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Horseshoe Pit Dimensions (Everything You Need To Know)

Are you looking for ways to upgrade your backyard with a play zone suitable for both children and adults? Look no more, because building a horseshoes court is both an interesting DIY project and an awesome way of taking your house parties to a next level. 

Continue reading and learn more about the game, horseshoe pit dimensions, preferred materials for the pit, and everything else you need to know about bringing the fun to your own backyard.

What is Horseshoe?

Horseshoes is a fun game in which players throw horseshoes at stakes located in the center of a pit. The goal of the game is to score points by landing horseshoes as close to the stake as possible. 

This game is frequently played by friends and families at gatherings. It is a fun way to spend leisure time, it’s fairly easy to play, and you can set the court on your lawn with minimum effort and materials.

Horseshoe Pit Dimensions

The pit frame is the main and the most important part of the game. It is the area in which the players throw the shoes. It is also the only part of the horseshoe court you will need if you have limited space in your backyard. 

The horseshoe pit needs to be at least 43 inches long. The width of the pit needs to be at least 31 inches. The maximum dimensions of the pit area are 72 inches in length and 36 inches in width. 

You should not use sideboards around the pits. If you do, their maximum height should be 7 inches. However, it’s better to dig a hole for the game space. 

Depth of the Horseshoe Pits

Horseshoe pits should have a depth of at least four inches. According to NHPA, you should dig a hole at least eight inches deep. 

The acceptable material is dirt, sand, and pit clay, but you can also use gravel for your backyard horseshoe pit if you don’t have any of these options. 

Depth of the Horseshoe Pits
Image Credit: roadkill_lawncare

Horseshoe Court Dimensions

Horseshoe pits are just one part of the court for this game. As such, there are some rules about their dimensions and relation to the other court areas.

I will share the specific measurements set by NHPA (National Horseshoe Pitchers Association) related to the whole pitch that you should try to follow if you decide to build a whole court. 

1. Horseshoe Court 

The horseshoe court should be rectangular, measuring 10 feet in width and 50 feet in length. This area consists of a playing zone and a buffer zone, the latter designed for safety reasons. 

The playing area is supposed to be 6 feet wide and 46 feet long. The buffer zone adds two feet more along each side and behind both of the pitching boxes.

If you are building your horseshoe court outside you should try to ensure a north-south orientation. This is to prevent sunlight from ruining your game time during the day.  

2. Pitcher’s Box Dimensions

Pitcher’s boxes are two areas at the end of both sides of the court. Each is 6 feet long and 6 feet wide. They should be at a distance of 46 feet from each other. 

The pitcher’s box consists of the pit and the horseshoe pitching platforms

3. Pitching Platform Dimensions

The platforms are the areas on both sides of the pits from which the players throw the shoes. There are two types of pitching platforms. 

  • Full-distance 

The pitching platforms should be parallel and located on the side of each pit. They should be up to six feet long. The minimum width should be 18 inches and they should not exceed 20 ½ inches in width. The pitching platforms’ surface needs to be non-slippery. 

  • Short-distance 

In order to assist short-distance pitchers, the platforms can be extended by ten feet or the full court’s length. The width stays the same. 

Pitching Platform Dimensions
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4. Imaginary Stakes

These show short-distance players where they should stand. Mark them using paint. They should be located in the middle of the added platforms or on their inside edge. Imaginary stakes need to be located 30 and 23 feet from the other stake.

5. Stakes

A stake is a target where the players pitch the shoes. The stakes’ diameter is one inch and their material can be steel, iron, or soft metal. 

The stakes can be between 14 and 15 inches high and they should be at an angle of three inches towards the opposite end. 

The stakes should be positioned at the center of the pitcher’s box and they should be securely fixed so they can’t move. You can use mounting fasteners or concrete for this part of the project. The distance between the two stakes needs to be 40 feet. 

6. Foul Lines

Your horseshoe court should be marked with three foul lines. The lines can be marked using paint or a marker. 

The first foul line should be exactly in the middle of two stakes, measuring 20 feet from each of them. 

You should mark the second foul line at 27 feet from the opposite stake, which means that it should be 13 feet from the second stake. Women, children, and the elderly use this foul line as a reference point. 

The third foul line should be at a distance of 37 feet from the opposite stake, or three feet from the second one. This foul line is used for adult male players. 

7. Backstops 

You should install a backboard in your horseshoe court for protection. Its width should match the width of the court and make it at least 1 foot high. Place it at a distance of a minimum of three feet behind the stakes. 

Use solid material for the backstop. It should have a different color than the court so the game is more visible from the spectators’ perspective. If you are building a horseshoe court in your backyard, you can skip this part. 

8. Protective Barrier

A protective barrier is used in a professional setting as a safety measure when there are a lot of spectators around the court. It takes up a lot of space, so you may not need it.

If you decide to have a full, professional horseshoe backyard game, you should place the protective barrier that sits a minimum of eight feet at the back of the stakes, and its height is supposed to exceed four feet. 

How Do You Set Up a Horseshoe Pit?

To set up a horseshoe pit, you will need a pit frame measured according to the proposed dimensions, stakes, material for filling the pit, a sledgehammer, and a shovel. Once you have the materials ready, follow the next steps. 

  1. First, outline the space you want to use for the pit. Make sure that the playing area is clear and that there are no trees above it as they can get in the way. 
  2. Next, make trenches in the ground by digging the marked lines. The depth of the trenches depends on the depth of the boards you use for frames. 
  3. Then, install the frame in the designated area. Make sure to bury it properly so it can’t move and it doesn’t stick out. 
  4. You should then dig a hole inside the frame. It should be a minimum of four inches deep.
  5. Place a stake in the center of the pit. Use a sledgehammer to bury it deep into the ground so it can’t move, but remember that it needs to be at least 14 inches above the ground when fastened. 
  6. Finally, fill the whole with the material you chose for the pit, preferably sand. 
  7. Repeat the process if you are building two pits.

Although we talked about the official dimension requirements for the game of horseshoes, feel free to set your own dimensions according to the space you have available. 

The game should normally have two pits opposite of each other. However, if you don’t have enough space, set up one pit and take turns with the opponents.

That’s it, you have everything you need to play horseshoes! Of course, you don’t have to use actual horseshoes. You should buy the ones specifically designed for the game. 

How Much Sand Do You Need For Horseshoe Pit
Image Credit: _enface_

How Much Sand Do You Need For Horseshoe Pit?

The amount of sand you need for the horseshoe pit depends on the dimensions you set. If you use play sand, you will need approximately five bags to fill the pit with it.

What Kind of Material Is the Best for a Horseshoe Pit?

You can fill your horseshoe pits with any material that is not slippery. It can be sand, gravel, clay, or dirt. You can also just use your backyard’s soil, but remove grass and weeds from the pit area. 


Horseshoe is an entertaining game that you can easily bring to your backyard. If you don’t want to bother making a whole court, just set up horseshoe pits and get ready to throw some ringers. 

The horseshoe pit dimensions are 43x31x4 inches minimum and 72x36x8 inches maximum. Of course, you can set your dimensions, but make sure to follow these proportions and that you set a stake exactly at the center of the pit. 

If you have any questions, please drop them down below. If not, enjoy playing horseshoes with your dearest, and let us know who won!

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