Joseph works as an editor in one of the magazines dedicated to video games. Here, at RecRoomPick, he’s given the opportunity to enjoy the reverse of the medal – the no less engaging world of offline games.
Ryan knows everything when it comes to gaming, both online and offline. Since his early years he’s been in love with arcades, air hockey, and foosball. Finally, he’s given the opportunity to share his knowledge and opinion on the hobby of his life (and even get paid for it!).
Last updated: February 25, 2021
Rec Room Pick is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
While you might think that all horseshoe sets are created equal, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. You need to carefully choose the set that is the most durable, easy to transport, and quick to set up so that it could be called the best horseshoe set on the market today. Luckily, that’s exactly what we’ve done in this article.
In order to find the five best sets out there, we considered some key factors. First, we made sure that each of the sets was sturdy enough so that they would be able to withstand years of playing. The material that the horseshoes are made out of is also very important when it comes to who is playing: rubber is much better suited for children, while steel or iron is better for adults. The stakes need to be long enough as well so that they stay put meaning no arguments over whether you got a ringer or not. Since these games are made to travel, a good carrying bag or case is a great addition. To see which models will have the characteristics to fit your preferences, read on.
If you are looking for a professional style set of horseshoes without having to pay a hefty price, then this is the set for you. For starters, these shoes are exceedingly durable. They are made out of forged steel, which has been designed to withstand years and years’ worth of punishment. The stakes are also very durable. They are made out of steel so that you can rest assured that they will last for a good long time as well.
This set also comes with an official rulebook. This is perfect for unexperienced players and beginners. If you are new to the game, you can make sure that you understand everything before you get playing. If you are someone that has been playing for years, this rule book will give you a chance to brush up on the rules a bit. No matter what, it will definitely help to settle any disagreements during a heated match.
One of the best things about this particular set is that the shoes have a slimmer than average profile. This makes them much easier to grip than some of the other options out there. Since you can get a much better grip, you can make much more accurate throws, which is, obviously, ideal. The colors are also easy to distinguish between each other, making scoring easier.
The only real drawback for these otherwise wonderful shoes is the carrying case that they come with. While it certainly is roomy enough to fit the shoes and stakes, it is quite flimsy. Since the bag is only made out of plastic, it will probably break if you aren’t too careful with it.
When it comes time to finally buy your new set of horseshoes, you need to ask yourself what kind of a player you are. If you are a casual player, then almost any set on our list will work out well for you. If, on the other hand, you are a serious player who wants to work on your game as much as you can, then this is the set for you. These horseshoes are made to professional standards, so you can rest assured that they will give you the feel of a professional match when you play.
For starters, these shoes are actually sanctioned by the NHPA for league play. They are also made to be easy to use correctly. While they might feel a bit too thick at first, they are actually quite comfortable to throw. These shoes are also heavier than some others out there, which provides them a lot more momentum on each throw. They also have more sticking power thanks to this added weight, which should make getting more ringers a bit easier.
The stakes are also top-notch. They are a bit longer than standard ones, which makes them a whole lot more durable and stable during the games. These stakes are made out of cold-rolled steel, which is much more resistant to breaks than standard steel.
The only thing that you need to watch out for with this otherwise wonderful set is that they are not made with steel themselves. They are instead made of an iron alloy, which makes them heavier than steel, but also a bit more brittle. If you are not careful with them, you could chip them when you throw them.
One of the best things about playing horseshoes is that it is a game that can bring people together. It doesn’t matter what the occasion is, whether it be a backyard barbecue, graduation party, or a family reunion, the game of horseshoes is a great way to spend time with friends and family. Of course, if you want to get your set to all of these places, then you will need an easy way to get them there.
That is where this set comes in. It comes in a very easy to utilize case that is also quite stylish. The case is made of beautiful two-toned wood and has a very durable rope handle. The foam padding inside also helps to make sure that your shoes and stakes won’t be moving around on you while you are on the go.
These horseshoes are also quite durable, which shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise since they are made out of forged steel. The stakes are the real story here, however, since they are made with extremely durable stainless steel. Even if you decide to leave the stakes in the ground for a good long time, you won’t have to worry about them breaking down on you any time soon, since they are completely rust-resistant.
One thing to keep in mind with this set is that the colors, while quite stylish, are very difficult to distinguish from each other. This might make it difficult to tell which shoe belongs to who, which might make scoring a bit more difficult, especially in lower light situations.
One of the biggest things that separate good horseshoe players from great ones is their ability to find the right grip. This aspect is right in line with the correct throwing motion when it comes to winning games more consistently. That is precisely why these shoes are such a good product. They are made to be much slimmer on the curve, which allows for a much more comfortable and firmer grip. This firmer grip will allow even inexperienced players to improve their game.
