Which horseshoe set is best?
One of the most tried-and-true backyard games is horseshoes. It’s so tried and true that even ancient Romans played horseshoes. While it’s simple to understand and get started playing, it’s easy to play on a higher level with enough practice. So the next time your neighbor invites you over for a barbecue, beer and friendly competition, be ready by getting that practice in with a set of your own.
The best horseshoe set is the Champion Sports Tournament Horseshoe Set. While this set is on the higher end of the price range, it’s also one of the best-constructed and longest-lasting horseshoe sets available. It also comes with a case for easy storage.
What to know before you buy a horseshoe set
How to play horseshoes
Horseshoes is a fairly simple game on the surface but there are many rules and a handful of scoring methods that can greatly affect the game. There’s even a National Horseshoe Pitchers Association that oversees the enforcement of all these rules.
Components in a horseshoe set
Horseshoe sets typically have two stakes and four horseshoes, but those stakes and shoes can be very different depending on how the set is made. The stake can be just a stake, or if you can’t drive a stake into the ground, you can get one with a flat rubber base. The horseshoes, meanwhile, will have different materials, weights, sizes and shapes depending on whether you’re buying a recreational or a sport set — and none of them are shoes you would actually put on a horse’s hoof.
What to look for in a quality horseshoe set
Parts of the horseshoe
There are five key parts of the horseshoe, all of which affect the game.
- Base: The base of the horseshoe is the middle section of the U-shape. It’s where all other sections stem from.
- Shanks: The shanks are the straight spikes or legs that curve away from the base. They’re wider and flatter than on real horseshoes.
- Heel calks: The heel calk is the flattened tip at the end of the shank. They are also larger than those of real horseshoes.
- Hooks: The heel calk’s inside edge is known as the hook due to its sometimes shallow and sometimes very steep inward hook. They are meant to catch the stake and keep the horseshoe centered on it
- Thumb cleat: A raised ridge to aid in gripping the horseshoe. They can be on one or both sides of the base.
How much you can expect to spend on a horseshoe set
Horseshoe sets can be cheap or expensive. Plastic just-for-fun sets can cost as little as $20-$30, while better-quality but still not competition-level sets can reach about $60. Once you start hitting competition-grade sets you can find yourself spending anywhere from $50 to around $120 — or you can spend that same amount on just a pair of horseshoes alone.
Horseshoe set FAQ
What’s the best way to hold a horseshoe so you can hit the stake regularly?
A. While any kind of hold is fine for a beginner or backyard enthusiast, the professionals have narrowed it down to just two. The first is the “flip” hold, when you hold the horseshoe in the center and toss it so it flips in the air. The second is the “turn” hold, when you grip one of the ends of the horseshoe and toss it almost like a Frisbee. Neither is better than the other, so go for what feels best.
What’s the best way to care for a horseshoe set?
A. Put all the parts of the set away when you finish playing instead of leaving them out in the elements. Even if they’re plastic or rubber, which stand up to the weather, horseshoes that sit outside are at the mercy of dogs, which love to chew on them. Then clean your horseshoes with water and dish soap before thoroughly drying them. You can keep them in either the case they came with or one you’ve obtained elsewhere. If they have no case, store them upright and out of the sun.
What’s the best horseshoe set to buy?
Top horseshoe set
What you need to know: This is a well-made, long-lasting horseshoe set.
What you’ll love: An included case for storing all components helps maintain the steel horseshoes and their chrome-and-brass plating.
What you should consider: There are some rare reports of damage upon arrival. This set does cost in the higher range.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top horseshoe set for the money
What you need to know: An excellent budget horseshoe set, it costs around half the price of most competition-grade sets, but the pieces are still well constructed.
What you’ll love: The horseshoes’ balance and weight are very good and the set includes a case for storage.
What you should consider: This is not the set for tournament horseshoe players.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: The steel of these horseshoes is top-of-the-line, although the cost is equally high.
What you’ll love: The performance of the perfectly weighted horseshoes is the best.
What you should consider: The horseshoes’ finish fades over time and the stakes are a bit short.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Jordan Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.