The sport of horseshoe pitching can be traced back to Roman times. Roman soldiers played games during their off time that consisted of tossing metal rings over stakes pounded into the ground. Like the Roman soldiers, North American soldiers later found the game of horseshoes to be a good wartime recreation.
During the Revolutionary war, U.S. soldiers evidently played horseshoes which caused the Duke of Wellington to write, “The war was won by the pitchers of horse hardware.” Union soldiers also pitched mule shoes in Civil War camps during the mid 1800’s.
After the wars, soldiers took the game home with them and horseshoe courts sprang up in communities across the United States. The game became a family sport that was enjoyed by men, women, and children.
Raising the Stakes
In 1911, the height of the stake was increased from two to six inches. Stakes continued to inch up until 1950 when they reached the current regulation height of between 14 and 15 inches.
HOT TIP!: It would stand to reason that if you come upon a horseshoe pit, and the stakes are closer to the ground than usual, then those ‘pits’ are probably some of the very early horseshoe pits and may hold some old rings, coins or even pocket watches!
In the 1920’s, horseshoe pitching was a popular spectator sport that was regularly covered in newspapers on the sports pages. Back then, both winter and summer world championship tournaments were held every year. A sports-writer named Doc Kerr dubbed the game “barnyard golf,” in reference to the games popularity in rural areas.
The moniker barnyard golf stuck and it was a common name for horseshoe pitching for more than a decade. It is estimated that more than 15 million people enjoy the game of horseshoes recreationally. World champion titles have been awarded every year since the first tournament took place in Bronson, Kansas in 1909.
So What Does That Have To Do With Metal Detecting?
What does any of this have to do with metal detecting? Well, those horseshoe pits have been around for a very long time, and many of them have never been detected. You can get lucky with horseshoes and make some nice finds in those pits.
Where to Metal Detect
Detect the immediate area’s in front of and behind the horseshoe pits, as well as the “throwing lanes.” Rings can easily fly off the fingers of players throwing horseshoes. Likewise, spectators drop coins and things out of their pockets so be sure to detect the side lines too.
Close still counts in the game of horseshoes. Hopefully these tips will get your metal detector ‘closer’ to some old silver coins and some other goodies along the way!
History of Horseshoe Pitching – SportsKnowHow.com. IMUC, n.d.23 Apr, 2014