The Search for My Perfect Swing — Part 10

The Maryland State Tournament of Champions

This tournament was scheduled for Saturday, August 30. It was sponsored by the Baltimore Metro Horseshoe Club with 12 pits located in Essex, Maryland. I pre-registered as an Elder and received an email notification that I was to pitch at 6:00 p.m. I didn’t know whether I would be pitching in a class based on ringer average or with other Elders. When I arrived I discovered that I would be pitching in the Elder class and there would be four of us pitching. There were two 20% Elders, myself at 30% and one 60% Elder. Plan was 40 points or 40 shoes whichever came first, two rounds.

The afternoon classes were still pitching and looked like the start would be later than 6:00 p.m. Finally, about 7:00 we were able to start. My schedule was to pitch the 3rd, 4th and 1st rated pitchers. I won my first match with a 53.8% ringer average with 14 ringers, 26 shoes. I won my second match with a 46.6% ringer average with 14 ringers, 30 shoes. I lost my third match to the 60% pitcher, but, had a 38.8% ringer average with 14 ringers, 36 shoes. During the middle of the third match we began to hear thunder and finally lightening. It was decided to terminate the session. The 60% pitcher won the first place trophy and I won a beautiful second place trophy. My ringer average for the three matches 45.6% with 42 ringers in 92 shoes and 10 double ringers.

I marvel at professionalism shown by each of the organizers of the tournaments that I have participated in. Each tournament location has been well prepared for the event to come. Each has a concession stand with hotdogs, hamburgers, drinks, restroom facilities and a selection of horseshoes and shirts. Many of the workers from other horseshoe clubs show up to help out with recording stats and keeping score. The secretary of the Frederick Horseshoe Pitching Association drove from Pennsylvania to help with the scorekeeping in Lusby and Essex, Maryland. I try to make it a point to stop and thank the organizers and helpers.

I was extremely happy with my showing, albeit, a short one. I am hoping that my next tournament will have me placed in a class with like average pitchers. Further, I hope to end the season with a 50% ringer average from 30 feet. I am beginning to make plans for my winter practice.

Continue to Part 11 — The Flight of My 1-1/2 Flip Horseshoe (Continued)

Table of Contents


The Search for My Perfect Swing — Part 9

The Flight of My 1-1/2 Flip Horseshoe

As promised, I setup the release and highpoint frame previously put together. I hoped that my Canon S230 would provide a series of images that would show the release point and highpoint. Unfortunately, the camera was only capable of capturing three images of the shoe in flight. I am showing the two sets of photographs below. The plot shown at the top of this page represents the flight as seen. The shoe is released 3 feet from the ground and 25-1/2 feet from the stake. Each shoe reaches a high point of 6 feet 9 inches at 10 feet 9 inches downrange.

Each line vertically and horizontally is divided into 3 inch squares. The base of the frame is 2 feet above the ground. The last vertical string to the right end is located at 10 feet from the foul line. The highest horizontal string is located 7 feet above the ground.

Release Point

Release Point

Photo 1 Frame 1 of 3

Photo 1 Frame 1 of 3

Phoeo 1 Frame 2 of 3

Photo 1 Frame 2 of 3

Phoeo 1 Frame 3 of 3

Photo 1 Frame 3 of 3

Photo 2 Frame 1 of 3

Photo 2 Frame 1 of 3

Photo 2 Frame 2 of 3

Photo 2 Frame 2 of 3

Photo 2 Frame 3 of 3

Photo 2 Frame 3 of 3

I later borrowed a Sony DR-TRV140 Video Camera and taped the flight of the horseshoe. I transferred the Sony video to a VHS tape. I then played the VHS tape through a GE VCR, through a GrabIt Pro video capture device and stopped each individual frame on tape with my VCR. Unfortunately, the recording speed of the Sony video camera was not fast enough to provide very much additional information. I need to use a faster frame per second video camera. The horseshoe travels through the 10 foot frame in less than 1/2 second.

The continuation of Part 9 continues on Part 11. Part 11 will discuss the importance of knowing the various mathematical values of the flight of a horseshoe.

Continue to Part 10 — The Maryland State Tournament of Champions
Continue to Part 11 — The Flight of My 1-1/2 Flip Horseshoe (Continued)

Table of Contents


The Search for My Perfect Swing — Part 8

I Found My Grip!

Originally, I was going to use Part 8 to discuss the release, highpoint and calculations. I tried to use my Canon S230 to record the Release Point and Highpoint and apply the results to the software that shows the flight of the horseshoe, speed, etc. Unfortunately, my Canon was only able to capture two images of the shoe in flight. In general, a horseshoe travels from release to stake in about 1 second. However, I did calculate the locations that I photographed and applied them to the header of this blog (XY plot above). I have since borrowed a video camera, installed video capture equipment and loaded the video capture software. I am hoping that the video camera will provide more definitive results.
In the meantime, one of the items I had completely overlooked, was my log book. As I practiced, I would make notes about experiments and the results. I had noted that when I extended my arm fully and released the shoe, the shoe would not flip as quickly. I was not happy that I had begun to add a little flip movement to the horseshoe during the release. That is not consistent with a Constant. Reading through my log book, I realized that I had worked on this sometime earlier. I discovered that if I held the shoe with caulks-up and allowed the shoe to be held naturally by the caulk, the shoe would droop when my arm was parallel to the ground. (See photo below) I wondered if this natural droop could replace the added, but, unwelcomed flip movement.
Selected Flip Grip

Drooping Flip Grip

This morning, I grabbed three sets of shoes, stepped up to the foul line, took the caulks-up flip grip, raised my arm fully extended, parallel to the ground, let the shoe droop naturally, locked it in that position throughout the swing and released it without any added flipping action. The shoe flipped perfectly 1-1/2 turns — ringer! I repeated the same process 11 more times and threw 12 consecutive ringers. I had had temporary success before. Time to take a break and try again later.

I stopped, had some lunch, and returned to go through the same routine again.  This time 8 more ringers in a row. I continued for an hour and threw ringers every time I was on plane and line of flight. I now believe I have a grip that I can rely on.

Continue to Part 9
Table of Contents

The Search for My Perfect Swing — Change Log


19 August 2008 — (Change 1) The Stride While I was preparing the information for Part 8, I had an opportunity to view my release as part of a video. I was surprised at how much I was moving my body forward during the forward swing. My preliminary test, indicated that standing at the foul line with both feet side by side and pointing down the target line (not pointing at the stake) was more stable. I may change it back after I’ve had an opportunity to prepare a better video.

20 August 2008 — (Change 2) The On-Plane Aid I was finally able to put the modified aid (second arc) into practice. I had to modify it a bit. First, added an additional 9 inches to both arcs to allow for a longer follow-through. Secondly, added skewer pegs to anchor the base and added locking screws to lock in the width I selected, between both arcs.

24 August 2008 — (Change 3) The Stride As I had suspected, I needed to change my stance back to my original position. (See Change 1 above). Placing both feet side by side required that I lean to the right to allow the shoe to pass by my leg. Even so, I kept hitting my pant leg as I passed by my right leg. I will have to work harder to control my body movement. I’ve decided to add a little monitor to my Swing Arc aid. I’ll need to make it adjustable, both horizontally and vertically.

20 September 2008 — (Change 4) Grip Changed After my last tournament, I found it necessary to turn the shoe over and grip the caulk from below. This was necessary for two reasons. I was losing control of the shoe during the backswing and release due to slippery shoes and glove. It was forcing me to grip harder than I was comfortable with, and caused inaccuracy and incorrect flip. Turning the shoe over and locking my fingers around the underside of the caulk solved the problem.

20 September 2008 — (Change 5) Stance Changed The stance change was necessary to compensate for the grip change. I experimented a bit with the placement of my feet to try to stabilize my balance. I started with the general balance martial arts stance of 35 degrees and 10 degrees. I decided to extend my arms and bring them together with finger tips touching. I rotated my body left until my right arm was pointed down the line of flight. The photo shown is the result of that change. CAUTION: This stance places a fair amount of stress on the knees.

20 September 2008 — (Change 6) Tightened Line of Flight The stance change caused a change in my backswing. The swing still goes back and forth down the line of flight, but, my backswing is much shorter. I reach my stop point much sooner and seem to be able to feel the line of flight much better.
20 September 2008 — (Change 7) Pre-Release Rehearsal This change was the result of my last tournament. I find that a swing up and back without a stop at the top of my pre-swing eliminates tension in my swing. I do need to practice this move a bit and force myself to swing up a second time if my visual alignment is not correct.

1 October 2008 — (Change 8 ) A Slight Stance Change Moving my right leg further back produces three beneficial results. (1) It virtually eliminates the shoe from going to the right of the stake; (2) It gives me a mental target for the backswing, and; (3) It stabilizes my stance to be more centered and balanced.


The Search for My Perfect Swing — Contents


Table of Contents

Welcome to my horseshoe blog.

I am searching for a foundry willing to cast prototypes and production horseshoes in ductile iron.  If anyone can recommend a foundry that casts ductile iron frequently, please contact me at .  I have contacted a large number of foundries and was unable to find any that would respond to a quote to cast prototypes.  I want to return to designing and casting Hilfling Horseshoes.  I am ready to release a larger version of the GrabIt Medium that is perfectly balanced and weighs 2 pounds 8 ounces.  Anyone who recommends a foundry that agrees to cast my prototypes and production inventory will receive a free pair of GrabIt+ as a reward. THANKS

NOTE: Bold text is relatively new as to date indicated, while light face is older from an earlier date. If you read this blog periodically, you may be looking at a “cached” older copy. To make sure you are reading the latest, simply depress your “F5” key on the top row of your keyboard and the latest copy will be presented from the web host.

To help navigate the Table of Contents, I’ve added two new links. One here and one below the NEW narrative. If you’ve already read the “NEW” introductory narrative and want to go directly to the List of Parts select ==> List of Parts

Today is December 7th, 2020. As with most of you, I’ve been riding out the pandemic with lots of deliveries and curbside pickup. I look forward to uncovering my backyard pit after receiving my vaccine shots. I’ve continued to receive requests for purchasing the different models of my designs. I discovered yesterday, that Marcellus-Metalcasters in Marcellus, Michigan still has an inventory of all of my Hilfling horseshoe designs. To order a pair of Hilfling horseshoes from their inventory, contact Marcellus-Metalcasters at 269-646-0202. Getting to their website is a little tricky, phone Marcellus for instructions. You can still reach me by phone at 410-923-2675 or via my email at if you have any questions about Hilfling horseshoe designs. Good Luck in 2021.

As of December 30th, 2019. It’s been almost one year since my last post. I log in frequently to monitor the removal of spam and am always happy to see that there is activity every day. As the pitching season approaches, the access increases. I do have a bit of news. I have decided to rejoin the NHPA pitching fraternity to include membership in the Maryland Charter. I recently notified the Charter Secretary that I would be rejoining to include establishing a ringer average for coming tournaments.

Last week I decided to uncover my horseshoe pit, clean off the left hand approach (roots got both rights). I will be concentrating on a stationary stance with my left foot against the 30 foot foul line. I’ve always felt that the stride and release introduced lots of faulty results. Within a couple of days I found a stance and setup that seems to work. Before I started, I went looking for my Patriots and found that I had given them all away. Since I will be using the 1-1/2 flip, I needed to find a horseshoe that had skid plates on both sides and found an old pair of Imperial Stingers. I was also missing my leather gloves that I had previously used, so, picked up a temporary glove at Walmart and ordered two pair of leather gloves from Amazon. I found my old pickup stick and was ready.

