EXERCISEºRECREATIONºSPORT


SCIENCE AT THE STAKE

by Roy W. Smith published in 1946
Page 9


ORIGIN AND BRIEF HISTORY OF THE GAME

   Historical references show that the sport of pitching horseshoes originated in Western Asia and Eastern Europe at least two centuries before the Christian Era. The art of fashioning iron plates or rings and nailing them to the feet of horses was not commonly known in western Europe, however, until about the fifth century and did not become a regular practice until the Middle Ages.

   When the nations, Greece and Rome were world powers, athletic games played an important part in the celebration of various festivals. One of the four Grecian national festivals was the Olympian Games, which was established in very early times and continued down through the centuries to the present time. These games consist of all the major sports such as wrestling, boxing, running, jumping, swimming, fencing, archery, weight and discus throwing. Except for size and weight the discus resembles the modern quoit or horseshoe. The poorer class of people of that time could not always afford a discus so they began to throw discarded horseshoes. At first they used these like the discuss to see who could throw them the greatest distance, but this became rather tiresome and stakes were set up to create a more interesting game. Thus, horseshoe pitching was born.

   It is pretty well established that quoit pitching is a descendant of the old Grecian game of discus throwing and that horseshoes is a modification of the game of quoits. Quoits enjoyed great popularity in England and America several decades ago. Competition was decidedly keen and standardized rules were adopted. However, it was much easier to pick up and use discarded horseshoes which gradually replaced quoits. Today, quoits are more or less obsolete but used occasionally in some places.

   Horseshoe pitching has played an important role in the history and growth of our country. Our national game, baseball, is in reality an upstart and newcomer compared to this fine, old American sport of horseshoe pitching. This was the sport of the Fathers of our Republic! Indeed it is so charged with genuine, fundamental Americanism that the Duke of Wellington is said to have remarked, "the Colonial War of Liberation was won on the village greens by pitchers of horse hardware."

   Following the Civil War, the sport grew rather slowly until northern farmers, who migrated to the southern states, partially revived it. However, it continued to remain a sport of only casual interest until the year 1909 when a discovery was made that com-

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