5 Best Horseshoe Sets (Reviews)
Last Updated: 4th Sept, 2019
Most of us have seen horseshoes being played at the park. It’s a long-standing traditional game in the United States that seems to have been around forever. Horseshoes is the king of lawn sports with an estimated 10 million people playing every year - a perfect backyard game for players of all ages and abilities. It is simple, super fun to play and portable.
Having said that the market is flooded with hundreds of sets, each claiming to be the very best! So, how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? Well, we're here to cut through the B.S. and help you choose the very best.
Whether you're looking for a NHPA approved professional pitching horseshoe set or an indoor set, we've got you covered.
After researching over 30 horseshoe sets and playing with 8 of them, we think the St. Pierre Professional Set is the best for most recreational users. This all-inclusive set comes with four sturdy American forged horseshoes, two solid steel stakes, official rulebook, and a carrying bag.
Funny enough, the game Horseshoes actually started during the American Civil War, where it was played using shoes of mules, not horses. The game is believed to have roots in ancient Greek culture and was developed as a poor men version of the discus throw. A stake was introduced, and those who couldn't get access to a discus used horseshoes. The first world championship began in 1910 in Bronson, Kansas.
Horseshoes then developed over the early 20th century to the hugely iconic game today.
The 5 Best Horseshoe Sets
1. Gordon Professional Pitching Horseshoes
Best Professional Horseshoe
For players looking to purchase a professional horseshoe pair, we have the Gordon Professional Pitching set. This set is sanctioned by the NHPA (National Horseshoe Pitchers Association), the premier authority on anything pro league or tournament related in the world of horseshoes. For the price, you get two high-quality pitching horseshoes.
These horseshoes are designed with all types of players in mind. You should find them a good fit, whether you're a new player looking to break into the sport or an old pro on the market looking for a new pair to compete with.
Gordon uses high strength AISI C1035 Carbon Steel, which will ensure the durability of this product. Modern, Drop-forge technique is used to manufacture these horseshoes. If you don't know, drop forging is a superior manufacturing technique in which a hammer is repeatedly raised and dropped on the work-piece to give the shape of the die. This forging process ensures there are no air pockets or internal voids that are a common issue with cast iron horseshoes. Gordon is so confident in the construction of these horseshoes that they even offer a 1-year warranty against breakage!
The horseshoes are further powder coated to prevent rusting and provide a better grip while pitching. Along with that, there are several professional colored finishes to choose from - Red, Black, Blue, Yellow, Green, and Rustic Bronze.
The only downside to this product is the lack of accessories. You'll strictly be getting one pair of horseshoes to play with. You'll need to purchase a second pair to play with others, as well as pick a set of stakes. No travel bag is included, either.
You might not be getting an all-in-one package, but if you want perhaps the best tournament grade set, then Gordon Professional Horseshoes is the choice for you. Between the high-grade steel and drop-forge process, you can be rest assured that this is a set that will last for years to come with repeated use.
What We Like
+ Tournament grade set (NHPA approved)
+ Sturdy & Durable Construction
+ 1-year warranty against breakage
Watch Out For
- Doesn't come with stakes
2. St. Pierre American Professional Series
Our next pick is an excellent choice for those looking for a complete horseshoe set. With St. Pierre, you'll be getting four horseshoes, a pair of stakes, an official rulebook, a durable plastic carrying case, and a 60-day warranty covers all this.
At around $60, you'll definitely be getting your money's worth. Both the horseshoes and stakes are made of heavy-duty steel. The case is plenty rugged enough to withstand frequent travel as well. For new players, this might be the best option if you want to have everything you need to get started at a moderate price.
The increased weight of the horseshoe tips adds more balance and control while pitching. A finger positioner is also notched into the design to help players hold the horseshoe like a pro would. We should also note that this set is American-made and the design has been approved by the NHPA as well.
This set is prone to rust and damage, but proper care and cleaning should minimize this. Some users have also noticed slight variations between the weight of the horseshoes that suggests the forging die were not completely matched up. While the set does come with stakes, they are a bit on the short end. Official specifications call for 36 inches, while these only measure 24 inches.
While not the premium product on this list, St. Pierre has still provided a very solid option for new players or pros looking for another practice set. For the fantastic price point and the above-average quality you get, there are not many other sets that can compete.
What We Like
+ Complete set to get you started
+ Value for money
+ Decent build quality
+ NHPA Approved
+ Made in America
Watch Out For
- The stakes are slightly shorter
3. Viva Sol Premium Horseshoes
Best Style and Quality
For those looking for a quality product with a bit of style, we have Viva Sol's Premium horseshoe set. This set comes in a wooden case with heavy-duty rope handles. The interior is lined with foam padding to keep everything protected while traveling. The quality and look of the travel case is well above the competition.
