Horseshoes is an outdoor game played between two people (or two teams of two people) using four horseshoes and two throwing targets (stakes) set in a sandbox area. The game is played by the players alternating turns tossing horseshoes at stakes in the ground, which are traditionally placed 30 or 40 feet apart. Modern games use a more stylized U‐shaped bar, about twice the size of an actual horseshoe. Participants in Alberta 55 plus competitions are placed in their “ringer percentage” category for more equal play.

DOWNLOAD THE PDF: Rules of Horseshoes

1. The Alberta 55 Plus Games and all sanctioned ALBERTA 55 PLUS events will follow the rules as outlined by the Horseshoe Canada Association. These rules are available by searching or by contacting:

Horseshoe Canada Association
4545 Pierre-De Coubertin
Montreal, Quebec H1V 3R2

2. Age Categories/Events

Age groups, events and competition procedures for an Alberta 55 Plus Games are specified in the current Activity Information Book.

3. General Overview and Rules:

a) The game of horseshoes is essentially an accuracy game in which the players toss objects in the form of horseshoes at a target in the form of an iron stake.

b) The game is broken down to ends.

c) Each end consists of four pitched shoes, two by each contestant.

d) Each person will pitch 40 shoes per game.

e) Ties will be decided by higher ringer percentage.

f) A coin toss or flipping of a shoe determines who pitches first.

4. A player must pitch each shoe from inside the outer edges, or “foul lines” of the pitcher’s box and at least 18 inches from the stake. Stepping over the foul line is a foul pitch and no score is counted.

5. A player must stand at the rear of the pitcher’s box while his/her opponent is delivering his/her shoes and must not talk or make distracting noises. A player violating this rule loses the value of both shoes pitched in that frame.

6. A player cannot walk to the opposite end of the court until both players have pitched their shoes in a frame.

7. A shoe which first strikes the ground outside the pitcher’s box or on the hard surface of the pitching platforms and then bounces into scoring distance does not count in the scoring. This shoe is removed immediately. If this shoe caused any shoe (s) already in the pit to be moved, the moved shoes (s) remain in the position now occupied.

8. A shoe, which breaks when pitched, does not count and another shoe must be pitched in its place.

9. Shoes must not be moved until the score of that frame is tallied and should not be moved except in the process of measuring to determine the score.

Ringer percentages must be established at the zone level competition each Games year, using the following guidelines. This percentage will be used at the Provincial Games. Note that players with lower averages may choose to move up to a higher ringer percentage category but higher average players will not be allowed to move to a lower category.

Guidelines and Clarification Regarding Ringer Percentages:

– If the participant’s ringer percentage is listed in the Alberta Horseshoe Pitchers Association Book, this percentage must be used at playoffs/Games.

– If participant is not in Association book but took part in the previous Alberta 55 Plus Summer playoff or Games, this previous percentage must be used in the current Games year.

– If male participant has changed age groups since previous Games and is now throwing from the shorter distance, he must add 10% to his ringer percentage, which may affect his Ringer Percentage category.

– A new participant should be offered the option of throwing 50 shoes prior to the playoff to establish a percentage for the current Games year.

Contestants’ ringer percentages must accompany their registration for the provincial Games.

Female participants throw from 30 feet; male participants 55 years and over throw from 40 feet. Male participants 65 years and over will have the option of throwing from 30 feet or 40 feet. Note: rules for the Provincial Games allow male participants 65 years and over to move down to 55+ age category. All participants in the 55+ Men’s Ringer Percentage categories will throw from 40 feet (including those who are 65 years of age or older.)

A round robin tournament format will be used for playoffs and Provincial Games. Winners declared according to best record of wins. Ties will be decided by higher ringer percentage.


a) A “ringer” is a shoe that encircles the stake in such a way that a straight edge can be laid across the open end of the shoes touching both prongs without touching the stake.

b) A shoe leaning against the stake has the same value as one touching the stake but laying on the ground.

c) When both players of opposing teams throws a “ringer”, or when both players of opposing teams throws two “ringers” in a frame, the ringers are regarded as ties and cancel each other.

d) Shoes, of opposing players, which are equal distance from the stake in the same frame, are regarded as ties and cancel each other; the next closest shoe scores one point providing it is within six inches of the stake.

e) Shoes must be within six inches of the stake to count in the scoring.

f) The player who scores in a frame pitches first in the next frame. If no points are scored in a frame, the player who pitched last in that frame pitches in the next frame.


1 point = Horseshoe is within six inches of the stake and closer than any opponent’s shoes.
1 point = Both players have ringers – one player’s remaining shoe is within six inches of the stake.
2 points = Both horseshoes of one player are within six inches of stake and closer than either shoe of the opponent.
3 points = Player scores ringer, opponent does not have a ringer in that frame.
3 points = Player scores two ringers while opponent scores one ringer. (First ringers cancel each other).
4 points = One shoe is a ringer while remaining shoe is within six inches of stake and is closer than either opponent’s shoes.
6 points = Both shoes of one player are ringers while neither of opponent’s shoes are ringers.


Winners are declared according to best record of wins. Ties will be decided by higher ringer percentage.