These shoes and the stakes that they come with are also quite durable. The forged steel design helps to keep them from bending or breaking, even though they are thinner than most other shoes. This helps to make them a good purchase since they should last for a good long time before they break down.
Although, speaking of the stakes, there is one thing that you need to bear in mind. While they are designed to withstand plenty of punishment, they are a bit too short for permanent use. Since you need to keep about 15 inches above the ground, that means that only about 9 inches of the stakes will be underground when you are playing. While this is fine for shorter sessions, they probably won’t stay in place for extended periods of time.
This shouldn’t be too big of an issue, however, since these shoes are designed to travel and be used for short amounts of the time anyways. They come with a rip-resistant nylon bag that keeps all of the different pieces safe and secure while you are transporting them. The bag’s zipper is well-made as well, which means that it should keep working for a good long while.
While horseshoes are mostly meant to be played by adults, that doesn’t mean that kids can’t get in on the fun as well. Of course, you certainly don’t want young children throwing around heavy pieces of metal. First of all, someone could get hurt. Secondly, they probably wouldn’t be able to get the horseshoe all the way to the stake. The solution to this problem is to buy this set.
Unlike all of the other sets that we looked into, this model is not made of metal but is instead crafted from durable and lightweight rubber. These shoes only weigh about 1 pound apiece, which makes them a whole lot easier for younger players to get the necessary distance without compromising anyone’s safety while playing.
Something else that helps to set these horseshoes apart from any others on the market is that they are extremely easy to setup. The stakes are much shorter than average, which makes pushing them into the ground with your hands very easy. They also come equipped with rubber mats that take the place of a sandpit, which serves two purposes. It makes the installation much faster and also helps to keep the shoes from bouncing too much once they hit the mat.
As you would expect, the biggest issue with these lightweight shoes is that their stakes are not very durable. Since they are only made of plastic and are quite short, they won’t stand up to constant use. If you want to use these shoes with your children, you will probably have to install them each time so that they stay secure while you are playing.
What we liked:
Easy to grip
Very easy to install
Rubber mats included
What could be better:
Stakes are not very durable
Things to Consider
In this section, we will go through all of the important features you need to consider carefully to find the best horseshoe set for your needs. We have also taken the time to answer several frequently asked questions, so be sure to read those as well if you need any further information.
Features to consider when choosing a horseshoe set
While you might think that choosing a good horseshoe set is a straightforward process, it can actually be a bit complicated. In this section, we will clarify all of the important details for you so that you can buy your new horseshoes with confidence.
The very first thing that you need to figure out when you are looking for a new set of horseshoes is what they are made of. There are three basic materials to choose from, which are:
Forged Steel – If you are looking to get a set of metal horseshoes, then this should be your first option. Sets made with forged steel are incredibly durable. They are also quite heavy, so the horseshoe doesn’t need to be terribly bulky to get the right weight. This makes them much easier to hold and throw. Of course, all of these positives don’t come cheaply, as sets made with forged steel, like the Pierre American Professional Series Horseshoes Complete Set, are more expensive than those made with other materials.
Iron – This material has been considered traditional for horseshoes, for decades. Iron sets, like the Challenger Professional Pitching Horseshoes are sufficiently durable and reliable. Iron is a much lighter material than forged steel, so any horseshoes made with it are usually bulkier so that they have enough weight to be thrown correctly. Iron, however tends to chip faster than steel as well, so keep that in mind before you make your final decision.
Rubber – The last material that you can choose from is rubber. Rubber horseshoes are the best type for kids to utilize since they are much safer than metal models. They are also much lighter as well, which makes them easier for younger kids to throw effectively. Finally, they are also quite durable, which is great for preventing any damage from being done by inexperienced players.
Another consideration that you need to take into account is how much you want your horseshoes to weigh. Most competitive sets will usually weight between 2 pounds and 2 pounds 6 ounces. Obviously, heavier sets are much better for adults or teenagers, since they require a bit more strength to throw effectively. Sets for kids, on the other hand, should weigh a bit less, so that younger players can throw them accurately.
If you are looking for a lighter set for your younger kids to play, then the Champion Sports IHS1 Rubber Horseshoe Set would be a good place to start. They only weigh about 1 pound, which makes them light enough for even the youngest players to utilize correctly. Of course, if you are looking for a heavier set for competitive play with your friends, then the Viva Sol Premium Horseshoes Outdoor Game Set would be a good set. Each horseshoe weighs around 2.5 pounds, which makes it much easier to get the right amount of momentum behind your throws.
