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Leaners and Ringers

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johnmack161, Horseshoes game, CC BY 2.5

I stumbled across an old photograph online where people were playing horseshoes. This reminded me so much of my father who was quite the horseshoes fanatic. We often had horseshoe pits he carefully paced off with his non-scientific method of determining the appropriate stride to measure one yard.

We often spent our summers camping at a local campground – Hickory Hills. There  was a small lake for paddle boats and a snack bar with an outdoor jukebox where all the kids would gather in the evening to hang out together. I have fond memories of Creedence Clearwater songs floating through the warm night air. It was magical and also happened to be the place where I met my most enduring summer love — Chuck — but that is another story for another day.

Even at the campground, we had horseshoes. I remember playing often. My dad was a master at it. He made ringers (the horseshoes go around the stake) and leaners (the horseshoe leans on the stake) frequently. Not bad for a 40’ toss. All four of us (me and my siblings) ended up fairly proficient at the game, too.

I can still remember the weight of the oversized ‘horseshoes’, the stance and the way to toss for an accurate landing. Funny how those things come back easily when we think about them. I remember the sound of the horseshoe landing on the stake and the sound of the horseshoe falling on top of other horseshoes that did not quite make the mark.

Do people even play horseshoes anymore? They must because I see they are still for sale on Amazon, but no photos popped up on Pixabay other than horses, anvils, and falls. Maybe during this time of social isolation, families will fall back to games like this.

We spent a lot of family time playing horseshoes, badminton, softball and croquet. But then we had large yards with ample room for such games. So chime in, did you and your family play lawn games? Do you still?

18 thoughts on “Leaners and Ringers”

  1. When I was young, we didn’t have a garden, so we played games when we went on trips to the beach. Mostly cricket, or sometimes flying kites that my Dad made. Building sand castles was a favourite of mine too. As there was usually just me and him, we couldn’t really have teams with sides. My Mum would likely be preparing a picnic, and making tea on a camping stove.
    I have never played horseshoes. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know nothing of cricket, Pete, but I love flying kites – not that I was good at it. We did try to make them as children, but I do not recall being terribly successful. Sand castles were fun, but I never saw a beach until we moved to Florida. Then I associated the beach with sunburns.
      Horseshoes can be fun.

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  2. Oh, brings back memories. I was good but I could never beat my dad. He threw a perfect show every time There’s a place nearby that has a dozen or so pits. Always crowded. I imagine that there might be a few bets among the players.

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    1. I think it must have been much more prevalent in earlier generations, Don, because our dads were all pretty good at it. I cannot imagine seeing a place where it is still played frequently. I might enjoy a game or two!

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    1. How interesting, Elizabeth! Do you play?

      We all loved croquet and it seemed like most family had a well-used set of mallets lying around. I would love to see your photo!

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  3. We had horseshoes but we also had washers. Dig holes, pace it off and with 2” washers, throw them at the hole. 5 points if you got it in unless your opponent got it in on top & then cancel it out. Closest to the hike scored one point. You had four washers each to toss. Similar to corn hole now. I think it’s a Texas thing. 😊

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  4. I learned some of the best words watching men play horseshoes in my neighbor’s back yard. We played that, and Jarts, bbut Wiffleball ruled the day, at lease until Wham-o invented the Frisbee.

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    1. I can only imagine the increased vocabulary, Dan. We had Jarts, too, until they pulled them off the market. I never really played Wiffleball, but Frisbee was certainly big in our neighborhood.

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      1. We lived on a corner lot with an odd shape that was good for Wiffleball. And, we have a storm drain, a manhole cover and a young maple tree that were perfectly space bases. One road was foul, the other was a home run, unless the ball got crushed by a car.

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        1. Great memories, Dan. Big yards have gone by the wayside in a lot of places. We lived in a corner lot, too. We played a lot of flag football with all the kids in the neighborhood.

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          1. That must have been fun. We have a group of about 3-5 young kids that play at the end of our street. It’s so refreshing to see, that I will turn down a side street just so they don’t have to move.

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  5. My father also loved horseshoes and your story brought back a flood of wonderful memories of family tournaments. Thank you!

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