The classic game of pitching horseshoes is a great activity for complementing an upcoming picnic or a lawn BBQ. Having been played for since several centuries, it is an essence of healthy and pleasant competition. Think of a traditional game to be played with families and friends and horseshoes is perhaps the oldest and the most common one.
Whether skilled or unskilled, young or old, tired or fresh, pitching horseshoes is the game without any restrictions on who can play. It is a family sport regardless of whether it is a backyard, a tournament, or a league.
Ancient Romans played a traditional version of this sport along with the Revolutionary Warfighters. Today too, the game is a popular activity for both recreation and professional mastery. Apart from a backyard or good outdoor space, you only need a quality horseshoe set to get started.
The whole reason for buying a horseshoe set is fun until the sun is shining in the sky. Another advantage of investing in one such set is ease of carrying; you can carry it anywhere such as a park or a beach. As there are not many things included in a horseshoe set, it is easy to hold and carry.
The game is both easy and tricky to win but not much physical effort is needed for the same. This means that anyone can participate in it. Further, there are no complex or hard rules for the setup; you only need to install the stakes. Similarly, there is no need of buying costly gear.
Perhaps, it is the simplicity of this game that has made it pass the test of time. While the game itself is simple, choosing the right horseshoe set can be channeling. While looking for them, you will mostly come across the picnic-style or recreational style sets. These are what you normally see on beaches or at backyard picnics.
There are professional sets as well. Thus, depending on your play level, venue of playing, and your own competitive spirit, this post shall guide you on how to choose the best horseshoe sets for your game. We also review top 5 horseshoe sets in the market and a big section on buying factors you should consider.
2019’s 5 Best Horseshoe Sets
Champion Sports Rubber Horseshoe Set
Consider this set of professional-grade quality if you wish to learn the pitch or have some casual fun in the backyard or inside your home if it is too hot, windy, or raining. The Champion Sports set is perhaps an all-purpose one to work in any condition.
With two rubber mats having plastic pegs, four horseshoes, and two plastic stakes, the set offers you all that is required to get started. The stakes and horseshoes have a bright color due to which the target becomes clearly visible regardless of the amount of light available.
As compared to the conventional horseshoes, these are quite light and easy to hold by people of all ages or suffering from any impairment. You can choose to play even inside with this set, as it is entirely built using rubber. Thus, the surrounding floors and walls remain untroubled.
Thus, you are saved from the repair expenses and are given more opportunities to spend quality time with your friends and families. The soft design of this set makes it totally safe for children to use it, who are inherently inquisitive and adventurous.
Even toddlers can use it without any risk, provided they are supervised well. Still, as per the manufacturer, this set is for nine years old and above. Adults, too, are safe to use this set, as it will not harm if it hits anyone.
The parts are simple and quick to assemble. The mats stick to the stakes immediately. Even kids can install it without using the help guide. This set is not for competitive players.
- Entry-level set
- Light for the improved toss
- Indoor/Outdoor use
- Easy to set
- Easy to throw
- Improved visibility
- Safe for kids
- Virtually unbreakable
- Paint coming out after some time
- The chemical-like smell while unboxing
St. Pierre American Professional Series Horseshoes
This set of St. Pierre is the brainchild of a champion pitcher and is famous for its distinct outline. It is one of the most recommended professional sets regardless of whether you wish to play a casual game or play like a pro.
The set consists of four horseshoes made up of forged steel in blue and red and two 3/4-inch thick and 24-inch long stakes of solid steel designed to endure the harshest environmental conditions. Approved by the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association (NHPA), these horseshoes come with more weight than usual in the area of their toe caulks. This results in better balance and control at the time of pitching.
The horseshoes are heavy-duty and have more weight than usual to give a great feel in your hand. The paint on it lasts well and that they are easy to clean. The quality of stakes is also of better quality although they feel a bit short after going into the ground. Still, it is essential to put them deep into the ground for ensuring the desired level of stability.
Further, the horseshoes can easily glide into the stake due to their tapered leading edge. The superb design also features longer tips to hold the stake as well as a ringer breaker for the purpose of rotating the horseshoes. There is also a finger positioner for you to hold it like a professional.
This set is seriously for those who are serious about pitching and love longevity. The set comes with a tote bag of plastic and an official rulebook.
- Rugged build for outdoor use
- Ensured balance and control
- Good weight
- Improved visibility
- Great thumb grip
- Rulebook with the standard play rules
- Super-easy sliding of horseshoes onto the stakes
- Storage tote included
- Included rulebook and tote
- Less durable stakes and tote
Champion Sports Horseshoe Set
This is one more recommended horseshoe set from Champion Sports. It is a Tournament-quality set that is for players of all ages, including kids. Unlike other horseshoe nets, this professional one comes with two regulation-weighted horseshoes. The horseshoes are plated with chrome and brass although they are made using solid steel.