I approached everything from scratch, trying stances, strides, grips for flip, turn and flip-turn. By the end of the week, I had settled on the stationary stance from the left approach, toe in the right corner of the foul line and right toe on the right edge of approach, and the 1-1/2 flip. By weeks end I was throwing doubles consistently. But, I’ve been through this before and will need to verify with continual practice, if it’s a final choice.

To skip over the old introductory narrative and go directly to the List of Parts select ==> List of Parts

As of January 6th, 2019. There’s something magical about grabbing your horseshoes and heading to your backyard pit to try to find the tip that will improve your ringer average. Perhaps it’s a new grip change, different stance, or any other experiment with the basics. Whatever alteration you make, it is important that you keep a record of the results of any of your experimentation. Keep in mind that you cannot ignore the laws of physics regarding gravity that effects distance, height and time. A simple change in launch angle can effect all three. The higher your horseshoe goes, the farther it travels, the longer it takes to arrive, and the softer it lands, up to a launch angle of 45 degrees. (Q) Need to go a little longer? (A) Throw it a little higher. Any technique that allows the horseshoe to arrive softer is a bonus.

I continue to get questions about some aspect of what I’ve discussed in this blog and will answer any question posed. Thus, I have decided to keep this blog active through 2019. Good Luck in your search.

I regret there is nothing new on the availability of Hilfling Horseshoes. Perhaps some reseller will step up to take over the sales. If interested contact Marcellus-Metalcasters of Marcellus, Michigan as the foundry previously casting every Hilfling horseshoe and owns the molds.

To skip over the old introductory narrative and go directly to the List of Parts select ==> List of Parts

Posted July 22nd, 2018. Congratulations to Richard Knerem, Sr. for his 3rd place finish in the Elders Class of the World Tournament. Richard has been pitching the Warriors since he contacted me to design them. He had contacted me when he was informed that the model he had been pitching was no longer available. It is also sad to see that my friend and great horseshoe pitcher is not listed, nor will she ever again be listed. Vicki Kunde was so much looking forward to this year’s event until cancer struck her down very quickly. Even during her chemo she was practicing in her back yard. Rest In Peace Vicki.

Posted June 9th, 2018. Yes, I’m still around. I received an email from the NHPA that the Hilfling line of horseshoes is licensed and remains in production for 2018. Marcellus-Metalcasters of Marcellus, Michigan is the current owner of the Hilfling molds and has paid the licensing fee to the NHPA for 2018. However, there is no reseller presently listing the horseshoes. Contact the Lucky Shoe Pro Shop for the latest information.

Posted January 16th, 2018. I regret that my website is no longer. This blog will remain active. It is a chronicle of my search to improve my horseshoe pitching. I am pretty sure that most of you will have gone through your own search for answers to the art of horseshoe pitching. I will continue to pay for this website as long as I think there is something meaningful here for the inquisitive searcher. Good Luck.

Posted December 30th, the last day of 2017. I have decided to shutdown my website at effective 15 January 2018, but will keep this blog up and running for anyone interested in information about horseshoe pitching. During the past year I have monitored the activity here and decided it was worth the expense to make the information included available to anyone searching for information in all aspects of horseshoe pitching. I sincerely hope that you will find information here that will help you improve your ringer average. Don’t forget those all important points. The majority of my horseshoes are being sold by the Lucky Shoe Pro Shop at Good Luck…Bob Rasmussen.

Posted September 28th. It is with extreme sadness that I must report the passing of Vicki Kunde, Maryland’s best female horseshoe pitcher and incredible ambassador touting the sport of Horseshoe Pitching. I had the incredible honor of working with Vicki as we put together Show and Tells for anyone wanting to learn more about horseshoe pitching. She was an incredible fund raiser for the charities she supported like the Amvets, Charlotte Hall, the ASPCA and others. She was also active in various positions with the American Legion Color Guard, Auxiliary and The Riders. She was also a skilled woodworker and a member of the Annapolis Wood Workers Guild. Rest in Peace Vicki.

Vicki still made time to pitch horseshoes and become the Maryland State Champion for a number of years. She was inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Maryland Horseshoe Pitching Assn. Vicki was the most excited when she was preparing for the National Horseshoe Championships and competed in every one she could. In her last tournament she came in 9th in the finals of the Class A Women’s. Even during her illness she was preparing for her next World Tournament. May you rest in peace Vicki. Maryland horseshoe tournaments will not be the same without your smile, talent and spirit of fair play.

Posted September 16th. Although I’ve not been active as a horseshoe pitcher, I’ve remained active as a designer. I was recently contacted by a couple of guys who thought they had a great idea for a new horseshoe design. They sent me a hand drawn version of their idea. They had not taken their design beyond having a working model. I suggested they consider designing the horseshoe to meet the NHPA specs for a licensed horseshoe. Further, I wanted to include the volume distribution that would insure a perfectly balanced horseshoe with Center of Gravity precisely in the center of the horseshoe. The horseshoe was completed with their design, incorporating the NHPA specs and my distribution of volume.

One decision was required to insure a properly weighted horseshoe. They needed to identify a foundry to do the casting and provide me with the weight of 1 cubic inch of cast metal. A foundry was found and the weight per cubic inch of metal was provided. The computer file was created for printing the split horseshoe mold of the top and bottom by Shapeways in ABS plastic. Shapeways quoted a 3D printing price of less than $100. Once I receive the 3D print, I will post process the prints by sealing the ABS with a special lacquer primer, and sand the splits smooth in preparation for foundry casting. It is important than any potential designer understand the unique requirements for casting a horseshoe at a foundry regarding volume to weight, eliminating all vertical edges, etc.

If you think you have a great idea for a horseshoe, contact me. I’ll let you know everything you need to know to go from idea to finished horseshoe. The horseshoe described above had to include some very unique features to go from idea to mold. Perhaps, one day your great idea will be pitched in NHPA sanctioned events. You can contact me at… bobrass at verizon dot net

Posted August 29th. Tonight is a sad night for me. I have just completed the modification of my website at to pass to Lucky Shoe Pro Shop at the continuation of the sales of all of my Hilfling designs which include the GrabIt Medium, GrabIt Lite, Patriot, Patriot2 and Warrior. Lucky Shoe Pro Shop also takes phone orders at 269-501-0146. My website will continue to be online to sell copies of my book entitled, “Horseshoe Pitching With Precision”. I don’t know what pricing Lucky Shoe will decide on or what their warranty agreement will be. I still do a bit of designing for various 3D printing requirements, including new horseshoes provided the requestor pays all necessary fees. Good Luck to everyone. I hope 2018 has more participation than 2017 did. I will continue to answer any questions regarding any bit of information on this blog.

Posted April 24th. I frequently monitor the searches shown on the WordPress stats page. It gives me some idea of what pitchers are interested in. One thing I want to call to your attention is the possible difference in the designs shown throughout the blog and what is actually produced. A case in point is the Warrior that appeared in 2011. It is not the Warrior design that went into production. When I decided to create a Tribute Series for the military services and the Vietnam Veterans, I chose the names first, before I had a design. There was also a learning curve as to the shapes that could withstand the constant impact with the stake. The Trident which went into production to honor our Navy was very popular, but, had a weak point. It was decided to discontinue production until a new design became available. So, be aware that some of the designs shown throughout the blog for the Aviator, Coastie, and Ranger were cast as prototypes, but, did not pass the usage test.

The Spring/Summer pitching season is either underway or will be shortly. I am no longer pitching for a variety of reasons, but, am happy to answer any questions that may be of interest to the pitching fraternity. Good Luck.

Posted March 10th. As I mentioned below, I have been trying to come up with an aid that would help the flip pitcher keep the horseshoe oriented properly for the flip during the entire swing. This is specific to help with the flip of the GrabIt, although it works for any horseshoe. Get yourself a small box of paper drinking straws and tape one from tip to tip of the horseshoe. Practice swinging the horseshoe while keeping the straw parallel to the ground from setup to delivery. When you think it’s correct, release the horseshoe with your normal flip and see if the straw remains parallel to the ground throughout the end over end flip until it hits the ground. Try to monitor the action of your forearm and make sure there is absolutely no rotation at any point during the swing. Eventually you will get the hang of swinging your arm without rotation and watch the horseshoe flip end over end perfectly. Then you can concentrate on getting the shoe to arrive slightly open or closed to reduce the troublesome bounce backs. See image below. Good Luck.

GrabIt With Straw Attached

Posted February 20th. I periodically run through the 51 parts of this blog and verify that the links are still live. I note that the link to the Kenny Wolf website has changed. I’ve made the change in Part 4. His new link is . Secondly, I discovered that the links on my website at Design Tab were not showing the videos in Tours 1-3. Unfortunately, there has been a switch from HTML4 to HTML5 and the links to the videos are no longer valid. Efforts to resolve the problem with my template supplier has not worked thus far. So, I’ve listed all of the links covered in Tours 1-3 below found on Youtube. I’ve also included additional links to horseshoe videos also on Youtube. To my blog readers, if you find a link anywhere that is not working, please let me know.

Patriot (in production)
Trident (discontinued)
Viking Part 1 (not sold)
Viking Part 2 (not sold)
GrabIt Medium #1 (in production)
GrabIt Lite (in production)
GrabIt Medium #2 (in production)

I continue to work to find an aid that will help flip pitchers swing their arms correctly to insure a proper end over end release. This is particularly important to flip the GrabIt Medium and Lite correctly.

Posted February 6th. Yesterday I discovered that the videos I have running on my website at had a problem. The Design Tab at the top of the page normally presented 5 different videos that are no longer working. It was discovered that the shift had been made from HTML 4 to HTML 5 and the use of the Windows Media Player would no longer work. After consulting with my ISP I discovered that I could link to Youtube for the same 5 videos. So, I’m in the process of moving copies of the 5 videos to Youtube and updating the website to call the videos from my website. This is important because I had presented a variety of grips for GrabIt Medium and Lite users to help to master the flip of each horseshoe. I am also working on a gadget/gizmo to help flip pitchers flip a horseshoe properly so that it lands flat at arrival with a little modified grip that would allow the horseshoe to arrive slight closed assisting with bounce backs.

The foundry I use for casting all of my horseshoes asked me to create a cradle to allow a horseshoe to rest precisely so that the in-house CNC could smooth out the perimeters of each horseshoe. A cradle is a negative image of 1/2 of a horseshoe so that the CNC can grind only excessive metal at the parting line and leave a nice smooth edge to the horseshoe. I’ve created 4 cradles for each of my designs. This is a cradle.


Posted January 6th. A warning to cold weather pitchers. Don’t leave your horseshoes in the trunk of your car. Your horseshoes are most susceptible to breakage if you take them from a cold trunk into a warm facility. It takes time for iron to reach room temperature and it does not take place evenly from metal area to metal area within the horseshoe. The potential break points will be where thin metal meets thick area, for example the connection from shank to hook. Hairline cracks will not heal themselves once they occur. So, the actual break may take place at a later time, if not immediately. In the winter months, keep your horseshoes in your home, not in the trunk of your car.

Posted January 4th. Some great news for all future Hilfling horseshoe buyers. Effective January 1st the cost of all Hilfling horseshoes has been lowered. This is due to a reduction in shipping costs which will be passed on to the buyer. The Tribute Series horseshoes were already priced much lower than other NHPA sanctioned horseshoes, but, we continue to try to find ways to reduce pricing for all pitchers where possible. So, the lower prices reflected on the website for all horseshoes, will indicate free shipping.

