How to Build Backyard Horseshoe Pits

IV.  Assist Inertia

Someone once said, an object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.  In this case, the outside force is a heavy, U-shaped metal object being thrown from 40 feet away, so you are definitely going to need some help keeping your frames in place.  Pilot drill holes into your frames and either drive large, metal spikes through these holes or preferably 2 foot pieces rebar.  Go with at least a foot in length for whatever you choose to use as spikes, but the closer to 2 feet the better.  Use a hammer, sledge hammer or back of an axe to drive these spikes through the pilot holes and into the ground, standing on your frame the whole time to make sure it doesn’t shift too much.  Your frames will chip, splinter, and even shift a little bit over time, but these spikes will ensure they don’t go anywhere.  With pins steady and frames secure, the pressure is now rightfully put on the players.


V.  Add Sand

BoysRakeNow comes the easy part.  Add sand and you’re all done.  Regular play sand works best, but you can go with whatever you are most comfortable with.  Place the sand right over the grass or remove the top layer of sod for extra depth.  Either way is fine.  Got kids?  Get them involved with putting down the sand.  Got kids?  Good luck keeping them from thinking these are their sand boxes when you aren’t throwing shoes.  Got kids?  Get little, plastic horseshoes for them and play half-court.  Remember, this is fun for all ages.

VI.  Misc.

You can make covers to help protect your pits from the weather and especially from wild animals using them as litter boxes.  Pressure treated is always best, but not necessary.  You can get fancy and buy plexiglass sheets or just paint regular plywood to prevent the weather from taking a toll on your covers.

Determine the rules.  There are all sorts of variations of play: taking turns throwing one shoe at a time vs. throwing both of your shoes before the other player throws, all points count vs. the cancellation system, counting leaners vs. not, etc…  You can learn more about the ins and outs of backyard horseshoes here, but the most important thing is to determine which way you prefer to play and sticking to those rules.  Don’t let some “pro” come over your house and tell you that the rules should be otherwise.  It’s backyard horseshoes, and it’s your backyard.

Lastly, and most importantly — have fun.

Happy pitching!



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  1. I love it, Brad. I think horseshoes may be one of my favorite things on this earth. Seriously. This post stirs up so many memories about playing horseshoes with my extended family. Every gathering, it’s just what we did. When my grandfather died, everyone came to our house after the funeral and we set up 2 sets of shoes and played well into the night. We even strung up shop lights in our pecan so we could see. I’m glad you pointed out the rules. Our family has our own set of rules we play by. They work for us, but they definitely aren’t what the pros use. Thanks for this great post. You wove the sentiment and instruction together nicely.

  2. Someday my yard will have one of these.

  3. LAYDGATOR says:

    Cutting my boards tonight gotta find some rebar tommrow should be able to pitch my 1st game late tommrow or 1st thing Friday what a great way to start the weekend !!!!

    • Brad the Dad says:

      Awesome! I want pictures! And, happy pitching.

  4. Ashley says:

    I actually hate horseshoes. I am terrible at it and I am weak and just can’t get the shoe to the other side! 🙂 My husband, however, is obsessed so I’m going to build him a pit at our new house while he is out of town. Thank you for writing an easy-to-follow (pictures!), not uptight, humorous explanation of how to do this! Maybe I just need more practice? Thanks again!

    • Ashley,

      That’s great you are going to surprise your husband with pits while he is away! And remember the first rule of backyard horseshoe pits — “they are backyard horseshoe pits, chill out!” Meaning, don’t worry about regulation length if that means you won’t enjoy your own pits. My current ones are the first regulation length ones I’ve built and I can tell many of my friends are having a harder time reaching. Shortening the total distance by 2-3 feet can make your pits way more family friendly and in the grand scheme of things will not impact the game itself. My last pits were on a slight hill and tucked up against a fence in the corner of my yard. Each of the 4 pitching areas required a different type of throw, and yet, my most enjoyable pits ever.

      Let me know if you have any questions during the process and good luck! Glad my post could help.

  5. Charles says:

    Great idea for anchoring the pins! What do you use for the pins?

    • I just use the pins that come with the packaged horseshoe set you can buy from your average big box retail store. These packages typically come with 2 sets of horseshoes (4 total), 2 pins, and an instruction manual/rules of the game.

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