Included in the set are four 2.5 lb regulation-weight horseshoes, two rust proof stakes, and wooden case.
The steel horseshoes and stakes are particularly excellent in terms of construction and quality. This set was designed with the outdoors in mind and plays particularly well on the beach. A thick powder coat ensures you get a good grip while at the same time prevents the set from normal wear and tear.
This set is primarily designed to be used in a beach setting, and you can be rest assured that you won't face any rust-related issues. The manufacturer took extra measures to protect the horseshoes from ocean water and sand.
On the negative side, the stakes are a bit shorter than the standard size. They will still function well for casual usage, but you may want to consider replacing them, if you're looking for competitive pitching. Also, there is only one color option available. The horseshoes come in a light-blue and teal-green color. The unusual color choice might be a turnoff for some players, but does match the ocean theme of the set. A quick paint job could be done if you really wanted to change the colors.
Overall, this is a high-quality set with a modern design. Definitely check out Viva Sol's Horseshoe set, if you want something a little different than the usual lineup on the market.
What We Like
+ Modern design, Looks stunning!
+ Excellent build quality
Watch Out For
- Stakes are slightly shorter
4. Champion Sports Rubber Horseshoe Set
Best for Kids and Indoor Usage
Next up, we have a rubber horseshoe set by Champion Sports. This doubles as an excellent pick for younger kids and a budget pick. With a price tag of around $18, this is truly an affordable purchase. The complete set comes with 4 horseshoes, 2 rubber mats with center pegs, and 2 red plastic dowels.
The horseshoes themselves are made from soft rubber. This makes them perfectly safe for kids but still adds a little weight for adults to play as well. Included are stakes for outdoor play, and rubber mat stands for indoor play on those rainy days. No need to worry about damaging the walls or floors of your home with this set!
The set doesn't come with a travel case, but the components are light and small enough to transport easily. Kids should have no trouble setting up or tearing down when playing. The stakes are plastic, which makes them a little less sturdy. For kids who can't throw as hard, this won't cause any issues, but adults should be mindful of how hard they throw.
If you want something for your kids or need a set that all ages will enjoy then go with the Champion Sports set. This is also not a bad horseshoe kit to travel with for casual play. The horseshoes themselves are about half the weight of regulation ones.
Although you won't be able to practice on a professional level, you can still get in a few quick games. Given how low the cost is, this horseshoe set has a lot going for it.
What We Like
+ Suitable for indoor and outdoor usage
+ Fun for all-ages
+ Bang for the buck pricing
+ Excellent starter set for kids
Watch Out For
- Build quality isn't the best but for price, you can't really complain
5. GoSports Giant Horseshoes Set
Last in the list is the GoSports Giant Horseshoes. This set is aimed towards the more casual players. We still think this set deserves a spot on the list for taking a classic game and giving it an extra fun twist!
The horseshoes are roughly twice as big as the standard-sized ones. The whole set weighs about 8.5 lbs, which gives them some good heft but not too large for kids to play with. You also get two large wooden stakes and a carry strap to help you bring everything to your next party.
The horseshoes are made of heavy-duty plastic. Normally we discourage against plastic parts, but these hold up surprisingly well. Feel free to bring these along to the park, beach, camping, or just about anywhere else without worrying about damaging the set.
We see this as an excellent gift for younger players and families. At the same time, don't think this set is just for kids. This will definitely be a big hit at your next tailgating party! Another idea is to use this as a fun surprise for the old pros.
GoSports has delivered a fun alternative to horseshoes, and at a reasonable price. Pick one up today for around $40.
What We Like
+ Supersize fun game
+ Lightweight and durable
+ Sturdy build quality
+ Great for all-ages
Watch Out For
Buyer’s Guide to Horseshoe Sets
With so many options available in the market it can become quite overwhelming to choose a horseshoe set which is right for you. However, with the right information it becomes easier.
Here are three factors you should consider when buying a horseshoe set.
Factors to Look For
1) Casual or Professional?
Are you looking for a set for recreational play with family and friends or do you plan to play competitively? If it's the latter, look for an NHPA approved/compliant pitching horseshoes which are built as per the regulation. Professional sets are costly, but they are forged out of steel and are very sturdy. A pair would cost you about $60, but they do last a long time.
For recreational usage, look for a complete set which includes horseshoes, stakes and a carry bag. Although you don't need professional quality here but look for sets with above-average build quality. Such a set should cost you anywhere from $40 to $60.