Posted December 28th. I would like to wish all pitchers a Happy New Year and a successful 2017 at the pits. I am in the process of moving all of the comments up to the Table of Contents into Part 52 which I will clean up and index based on subject. I also plan to create a Part 53 that will include a pitching tip(s) regarding the pitching of the GrabIt. It will include a little gadget I have in mind that will help to insure the swing remains square from setup to release.

When I went through the testing phases of the 4 models I sent to the NHPA, I noted two mistakes made when flipping the Viking and GrabIt. First, was the tendency to put too much pressure on each horseshoe with the pad of the index finger at release. Secondly, was incorrectly rotating the forearm at some point during the delivery phase. The gizmo/gadget I have in mind will help with the monitoring of each tendency during practice.

Horseshoe pitching is only successful when supported by volunteers whether as members of the NHPA staff or individuals working at their local venues. There are many who unselfishly work without expectation of anything other than a “Thank You”. I have witnessed some of these individuals who have shown extraordinary love of the sport and sacrificed their time and energy to make horseshoe pitching a success. I would like to name a few.

Marcellus-Metalcasters, the foundry that I have used since 2008, to cast, clean, weight match, paint, wrap and box horseshoes ready for the buyer and ship out the orders. They kept my dream alive and agreed to continue sales through 2017.

To Vicki Kunde, our Maryland World Class pitcher, who is fighting a difficult battle and still planning future free clinics and attending the next NHPA World Tournament wherever it’s held. Vicki is the greatest ambassador to horseshoe pitching I’ve had the honor of working with. If you know Vicki and wish to pass on good well wishes, she can be reached via email at vlkunde at gmail dot com.

To Larry Bunn, the Maryland representative for the Baltimore NHPA facility. Larry works tirelessly to hold a first class event and makes sure that every pitcher showing up has an opportunity to pitch, even if he has to rework the entire schedule.

To Diana Ratliff of the Frederick Horseshoe Pitching Assn. Diana usually sits in a cramped, hot kitchen to set up the Frederick tournaments, complete all of the score sheets, enter and print the tournament results, and pass out the awards and trophies at the end of the day. She is generally the last to leave.

To Bob Stepp of American Legion Post 7 in Crownsville, Maryland, who has been the driving force in keeping horseshoe pitching active in the Summer and Fall since I started in 2007. He also has an incredible stat keeper.

To Dr. John Nay of Arizona who has always been my biggest supporter and horseshoe pitching booster. John was responsible for the Patriot 2, as he did not want to violate the NHPA rules by grinding off the Patriot ringer break. John was also responsible for my switch to the right foot stride which took care of my left side misses and my discussion of the square to square method. Thanks John.

Finally, to all of the volunteers who cut the grass, clean out the pit water, bring out the shovels, paint, water, and return everything after the event and in most cases, not pitching at all, while sticking around to keep score. Thanks to those that I have not mentioned that make horseshoe pitching a success.

I have decided to discontinue my effort to make all of the designs of my Tribute Series available and in production. It has become just too expensive to 3D print, cast prototypes and license them. I’ve never taken any money for the sale of my horseshoes and don’t have the funds available any longer. Sorry if you had expected the Aviator, Coastie, Ranger, Avenger and Trident remake, it’s just not feasible any longer. The existing horseshoes will continue to be produced and licensed for the foreseeable future and both the website and blog will continue.

For the majority of us, the pitching season is over until warmer weather returns. To get ready for the coming new pitching season, it is wise to keep yourself in pitching form. This includes keeping your legs, arms, shoulders and hands/fingers ready. A simple way to work the legs is by climbing steps at home. For your shoulders and arms, grab a gallon jug of water with handle and swing it back and forth 10-20 times periodically. For the hands, squeeze a tennis ball 10-20 times.

Ordinarily I don’t stray too far from horseshoe related topics, however, I feel that this is important for those of you suffering from eczema. Each winter I have a terrible time with dry skin and itching, sometimes waking me from sleep. I decided to go to a new dermatologist. He essentially said there was no cure for it, but, there were treatments. He said a cream and steroid shot would help. He indicated that the shot was good for 6 weeks. I took the shot in my hip. Two days later the itchy bumps and dry skin patches were gone. In addition, my dandruff was gone. So, if you’re suffering from this uncomfortable skin problem, ask about a cortisone shot. Hope it gives you some relief.

Posted November 7th. This has been a very busy 5 months for me, so I’ll cover what’s been happening during that time. However, I want to address a problem that I, and others have faced when moving up to 30 feet. I will preface this by referring to the November/December NHPA Newsline. The NHPA has passed a specification/requirement that by 2019, any pre-2007 venues previously sanctioned, must include at least 3 courts with 30 foot platforms whether separate, or as a continuation of the walkway between pits.

I started pitching in 2007 from 40 feet. I immediately fell in love with horseshoe pitching. A recurring knee problem and age qualified me to move up to 30 feet. I experimented with turning and flipping. It was apparent that the shorter distance made turning more difficult and flipping easier. I tried to find information on flipping. There was virtually nothing. All of the videos and writings discussed turning. There was a very limited selection of horseshoes dedicated to flipping while most were designed for turning.

The turning point for me was trying to find where to put a string over the court to designate the high point location. A vague reference was discovered that said it was 60% downrange. I was a member of the Physics forum at the time and posted an inquiry for a formula that would help me to determine the actual highpoint if I knew the actual release point. I designed a little electronic glove that turned off a bright light when I released the horseshoe. I then wrote a Perl language program that provided the results of the highpoint location when the release point was known. I was standing stationary at the time and my release point was 1-1/2 feet in front of the 27 foot foul line and 3 feet from the ground. The banner at the top of each of my parts shows the location of my highpoint. The result — no matter what distance you pitch from, the highpoint of flight of your horseshoe never reaches the halfway point from release to the stake. When I posted this information, I was immediately challenged. I needed to create a video, now on Youtube, that shows the highpoint as not reaching halfway. This is how this blog started in 2008.

Posted August 30th. It’s been a while since my last posting. This has been a very difficult pitching season for me as I was advised in February not too pitch during the hot summer months. Thus, I limited myself to my evening Legion sand league. I hope to pitch in the final NHPA tournament scheduled in October. It was during my sand league pitching that a horseshoe designed specifically for sand was in order. I was losing way too many ringers that were knocked off by the arriving shoe. The arriving shoe was spinning around to the backside and pushed backwards off as a ringer and sometimes off as a point. Below is a version of a horseshoe specifically for sand. If you look at the bottom or underside you will notice a rail that runs from the hook caulk towards the back of the horseshoe. The rail on the hooks will cut a groove in the sand that the shank rail should fill. The two plus signs on either side of the ringer break should help anchor the horseshoe more firmly in place. This is a preliminary design and may change as time passes.

Sand Shoe Top

Sand Shoe Top


Sand Shoe Bottom

Sand Shoe Bottom

Posted June 30th. Yesterday, I received some very disappointing news from the president of the Maryland Horseshoe Pitchers Assn., indicating there would be no Maryland State Doubles Tournament this year due to lack of volunteers. Frankly, I’m not surprised as I see the participation in sanctioned tournaments and informal leagues dropping significantly. I had not mentioned this before because it is a personal medical issue. However, I had to make the difficult decision to not pitch any tournaments during the hot summer months. Frankly, it is very stressful to pitch 6-8 cancellation matches during the hottest part of a hot summer day for an Elder pitcher. So, I’ve limited myself to my three evening count all Legion league matches (hopefully temporarily).

I received an inquiry about the determination of the high point of flight, so, I just decided to put out a list of all of my videos on Youtube. So, here they are.

High Point Downrange #1
Patriot (in production)
Trident (discontinued)
Viking Part 1 (not sold)
Viking Part 2 (not sold)
GrabIt Medium #1 (in production)
GrabIt Lite (in production)
GrabIt Medium #2 (in production)
Warrior (in production) video to come.

Posted June 22nd. I have made a few changes in the blog for Part 3, regarding horseshoes. I provided a link to check the list of sanctioned horseshoes on the NHPA website. I also added a few minor additions.

I continue to pitch extremely well with the method described below for May 31st and June 2nd with matches of 57, 65 and 79 in my Monday night sand league. The method described almost eliminates the angle between your eyes and Line of Flight and virtually eliminates misses to the left of the stake. It is up to you, the pitcher, to find the proper placement and angles of your feet to allow you to rotate your shoulders counter-clockwise until they stop, with your non-pitching arm behind your back, so that the center of gravity of your horseshoe is directly over the Line of Flight, when resting against your leg. Depending on how your head is tilted, your Visual Alignment Point (VAP) should be the right edge of the distant stake at address and could be up to 2″ to the right of the stake.

When I’m pitching from the left approach my toes are along the right edge of the approach, my VAP is 2″ right. On the right approach with my heels along the left edge, my VAP is the left edge of the stake. It will be your feet, their placement and angle, that determines if your shoulders get aligned properly to place your horseshoes center of gravity over the Line of Flight. In either case, your stride forward should follow the edge of the approach to the foul line. The decision about which approach to pitch from has more to do with the quality of the approaches.

I know this sounds goofy to some, but, throughout this blog you will find many references about taming your shoulder rotation. We are almost programmed from birth to rotate our shoulders as we walk. Unfortunately, that tendency will creep into our stride and swing as we pitch horseshoes. It not only causes misses left, but, misses right depending on where you release the horseshoe when pitching with a tilted arc. Locking your shoulders into place will eliminate your inborn tendency. Practice this technique a little before you try it in competition. You will more than likely get a few questions.

Posted June 19th. With the high temperatures being reported in the mid west, I thought it was the best time to add to Part 38 “Emergency Pit 11”. If you’ve read this part, you will know that the emergency was mine. What I have discovered recently is that my situation was a life threatening one. I should have called 911 immediately. Why? What I didn’t mention at the time was that I threw up what appeared to me as coffee grounds. They were not coffee grounds, but, “blood clots”, a sure sign of heat stroke. So, don’t make the same stupid mistake that I made. If you ever see coffee grounds, call 911 immediately. It may save your life. I was lucky.

Posted on June 11th. Reference my posts for May 31st and June 2nd below. Since using the method described on those dates I have had some incredible results in my Monday night Legion league. One problem is, there are no permanent approaches for 30 foot pitchers and to make matters worse, the left approach on the assigned court has a huge root that occupies the entire approach on one pit. I needed to move to the right approach, probably both ends. I drove down to the courts this afternoon to find a solution. I decided to setup along the left edge of the right approach, right heel at 36″, left heel at 23″. I chose to use the single flip with my Visual Alignment Point with the left shank on the top of the stake. I threw 6 doubles before I bounced one back. I threw 4 more doubles, added some sand, smoothed the pit and went home. I’m looking forward to Monday night. If you’re having directional problems, give this technique a try.

Posted June 8th. For those not aware. When someone orders a pair of horseshoes through my website at I follow up with a Thank You email and a copy of my book “Horseshoe Pitching With Precision” in a linked Table of Contents and in color as a PDF file. I figure you’ve paid $27.00 for a pair of NHPA approved horseshoes and received a $20 bonus book. So, if you’ve been considering a pair of horseshoes and the book, order the horseshoes and you’ll get the book free.

Posted June 4th. I am now using the WordPress stats package to display the activity on this blog on a daily basis. I have noted an increased interest in Part 28 pertaining to the “Tribute Series”. I need to completely rewrite this Part to bring it up to date. Since I published this part in March of 2011 the design, 3D printing, foundry casting and NHPA licensing has changed. It has been a learning process. Before I am finished, I hope to have the Tribute Series finished and in production. Hindering this process is the cost of 3D printing (2 copies), web hosting fees and NHPA licensing. On average, it costs about $700 to get a horseshoe into production. Funds permitted, I hope to have all 6 horseshoes in production. However, their final design is still pending.

