Close counts in horseshoes!
The point value of a shoe that is within 6 inches of the stake is one point. Both horseshoes in that scoring area account for 2 points.
The point value of a shoe that encircles the stake (Ringer) is 3 points. Both horseshoes measuring as ringers scores 6 points and is called a “Double Ringer.” A ringer is measured by touching both tips of the hooks of the horseshoes with a straight edge, the straight edge not touching the stake. If the straight edge does touch the stake, the horseshoe has not encircled the stake and scores a single point only, not a ringer.
If no horseshoes are pitched within the scoring area, neither contestant records a score and “No Score” is called to the score keeper.
In count-all play, all the horseshoes pitched by both contestants are “live” and all the points scored by each are counted. When calling the score to the scorekeeper in count-all play usually one participant calls both scores for the whole game, theirs first and their opponent’s second. It helps if they call each persons name before they call their respective scores (“John 2, Bill 3”). The Horseshoe America Program strongly encourages Count-all play for the youth league and tournaments. It is a simpler method to understand for beginners, and it is much more fun to score a lot of points than only one person scoring a few as in “Cancellation.”
In Cancellation play, only one contestant will score each time they pitch. The player with the closest point cancels any other points that are within scoring distance, but further out than the scoring shoe. A ringer cancels all the opponents close shoes that would be single points. If both contestant pitch ringers they are canceled out and called “dead,” no points being scored. If one contestant pitches Double Ringers and the other pitches one ringer, there are 2 dead shoes and one live shoe. When calling the score to the scorekeeper the contestant who scores calls the score (“John two dead, ringer-3”). Even though dead ringers do not count in the score, calling them is important as they still are calculated in the Ringer %, which is used to measure overall skill in the sport. Although the youth in your league may not play under the cancellation method, be sure to teach it and practice it as they will certainly encounter it if they pitch in other area tournaments.
Due to a violation of the playing rules, a shoe becomes a foul shoe and is not counted in the scoring. The violations include: a contestant stepping on or over the foul line (20ft and 27ft depending on age) and a pitched horseshoe that comes in to contact with anything other than the pit or stake (backstop, pitching platforms, front non-pit area, etc.). When teaching youth about the foul lines, it helps to call them “poison” that should be avoided at all cost. This nick name is enjoyed for an otherwise “foul” rule.