The high-quality steel dexterity makes the plated horseshoes resistant to rust and corrosion, unlike the plastic horseshoes. This means that you can play for years in your lawn or any outdoor venue regardless of the weather. Giving full support are the two stakes, which are made up of durable steel.
Apart from these two things, the set also provides a weatherproof, heavy-duty case boasting a YKK zipper. You can use this case in any weather for easily storing or carrying the set. It boasts the brand’s embroidered logo on its side. You also get a rulebook to make the play easy for all ages.
- Solid tournament-quality build
- Regulation weighted horseshoes
- Resistant to fading, rust, and corrosion
- Easy to set
- Rulebook and nylon case included
- Weatherproof case
- Somewhat pricier than similar options
Franklin Professional Sports Horseshoes Set
Consider this set if you are looking for a professional-feel set for young kids and adults who are eager to learn and master this game. It is truly not a cheap version to get at a more economical price than that of many professional sets.
It comes with two stakes and four horseshoes, of which two are in black and two are in silver. The horseshoes are well-finished, weight sufficiently heavy, and are of the regulation size and weight. The latter feature is something that many horseshoes of the same quality do not come with.
They are quite close in terms of color with light and dark feel but are easily differentiated due to the A and B markings. All four horseshoes are made up of sturdy forged steel that has a lasting coating to keep rust at bay.
The 23.5-inch stakes are also made up of forged steel that is plated with chrome due to which they feel extremely sturdy and hold up to be nailed into the ground. For the game, you need to push them at least 9-10 inches deep into the ground.
The set also comes with a heavy-duty carrying case made up of strong fabric material and having a good zipper with two quality pulls. It also has handles that close nicely with Velcro.
You also get a good instruction booklet that guides on how to play even to those who has no prior knowledge of either the game or its setup.
- Sturdy build
- A and B markings for easy distinction
- Good weight and balance
- Easy to set
- Improved visibility with brighter traditional colors
- Handy case
- Manual having game rules
- Flimsy bag
Gordon Premium Pitching Horseshoes
This pair of horseshoes is for those who are pitching pros and rely only on the best gear available in the market. While this one does not come with stakes, it is worth investing in it for having a lasting quality in your hands. It seems that Gordon assumes its buyers to be serious horseshoe pitchers who will already have stakes or will be using the horseshoes in casual sessions or local tournaments.
Approved by the NHPA for the league and tournament sessions, these horseshoes are truly tournament-quality ones. They are not just sturdy but ensure great performance during the game. The horseshoes are made using superior carbon steel that is drop-forged to ensure more strength than usual.
The horseshoes have the perfect weight of 2.5 lbs. This is medium weight due to which they are ideal even for the beginners apart from the experienced players. They also come with hardened hooks and powder-coated finish in red color that keeps rust at bay and ensures consistent grip throughout its lifespan.
- Right (medium) weight for a great throw
- Well-balanced pair
- Highly resistant to corrosion
- 1-year breakage warranty
- Little pricey
- No stakes
How to Choose the Best Horseshoe Sets
The market is filled with a diverse collection of recreational and professional horseshoe sets for all pitching styles as well as skill levels. Whether you are a seasoned player or a beginner, there are many sets that claim to fulfill your needs.
However, not all sets are equal even if they seem to be in terms of look and feel. Each of them tends to differ in terms of price, build material, type, weight, shape, and dimensions. At the same time, even buyers will have different requirements or expectations.
When these expectations closely match with the features or specifications, that horseshoe set becomes the best option for that buyer. Thus, it is wrong to believe that a single horseshoe set is the best for all buyers.
You need to choose what suits you the best by identifying your own requirements and budget. Do you need a professional or a recreational set? Should the horseshoes weigh less as younger kids will be using them? You need to find answers to these questions and then map them with the features or specifications, which are nothing but the buying factors.
So, let’s check out these buying factors in the form of answers to commonly asked questions.
Why should I find out who would be playing with horseshoes before buying a set?
For purchasing the right horseshoe set, you need to know who will be playing with it. For example, if the players are mostly kids, then you should go with lighter horseshoes. This is because they tend to struggle with the heavier ones.
A rubber set has lighter horseshoes to get started. Such horseshoes also do not end up hurting significantly if they hit someone. If this is on priority, even a plastic set will do.