Posted on June 2nd. I am adding a bit of clarification to the comment for May 31st. The key to this technique is the ability to rotate your shoulders to a position that places your shoulders and horseshoe perpendicular to the Line of Flight (LOF) when it stops rotating, (note LOF cord in images below). This position must apply when you have fully rotated your shoulders and facing the stake. My left foot placed 23″ from the foul line and in front of my right foot satisfied this requirement. Moving your left foot forward or back will allow you to find this perpendicular position. So, 23″ may not be right for you. During practice yesterday, I switched to a lighter pair of Patriots to gain about 3″ at arrival. However, the technique continues to deliver the horseshoe directly at the stake.

Posted on May 31st. Throughout this blog I have discussed frequently, how your natural tendencies will creep into your pitching when you least expect it. The one most troublesome is the natural rotation of your shoulders towards our striding foot when stepping forward. The length of your stride determines just how much. Of course, it’s not troublesome when you’re walking as it helps to maintain your balance. I will describe a technique that you can use for both practice and competition. I intend to post some photos later today, when my camera charges.

This technique will work for you whether an angle or square to square pitcher. If you are an angle pitcher your angles are reduced the closer your shoulder gets to the adjacent stake. So, my feet are setup along the right edge of the left approach. My right toe is 36″ from the foul line and my left toe is 23″ from the foul line. My stride forward will take me along the edge of the approach to within 3″ of the foul line. See photos below.

Right Edge Setup

Right Edge Setup


Right Edge Stride

Right Edge Stride

After you have taken your stance place your left arm behind yourself and along the small of your back with or without horseshoe and/or pickup stick. Having the horseshoe behind your back should not interfere with your delivery. Next, rotate your shoulders around counter-clockwise until you can’t rotate further. You should be looking directly at the stake. You will notice a little tension in the small of your back and your right butt. Shift a little weight rightward so that your head is a bit closer to the adjacent stake. Rest the horseshoe against your right leg. Swing up to your address position so that your Visual Alignment Point is on the right edge of the stake. Swing straight back to your normal Back Swing Stop Point ticking your pant leg as it passes your leg. Begin your forward swing in sync with your stride forward. Make sure that your shoulders are locked into position throughout the stride and release. Fine tune your setup or stride until every horseshoe goes directly at the stake. Your arm should be fully extended from setup to delivery.

I have been practicing this method for the past week and every horseshoe goes directly at the stake when my stride follows the edge of the approach. Be careful if you have any back problems. Good Luck

Posted May 29th. As I have mentioned before, I monitor each days stats provided by WordPress to identify those parts most accessed. I have noticed a recurring interest in the 1-1/2 flip. There are 3 basic reasons I switched to the 1-1/2 flip. First, it keeps my arm closer to my body, thus, eliminating the angle between my shoulder and center of gravity of the horseshoe. Secondly, and just as important, is the elimination of the normal pinch grip of the single flip. Finally, it places the swing weight of the horseshoe further from your grip and pressure against the single index finger, thumb and middle finger of the grip. This feedback gives you a more accurate response for your release point.

If you want to try this style of grip and release, you must use a horseshoe that has the appropriate hook shape and is well balanced. The Snyder EZ Flip is a perfect candidate for this style of grip and release. The photos within this blog show my grip with this horseshoe. I personally use the Patriot as my choice for obvious reasons. I do add a little additional grip strength by rotating my horseshoe clockwise a little at address which rotates my right elbow closer to my body.

The key to this method is to keep the horseshoe perfectly square throughout the setup, address, swing and release. At address, the horseshoes rests against my leg and perpendicular to the Line of Flight and does not change through the release. Since the majority of the weight of the horseshoe is farther from your grip, you will need very little flip action to get the horseshoe to flip 1-1/2 times. From experience, your normal tendency is to over rotate multiple times. Use a nice gentle action by flipping with the wrist in the thumb up position. This is a different flip action. It is actually a more natural flip action with the thumb moving vertically upward. If you find your pinch grip is causing you to release too early on occasion, give the 1-1/2 flip a try. Make sure the horseshoe you’re using has the appropriate hook shape.

Posted May 26th. I have added a note to Part 2 referencing my switch to blue clay from kitty litter later described in Part 16. I personally find blue clay easier to work with over sand for several reasons. First, I do not turn my clay. When I quit for the day, I use a flat bladed shovel and level the surface by filling any depressions. Secondly, I punch 2-3″ holes over the needed locations with a pitchfork. I then sprinkle the surface making sure the holes are filled with water. I cover the clay with a damp rug. I cover the entire pit with a waterproof tarp. The whole process takes about 5 minutes. My clay surface is 4″ above ground which avoids rain from washing debris into the pit. When selecting my pit location, I wanted the ground to be slightly downhill to permit my approaches to be level with the clay surface which is 4″ above ground. For practice purposes, I only have a single pit.

Posted May 19th. I have received word from the foundry that they will be closed for vacation between June 4th through June 14th. Please factor that in should you contemplate ordering horseshoes from Hilfling Horseshoes prior to the Worlds in July. I will also post the same information on the Hilfling Horseshoes website later today.

Posted April 30th. I am posting a reference to a paper written sometime back that describes my current method as “My Better Way”, URL . I have made a change to the method I use from my address position. I have oft stated the following — “Don’t move it unless you have to, but, if you have to, as little as necessary.” During my practice sessions this Spring, I became aware that I was swinging offline during my backswing. How? By placing my tamper on the Line of Flight cord behind me. I was swinging outside the line causing the horseshoe to arrive left of the stake. After experimenting a bit, I found I really didn’t need to swing all the way up to parallel to the ground at address.

I started using what I would refer to as a “forward press” in golf. Just a short movement to begin the process of swinging back. From my stationary stance position described in the paper referenced above from my setup position, I swing my arm/horseshoe 6″ forward (that’s right, 6 inches) down the Line of Flight. My eyes are locked on the stake. I immediately begin the backswing to my normal Backswing Stop Point. The results were immediate. The horseshoe headed at the stake, perfectly on line. At first, arriving a little short. A little more upright in my setup cured the problem. For me personally, it resolved a problem that causes me to become distracted during pitching, i.e., activity behind the distant pit. Give it a try. You may find that you’re using more arm swing than necessary.

Posted April 28th. One of the most important aspects of successful horseshoe pitching is “muscle memory”. This URL offers an excellent explanation of muscle memory and how long it takes to develop and rejuvenate. During the years 2000-2010 I was a “gym rat” and had the opportunity to workout at a gym owned by Kevin Levrone who placed second to Ronnie Coleman in the 2002 Mr. Olympia competition. Kevin was a strong believer in muscle memory. When not training for competition he had a walk around weight at about 185-200 pounds. When he began training for competition he would bulk up to 250-260 pounds of solid muscle in a couple of months with a body fat index of about 5%.

When we stop pitching horseshoes during the winter months, our muscle memory wanes. So, it is important that during your non-pitching time, you maintain your muscle memory so you’re ready to go, when the season begins. What muscles are we talking about? They are the 4 muscles that support your pitching shoulder and work with your rotator cuff. The best that I have found to maintain those muscles is a kettlebell. They are very inexpensive and come in multiple weights. Depending on your shoulder strength, I would recommend a 5-10 pound kettlebell with a nice grip to practice your turn or flip. Simply swing up and back with a fully extended arm and periodically stop in the up position and back position for a couple of seconds. Do what you can do comfortably, but pay attention to your normal form. It you are a turn pitcher, you might want to substitute a regular weightlifting plate that you can grip and rotate your forearms as you would for turning the horseshoe. During your normal practice sessions, swinging your kettlebell 15-20 times will warm up your shoulder muscles before starting. Come the pitching season you will be amazed at how quickly you’ll be back in the groove. Good Luck.

Posted April 15th. I frequently monitor the statistics showing the searches by each visitor and have noted a large number of visits to Part 3 which describes horseshoes and links to a number of sellers. I also mention Ebay as a source. I would like to call your attention to the fact that only horseshoes approved by the NHPA can be pitched in sanctioned NHPA tournaments. In addition to the list of approved horseshoes, there are over 100, the production status is also included. Once a horseshoe is licensed and approved for pitching you are entitled to continue to pitch shoes that are no longer in production. Please refer to the list of approved horseshoes at the following URL, . Even if you pitch a horseshoe on the approved list, they may be disqualified if the design has been altered over the original, whether through use or man made changes.

A horseshoe may be welded as long as the original design is not altered. For licensing purposes, the opening between hooks cannot exceed 3-1/2 inches when measured 3/4 inches from the tip of the horseshoe. Used shoes can measure 1/8″ wider. So, if you intend on pitching in sanctioned NHPA tournaments, make sure your horseshoes are licensed and sanctioned and conform to the original design of the horseshoe. Be careful when buying used horseshoes from others or online. We, as designers, must insure that the horseshoe correctly conforms to NHPA specifications regarding weight (<=2 pounds 10 ounces), width (<=7-1/4″), length (<=7-5/8″), thickness (<=1″ laying flat), and opening (<=3-1/2″ measured 3/4″ from the tips). I see a lot of used horseshoes that would not conform to the maximum of an opening of <=3-5/8″ permitted for used horseshoes. NOTE: the symbols “<=” means less than or equal too.

You certainly don’t want to show up at a tournament site and find out that your horseshoes do not qualify for sanctioned tournament pitching. If you have any questions about the rules and/or specifications of sanctioned horseshoes, please contact me or refer to the specifications provided by the NHPA at .

As of April 7th. I would like to take a little time, as the Summer pitching season rapidly approaches, to discuss an important aspect of horseshoe pitching. It is what I call “Synchronized Impetus”. The dictionary provides an appropriate definition for “impetus” as “the force or energy with which a body moves”. It is very difficult to stand fixed and pitch a horseshoe from the approach to the stake with any hope of accuracy. Anyone trying to use the stationary stance realizes how much easier it is, when adding the impetus supplied by the body moving forward with the stride. However, to use the impetus effectively, it must be synchronized properly. I believe that the key to accuracy is to have the body in a stable and balanced position at the time of release. It is easiest when the stride and arm swing are timed properly. If you move too fast to the foul line, you will have to slow down you arm swing to keep from overthrowing the stake. Or, if you move to slowly, you’ll have to speed up the arm swing.

The better you synchronize your stride with your release the easier it is to cover the distance with the minimum of effort and under control. I suggest you try to first make your backswing equal to your forward swing and stride by using a little mental cadence. The slower the better. Try to get your foot planted a split second before you release the horseshoe. You may find that you synchronize easiest if you swing up and continue the downswing without stopping. Or, you may want to start your downswing with a slow bow at the waist at the speed you want to time your downswing, the slower the better. Or, you may want to start your stride forward and arm swing as soon as your arm swing stops on the backswing. Make sure you get your foot planted a split second before your release. You might want to add the ability to balance yourself on your striding foot at release.

Once you establish a smooth, fluid, synchronized swing and stride, the more accurate you will become.

Written on April 6th. What are two 2 most common reasons for missing? It is my belief that they are tendencies and angles.

On April 6th, I have added the image of the setup in the center of the court to demonstrate that the centered setup is identical to the rotated setup on the left approach. Even though the cords and body alignment are angled on the approach, they are still square to square relative to the Line of Flight. See below.

