Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Quoit Pitching?

     And what does this have to do with horses, you say?  Out Here whenever old friends get together in the winter we end up playing billiards - and in the summer we end up playing horseshoes.  We play the latter a good distance from the deck for safety's sake.  (Even so, on occasion we've presented rookie tossers with their own personalized hardhat in an effort to keep them safe, usually from themselves.)  You can keep your Lawn Darts and Croquet, there's nothing quite like a beautifully-thrown horseshoe and the clang of a "ringer" on a warm summer evening.
     It appears that horseshoe pitching evolved as a the common man's version of high society's quoit pitching (ring toss) or vice versa, which both evolved from discus throwing.  From the National Horseshoe Pitching Association of America:  "There is a tradition that the camp followers of the Grecian armies, who could not afford the discus, took discarded horseshoes, set up a stake and began throwing horseshoes at it.  Horseshoe historians have not been able to discover when the game of quoits or horseshoes was changed so that it was pitched at two stakes, but it is pretty well established that horseshoe pitching had its origin in the game of quoits and that quoits is a modification of the old Grecian game of discus throwing.  Following the Revolutionary War, it was said by England's Duke of Wellington that "the War was won by pitchers of horse hardware."  In 1869, England set up rules to govern the game... The impetus for the NHPAA as we know it today grew out of the throwing of mule shoes in the Union Camps during the Civil War... In the 1919 Tournament, the distance from each stake was changed to 40 feet, the distance that is in effect today. ... elders (70+ years old), women and juniors pitch from 30 feet."
     And from Wikipedia:  "In England, Quoits became so popular that it was prohibited by Edward III and Richard II to encourage archery.  Despite this setback, by the 15th century, there is evidence to show that it had become a well organised sport, not least because of the numerous attempts to eradicate it from the pubs and taverns of England due to its apparently seedy character.  It is not until the nineteenth century, however, that the game is documented in any detailed way.  The official rules first appeared in the April 1881 edition of 'The Field' having been defined by a body formed from pubs in Northern England.  The popularity of the game during the 19th and early 20th century also gave rise to several variants, usually with the aim of allowing the game (or a version of it) to be played indoors, or with the aim of making it accessible to women and children.  Games such as Ringtoss or Hoopla became popular as parlour games, whilst versions such as Indoor Quoits allowed pubs and taverns to maintain their Quoits teams through the winter months.  Deck Quoits began life sometime in the early 1930s as a pastime to occupy passengers on long cruises ..."
     Whatever.  And just to make it fair out here, we use real horseshoes mismatched as to size and shape - just in case any league players (also called "ringers") show up unbeknownst to the host.    

TODAY'S GOOD NEWS:  Rumours of a horseshoe tourney and BBQ abound!