EXERCISEºRECREATIONºSPORT


HORSESHOE COMPENDIUM

Page 77


IOWA
By Leland Mortenson

     It is a pleasure to write this history of Iowa in Horseshoes for the N. H. P. A. I have hopes that horseshoe pitching will some day develop into a much greater sport, and I believe there is a chance that some day, perhaps not for a hundred or more years, but some day at least, it will be where boxing now stands. If so, then the present and near past of horseshoes can be compared to boxing of about the time when pugilists spent most of their time hiding from the police. If my dream, and, of course, the association's dream, comes true, will it not surely be interesting for the people of the future to read about our successes and failures, of outstanding events, and of interesting personalities of the past?
     This shall be a history of the game in Iowa and shall touch upon the national scene when Iowans have had connection with it.
Mr. Lee Rose, the National Secretary, has asked me to present human interest phases as often as possible. This 1 shall do up to and including 1935, but I am going to purposely eliminate much of such material from 1935 to 1940. My reason is that many of the humorous and interesting scenes 1 could picture taking place during those years are closely related to problems still facing the National Association, and may therefore be said to be unfinished. So far as we      are able to learn, the horseshoe game was with America before Iowa became a state. Perhaps it was adopted here after the arrival of blacksmith shops with their large numbers of cast-off horseshoes.
     The game, once it began in Iowa, didn't change much until the twenties. The courts varied in length from 30 to 55 feet; the stakes were generally rusty, easily bent pipes, three inches high, or perhaps three feet; maybe bent and leaning in any direction. The earth around the stake was generally at least two feet deep and as hard as a brick. The players generally competed in two-men teams, tossing cast-off shoes of different sizes and weights. For the most part the men were old. Games were of 21 point duration; five points for a ringer, three for a leaner, ten for a ringer covering an opponent's ringer, and twenty for a double ringer upon an opponent's double ringer.
     No official champions existed. About the only honor to be gained from being an expert was to be a most desired partner. The only prizes ever won were such items as a keg of beer or something of similar or less value, offered at an occasional picnic, and the man who won was generally he who was fortunate in

cont.

[77]