TENDENCIES — are those body movements you’ve incorporated during your lifetime. Virtually all of the throwing activities incorporate a rotation of the shoulders. Consider throwing a baseball, bowling ball, football, basketball, etc., all are movements that cause the shoulders to rotate clockwise and counter-clockwise. Even the act of walking causes a rotation of the shoulders toward the opposite leg. It is difficult to learn to quiet these normal tendencies and keep them quiet. Unfortunately, it’s when you least expect it, you’ll give the horseshoe a little extra effort and rotate your shoulders one way or the other. It usually results in a miss to one side or the other when released at the distant stake.

ANGLES — Unless you are a square to square pitcher, you will always deal with angles from either approach to the stake. To make matters worse, the angles change as you make your stride on either approach. Just as important is the angle between your eyes and pitching shoulder.

Last month I described the square to square method with a stride with the right foot. I know it’s difficult to make that change. However, it definitely upsets the normal tendency to rotate your shoulders toward the left foot. As a matter of fact, it causes the opposite rotation toward the right foot and reduces the added angle when striding.

During the next couple of nights I’ll describe a square to square method that utilizes a somewhat normal left foot stride for the right hand pitcher. To use this method, as with the previous square to square method, you’ll need to measure the distance from your nose or adam’s apple to the outside of your right shoulder. This method will use the pendulum swing with your hips and shoulders perpendicular to the Line of Flight (LOF) from setup to release. The LOF is a straight line below the Center of Gravity of the horseshoe to the stake.

There may be a little confusion about the images below and the obvious appearance of the cords running at a slight angle across the approach. It is really an optical illusion in the sense that it really is a square to square technique. The image below is the square alignment when moved into the center of the approach. I have simply rotated the entire centered setup to the left and over the approach. The key is that the shoulders are square to the eye line and the Line of Flight. Below is the square to square setup positioned in the center of the court. Note that the setup and alignment on the approach is identical to the centered setup.

Square To Square Centered in the Court

Square To Square Centered in the Court

The two diagrams below describe the differences in setup between the two square to square methods.

NOTE: Click any image or photo for a larger view, or to enlarge the photo to read the narrative embedded on each photo.

Square to Square Left Approach

Square to Square Left Approach


SqToSq Alternative Footwork

SqToSq Alternative Footwork

The following photos are photos of the method in process. The first two photos are of the method using a normal stride with my feet moving straight down the eye line which is 9.5″ to the left of the Line of Flight. The distance from my nose to shoulder is 9.5″.






The next photo is the use of the square to square method using the stationary stance. Note that the stride position and stationary position are virtually identical. This is a very stable stance for the stationary stance. My eyes are looking down the sight line throughout the entire swing and release.

Sq To Sq Stationary Stance

Sq To Sq Stationary Stance

The next two photos are what I see when using the square to square method either with a stride or stationary.


Square To Square Secondary Stake

Square To Square Secondary Stake

Early in November I emailed the NHPA Secretary to get a preliminary review of the Avenger as a sanctioned horseshoe. Based upon the image provided (image below), the NHPA could see no reason not to approve the Avenger. So, what I wanted to make available for learning the various flips and turns, could become another sanctioned model. The notches shown on the Avenger below are spaced similar to a pistol grip at 1/2 inch increments. It is very easy to grip this shoe precisely each time. The horseshoe will be in the 2 pounds 8 ounce medium category and will be perfectly balanced as with all of the Hilfling horseshoes. It also incorporates symmetrical hooks for flip or turn from either side. So, for those pitchers interested in trying the turn or improving their turn, it provides lots of options.

As of October 25th. I have added two additional tips for Part 51. One deals with an easy way to monitor body alignment on the approach and the other suggests you consider reducing your backswing based on picking a shorter address alignment position based on my belief that extremely long back swings tend to pull the body out of alignment and result in missed ringers. I am considering production of a new horseshoe that I had created earlier that I referred to as my “Dial-A-Grip”. It is actually named the “Avenger”. It is a fantastic shoe for learning the turn. See below.

The Avenger

The Avenger

I realized recently that this blog chronicles my “Search” going into the 8th year. I monitor the hits on this blog with a product called “Statcounter”. It shows me statistics on searches, time looking, which parts, geographical location of searcher, etc. There is no personal information captured, so I don’t know anything about the searcher such as, style of pitching, i.e., flip or turn or variations, distance pitched, horseshoes used, etc. Knowing what I know now, I would have ordered the Table of Contents from current to past.

This blog covers thousands of hours of practice, testing, thinking I had found the answer and realizing I hadn’t. I am always afraid that the searcher will start with Part 1, when I want them to start where I ended up, rather than where I began. So, I’ve decided to write Part 52, which is where I am today and why. I will place Part 52 at the beginning of the Table of Contents, so that anyone researching, will know what ended up working for me and why. More important, is instant realization of why I missed, if I did, and the ability to fix it. Part 4, has always been my guiding goal and it is where I am today. Constants are the key. Using the stationary stance in the 2015 Maryland State Singles helped me win second place in the Elders Class A division.

For anyone interested there are a couple of free documents that may be of interest. The URL to the free PDF copy to everyone of “Down The Line” and “My Better Way” is

This blog, The Search For My Perfect Swing, is directed to the new horseshoe pitcher, like me, who is interested in joining the large population of pitchers wanting to improve their technique. I guess I can state that I’m no longer new horseshoe pitcher. Here it is a few days from 2017 and I began this blog in 2008. Even though it is primarily directed at the Elder pitcher, those 70 and older, in addition to women, and youth who primarily flip the horseshoe, there should be some tidbits of information that might help any pitcher improve their ringer average. Golfers have a huge inventory of teaching aids available to help with their game. The horseshoe pitcher has very few. This blog covers my search to improve my game. Along the way I have tried to create aids that will help my technique.

List of Parts

Part 51
Practice Tips
Best Tip — Keep A Journal
Tip 1 — Improve Your Drop Angle
Tip 2 — Stand Tall
Tip 3 — Strike A Pose
Tip 4 — Monitor Your Footwork
Tip 5 — Tame Your Left Shoulder
Tip 6 — Swinging Offline
Tip 7 — Using Your Horseshoes Effective Width
Tip 8 — A Horseshoe Blocks Your Way
Tip 9 — Reading the Stake
Tip 10 — Marking the Approach
Tip 11 — Developing a Swing Cadence
Tip 12 — Using the non-dominant eye
Tip 13 — Consistent Body Alignment
Tip 14 — Is your back swing too long?

Part 1
The Beginning

Part 2
The Pit
The Approach
The Pit Material

Part 3
Horseshoe Web Pages
My Horseshoes
Additional Stuff

Part 4
Constant 1 — The Pendulum Swing
Constant 2 — Center of Gravity
Constant 3 — Line of Flight
Constant 4 — Continuation of the Line of Flight
Constant 5 — Addressing the Stake
Constant 6 — The Stride
Constant 7 — Arm Rotation
Constant 8 — Release Point
Constant 9 — High Point of Flight

Part 5
Mechanical Teaching Aids
Line of Flight
The All Important Plumb
The On-Plane Aid
Correcting Your Stride
The Electronic Glove
Pendulum Man
Release and Height Frame

Part 6
My First Doubles Tournament
It’s My Turn

Part 7
My Grip(s)
The Flip Grip
The Turn Grip
Warming Up for the Turn

Part 8
I Found My Grip!

Part 9
The Flight of My 1-1/2 Flip Horseshoe

Part 10
The Maryland State Tournament of Champions

Part 11
The Flight of My 1-1/2 Flip Horseshoe (Continued)
Table of Plot Results for 30 Foot Approach
The Plotted Rotation of My 1-1/2 Flip
Your Personal Plot

Part 12
Saturday’s Tournament and the Metronome
Horseshoe Flight Evaluation Form
Using a Metronome

Part 13
It’s Debug Time
Grip Changed
Stance Changed
Tightened Line of Flight
Pre-Release Rehearsal
It Looks Like My Search May Be Over
Future Plans

Part 14
A Few Random Comments
A Slight Stance Change
Making the Most of My Practice
Staying in Shape

Part 15
My Final Sanctioned Tournament for 2008
A Newly Found Secret

Part 16
Catching Up
An Unexpected Award
Testing New Shoes
New Pit Material — Blue Clay
A New Website to Swap/Sell/Trade Shoes
Pro Horseshoe League
Is This my Perfect Swing?

Part 17
80% and A New Horseshoe is Born
A Horseshoe is Born
How I Reached 80%
The Horseshoe
The Setup
The Address
The Backswing

Part 18 — The NHPA approves the Viking
The Parabola
The Wings
Gripping the Viking
Turning the Viking

Part 19
The 2009 Season — A Critique
Three New Horseshoe Designs Ready for Production
A Laser Based Pitching Aid

Part 20
My Current Pitching Method
The Setup
Starting Position
Left Foot at Release
Distance from Foul Line
Settling In
The Swing Cadence
Swing Change (Old/New Method)

Part 21
Singles Tournaments
My First Tournament
Subsequent Tournaments
Tournament Preliminaries
Score Keeping
Maintaining Your Pits
The Match Begins
Your Day Is Done
Doubles Tournaments

Part 22
The Hilfling GrabIt
The First Horseshoe in Production
Altering the Flight of a Horseshoe
A Mechanical Horseshoe Pitcher

Part 23
The Hilfling GrabIt Lite — A Reality
First Sale
Why The GrabIt Lite?
Hilfling Website Up and Running
Hilfling Horseshoes on Ebay

Part 24
The Hilfling GrabIt Medium
A New Design
My Search Is Over
Practice Tip

Part 25
My First Pro Tour Tournament
A New Horseshoe Design

Part 26
Some Exciting News for 2011
The 3D Software Search
Moment of Inspiration (MOI)
A New Design is Born
The Tribute Series

Part 27
The Center of Gravity
Determining the Center of Gravity
Designing a Perfectly Balanced Horseshoe
Perfect Balance — A New Area of Interest
Why is Perfect Balance Important

Part 28
The Tribute Series
Six New Designs
The Patriot
The Air Force Aviator
The Army Ranger
The Marine Warrior
The Navy BullFrog
The Coast Guard Coastie

Part 29
Highpoint Downrange Location Verified
A Little History
The Release Point

Part 30
Drop Angle
13 Inch Scoring Area
The Minimum Drop Angle
The Maximum Drop Angle

Part 31
My 30 Foot Method

Part 32
A Rewarding 2011
Three New Designs NHPA Approved
The Aviator
The Trident
The Eagle
Four New Designs
The Warrior
The Torque
The Patriot
The Gyro

Part 33
A New Season Has Arrived
A Stance Change
The Hilfling Aviator
The Hilfling Patriot

Part 34
Emergency Preparation
Testing is Done — Decision Time. The Trident is Chosen

Part 35
Effective Horseshoe Opening
Personal Tendencies
Square to Square
Pit Setup
Swing, Stride and Release
Hitting Higher on the Stake
New Grip Option

Part 36
Stationary Pitching in Pictures
Stationary Stance From 27 Feet (Long Version)
Exercises Specific to Horseshoe Pitching
Exercising at Home

Part 37
Accurate Alignment
Practice Pit Setup
Taking My Stance
Forward Swing
Odds and Ends

Part 38
2012 Maryland State Doubles Championship
Emergency! Pit 11

Part 39
Pitching From 30 Feet
The Patriot is Coming

Part 40
2012 — A Tournament Review
2012 — A Production Review
The Patriot is Coming
The Eagle is Coming

