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What You'll Need:

  • A Metal or Plastic Horseshoes Game Set
  • Spray Paint or Masking Tape
  • A Scoreboard or a Notepad & Pen (to keep score)


  1. Before the party, set up a child-friendly horseshoes court in your backyard by hammering two stakes into the ground 10' apart from each other.
  2. Using masking tape or spray paint, mark a tossing line on the ground 10' to 30' away from the two posts; adjust this distance as necessary, based on the ages and abilities of your guests.
  3. Children ages 7 and older may prefer to play with real, iron horseshoes. For younger children, however, it's best to use a light-weight, plastic children's set.
Note: Most horseshoes rulebooks will recommend setting up the stakes 40' apart from each other, but this distance is too great for young children. Also, setting up the stakes opposite each other is not as safe for young children, especially if they're playing with iron horseshoes. A side-by-side setup will reduce the risk of an over-thrown horseshoe hitting an opponent, and it makes it easier to decide which team should get a point after close tosses. You may also want to adapt the rules outlined below, making them more or less stringent based on your guests' ages.

At the Party:

Read your guests the following rules (or a modified version) for playing a basic game of horseshoes:
  • Divide the players into 2 equal teams.
  • Position the teams behind the tossing line and across from their respective posts.
  • The game is played to 21 points.
  • 1 point is given for each horseshoe that is closer to the stake than the opponent's horseshoe.
  • 3 points are given for each "ringer" (i.e. a horseshoe that circles the stake).

  1. To start, one player from each team steps up to the tossing line.
  2. Hand 2 or 3 horseshoes to each player.
  3. Have the two players alternate throwing their horseshoes, aiming for their respective posts.
  4. After each toss, record the points each player earned, if any—3 points to each player who threw a ringer or 1 point to the player whose horseshoe landed closer to his or her team's post.
  5. When the first two players have finished their turn, have the second pair of players step up to the tossing line.
  6. Continue cycling through the players until one team reaches the 21-point goal.
  7. Or, if you wish, you can increase or decrease the goal to accommodate the number of players—i.e., continue play until every team member has taken a turn at the tossing line.
  8. If you choose to play this way, the team with the most points at the end wins the game.

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