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Rulebook - Horseshoes

National Veterans Golden Age Games

Event 9: Horseshoes Ambulatory

Event 9a: Horseshoes Wheelchair

Event 9b: Horseshoes Visually Impaired

Age Groups

  • 55-59
  • 60-64
  • 65-69
  • 70-74
  • 75-79
  • 80-84
  • 85-up


The National Veterans Golden Age Games host will provide standard or adaptive sets of pitching horseshoes. Competitors may not use their own horseshoes. In the event weather conditions do not allow for outdoor competition, the Event Official may hold the competition indoors using adapted equipment (rubber or similar composition horseshoes and stakes).

Other Equipment: two tables, six chairs, rakes, score sheets, drinking water, and first aid kit.


Any appropriate area designated by the National Veterans Golden Age Games host. The area should conform as closely as possible to that outlined in the rules section. If there are differences these should be explained to the competitors prior to their match. Indoor play should be in an area which allows room for a court as close to regulation as possible and which has a ceiling high enough not to interfere with the shoes in flight. The host will provide a minimum of ten horseshoe pits for this competition. If possible, one pit, separate from the competition, should be set aside for photographs.


The competition will be set up in a single elimination tournament format. Tournament brackets will be determined by a draw, and whenever possible competitors from the same medical center will not be matched against each other in first round matches. All matches will be played for ten innings each player throwing two shoes per inning. If conditions warrant, the Event Official may decrease the number of innings pitched in the match. The winner of the match will advance in the tournament.


Rule 1:00 Playing Facility

Section 1
The Horseshoe Pit - Each horseshoe pit shall be six feet square with the stake in the center and will consist of an area of clay, dirt or sand into which the players throw their shoes.
Section 2
Stakes shall be one inch in diameter. The top of each stake shall extend twelve inches above the level of the horseshoe pit, with a one-inch de­cline towards the pitching line.
Section 2-VI
Beeper devices are available for use for the visually impaired competition.

Rule 2:00 Pitching Distance

Section 1
All pitching distances are measured from the bottom of the stake to the pitching line.
Section 2
Ambulatory Competition - The pitching distance for men, age 55-69, shall be 40 feet. The pitching distance for men, age 70 and up, shall be 30 feet.
Section 3
Ambulatory Competition - The pitching distance for women, age 55-74, shall be 30 feet. The pitching distance for women, age 75 and up, shall be 20 feet.
Section 4
Physically impaired persons (ambulatory competitors using walking devices) will be given the option of a 30 foot or 40 foot pitching line. The choice of pitching line must be made prior to the beginning of the match.
Section 5
Wheelchair and Visually Impaired Competitions (Men): The pitching distance for men shall be 20 feet.
Section 6
Wheelchair and Visually Impaired Competitions (Women): The pitching distance for women shall be 15 feet.

Rule 3:00 Equipment

A shoe shall not exceed 7 1/4 inches in width, 5 5/8 inches in length, and shall not weigh more than 2 pounds, 10 ounces. The points of the open end of a shoe shall not exceed 3 1/2 inches (inside measurement).

Rule 4:00 The Game

Section 1
Ambulatory Division - In pitching the shoe, the pitcher shall stand on or behind the pitcher’s line.
Section 1A
Wheelchair or Visually Impaired Divisions - In pitching the shoe the pitcher shall stand/sit on or behind the pitcher's line.
Section 2
In delivering a shoe the pitcher may take one step over the pitcher’s line.
Section 3
Choice of first pitch, or follow, shall be determined by the toss of a coin. Players will pitch both shoes, followed by his/her opponent pitching both shoes (i.e., blue pitches shoes 1 and 2, then silver pitches shoes 1 and 2, which completes an inning. Players shall alternate first pitch, one player having first pitch in the odd number innings and the other player in the even number innings.
Section 4
Broken Shoes: when a shoe lands in fair territory and is broken in separate parts, it shall be removed, and the competitor will be allowed to pitch another shoe in its stead.
Section 5
Foul Shoes: any shoe pitched by a competitor which lands outside of or on the sides or back of the opposite pitching box, is a foul shoe. Foul shoes shall be removed from the opposite pitcher's box at the request of the opponent. A foul shoe shall not be scored or credited except under the score sheet column heading "shoes pitched."

Rule 5:00 Conduct and Penalties

Section 1
No competitor, while their opponent is in pitching position, shall make any remark nor utter any sounds within the hearing of opponent, nor make any movement that does or might interfere with the opponent playing. Penalty: both shoes of the offender shall be declared foul in the inning about which complaint is made.
Section 2
No competitor shall touch his/her own or opponent's shoe or shoes until the event official renders a decision. The event official shall declare foul shoes thrown by a competitor failing to comply with this rule, and award points to the opponent, according to the position of his or her shoes.
Section 3
No competitor shall walk to the horseshoe pit, or be informed of the position of shoes prior to the completion of an inning.
Section 4
A player, while not pitching, must remain in an area that does not interfere with his/her opponents pitching motion.
Section 5
Any player repeatedly violating rules, or guilty of unsportsmanlike conduct, may be barred from further competition.

Rule 6:00 Scoring

Section 1
The "count all" method will be used for this tournament. Each game will be played for ten in­nings, each player throwing two shoes each inning. The player with the highest score at the end of the 10 innings advances in the single elimination tournament. Ties shall be broken by pitching an extra inning, or as many extra innings as necessary to break the tie.
Section 2
Each player shall receive credit for all points according to the position of the shoes at the end of each inning; regardless of what his/her opponent throws. Thus, it is possible for each player to score up to 6 points in any one inning. Ringers count 3 points and shoes within 6 inches of the stake count 1 point each. Shoes touching or leaning on stake but not a ringer count 1 point. All points of each competitor are counted in each inning.
Section 3
Definition of Ringer: a ringer is declared when a shoe encircles the stake far enough to allow the touching of both heel caulks simultaneously with a straight edge, and permit a clearance of the stake.

Visually Impaired and Wheelchair Horseshoes

Competitors in the Visually Impaired and Wheelchair Horseshoe competition will use a standard court but the pitching distance will be adjusted in accordance with the rules outlined in this section and/or as modified by the event official.

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