Part 41
The Geometry of Precise Setup and Delivery — Phase 1
The Importance of Precision
NHPA Approach Specifications
Phase Images
The Three Steps of Phase 1

Part 42
The Geometry of Precise Setup and Delivery — Phase 2
The Visual Alignment Point

Part 43
The Geometry of Precise Setup and Delivery — Phase 3
Setup and Address — A Review
The Delivery

Part 44
The Geometry of Precise Setup and Delivery — Final Thoughts
NHPA Pit Specifications
Alternative Setup Locations — Important
Valuable Practice Aids

Part 45
Horseshoe Pitching With Precision
Front Cover
Table of Contents
Back Cover
Dedication to the Volunteers

Part 46
Amazon Lead In
The Rest of the eReaders
Front Matter
Prolog — The “WHY”
The Beginning — 2007
Geometry Development
Tips & Tricks

Part 47
Method 4
Goals for Method 4
Setting Up Your Practice Approach
The Setup
The Address
The Delivery
Final Thoughts

Part 48
Drop Angle
Proper Drop Angle Benefits
30 to 45 Degrees
Practice Aids

Part 49
Method 5 — “Down the Line”

Part 50
My Better Way
Some History
The Pendulum Swing
The Natural Grip
The 1-1/2 Flip and Grip
The Stance
The Setup and Delivery
The 30 Foot Pitcher

Part 51
Practice Tips
Best Tip — Keep A Journal
Tip 1 — Improve Your Drop Angle
Tip 2 — Stand Tall
Tip 3 — Strike A Pose
Tip 4 — Monitor Your Footwork
Tip 5 — Tame Your Left Shoulder
Tip 6 — Swinging Offline
Tip 7 — Using Your Horseshoes Effective Width
Tip 8 — A Horseshoe Blocks Your Way
Tip 9 — Reading the Stake
Tip 10 — Marking the Approach
Tip 11 — Developing a Swing Cadence
Tip 12 — Using the non-dominant eye
Tip 13 — Consistent Body Alignment
Tip 14 — Is your back swing too long?

Part 52
Synchronized Horseshoe Pitching

Change Record
On-Plane Aid

The Search for My Perfect Swing — Part 7

My Grip(s)

I basically use two different grips with a third variation, pitching from 30 feet. All grips are used with the Snyder EZ Flip. Two of these grips are the same, just turning the shoe over. I’ve painted my shoes red, to better show what the grip looks like in my fingers. It is extremely important to maintain consistency, and that I grip the shoe exactly the same for every flip and/or turn. So, I go through a little grip routine while stepping to the foul line. Further, it insures that the center of gravity of the shoe is located exactly the same each time. Remember, it is the center of gravity that I am trying to throw/pitch at the stake. I am not wearing gloves in any of these photos, but, under normal circumstances I use leather motorcycle gloves.

The Flip Grip

The photo below shows index finger dangling the shoe prior to taking the grip for either flip. I simply crook my index finger and dangle the shoe at the tip of the hook from the first joint in the finger. From there, I will take the two flip grips. More importantly, it establishes how the shoe will flip through the air. With the grip taken in this orientation, it insures that the shoe will be slightly turned when it hits the stake, which helps with bounceback. If I turned the shoe so that the tips were parallel to the ground the shoe would fly very much like a regular flipper.

Dangle prior to grip

Dangle prior to grip

The next two photos show the two flip grips, which are essentially the same. With the caulks up, when I grip the shoe, I insure that the shoe will hit the ground with caulks down. If you’re pitching in sand or dry clay, the shoes will slide on the caulks. So, sometimes if you’re a little short, you may salvage a ringer. I’ve done a little experimenting with throwing one shoe one way and the second shoe the opposite. I would like to study whether the shoe orientation affects the arrival of an opponents shoe. I’ve come to no conclusions on this yet.

Shoe lands caulks up

Flip landing caulks up

Flip landing caulks down

Flip landing caulks down

The next two photos will show each shoe in the two flip grips, one caulks down and one caulks up. I feel the caulks down grip is more stable. The thumb rests on the flat top of the shoe while the index finger fits nicely at the back of the underside caulk. See the grip above.
Flip--caulks down landing caulks up

Flip--caulks down landing caulks up

Flip--caulks up landing caulks down

Flip--caulks up landing caulks down

The Turn Grip

In this grip I dangle the shoe from the corner of the caulk from the first joint of my thumb. To take the grip I simply close my fingers around the caulk with my index finger almost touching my thumb and my middle finger right below the point of the caulk.

Turn grip

Turn grip

Turn grip for 1/3 turn

Turn grip for 1/3 turn

Warming Up for the turn

When I was experimenting with various grips of the shoe, I discovered that taking the turn grip and rotating the shoe slightly, permitted me to throw the shoe without any rotation or flip. Throwing the shoe this way for 20 or 30 warm up throws, insures that I’m not adding any manipulation with my hands.

Part 8 will discuss the release and exactly where it occurs. I spent a night and about $45 to purchase components and build a frame 5 feet x 10 feet which will sit 2 feet above the ground and permit me to read releases that go as high as 7 feet and downrange 10 feet. I have used multicolored string to create squares 3 inches apart vertically and horizontally. I am hoping that my little Canon S230 will be fast enough to create a video of the release location while using my electronic glove.

Continue to Part 8
Table of Contents

The Search for My Perfect Swing — Part 6

My First Doubles Tournament

I debated on entering this tournament as I didn’t have a doubles partner. However, the entry form had provisions for signing up as a single and matching up with another single on tournament day. The tournament was to be held in Lusby, Maryland. Registration time was set for 8:30 a.m. It was a fair drive of 1-1/2 hours. There were no directions included on the registration form, so, located a website for the Chesapeake Ranch Estates, site of the tournament and requested directions. Received an email saying it was on Clubhouse Drive. Using Mapquests aerial view, was able to locate the horseshoe pits. So, set my alarm for 6:00 a.m.

I awoke at 3:30 a.m. Got ready, had some breakfast and made sure I had everything ready to go. Packed my bag with sunscreen, bug repellent, a frozen bottle of Powerade, a second thermos of cold Powerade, rag for cleaning the shoes, baseball cap and Snyder EZ Flips. I left at 6:30 a.m. I arrived at 7:45 a.m. My directions were accurate. The tournament volunteers were already in the process of setting up, pits uncovered, clay turned, computer setting up, grill heating up. Well organized, I thought. Registration began at 8:15 and I was advised that no other Elder was needing a partner, but, there might be someone available. If not, I’d get my check back and call it a day.

Below is a photo of the tournament director setting up the computer system to record the days events. All of the information from the days events are recorded and ultimately passed on to the NHPA. Ultimately, they will appear on the NHPA website under the NETSTATS selection for each member of the NHPA listed by state and alphebetically by name.

Preparing for the tournament

Preparing for the tournament

About 8:45 I was advised that someone was coming and I’d have a partner. I wondered what shoes he pitched and whether we’d have to use his or mine. Unfortunately, the Elders were not scheduled to pitch until 1:00 p.m. I decided to keep score for a team from Post 7. When the tournament began, there was a little confusion on the proper form for keeping the score. Got that squared away and pitching began. Happy to discover that each team member pitches their own shoes and follows them from pit to pit. Each match would be 40 points or 50 shoes whichever came first. It was 50 shoes for each pitcher, not, 50 for the team. I kept score for 6 matches and received $2.00 ($1.00 each team) per game. Lunch money and money for my scorekeeper later. It was very hot sitting in the sun from 9:00 until 1:00. I was feeling myself wilting from the heat and early awakening.

No warmup is permitted between sessions until all morning matches are completed.

It’s My Turn

At 2:00 p.m. everyone gathered for silent remembrance of our fighting men in action, remembrance of a passing member and National Anthem. Scorecards were passed out, met my partner and discovered that there were 3 teams of Elders. Plan was to do a round robin, pitching each team 3 times with a bye during each round. During my brief warmup, felt that my flip was working better than my turn.

My partner was a member of the local club and 85 years old. We hit it off quickly. The tournament began. My flip was working pretty well, lost the first match, but, had a 40.9% ringer average. We lost the second match, but, again my flip was working well and had a 46.7% ringer average. The bye was next, so, took the time to grab a bite to eat. Third match, another loss, ringer average dropped to 22.7% and continued dropping until I switched to my turn and had a 36.3% average for my last match. Overall average was 30.16% for the day. I couldn’t believe how many ringers my competition was throwing at us. It was obvious that they had much higher averages than my team. I was right. When I returned home I checked the NHPA Netstats averages for the competing teams and discovered they ranged from 40% to 60% per man. Geez, we didn’t have a chance, my partner was at 20% and I was at 30%.

My competitors were surprised I had only been pitching for 1 year and had never seen anyone throw shoes the way I did. A lot of nice complements.

We finished 3rd. No trophy though. Thanked the volunteers for the tournament and got back home at 7:30 p.m. A very long day. It was a fantastic experience. I’m looking forward to the upcoming Maryland State singles tournament in 2 weeks.

I decided to throw this page into the mix to encourage any first time Elder or senior to participate. Think of it as a learning experience and see where your progress has taken you. Ben Hogan once said that tournament competition is the proving ground for what works in practice. My first two games were a validation of my efforts.

Continue to Part 7
Table of Contents

The Search for My Perfect Swing — Part 5

Mechanical Teaching Aids

Part 5 will show you some of the teaching aids I’ve currently developed. Most are “works in progress”, however, I’ll explain their purpose and what I hope to add.

Line of Flight — This is a very simple aid, but, probably the most important. It shows the path that the center of gravity of each shoe should follow to the stake. All of the other aids work off of this very simple string that my pendulum swing should trace back and through.

Line of Flight

Line of Flight

Select the photo and double-click to see a larger version. Note, this is my right side approach for 30 feet. Since I do not stride, I only need this one 16×16″ block to simulate the foul line at 27 feet.

The All Important Plumb — Here are two photos of the plumb. It hangs down directly over the line of flight and permits me to address the stake by aligning the center of gravity of the shoe directly under the plumb. From this position I simply allow gravity to drop the shoe and continue on through the backswing. On the forward swing, I try to release the shoe and touch the plumb on the upswing.

Hanging Plumb

Hanging Plumb

Plumb and Center of Gravity

Plumb and Center of Gravity

The On-Plane Aid — This device took a little planning and about $100 worth of PVC pipe and connectors. The development started with tracing my swing arc. It turns out that my radius is 27 inches. So, this device started with a single arc with a 54 inch diameter. It works beautifully, but, I began to rely too heavily on touching the arc with my wrist back and through. It became apparent that I needed two arcs spaced apart that permitted me to swing back and through without touching either side of two arcs. So, I modified the first device by adding another arc that was adjustable in and out for wider or narrower spacing. Finally, I had to add adjustable feet to accommodate the unevenness of my approach area. Once I have verified my release point, I will be adding a little tickler at the appropriate spot on the upswing arc to synchronize my release point.

Single swing arc

Single swing arc

Double swing arc

Double swing arc

I am considering adding a little reminder that will touch my neck or head to remind me to keep it from moving back and forth. It will also remind me not to alter the vertical swinging of the pendulum (my arm). Moving my body in any direction will disrupt the accuracy of the swing.
NOTE: A LESSON LEARNED — When I first started using this aid I noticed that my shoes would consistently land right of the stake. I realized that when I was dangling my arm down through the arc, that it was in a relaxed state. In the process of swinging my arm forward my arm would straighten slightly. I realized that I needed to extend my arm to a fully extended position, i.e., no bend at the elbow to eliminate this problem. If you want to verify this, hold the shoe at your side in a relaxed manner, then straighten it slightly and note that the shoe moves rightward, off plane. I now concentrate on keeping my arm straight (not rigid) throughout the swing.

