From Discus to Quiots to Horseshoes: How Horseshoes Had its Start in a (Seemingly) Unrelated Olympic Sport

From Discus to Quiots to Horseshoes: How Horseshoes Had its Start in a (Seemingly) Unrelated Olympic Sport

Ancient Grecians surely watched with anticipation as their favorite contestants competed in early Olympic events like boxing, archery, chariot races and discus throwing.

The discus was similar in form to a modern quiot - metal, rope or rubber rings – but not in size or weight. Originally, it was a metal or stone circular disk, 10 or 12 inches in diameter, with a thong passed through the center hole. The athlete swung the disk by the strap and released for greatest possible distance.

Quiots is a traditional game involving the throwing of rings over a set distance, usually to land on or near a spike.

It is believed that poor Greeks who could not afford the discus set up a stake and threw discarded horseshoes at it.

“Horseshoe historians have not been able to discover when the game of quoits or horseshoes was changed so that it was pitched at two stakes, but it is pretty well established that horseshoe pitching had its origin in the game of quoits and that quoits is a modification of the old Grecian game of discus throwing,” according to the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association.

Changes were notable over the last 150 or so years:

-1869: The distance between the stakes was 19 yards. The player stood level with the stake and delivered his quoit with his first step. There was no weight requirement but the outside diameter could not be more than eight inches. The ground around the stake was clay and all measurements for points were taken between the nearest parts of both quoit and stake.

These became the rules favored in the United States, but no records were kept until 1909. The game seemed to be favored among soldiers in most wars. They brought it home with them and pitching courts were laid out in hundreds of communities across the country.

-1910: The first horseshoe pitching tournament in which competition was open to the World was held in the summer of 1910 in Bronson, Kansas. 

-1914: The first ruling body of horseshoe pitching of which any record was found was organized in a court room of the First District Court, Kansas City, Kansas. Stakes at this time were 38-feet apart.

-1919: The National League of Horseshoe and Quoit Pitchers was organized at the National Tournament in St. Petersburg, Florida, with representatives from 29 different states attending. They were given a charter under the laws of the State of Ohio, June 17,1921. In the 1919 Tournament, the distance from each stake was changed to 40 feet, distance that is in effect today. 

-1930s-1940s: Stake height raised to 12 inches.

-1950: Stake height changed to between 14 and 15 inches.

-1982: The last major rule governing play was enacted. An official game is 40 points.

It is estimated that upwards of fifteen million enthusiasts enjoy pitching horseshoes in the United States and Canada in tournaments, leagues, recreation areas, and backyards.

*Information derived from National Horseshoe Pitchers Association
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To see the game in action, visit the Cajun Coast Classic October 15-16 at Kemper Williams Park in Patterson, LA.

More than 70 pitchers hailing from 16 states are scheduled to take part in the tournament, slated as the final event for the 2016 season of The Horseshoe Tour.

The tournament begins at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and is open for public viewing. Concessions will be available. Entrance to Kemper Williams Park is $2 per vehicle.