Whether they’re made of wood, iron or other materials, horseshoes are an integral part of many outdoor games. They’re also a common symbol of good luck. There are a variety of superstitions surrounding these ring-shaped metal objects, including the way they should be hung. For example, some believe that a horseshoe hung with its prongs up is lucky, while others say it’s good luck to hang one with its heels down. The fact that they were originally forged from iron may have added to their luck as well. The metal withstood fire and was considered magical because of its ability to repel evil spirits. This was especially true during the Middle Ages when people were scared of witches and believed that a horseshoe could ward them off, just as a crucifix might repel a vampire.
Another thing that contributes to the belief that horseshoes are lucky is the number seven. Since ancient times, the number has been associated with good fortune. The rainbow has seven colors; a blacksmith’s apprentice often wears a belt buckle with the number seven on it; and it is common to see an upside-down horseshoe hanging above a doorway in a blacksmith shop. This is because the blacksmith and his or her apprentice believe that if they hang a lucky horseshoe above their door, the luck will flow toward them and their tools and help keep a steady stream of paying customers coming in.
The National Horseshoe Pitchers Association, the sport’s governing body, maintains a set of rules and specifications for horseshoes on its website. These regulations outline the style of play, the two most common scoring methods (cancellation and count-all), acceptable equipment and exact court specifications for tournament and league competitions. The NHPA also has a list of approved horseshoe manufacturers and suppliers.
A good place to start when learning how to play horseshoes is with a simple game of backyard horseshoes. The most important thing to remember when playing is to stay safe and always aim away from other people. Horseshoes can be very heavy and could cause serious injury if they hit someone in the head. It is also important to play in a safe area, preferably away from roads or other buildings.
If you are interested in taking your game of horseshoes to the next level, consider participating in a horseshoe pit league. These leagues typically offer lessons for new players and provide a venue to compete in a friendly atmosphere with other horseshoe enthusiasts. They also host regular tournaments where members can show off their skills.