Correcting Your Stride — This aid is a simple board to assist in striding correctly to ensure that your hub moves along the line of flight. When I was pitching from 40 feet, I noticed that I had a tendancy to step too far to the right and not parallel the line of flight, forcing the shoes to miss right. This board consists of a divider that allows me to position my feet side by side (straddling the divider), stride forward along the divider on the forward swing and also step forward with my right foot so that both feet ended up even at the foul line. Note — the divider on the board is angled to run parallel to the line of flight. In the Pendulum Swing you do not want to stride toward the stake. You want your hub to follow the line of flight, not your feet, forcing the feet to end up pointed left of the stake but still parallel to the line of flight.

Proper Stride

Proper Stride

The Electronic Glove — This is a very simple teaching aid that contains a little circuit that will show you exactly where you are releasing the shoe. When you grip the shoe with finger and thumb, a circuit is formed that turns on a 12V LED. It stays on until you release the shoe. The concept is, to tell you where you are releasing the shoe, both vertically and horizontally. With this information I can plot the flight of my shoe from start to finish. I’ll discuss the program that calculates this plot a little later. A friend of mine, an electrical engineer, was kind enough to change the circuit so that the LED went ON when released, instead of OFF. I’m also wanting to add a little vibrator and sound generator to give me instant feedback. I am also considering adding a little circuit to my Swing Arc platform to alert me when the shoe reaches the proper release point. By setting this circuit at the correct release point, I can determine if I’m releasing early or late. Two photos below show the state of the glove while ON and OFF.

ON -- In Mid Swing

ON -- In Mid Swing

OFF -- Shoe Released

OFF -- Shoe Released

Pendulum Man — This is what started my search. I had noticed that when I addressed the stake, i.e., brought the shoe to eye level and sighted directly at the stake, it didn’t look like the shoe was over the “line of flight.” I wanted to visually ascertain what I should see when the shoe became part of the pendulum. So, I created what I referred to as “Pendulum Man,” for the sake of describing what I wanted it to represent. With a few pieces of PVC I built a representation of me. It was to represent my height, shoulder width, head location and arm length, with horseshoe attached. After I completed it, I set it down on my 40 foot approach with the arm at 90 degrees, directly over the line of flight, and, the center of gravity of the shoe pointing directly at the stake (first picture below). Note that the bottom of the photo shows the line of flight string, directly below the arm and the shoe aligned with an extension of the stake in the pit.
The second photo is photographed from where my head and eyes would be. To my amazement the visual alignment was way to the right. It was at this point that I decided I needed an indicator to show me where the shoe should be, when addressing the stake. Thus, the Plumb, pointing straight down at the line of flight and far enough forward to center the shoe at arms length, below the Plumb. I quickly realized that bringing the shoe up to eye level and aligning it with the stake could not possibly be part of the pendulum swing. As I mentioned before, that little piece of string was the genesis of the development of my swing and this blog. Below is a photo of “Pendulum Man” in the resting state.

Pendulum Man (resting)

Pendulum Man (resting)

Arm on line of flight

Arm on line of flight

Visual location of the shoe

Visual location of the shoe

Release and Height Frame— I decided I needed an accurate method of determining the release point, i.e., point downrange and height and the actual location of the highpoint and location downrange. I purchased enough PVC and multi-colored twine to create a checkerboard pattern in 3 inch increments in a 5 x 10 foot frame.

Location Frame

Location Frame

Email me if you have any questions or comments. 
Continue to Part 6
Table of Contents

The Search for My Perfect Swing — Part 4


It is my belief that anyone using proper technique from 30 feet should be able to throw a ringer every time. The key, of course, is proper technique.  It has been my goal during the past year to try to determine exactly — “What is proper technique?”  I decided to see if my software development background could be used to review each aspect of the pitching of a horseshoe.  So, I began to break down each phase of the pitching of a horseshoe.  Any good programmer will try to convert every variable to a constant, where possible.  So, it is this guiding concept that dictates “Horseshoes My Way.” A constant is a position that can be taken accurately and reached repeatedly. Further, if you stray, you will be able to spot the error immediately.

Constant 1 — The Pendulum Swing.  I decided to base my swing on the pendulum.  It is a very simple concept, but, very accurate.  The simple definition of a Pendulum is “A rigid body free to swing on a horizontal axis under the influence of gravity.”  Unfortunately, gravity alone, in this case, will not launch a horseshoe far enough to get to the stake.  However, it was fairly easy to monitor the arm swing as if it were the “rigid body” and the shoulder as the hub.  Everything from this point on, is based on the shoulder as the hub, the arm as the shaft and the horseshoe as the weight. A pendulum has four constants; 1) an exact swing axis, 2) a constant swing speed, 3) a stop point on the forward swing, and 4) a stop point on the backswing. Visualize the pendulum in a grandfather clock as your goal. It is also possible to use a simple metronome to monitor the speed.

Constant 2Center of Gravity. Each horseshoe has only one “Center of Gravity.” Kenny Wolf has done an excellent job of describing how to determine the center of gravity.  See URL . It is the center of gravity that needs to be pitched at the stake. 

Constant 3Line of Flight. This is a line that is a continuation of the pendulum swing. To create this line of flight — tie a cord to the base of the stake and temporarily terminate the cord to the right and behind the approach.  Next, take your normal stance on the approach, take your normal grip on your horseshoe, extend the arm straight downward (no bend in the elbow) and drop the shoe.  Mark the location of where the center of gravity is, when the shoe hits the ground.  Pull the cord taut exactly over the spot.  Next mark the location of where the cord passes over the front of the pit. Place an eyelet, nail, etc. at that spot and move the cord from the stake to the nail.  Now, pull the cord taut behind the approach making sure the cord passes over the center of gravity spot.  Every horseshoe thrown should follow this “Line of Flight.”

Constant 4Continuation of the Line of Flight.  There are two points that insure the arm swing is following the line of flight.  A point at the end of the backswing and a point at the end of the forward swing. When you swing your arm back, there will be a point where it stops.  This is your backswing constant.  The endpoint of the forward swing is a little more difficult to find.  So, we’ll add a helping aid.  To create the forward swing endpoint.  Drop a plumb directly over the line of flight at a height of the top of your head or a few inches higher. Place the plumb so that some part of your hand in line with the center of gravity touches the plumb at the top of your forward swing.  To prove that this is a valid point — stand at the end of the approach and drop your arm straight down with the horseshoe directly over the line of flight cord. Simply swing your arm up and touch the plumb.  On the way up release the shoe.  The shoe should land directly over the line of flight cord downrange.  Try again and this time add additional effort, hit the plumb and make sure the shoe lands further down the line of flight cord.  Test this further by standing at the foul line, swing the shoe up and touch the plumb and hold it’s position.  Now, start your back swing to your backswing endpoint and swing forward, release the shoe and touch the plumb. Where did the shoe land?  If the shoe landed left of the line of flight, you swung your arm outside of the line of flight on the backswing.  If the shoe lands right, then you swung your arm too far inside.  If you have continual problems with the backswing, hang down something very light, such as a light washer, that will touch your arm/hand lightly to signal the correct backswing location and height.

Constant 5 — Addressing the Stake. This constant has to do with standardizing your shoe location at the start of your downswing. When you begin the swing, swing the shoe up, parallel to the ground (90 degrees). You will note that when your shoe is at eye level and directly below the plumb, visually the shoe is to the right of the stake.  Make note of where the shoe is pointing.   If you want your swing to swing along the line of flight (pendulum swing) the shoe must be pointing at this right location at the start of the swing. NOTE: You cannot, repeat, cannot swing along the line of flight if you bring the shoe in front of your face, sighting it to the stake.  The beginning of the backswing will be “OFF THE LINE OF FLIGHT.”  The only way to put it back on line is to make a simulated figure 8 movement.  To prove this point, take a stepladder and place it over the line of flight, bring the shoe up to the plumb and lay it down on one rung of the ladder.  Now step back and sight down the line of flight to verify that the center of gravity of the shoe is resting directly above the line of flight.  Now return to the approach and check where the shoe is visually pointing. To assist the starting of the backswing from the address position, you may find it helps if you simply allow the shoe to fall on it’s own, from there continue on to the backswing.

Constant 6The Stride.  None! If you are a 30 foot pitcher there should be no reason to stride. Striding adds an additional variable to factor in.  I place my right foot on the front edge and right corner of the foul line. I then position my left foot behind the right and raise my heel so that my body tilts slightly to the right. Change 3 It gives you more room to allow the shoe to pass the leg without interference and insures that your tricep is not bumping against the lat muscle. If you are trying to duplicate the pendulum swing, nothing moves except the arm.  Unfortunately, it is normal to try to add a little body to the pitch.  Keep in mind where the head goes, so goes the body. Try to keep the head perfectly still throughout the swing.  The late Carl F. Steinfeldt believed that 15% of misses were caused by approach problems. NOTE: I found it too difficult to maintain my balance when not striding. Therefore, I have chosen to add a single step forward along the target line. I cover this later on in this blog.

40 footers— it is unlikely that you will be able to throw a shoe 40 feet by standing at the foul line. So, take your normal starting position and when you stride forward make sure you step parallel to the line of flight.  Don’t make the mistake of striding at the stake.  You are trying to move your hub (shoulder) along the line of flight.  I created a board that forced me to stride properly.  At first I painted a stripe on the approach directly parallel to the line of flight, but, kept noticing that my left foot tended to move right.  So, I placed a board on the approach with a divider so my feet straddled the divider. The divider was parallel to the line of flight which meant that I was stepping to the left of the stake, but, my hub was in line with the stake. I stepped forward with my left foot during the backswing and followed my left foot with my right ending up with both feet side by side at the foul line.

Constant 7Arm Rotation. None!. Many lifetime horseshoe pitchers believe that the proper handling of the horseshoe during the backswing is to turn the shoe so that it is perpendicular to the ground when it passes the leg. You then begin to rotate the arm after the shoe passes the leg on the forward swing. Well, we don’t have a lifetime to develop this move.  So, when you address the stake over the line of flight, keep the shoe in exactly the same position until it is released. Let your grip on the shoe dictate the flight characteristics of the shoe.  You can flip a shoe without trying to rotate the arm.

Constant 8Release Point. As you practice you will discover that once in a while the shoe flies perfectly, right rotation, right release, right distance.  How can we determine that release point and mimic it each time? First thing is to find out where that point is.  To discover my correct release point I developed a glove that turns OFF a bright red LED when the shoe is released. It’s a fairly simple circuit and contains a 9V battery, 12V bright red LED and two bare wires mounted on the finger and thumb. When you grip the shoe with the finger and thumb the light goes ON and when released the light goes OFF.  Create a poster board with height and distance markings.  Video the release until you find the one that gives you a perfect ringer.  Note the height and distance from the foul line.  This will be your preferred release point.  We’ll use this information for plotting the shoe flight.

Constant 9High Point of Flight. When you are testing for your proper release point you should also be checking the highpoint of your perfect ringer.  This is easily monitored.  Purchase two 1″ x 10ft. PVC pipes or equivalent.  Put one PVC pipe close to the foul line and the other about 1/2 way downrange.  Stretch string from pole to pole about 6″ apart. As you video your release, be far enough back to get your release and highpoint.  The experts claim that your highpoint should be about 2 feet over your height.  I don’t necessarily agree with that generalization. Your optimum highpoint might be lower. Some advise putting a string across the flight path and try to throw over the string. Unfortunately, visually you cannot determine if the horseshoe was going up or coming down when going over the string. With the correct highpoint found you can then calculate the shoe flight which includes the time of flight, initial launch angle and initial launch speed.

