out than a little friendly competition? If you do not know what or how horseshoes plays like (read our horseshoe pitching guide here), the basics are simple:
- There are two main parts to a horseshoe set: the stake, which are the thick steel poles, act as the target for which you throw your shoe, the U-shaped object, at to score points.
- Scoring is straightforward. I will not go through all the ways of scoring, but essentially the person who throws the shoe closest to the stake gets 1 point. If you throw two shoes closer to the stake than your opponent, you get 2 points. There are other ways to score as well, from ringers to leaners, but for these I recommend searching online for a horseshoes rulebook and printing it out (it should take up no more than 1-2 pages as the game is very simple).
- The game can be played a variety of ways as well: you can choose to have a point limit (in which whoever reaches 40 points first wins) or have a horseshoe limit (whoever scores the most using 40 shoes wins).
— For a quick video (created by ExpertVillage) on how to play horseshoes, watch below:
We decided to try it out. Again, Gary and I love testing out different products when we play since we are outdoors practically everyday (read our missions to stay active, even as we get older). Quality differs between manufacturers so we rely on a multitude of retailers to sell us good products that will last a long time. We ordered three different sets; two purchased online and one at our local Walmart. Note that with different budgets come different quality. We tend to buy a relatively affordable set and then a set that we hope will last several years.
Champion Rubber Horseshoe Set
The first off the list is our budget game set. This one cost a measly $20. A typical horseshoe set costs right around $50 to $60, so getting this one for quite a low price was fantastic.
Probably the biggest difference in this and other sets is the material. With a game of horseshoes, one stands several feet away from the stakes (which appropriately are 40 feet away from one another, per the official rulebook) and chucks their shoe to get as close to the target as possible. Because of this, material needs to be durable and sturdy. This cheap horseshoe set from Champion is composed mostly of rubber compared to the standard steel ones.
The rubber does not necessarily detract from the experience. I would definitely recommend these for people that enjoy a quiet game out in their yard, since the shoes do not make a clanking sound as it makes contact with the stake. I actually enjoy that clank sound because, standing a fair distance away from the stakes, it is satisfying to hear a “hit” to know that you are pretty darn close to what you aimed for. Everyone is different, of course, but as a budget horseshoe set, I do not see how you can go wrong.
The horse shoes are standard size as well, weighing in at about a pound each.
Alternatively, if you would like another Champion Sports-manufactured set, I wholeheartedly recommend their steel version. We checked this one out at Walmart while shopping for the rubber one, but decided to get the cheaper of the two. This Steel Set feels sturdy and are all standard size (24-inch stakes, with horseshoes that weigh a good 2.5 pounds).
St. Pierre Presidential Edition Horseshoe Set
St. Pierre is another good company we vouch for; they create plenty of different items to play with outdoors. So naturally, as we shopped for our first few sets, we found St. Pierre and immediately considered them. Their online reviews are positive and the cost wasn’t that far off from what we expected to pay.
Image source: Baden
In this set, you get the standard four horseshoes, all made with some very nice steel. Two are finished with silver and two come in gold, a classy touch. We noticed the tips at the end of the shoes extended a bit more than traditional horse shoes do; obviously I am particularly new to the sport so I wouldn’t know how much that affects balance, gravity, etc.
The packaging itself was impressive, and I was pleased with how each part of the set was made to be heavy duty. This is along with the Baden set below are what we figure will stay with us for many years.
Baden Champion Series Set
This one was our expensive purchase, costing nearly $100. I would not recommend it for people just getting started with the hobby of playing horseshoes, but for many that are looking for high quality steel, production, and professionalism, I say otherwise. From the finish and detail (2 chrome plated and 2 cast steel) of the shoes to the durability, this set is really here to last.
The stakes were a bit heavier than the St. Pierre set, but that was to be expected considering we were getting a slightly more refined steel in the shoes to toss. The set also comes with a cool carrying bag, big enough for the entire set plus other items like towels or water bottles. Overall a good touch, but it does come with a premium price.