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Hall of Fame

& Museum

History of Horseshoes

How Did the Sport of Horseshoe Pitching Begin?

  • The Beginning
  • Early Tournaments
  • NHPA
  • Quailridge Horseshoe Club

It was as early as the second century that iron plates or rings for shoes were nailed onto horses’ feet in Western Asia and Eastern Europe. Camp followers of the Grecian armies would take discarded shoes from their horses and began throwing them toward a stake. This modification became know as quoits, and somewhere along the timeline it is accepted history that horseshoe pitching had it origin in the game of quoits. In 1869 England set up the first rules to govern the game. Over the years, those rules have been modified many times over; primarily in the U.S. where the game took a strong hold. The game was a favorite pastime among soldiers in most wars and continues today as the NHPA sends hundreds of pitching horseshoes to our servicemen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The first horseshoe-pitching tournament in which competition was open to the world was held in the summer of 1909 in Bronson, Kansas. The games were played in dirt courts with shoes thrown at stakes just 2 inches high and 38.5 feet apart. Today’s games are mostly played on clay courts with 14-15 inch high stakes placed 40 feet apart.

In the mid 1920’s The National Horseshoe Pitchers Association (NHPA) was formed. The NHPA is now body to some 15,000 members that oversees the game as it is played by more than 10 million enthusiast across the U.S. and Canada. The NHPA is comprised of nearly 60 charters with the U.S., Canada, and several countries throughout the world. The NHPA offers numerous opportunities for individuals to become involved with organized horseshoe pitching through its various charters, clubs and sanctioned league programs. Horseshoe pitching is truly a game for all ages – with the association offering seven divisions of play to attract juniors as young as five and elders as old as 85. For more info on the NHPA, please visit www.horseshoepitching.com.


The MOHPA charter membership in the NHPA ranks as the second largest in the U.S. The state association is highly organized and motivated with more than 25 clubs in various cities across the state offering many indoor court facilities making horseshoe pitching a year round sport.

From 1921-1941 Missouri held its State Horseshoe Pitching Championships during the State Fair in Sedalia. During WWII the state championships cased. In 1950 the MOHPA was reorganized as a charter of the NHPA. From that time through the present time the State Championships have been held at various locations in Missouri offering divisions for men, women and juniors.

Formerly operating at the New Melle Horseshoe Club, the Quail Ridge Horseshoe Club was renamed to reflect the opening of the NHPA Hall of Fame at Quail Ridge Park in Wentzville. Today, the club has grown to approximately 250 members. This growth and popularity in St. Charles County served as the impetus for the development of the Hall of Fame facility at Quail Ridge Park.

Founded by Joe Faron, the New Melle Horseshoe Club started as a result of the popularity and growth of the New Melle Community Club’s “Festival Horseshoe Tournament.” At the 1989 state tournament, Faron presented a bid to host the 1990 event in New Melle, which was accepted – compelling the (then) 32 member club to construct additional courts and facilities. The tremendous support for the 1990 State Tournament raised $20,000 and brought in 400 entries, the largest total in Missouri. With the success of that first tournament other state tournaments would follow at the New Melle site in 1991, 1992,1994, 1996 and 2000.

Since the club moved to its new home in Quail Ridge Park, the club hosted the 2008 Missouri Horseshoe Championships and again the 2009 State Tournament held over Labor Day weekend.NATIONAL HORSESHOE PITCHERS HALL OF FAME & MUSEUM AT QUAIL RIDGE PARK

Discussions began in 2004 regarding the possibility of establishing a national center for horseshoe enthusiast here in the county. An agreement between the NHPA/NHPF, the St. Charles County Executive Council and St. Charles Parks Department was reached to construct the facility at Quail Ridge Park. Its grand opening was held in October, 2007. Since then over 1200 people have visited the million dollar site.