Continue to Part 5
Table of Contents

The Search for My Perfect Swing — Part 3


Dad's Shoes

Dad's Shoes

This was the state of horseshoes in the late 30’s and early 40’s. Above, is a pair of horseshoes that belonged to my father. After dinner, he and the male neighbors would drop by for an evening of horseshoe pitching. My dad had wired up lights so they could pitch after dark. I swear I can still hear the clink of those shoes almost 70 years later. Unfortunately, this is a pair of left handed horseshoes and I’m right handed. Recently, I grabbed one of these shoes, stepped up to the 40 foot approach, and threw a ringer. Perhaps an omen?

Let’s talk about the nomenclature of the typical horseshoe. The NHPA has specific rules governing horseshoes, URL discusses those specifics. All horseshoes pitched in sanctioned tournaments must be approved by the NHPA and they maintain a list of those shoes. Most shoe suppliers and manufacturers maintain shoes in various weights. The weight limit is 2 lbs. 10 ozs. There is no minimum weight. You would be surprised at how many shoes end up considered non-conforming. Imagine showing up at a tournament with your favorite shoes only to find out your shoes are too heavy, too wide or long, or illegally repaired. Take solace, this only applies to national tournaments. Local tournaments are not so restrictive.

The state of horseshoes has come a long way since the 30’s. The White Distributors Horseshoe Company located in Erie, Pennsylvania, URL lists at least 19 a/o June 2016 horseshoes now available. The majority of my horseshoes came directly or indirectly from this company. I am fortunate that the Frederick Maryland Horseshoe Pitching Association stocks a large array of these shoes and saves the cost of shipping. Here is a typical array of horseshoes on sale by the FHPA. I strongly urge you to purchase horseshoes from your local association. Profits help to defray costs of operating a successful organization. You also save shipping costs and have the opportunity to touch and feel each shoe.

Wide array of horseshoes

Wide array of horseshoes

Horseshoe Web Pages

There are also online sellers who also stock. Here is a list of the ones I know of…

Walter Ray Williams, Jr. URL An excellent source of information about horseshoes and horseshoe pitching. He previously sold a limited supply of shoes, but, I didn’t see them listed this time.

The M&M Horseshoe Company, based in Canada URL

The Lucky Shoe Pro Shop is located in Michigan and has a full array of horseshoes and accessories. URL

Kay Keskinen’s Horseshoe Pitching Web Site URL This website also has many other links to horseshoes and supplies.

Ron and Polly’s Horseshoe Pitching Supplies URL

Hilfling Horseshoes home of the GrabIt Medium, GrabIt Lite, Patriot and as of August 2015, the Patriot2 and Warrior, and 91 page book entitled “Horseshoe Pitching With Precision” at URL

You can also check out Ebay. They usually have an array of horseshoes. Horseshoes are listed under Sports=>Backyard Games=>Horseshoes
I would suggest you check out the NHPA approved list at to verify any horseshoes of interest are listed and approved for NHPA sanctioned events.

Horseshoe Manufacturers

NOTE: I do not recommend 2 pair sets with stake and rules if you are interested in anything other than a backyard picnic. The horseshoes are typically very light, easily broken and probably not approved for NHPA events. The stake will be short, 7/8″ in diameter, hollow and easily bent or cracked.

There are 4 primary producers of horseshoes. Most horseshoes manufactured in North America are cast from ductile iron. Ductile iron is grey iron with additional alloys added to improve the ductility (the ability to absorb impact) of horseshoes. Some horseshoes have been tempered.

1. White Distributors is the largest manufacturer located in Erie, Pennsylvania. Their URL is

2. Omega Horseshoes producer of the Gordon Horseshoe, a drop forged horseshoe made in China. They also list other styles.

3. M&M Horseshoes manufactured in Canada and manufacturer of the popular M&M Special and A-Mac horseshoes, along with others.

4. Hilfling Horseshoes, designed in Maryland and cast in ductile iron at Marcellus-Metalcasters in Marcellus, Michigan. Supplier of the GrabIt Medium and Lite, Patriot, Patriot2 and Warrior. With the exception of the GrabIt, all other designs are perfectly balanced from top to bottom and side to side. Balanced horseshoes include a dimple on each shank to indicate the location of the Center of Gravity. Balanced horseshoes are not tip weighted. The design of the Viking (not in production) and the GrabIt are copyrighted. URL

This is just a moderate list of the sources of horseshoes, but, which shoe do you choose? I would suggest you read the descriptions for each shoe. Some are dedicated to the flipper, others to the turner. Some work for each. Some have all caulks on one side, others with thumb caulks on one side and hook caulks on the other. Some shoes have ringer breaks that are convex, others concave. Some shoes have a pronounced hook. So, what do you do? Go to a tournament or league event and watch what others are throwing. Ask questions — horseshoe pitchers love to talk about why they use what they do. Ask to try them out. Don’t be bashful. Try to locate a local distributor. One of the sellers in Delaware had shoes that you could try out. Some would even permit you to throw a shoe or two in the grass.

*Think of a horseshoe as the letter “U”. I consider the naming of caulks as confusing. I assume the naming derived from real horseshoes and how they were mounted. Presently, a caulk at the bottom is referred to as the toe caulk, while the two upper caulks as heel caulks. For the sake of this blog, I refer to the caulks as “thumb caulk” or “hook caulks.” The hook caulk is designed to grab the stake or direct the horseshoe to the inside on arrivals that are slightly left or right of the 3-1/2 inch opening. The thumb caulk is designed to add additional gripping control between finger and thumb for the flip pitcher. For the turn pitcher, the thumb caulk, when arriving downward, grabs the sand or clay as a typical three point landing.

My Horseshoes

As of late 2015, I pitch Patriots with the 1-1/2 flip. In 2016, using the technique described in my Table of Contents, I am using the single flip.

In 2008 I owned 11 sets of shoes of 9 different styles. I used the Vipers from 40 feet and the Snyder EZ Flips, Vipers or Hummers from 30 feet. Due to the short distance and squareness of the shoe flight, I needed shoes that had ringer breaks. Here was my list and a little about each. From 30 feet a “dead soft” rating is a plus. Carl F. Steinfeldt indicated that he would paint his shoes frequently, as many layers as he could and paint over the dirt. His shoes are the softest of all that I owned. Some shoes are cast, some forged. If you select a soft shoe, carry a metal file along in your equipment bag. You’ll get burrs on the shoe. CAUTION: Be very careful when rooting around in sand or clay as there will be shards of metal that can leave a nasty splinter.

Hummers — 2 lb. 8.2 oz. This shoe has a unique indentation at the thumb caulk. It is one of the newest shoes available and is very unique. It is manufactured by the Strohm’s Stained Glass company located in Springfield, MO. I don’t know what metal is used, but, it’s a very lively shoe. I switched back and forth between this shoe and Snyder EZ Flips from 30 feet.

Snyder EZ Flip — 2 lb. 9.1 oz. This is the shoe I threw from 30 feet, but, I don’t flip it. I used a 1/3 turn and hold the shoe at the right tine caulk with caulks up (I’ll show this grip when discussing releases). I throw the Hummer the same way. While experimenting with various releases, I discovered that both the Hummer and EZ Flip would fly flat without rotating or wobbling. A slight change in the grip allowed me to turn the shoe about 1/3 turn without any rotational effort.

Vipers — 2 lb. 7.5 oz. Two pair. I used the Vipers from 30 and 40 feet. I considered the Vipers the best shoes I’ve ever handled. Unfortunately, the Viper is no longer in production. They were unique in design, but, when held properly were perfectly balanced. The shape retards bounceback, unless you deliver them perfectly square to the stake. I held the shoe as if I was flipping and deliver the shoe with exactly 1 turn. I won my first class tournament with this shoe and turn. I used the Vipers from 40 feet in my league. I also developed a flip from 30 feet with the Vipers. I hold the left hook, caulks up with my thumb and index finger and flip the shoe 1-1/2 times. Even though I averaged 33% ringers with this release I was never confident that I was delivering the shoe down the target line. Thus, I switched to the Snyder EZ Flip from 30 feet.

Imperial Stinger — 2 lb. 7.6 oz. I purchased these shoes because they had a nice ringer break and hook caulks on each side. I think this shoe is more suited to flipping. I had just reasonable success from 40 feet, not enough to continue working with them.

Six Shooter — 2 lb. 8.7 oz. and 2 lb. 9.5 oz. I have small hands and purchased these shoes because of the increased size of the perimeter of the shoe. In addition, they both have a nice ringer break. I used the heavier shoe to qualify to pitch as an Elder. I qualified with a ringer average of 29%. I used the 1-1/2 flip from the left tine.

Imperial Steinfeldt — 2 lb. 8.0 oz. These are well balanced shoes. I liked the feel of these shoes when I first picked them up. They are not compatible with my 30 foot release as the edge of the hook is extremely sharp.

Bronco Pro Flip — 2 lb. 8.1 oz. I purchased these shoes to take advantage of the thumb caulk up and the tine caulks down. Even though they are tagged as flip shoes, they work equally well with the turn.

M&M Special — 2 lb. 7.7 oz. I purchased these shoes to help with bounce back. When the shoe hits left or right of center it bounces towards the hook, as I hoped. Unfortunately, the shoe is the thinnest of all of my shoes. I think I would use this shoe if it were thicker. This shoe is made in Canada. White Distributors has developed a recent version of this shoe. Last Saturday, at the tournament in Frederick, I saw these shoes from WD. They are called “Big Foot”, slightly thicker and with a better hook.

Sidewinders — 2 lb. 9.0 oz. This shoe is primarily a turn shoe. It feels good in my hands and the shanks are wide enough for my small hands. If I was a traditional turner I would certainly consider this as a shoe of choice.

Additional Stuff

Well, that’s it for my arsenal. My next door neighbor recently presented me with a tag along golf cart. It works beautifully when hauling my 11 pair of shoes back and forth to and from the shed to the pit.

Gloves — Gloves can save your hands and fingers.  Wear them on both hands. I’ve used several different kinds. Baseball gloves from your friendly sports store will not last very long ($13.00-$40.00).  The threading in the fingers will pull apart pretty quickly from the constant wear and tear.  Golf gloves for the right hand are difficult to find. I use cadet large, for small fingers and wide hand.  You’ll have to find those on-line or a large golf super store ($10.00-$30.00).  The best that I have found are motorcycle gloves made from leather.  They will eventually wear through, but, I save old gloves and cut off the fingers and slip them inside the gloves being used. Allows you to use them a bit longer.  Motorcycle gloves start at $15.00.    If you feel that you can get a better feel for the release, then, build up your hands and fingers over time by switching back and forth between gloves and bare hands.  Sand is much harder on hands and gloves.

There is one additional piece of equipment you’ll need. A shoe retriever. One hot Saturday morning, I was warming up for an impending tournament. When I bent over to pick up my shoes I felt light headed. Fortunately, the shoe table at the Frederick tournament site had a selection of retrievers. I choose the longest one available, 32″. Saves a lot of wear and tear on the back. Many pitchers have homemade retrievers, many made from golf club shafts. Another competitor used an extended paint roller shaft bent at the bottom. Consider one an essential part of your equipment.

Email me if you have any questions.

Next article we’ll start pitching some shoes.
Continue to Part 4
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