The basic horseshoe is two stakes fastened securely in the ground 40 feet apart. The stakes should be of iron or soft steel one inch in diameter protruding 15 inches from the ground, each leaning about 3" toward the opposite stake.
Each stake is placed in the center of a "pit" measuring 43" - 72" long and 31" - 36" inches wide. Moist blue clay works best as a cushion substance in the pit but other types of moist clay as well as loose dirt and sand are acceptable. On both sides of the pits are long, narrow (approx 6' long and 18" wide)" pitchers platforms". This is where the players pitch their shoes from. To accommodate short distance pitchers, these platforms can be extended toward the opposite end an additional 10 ft.
"Horseshoes" made for pitching are used. Each weighs approximately 2-1/2 pounds and having an opening no greater than 3-1/2". Real horseshoes are made in varying sizes and weights and are not suggested for use as pitching horseshoes.
The object of the game is to pitch the horseshoe so that it comes to rest encircling the stake. Shoes that come to rest within six inches of the stake also score points
Each contestant pitches two shoes in succession. When a contestant is pitching, the opponent shall quietly stand to the rear of or behind the other platform.
A contestant cannot start to walk to the opposite end until both players have pitched both shoes.
A shoe making contact outside the pit before it comes to rest does not count in the scoring and if it lies within scoring distance of the stake it may be removed before the next pitch by either contestant.
Foul lines are marked at 27 feet and 37 feet from the opposite stake across the pitching platforms. Shoes pitched by adult men must be released from the platform behind the 37 foot foul line. Shoes pitched by "elder" men, age 70 or more, may optionally be pitched from platforms behind either the 37 foot or 27 foot foul line. Women and youths up to 18 may pitch from any platform at any distance from behind the 27 foot foul lines. Men with physical handicap may also observe the 27 foot foul line rule.
The closest shoe to the stake within 6 inches scores 1 point, two shoes closer than opponent's scores 2 points, one ringer and closest shoe of the same player scores 4 points, each uncancelled ringer scores 3 points. All equal ringers count as ties (no score). All ringers count towards total ringer percentages. A leaning shoe has no value over one lying flat touching the stake. The player that scores or ties a score receives first pitch. Most cancellation games are played to 40 points. Other point limits are acceptable if agreed upon beforehand. It is also legal to play to a pre-set shoe limit, with 40 or 50 shoes being the most popular. Ringer averages are a measure of skill and are used for "seeding" contestants in tournament play. Ringer averages are calculated by dividing total ringers pitched by total shoes pitched and multiplying the result by 100. (i.e. 25 R div by 50 S = .500 x 100 = 50.00%)
Contestants receive credit for all points. The maximum is 2 ringers (6 points) and the minimum is both shoes beyond 6 inches from the stake (0 points). All games are pitched to a preset shoe limit - 20, 40 or 50 shoes are popular choices.