When the weather finally heats up, it’s time to get outside and play. Consider adding a game of horseshoes to your standard routine of catch or basketball. A horseshoe pit is an easy weekend project that can be completed in no time with a few simple materials. Older children may even enjoy helping out with the process, while younger kids can enjoy painting the boxes and stakes. You can enjoy it all spring and summer long with friends and family, then pack the boxes away for the winter before bringing them out at the first sign of spring next year.
How To Build A Horseshoe Pit
To create your horseshoe pit, you’ll need the following items:
- Pressure treated lumber
- Fasteners, such as screws or nails
- A saw
- Fill dirt
- Stakes measuring one inch in diameter and 24 inches in length
- A sledgehammer
- A shovel
- Landscaping fabric, optional
Measure your space and determine the size of your boxes before purchasing materials to avoid overspending and expensive mistakes.
Measure your Space
A regulation horseshoe pit requires stakes to be placed 40 feet apart within a box that measures at least 31 by 43 inches but not more than 36 by 72 inches. If you’re not interested in professional-level play, you can make your box any size that will comfortably fit in your yard. While horseshoes typically uses two boxes — one for the stakes and one for players to stand in when they pitch — you can use just one box if your yard is on the smaller side. Once you’ve measured your space, purchase your materials to fit and begin building.
Building the Boxes
Boxes should be sturdy and able to withstand weather conditions throughout the season, so be sure to purchase high-quality materials that can tolerate the heat and occasional rainstorm. Cut the lumber to your desired box size and attach the pieces with screws, nails, or other fasteners. Be sure to check the edges of the lumber for staples and uneven edges before cutting, and insert your screws at a slight angle to prevent them from protruding from the other side of the wood. You may choose to paint the boxes at this point. Use paint designed for outdoor use and consider your design. You can paint your boxes with your own favorite colors or those of your favorite sports team, or you might decide on stripes, stars, and other designs. If you’d prefer a raw wood look, apply a varnish to the wood to help avoid mold and other unpleasant side effects of leaving the boxes outdoors for extended periods of time.
Setting Up the Boxes
There are two methods for setting up your boxes. You may choose to simply lay them on the ground, which makes them easy to move at the end of the season without causing damage to your yard. However, this means that the boxes will not sit flush with the ground, and players will need to compensate for this in their throws. Instead, consider digging trenches in which the boxes can sit. This keeps the frames level and makes it easier to play and see the position of the stakes. Place landscaping fabric at the bottom of the pits to suppress weed growth and prevent sinking.
Adding Stakes and Dirt
Your stakes should be set a minimum of 21 inches from the front of your horseshoe box and stick up about 15 inches from the ground. When driving the stakes into the boxes, position them so that they lean slightly toward the other pit at a three inch angle.
Next, fill your boxes with dirt. Traditionally, horseshoe pits are filled with sand. This can be expensive, however, especially because most pits require five to six bags of sand to be completely covered. Fill dirt, meanwhile, can be obtained for free from many home construction contractors and landscapers. This minimizes your costs and allows you to complete your project more quickly.
After this final step, you’re ready to play! If you have leftover wood, you may want to add a backboard to your pits or establish a pitching area for a more professional grade game of horseshoes. Otherwise, you can begin enjoying your horseshoe pit right away for a relaxing, enjoyable game that’s perfect for outdoor parties or lazy afternoons alike.
Quick Rules for Horseshoes
Need a refresher on the rules before your first game? Horseshoes is easy to learn and plenty of fun to try to master. Each game of horseshoes is divided into innings, and players may pitch two shoes per inning. Shoes must be pitched underhand and one at a time. The first player gets to throw both of their shoes before the next player throws theirs.
There are several ways to score points. A ringer, where a shoe completely encircles the stake without touching it when the shoe lands, is worth three points. Shoes that fall six inches or closer to the stake are worth one point, as are leaners, which come to rest on the stake. If both of one player’s shoes are closer to the stake than both of their opponent’s, the player receives a two point bonus. You can keep score on a notepad, but a chalkboard or whiteboard can display the score to spectators and let everyone get involved in the game when they’re not playing.
A game of horseshoes can end whenever you’d like, though the ending point should be determined before the game begins. Perhaps you’d like to play for just half an hour, or until someone reaches 15 points. Most professional games are played to 40 points, 50 shoes thrown, or whichever one comes first.
Free Maryland Fill Dirt For Your Horseshoe Pit
Contact Dirt Connections to schedule your free fill dirt delivery. Dirt Connections completes a range of household construction projects, including pool removals, dump truck hauling, and more. Its free fill dirt delivery program is available throughout Northern Virginia and Maryland and also includes dirt removal if you’ve requested too much dirt for your project. Speak to a professional contractor today to discuss your needs, determine your delivery amount, and schedule your appointment.