When kids unavoidably drop a horseshoe on their or your toes, you will be relieved to know that it is not steel or any other metal! This is something to remember if the group or party will have more kids than adults. A lighter pair of horseshoes is also viable if you need to carry it to the beach or to a nearby picnic spot.
Similarly, if there are older players, you should ideally go for more weight, as they will be pleased to have the heft and feel of conventional steel builds. For teens or adults, it is ideal to go with a recreational set made up of steel if the aim is casual fun. With it, you get the real feel and the classic clang at the time of hitting the stake.
For serious pitchers, it is wise to consider a set that the NHPA has endorsed. Such a set comes with horseshoes whose specifications or measurements are identical to what professionals tend to use. This is critical if the players need to participate in tournaments or simply want to play with high-quality gear. When going through the different sets, just ensure that the packaging has the label of NHPA-approved.
Thus, knowing who will play is an important requirement to know beforehand.
Why do I need to know how often the players will play with horseshoes before buying a set?
Once you know who will play, the next important requirement or factor to know is how frequently they will be using the horseshoes. Will they be using the horseshoes occasionally or they wish to become dedicated players?
If the players are serious and wish to play dedicatedly or they want to prepare for some competing tournament, it becomes essential to invest a little more. If it is only for backyard fun, a basic set is a wise choice.
How the destined space or venue affects my selection of horseshoe set?
Knowing where you will be playing the horseshoe game significantly contributes to the right selection. If you have an adequate outdoor space such as in a medium or a big backyard and are not willing to go indoors, you can go for a steel set. You need space for creating the pit as well as enough space between it and the toss line.
In the case of a short space, a rubber set is ideal for you. Rubber sets come with flexible ways to set up due to which you can set the stakes or pegs either on a hard or soft surface such as paved decks and walkways. Choosing a rubber set is fun for those who want to play inside and do not possess a backyard.
In case the destined space is at a park, beach, or some picnic spot, it becomes indispensable for you to carry and transport it. Here, you need a lighter set that has its own durable tote bag so that you can easily move the set from one place to another.
Which type of horseshoe set is best for me?
Choosing the right type of horseshoe set is critical. There are two types to consider, recreational and professional. Selecting one of them is truly dependent on your requirements and priorities. However, for that, you need to comprehend both types.
- Recreational: Are simply for leisure and are ideal for the weekend players who long for a fun pastime. They are picnic-style models, affordable, and come with usually two to four horseshoes, two stakes, and a handy case. The recreational sets are either made up of rubber or drop-forged steel, of which rubber sets are more famous. However, they are also made up of cast steel or an iron alloy. Recreational horseshoes have a different shape instead of the oval one and that their open ends are wider than that of the conventional ones. Majority of rubber sets are designed for both indoor and outdoor sessions, are safe for kids, and are durable. They come with stakes and rubber mats centered with pegs for quick setup almost anywhere. As rubber is light and unharmful, its horseshoe sets are suitable for players of all ages. Elders find it easy to handle and enjoy throwing heavy horseshoes made up of rubber.
- Sport/Professional: Are for an unrivaled game experience sustained by the actual sport rules. These sets are shipped with components identical to those of recreational ones. Both professional and recreational options are typically meant for adults and encompass heavy components such as cast iron or steel horseshoes or stakes. However, the professional ones differ in terms of weight, shape, horseshoe balance, and quality of build materials. Sports horseshoes are double in size of the conventional horseshoes and weigh nearly 2.1 to 3.5 pounds. Unlike the recreational ones, they have rounded edges for ensuring more comfortable grabbing and throwing. They are recommended for those who want a longer-lasting set than usual. Such sets usually come with a label of NHPA-compliant. If you wish to participate in events, it is vital to practice with the same gear that you will be using in tournaments. Most professional sets come with steel horseshoes and stakes, a build material known for its resistance to corrosion and adequate heft. For these sets, you need adequate space for a pit as well as a throwing line. However, you strictly need to follow the guidebook. While professional sets are critical for boosting performance, they are costlier than the recreational ones.
What should be the ideal weight of horseshoes?
Horseshoes’ weight is an important factor to consider if you want to pitch like a pro and/or do not want to break the horseshoes in anger or frustration. NHPA horseshoes need to weigh around 2.5 pounds, which is an ideal heft to enjoy a balanced toss. It is highly possible that plastic and rubber horseshoes can weigh less. Further, there can be a bit of a difference between iron and steel sets. So, keep an eye on the weight irrespective of the set you choose.
Along with the weight, you also need to consider how it is dispersed across the horseshoe. For performing like a pro, the weight should be more focused on the arms.
