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How to teach your kids to play horseshoes

Finding a game that the whole family can play can be tricky if you have kids. Depending on the age, if a game has too many rules or pieces, it can be hard for them to pick it up. That can lead to the adults getting super frustrated, and the whole thing ends with everyone crying.

A simple, easy, and fun game to play is horseshoes. You don’t need a lot of space or equipment, and the rules are pretty easy. If you get a child-friendly set, then there’s little risk of anyone getting hurt by accident.

If it’s nice outside and you need something to do with kids that will get everyone involved without needing to be super physical, then horseshoes is the game for you. Let’s go over how to play horseshoes with the whole family.

A game of horseshoes set up outside in the grass.
Heinz Waha / Shutterstock

The game

Horseshoes only requires about 40 feet of space. For an outdoor game, that will be pretty easy to find. Since there’s no running or a lot of moving, you don’t need much more than that for everyone to have enough room. If 40 feet is too hard for the kids to reach, you can scooch it in as much as they need.

It can be played on grass, gravel, sand, or any other level surface. You’ll only need 2 stakes, and can even use just 1 in a pinch. You’ll need 4 horseshoes. If you are going to really keep track of points and scores, a pen and paper or scoring system will be needed.

Not too bad, right? Easy to carry, portable, and little setup make it a great outdoor game for families to play. Anyone of any skill level can play, so it’s perfect for any age.

Horseshoe rules

If you are playing with kids, you’ll want the easiest set of horseshoe rules to follow. All of the technical rules that you’d play with adults need to go out the window. The kids won’t remember, and you’ll start to freak out every time they step their foot over the foul line. Only use the basic general outline of the game.

  • Each shoe within 6 inches of the stake gets a point
  • 3 points for a ringer (shoe around the stake)
  • All players throw their shoes one way each round
  • First to 40 points, or best score after 25 innings, wins

If you keep it that simple, kids of pretty much any counting age and older will be fine. You can take away or add rules for younger and older kids.

A game of horseshoes set up in the sand.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Start small

If you have little, little ones, you will need to make it even easier. Maybe you don’t keep score. Make it a fun game of back and forth. You won’t have to keep points. You can just keep track of how many times you get a ringer.

If the kids are a little older and want to keep score, that’s a great job for them. Give them a pencil and notebook and let them keep track. The more involved they are, the longer they’ll want to play. Keeping it as interactive as possible will prevent meltdowns.

Start with a kid’s set

If the kids are smaller, they probably won’t be able to throw real horseshoes. Get a rubber or plastic set that they’ll be able to toss but that will also cause less damage if they accidentally hit someone with one. You know a kid’s aim can never be trusted.

The Champion Sports Rubber Horseshoes Set is perfect for kids over 3. It’s bright and easy to see, lightweight rubber, and portable. You can keep it in the car to bring to any event or function to give the kids something to do.

Another cool option is the Boley Ring Toss and Horseshoes Outside Game set. It comes with 6 horseshoes so more people can play. If you have a bigger group of kids then you can involve more with this one. It also comes with regular circle toss rings so you have another game option. If you have a larger family that you want to entertain, this bigger set would be perfect.

Starting your kids off with an easier version of horseshoes will be less stressful for everyone. As they get older, you can start adding in more rules. You can use the proper scoring system, create the foul lines, and upgrade to the real horseshoes. You can even start showing them all the different ways to hold the horseshoe and the more advanced ways to throw the horseshoe.

Backyard games are the best when you have children. Any nice day needs to be spent outside. It gets everyone some fresh air but also wears kids out faster. Who would turn down a way to get a kid to go to bed on time without a fuss? You should have a horseshoe set ready to go for any nice weather day.

Remember though, kids are either going to listen and play the way you want them or, or they won’t. As long as they are having fun, you have to let go. But if you want a game that the whole family can play together that doesn’t have a million pieces and rules to try to explain to a child, then get outside and enjoy a game of horseshoes for as long as the kids will last.

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Dannielle Beardsley
Dannielle has written for various websites, online magazines, and blogs. She loves everything celebrity and her favorite…
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