There are many different points to throwing a horseshoe. One piece that is commonly forgotten is the stance and footwork that occurs during a throw. It is time to review these basics and help get your game where it needs to be (hitting ringers all day long).
First thing is first…loosen up! Your body needs to perform fluidly during the entire swing so stop being tense. Stretch out before playing if you need to. Do whatever it takes to be relaxed before you even pick up a horseshoe. Think spaghetti, thing soft, think loose! Good, now on to positioning.
You want to start out in a crouched stance. If you have ever bowled before you know what I am talking about. Knees slightly bent with a little spring in them. Now, most right handed pitchers will throw from the left side of the stake. Personally I have tried it both ways and I am much more comfortable on the left side. I am able to line up to opposite stake much better from here. I can also easily keep an eye on how far in front of my stake I am and making sure I do not pass the foul line.
Start by taking your left foot and bringing it back about 6 to 8 inches behind your right foot. This is your balance foot. The majority of your weight should be on your right foot at this point. Left foot back, weight on right foot, knees bent in crouched position, loose stance…let’s get some motion going.
As you bring your horseshoe into your backswing you are going to want to keep a relaxed right side. Your right hip should begin to bend and your right knee should bend a bit deeper now. Remember, this whole time so far your weight is still mainly on your right foot. Now as you bring the horseshoe back (during the upswing), start moving your left leg forward as the horseshoe approaches your right knee. As it swings past the knee, you should be shifting your weight onto your left foot. As the horseshoe comes up and into the release, you should continue shifting the weight and straightening out your left leg. The final position will have your left leg almost straight and your right foot barely on the ground.
Always keep your shoulders square to the opposite stake before, during, and after your throw. Your feet should be pointed towards your target, the stake, during the entire swing. This is important! If you let your left foot veer off-course you can throw off the entire balance of your throw. Your horseshoe could begin to rotate incorrectly or you can throw off your aim to the left or right of the stake. Most missed are due to poor alignment which is 90% controlled by your stance and the foot movement during your swing.
So how far should you step with your left foot? Not very far at all. Take a normal step. Imagine if you were about to start walking. One small step is all you need to power your throw. Most of the power comes from your legs and not your arms so you do not want to over do it here. The most important part of your step is to ensure that you end up with your left foot pointing towards the stake. It is too easy to “step over” your right foot. If you are not stepping straight then chances are your left foot ends up slightly slanted inward. As discussed earlier, this type of improper footing will result in poor throws. If you need to, work on the footwork of your swing without a horseshoe in hand. You can still go through the motions and you can do this inside. You can still hold a horseshoe if you feel you need the weight, but you will probably just make everyone inside very nervous. Remember, practice makes perfect! Good luck!