Weekend DIY: Set up a horseshoe pit
Add some game play to your summer festivities with this traditional summer sport
Ah, summer. You know me well. The sweet waft from the barbecue, a cold drink in one hand and a horseshoe in the other–whether you’re at a cottage or in your backyard, the holiday weekend is all about making your own fun. And nothing’s as fun as a round of horseshoes.
In case you’ve never played, horseshoes is an outdoor game, dating back to 19th century England, played between two people–teams, up to four a side, are most fun–tossing horseshoes–or, more likely, horseshoe-shaped pieces of metal that are twice the size of a real shoe–at stakes in the ground placed about 40 feet apart. The object: ring the shoe around the stake for a point.
It’s cheap fun, and building your own horseshoe pit is easy. Here’s how.
Frame the Pits
Begin by building two wooden frames from treated 2×4 or 2×6 outdoor lumber. For ease, buy two six-foot-long boards and two eight-foot-long boards. Cut each in half and build two rectangles using large deck screws.
Measure the Fairway
A traditional horseshoe pit is 40 feet from stake to stake, but you’ll need more space to make room for each frame and, most importantly, a buffer zone behind each frame to make space for overthrows. Believe me, this is important unless you want broken windows. The same goes with the width: your pitch should be at least six feet wide.
Once measured, centre each frame so that the front (the shorter piece) measures 36 feet from the other front. The long sides of each frame should run parallel with the pitch. Once aligned, mark the location using spray paint so you know where to dig.
Remove the grass and dirt so that the frame can sit snugly into the spot, with the frame’s top edge just below the ground. The centre of the pit can be slightly deeper. This is a horseshoe pit, not a hole for a house foundation, so don’t fret too much about getting it perfect.
With the hole dug, place the frame and, with the centre spot marked and measured, drive down the iron stake using a sledgehammer. (Note: each stake should be three-feet long; you can buy stakes at the hardware store or in a horseshoe kit.) Leave about a foot-and-a-half aboveground, slightly inclined forward toward the other stake.
Fill with Sand
Empty a bag or two of sandbox-grade sand into each pit, so that each area is well-covered, with the stake sitting 13 to 15 inches above the sand. Because the sand will fly around with every toss, don’t worry about exact measurements here. (Note: you can also line your pit with landscape cloth to keep the sand from sinking over time.)
Finally, you’re ready to get throwing. For horseshoes, check your hardware store (price: about $40 for a set) or, better yet, get them from a farmer looking to unload a few boxes. Now get tossing.