Pit and pitching platforms

The pitchers box is fixed at 6 feet by 6 feet for all courts. The maximum length of the pit is 72 inches and the minimum 43 inches. The 72-inch width can be divided up between the pit and the pitching platforms on either side in different ways. The wider the pit, the narrower the pitching platforms.

    min. (narrowest)
pitching platforms
pitching platforms
max. (widest)
pitching platforms
pitching platform 72″ 18″ 19½″ 20½″
pit 36″ 33″ 31″*
pitching platform 18″ 19½″ 20½″

*Courts that were built prior to 2007 with an inner width of less than 31 inches — but not less than 29 inches — are approved by the NHPA. If, however, the court is ever rebuilt or refurbished, it must be brought up to the 31-inch minimum standard.


The stakes are 1 inch in diameter, usually steel or mild iron, but some synthetic materials are approved by the NHPA. They are placed 40 feet apart (30 feet for women and juniors), in the centers of squares 6 feet on a side. The top of the stake must be between 14 and 15 inches above the height of the pitching platform. The stakes are tilted so that their tops are displaced 3 inches in the direction of the other stake, that is, an angle of about 77½° to 78½° to the plane of the pitching platforms.

photo of horseshoes lying around stake


a horseshoe

The horseshoes used in the game are specially made for that purpose. Though they evolved from actual horseshoes used on horses, they no longer resemble horses' shoes. The shoes cannot be more than 7⅝ inches long or more than 7¼ inches wide. At the open end of the U the clearance between the two sides, measured ¾ inch in from a straightedge placed across the tips, and measured parallel to the straightedge, must not be more than 3½ inches. The weight cannot exceed 2 pounds 10 ounces (1.19 kg). Laid on a level surface, calks down, the height of the shoe cannot be more than 1 inch.

When visitors from other countries pitch in NHPA events, they may use the form of horseshoe sanctioned in their countries.


The National Horseshoe Pitchers Association maintains an excellent, comprehensive website on this sport:

Horseshoe pitching is most popular in Canada and the United States. So far as we can tell, the Canadian rules are substantially identical to those used in the United States. They can be seen at


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