2) Material Type
Horseshoes take quite a beating during play, so you need to keep an eye for durability.
Horseshoes are generally made out of Steel, Cast iron, Rubber, or Plastic. Majority of professional-grade horseshoes are made using forged steel. As expected, they are quite durable and long-lasting. Also, due to the even weight distribution and heavier build, they are preferred choice for professional pitching. You typically can't go wrong with a steel set regardless of which brand you choose. It mostly comes down to your personal budget.
Cast iron is a popular choice simply for its affordability. You can still get a good experience playing with a cast iron set, but we don't recommend this for long-term use. Cast iron normally wears out faster and is more prone to rust and breakage. The worst thing that can happen is a horseshoe cracking in the middle of the game! Unless you plan to play only occasionally, avoid cast iron sets.
The last two options are more geared towards kids, families, and the casual players. Rubber is a safer and lighter alternative to steel. If you intend to play with kids or are worried about the risk of injury, a rubber set makes up for an ideal choice. It's softer yet heavy enough for some serious pitching.
Lastly, there is Plastic, which you will find as a common material in cheaper alternatives. In general, plastic sets won't hold up over the years. They are best suited for kids or someone who is looking to play indoors.
You can get a horseshoe set for as low at $10 to as high as $70. Avoid the cheaper ones below $20 as they are quite flimsy. A tournament grade pair of horseshoes, will cost you about $60 while a good quality complete set for recreational usage will cost you about the same. You can get a decent quality kid-friendly rubber set for under $30.
Horseshoes Rules: How to Play
Horseshoes can be played with two or four people with four horseshoes. The stakes are placed 40 feet apart, and a foul line is drawn 37 feet and 27 feet from each post. Typically, older players and children pitch from the 27-foot mark, and pro players at the 37-foot mark. The first player steps up to the foul line and pitches both shoes. If playing as a team, your teammate will pitch after you from the opposite side. Your opponent goes next.
When a horseshoe fully encircles the stake, this is called a "ringer." You get 3 points in this case. If the horseshoe lands within 6 inches, that is worth 1 point. "Leaners", which touch the pole without encircling are worth 1 point. Both teams keep pitching until one reaches 40 points. That is the normal tournament rules, but you may adjust the scoring and final goal if needed.
There is also one variation. In cancellation scoring, any points from a "ringer" are canceled, if the opponent throws a "ringer" that lands on top of yours. Otherwise, you count all points as usual. The team with the higher score pitches first.
As per NHPA rules, the horseshoes shouldn't weigh more than 2 lbs,10 oz and the height of the stake should be 14 inches above the ground with 12-degree inclination from vertical.
Horseshoes is Ideal For?
Like most lawn games, Horseshoe is easy to learn and pick for players of all ages and skill levels. Setup is minimal as well, and all you really need is a wide enough space to get started. This might be problematic for those living in an apartment, or if you don't have ready access to a park. However, it's a great game to bring to the next family barbeque or local block party - especially if you opt for something like Gosport's giant horseshoe set. It also makes up for a great travel game since there isn't that many components to haul around.
Overall, there are not many people, horseshoes wouldn't appeal to. We recommend it to any and all players. However, keep in mind that traditionally Horseshoes is only played with up to 4 players and 2 teams. If you are looking for something that will work for larger groups, then you will have to invest in more horseshoe sets for more teams or look for games like Spikeball or Cornhole.
Also, Horseshoes isn't the most physically active game for those hoping to burn some extra calories. In that case, it may have less appeal to more active athletes.
Maintenance and Care
Even the best horseshoes on the market need a little extra care. Be careful about exposing your horseshoes to elements. High-grade stainless steel can still rust if left out overnight in a damp environment. The best thing you can do is keep your horseshoe set in a proper travel case. If using rubber or plastic, try to keep the horseshoes from being left out in the sun. This can wear out the material faster than anything! If you purchased a pair with a powder coating, most dirt and grime should brush right off with little brushing.
Although you may need to clean them with water occasionally. It's crucial that you completely dry them before placing back into storage to avoid rust or other damage.
Horseshoes has been a long-time American classic for a reason. It's addictive, and once you're hooked, there is no STOPPING! With the rise in the number of local and national horseshoe tournament, this backyard classic game is turning serious by the day.
Whether you're looking for a professional set or something for your young one, there are plenty of options available. Spending a little time researching can help you select the right product for your needs.
I sincerely hope this guide could help you pick the right horseshoe set or at least got you closer to the decision making. Think about what kind of player you'll be, and what kind of players you want to play with.
From casual to pro sets, and novelty party products, you should have no trouble finding the right fit for you!