How to Build a Horse Shoe Pit

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What You'll Need
shovel measuring tape saw 3-inch nails marking paint 2 stakes (two foot length by one inch around) landscaping cloth playground sand (about 48 cubic feet for each pit) 2x4 treated lumber (2 pieces 10 feet long) Optional: treated wood for pitching platforms and backboard

What was once a backyard activity has gained popularity and turned into an organized sport. After you build your horseshoe pit, get the neighbors over for an afternoon of competition and fun.


A horseshoe court is a large rectangle with a pitcher's box on each end. The pitcher's box includes a pit, a stake and optional pitcher's platforms. An optional backboard can be an added safety feature to the game, which should extend about 12 inches from the back of the pit.

You have to decide if you want to build a regulation playing field or one just for fun in the backyard. The dimensions of your horseshoe pit depend on which version you choose. Keep in mind that unless you are playing horseshoes for a living, any of the dimensions can be modified to fit your available space.

Typically, the total playing area is 48 feet long by 6 feet wide. The length is measured from the back of one pit to the back of the other pit. The six-foot-wide measurement allows for optional pitching platforms on either side of the pit.

Basic Pit

Step 1: Find your area, making sure you place the playing field in a north/south direction. This helps keep the sun out of the players' eyes at any given time of the day. Mark with spray paint where you want the first stake to be and measure off 40 feet to where the next stake is going to be.

Step 2: The pit itself needs to be 48 inches wide by 36 inches long, with the stake at the center of each pit. Dig out 3 to 5 inches of soil from each area, keeping it as square as possible. Line the bottom of the pit with landscape cloth. This will help your pit last longer by preventing weeds from taking over and by keeping the sand from migrating into the soil.

Step 3: Cut the treated lumber into 4 pieces 3 feet long and 2 pieces 4 feet long.

Step 4: Nail the pieces of lumber together making a "U" shape with the 4-foot piece being the back of each pit and the 3-foot pieces making up the sides of each pit. (There is no front piece because it would interfere with play.) Fit the completed forms into each pit.

Step 5: Find the center of the pit and install the stake. The stakes should protrude about 15” from the top of the sand and have a slight angle toward each other.

Step 6: Fill the pit with sand, making sure that it comes level to the ground.

Optional Additions

If you want to get a little fancier, add some pitching platforms and a backboard to each pit.

  • Each pitching platform is like a mini deck on the side of each pit. They should be located to either the right or left of the pit. For regulation, the platforms should be level with the pit (which means more digging) and be a minimum of 6 feet long. The width of the platform can vary from 18 inches to 20.5 inches wide.
  • A backboard is a good idea, even if your pit isn’t regulation, since it keeps overthrown horseshoes from straying too far. The backboard should be about 12 inches from the back of the pit and can be made to any height you wish. These are often constructed from brick or treated plywood.

Follow these steps and transform your yard into a great place for a fun summer activity.