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horseshoe pitching

horseshoe pitching, game played by two or more persons using horseshoes, the object being to throw the shoes so as to encircle a vertical iron peg that is 14 in. (35.6 cm) high. Regulation courts are at least 50 ft (15 m) long and 10 ft (3 m) wide; pitching distance is 40 ft (12.2 m) for men and 30 ft (9.1 m) for women. The tossing of quoits, metal, circular rings, with one rounded and one flat surface, is a related sport. Each ringer (horseshoe or quoit circling the peg) counts 3 points; each hobber, or leaner (horseshoe or quoit leaning against the peg), 2 points; and each horseshoe or quoit nearer the peg than that of the opponent, 1 point. A tally of 50 points wins at horseshoe pitching, while 21 points usually wins at quoits. At sea, the game of deck quoits is played, the quoits being made of rings of rope. Horseshoe and quoit pitching developed concurrently, and although their origins are obscure, they were both played in ancient Greece and Rome. The games were brought to England, where quoits attained great popularity. It is also popular in Ireland, Scotland, and Canada. Quoits was played in colonial America, but horseshoe pitching rapidly became more popular. The National Horseshoe Pitchers Association of America (organized 1914) conducts annual world's championships for men and women. Jukskei, a variant of horseshoe and quoit pitching, is played in South Africa.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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