Colors of the horseshoes
While it might not seem like all that important of a consideration, you need to make sure that you find horseshoes that come in two different colors. This makes it much easier to determine whose shoe is where when you are trying to score up the different throws in a round. If the colors are too close together, then you might have a tougher time determining whose shoe went where which would make scorekeeping more of a challenge than it needs to be.
It is usually a good idea to go with bright and easy to distinguish colors, like those seen on the St. Pierre American Professional Series Horseshoes Complete Set. In this set, two of the shoes are blue while the others are gray. This makes them very distinguishable from each other, which will make them easy to score. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to get a set like the Challenger Professional Pitching Horseshoes. This set is red and blue, which will make it a lot easier to not lose any of the shoes since they are very bright and colorful.
A set of horseshoes, no matter how much they weigh or what they are made of, are only going to be as good as their stake. The stake is, after all, the thing that is going to be getting hit by these shoes all of the time. As such, you want to make sure that you get one that is long enough to withstand the punishment, without moving around in its spot.
As far as stakes are concerned, the longer, the better, since longer lengths will keep the stake rooted in its position.
If you are set in where you want to have your horseshoes set up and don’t ever want to change, then the Challenger Professional Pitching Horseshoes is a good set to check into. This set comes with 30-inch stakes, which is 6 inches longer than any of its competitors. This extra length makes them exceedingly durable.
When it comes to stakes, you also have to decide on the best material for them to be made with. The first thing that you need to think about in regards to your stake material is rigidity. You need something that can take a lot of punishment without bending or breaking. The other factor you need to bear in mind is whether the material is rust-resistant. Since it is going to be down in the ground, you don’t want it to rust through and break on you after a couple of years.
The best material to meet both of these needs is stainless steel like you would get with the Viva Sol Premium Horseshoes Outdoor Game Set. This metal is known for its resistance to rusting and for how durable it can be. Of course, any type of steel would work well for a stake, but stainless is definitely the best.
Carrying bags and cases included
If you are someone that likes to take their set of horseshoes with them to family gatherings, to parties, or on vacation, then a high-quality carrying bag or case is an absolute must. These sets can get pretty heavy, and the last thing that you want to have to do is lug each piece separately. A good carrying bag/case helps to make transporting the set a whole lot easier, which will most likely increase the amount of use you get out of it.
The bag that comes with the Baden Champions Horseshoe Set is made out of durable and lightweight rip-resistant nylon. It is easy to stuff the set into and zip up quickly so that you can clean up when you are finished playing. If you are looking to make a statement with both your set and case, then the Viva Sol Premium Horseshoes Outdoor Game Set would be right up your alley. Its wooden case comes with a thick rope handle and foam inserts, which will allow you to transport your horseshoes in style.
How to play
While it might seem very straightforward to get your horseshoe area set up and start playing, there are actually quite a few things that you need to consider before you can get to it. For starters, the stakes need to be set up correctly. This can be done by following these steps:
Use a mallet to hammer the stakes into the ground. They should be forty feet apart from each other. Each stake should stick up out of the ground at least 15 inches.
If you want to, you can lean the stakes in towards each other to increase the chance of ringers. However, you should not do this more than 3 inches off of the vertical.
If you are setting up a more permanent field, then you should dig out a 4-inch deep pit around the stakes. This should be filled in with sand or sawdust to cushion the fall of the horseshoes.
Once you have the pits set up, then you can start playing. There are several rules to follow if you want to play the game officially. These can be altered to suit whoever is playing, but here are the basics:
You can play the game with 2 or 4 people. Each person/team takes turns throwing their horseshoes to the opposite stakes.
The goal of the game is to get a ringer, where the horseshoe wraps around the stake and stays there.
You can play to any set amount of points, though official games have 20 innings, and whoever has the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
Points are decided as follows:
Three points for a ringer.
If no ringers are scored, then the closest horseshoe to the stake gets one point.
If someone has a ringer and the closest horseshoe to the stake, they get points for both, which would mean that they get four total.
When it comes to finding the most durable horseshoes, you should always go for steel models. While iron is not a weak metal, it has not gone through the same rigorous purification process that steel has, which means that it is a bit more brittle.
The stakes should go into the ground far enough so that at least 15 inches is still above the ground. For stakes that are 24 inches in length, that means you should put them in about 9 inches. For any stakes that are 30 inches, you should put them into the ground 15 inches in depth.
If you are looking for a professional set of horseshoes, then the Challenger Professional Pitching Horseshoes are a great set to check into. They are heavier than most others, which provides them with more momentum on each throw. The stakes are also longer, which makes them much more durable.