Ideally, the weight should not be much light or much heavy. In simple words, it should not be as heavy as discus used for discus throw or as light as feathers. A discus-heavy model will result in a slower toss, make you tired soon, and will not go far.
On the other hand, a feather-light model will just move in the air. Both are unpleasant experiences during a throw. So, go for the ideal weight of 2.5 pounds if players are adults or a bit less if players are kids.
Which kind of horseshoe design should I choose?
As a fact, the horseshoes of playsets differ from those that horses wear. Instead of the perfectly rounded ends, the horseshoes sold through the game sets feature a small hook on each tip. They also are usually square in shape so that they do not fly off the stake while throwing a ringer that should land around the pole. So, look for one such horseshoe design and not the one that you see on horses.
Which kind of horseshoe material should I choose?
Horseshoes in sets are made up of different materials although most of them are made using steel or rubber. To choose the right build material, you need to know about all possible build materials along with their pros and cons.
- Rubber: Is truly the most famous option when it comes to buying recreational horseshoes. Rubber is almost unbreakable and is friendly with all ages. It also contributes to stunning performance, enabling players to enjoy the play at an economical price. However, no rubber sets are certified by the NHPA institute.
- Plastic: Is used to make low-end horseshoes. As it does not give durable horseshoes, choosing this material makes sense only if you wish to relish a quick game while on an adventurous journey and seriously have a low budget. Plastic horseshoes will also no give you the same feel as other build materials give. Despite these facts, plastic is family-friendly just like rubber and is ideal for indoor use. Choose a plastic horseshoe set if there are small kids to get started with it and are curious enough to ruin it.
- Steel: Is certainly the best material to consider when it is a matter of buying horseshoes. In fact, all professional or tournament sets have horseshoes of steel, as it is a highly durable material. Due to its distinct character, steel also contributes to seamless aesthetics and is resistant to rust. It is now justified why steel sets are priced more than rubber and plastic horseshoe sets. You will come across two steel types while going through the description of various sets:
- Drop-forged: Is the most famous as well as lasting steel option. These horseshoes are built by employing the conventional forging process during which steel is hammered to form a horseshoe. The drop-forged steel sets are among the highest quality ones. However, they are also expensive, as it takes time to make these horseshoes.
- Alloy Cast: Is moderately light in weight and sturdier than the material, ductile iron. It is usually used in building pitching horseshoes although it is usable in designing a variety of horseshoes for both recreational and sports sets. Even this steel is pricey.
- Cast Iron: Is durable and a cheaper alternative to steel. Horseshoes made up of cast iron deliver almost the same experience as you tend to expect from the steel ones. However, they don’t keep up as well as their elegant equivalents. Further, they are infamous for splitting. Finally; cast iron horseshoes are more economical than steel.
- Ductile Iron: Is the most economical material and is usually used to create horseshoes of recreational sets. On the flip side, the biggest limitation of ductile iron is its feebleness; the horseshoes of this material are likely to break more easily than those made from alloy or steel.
How do I check the quality of horseshoe sets?
Regardless of the type of horseshoe set you choose; quality is what first you need to check or assess. While some sets are likely to appear quite similar in the first go, you need to inspect all promising sets more closely to find out whether your investment will be fruitful or not.
For assessing the quality of any horseshoe set, you need to check the build materials along with finish touch if any. If you choose a set with a carrying case, it is worth checking its quality too by finding out its build material.
If you wish to use a set for several years, it is carrying case should be of premium quality. Only such a case can withstand all tough times apart from organizing the components well. If you are on a tight budget, you may choose a flimsier tote to reduce costs and use it reliably on a beach.
Another point to assess for quality is durability. For example, rubber horseshoes do not break no matter how you handle them indoors or outdoors.
What all should I have as a part of my horseshoe set contents?
All professional sets come with two stakes and four horseshoes. However, you will be amazed to see what makes up a recreational set. To ensure that you get everything to start playing instantly, it is recommended investing in a horseshoe set that has two ground stakes, four horseshoes with each two being in a different color, and two mats preferably of rubber with pegs. If you will be traveling too often for playing, consider a set that comes with a carry bag.
The sport of horseshoes is a low-stress game that anyone can play and enjoy with anyone. However, you need to choose the right horseshoe set that is suitable for the players as well as the chosen space. Most sets come with stakes and horseshoes, while the remaining ones also offer rule manuals and carrying totes.
You need to choose the one that suits your needs as well as budget. We recommend getting started with the Gordon Horseshoes set if you are a serious player. This is because it has the perfect weight and balance for a superb throw and is approved by NHPA. If you are a casual player, the Champion Sports rubber set is worth a try.