Published Nov. 8, 2022
BY SARA EYJOLFSDOTTIR
It’s all in the throw. The perfect release, flip, amount of force. CHS senior Teo Espinola knows this well having participated in competitive horseshoe pitching alongside his family for many years, taking part and often placing in tournaments at the state, national and international level.
Played both as singles and teams, horseshoe pitching involves using various techniques to throw horseshoes as close to the designated stake as possible. It requires a variety of skills that Espinola has been able to master over the course of many years and competitions.
Scores are earned based on proximity to the stake with the highest score awarded to those who make a ringer—landing the horseshoe directly on the stake—from the standard length of 40 feet away. Tournaments feature many different events and include different methods of horseshoe pitching.
“I like underhand,” says Espinola, who was introduced to the sport from a young age by his parents. “That one has just always been the easiest for me.”
Over the years, horseshoe pitching has been declining in popularity and recognition, but players like Teo Espinola are keeping it alive, trying to reverse the trend. Within the sport, he has managed to reach a top level.
“I compete in a national league,” says Espinola, who has competed in a variety of tournaments, including the 2021 World Horseshoe Pitching Championships where he scored fifth in the Junior Boys Championship. The competition, taking place in Winnemucca, Nevada, was the largest horseshoe tournament of that year and hosted roughly 750 participants from several countries including Canada, South Africa and Norway.
Horseshoe pitching can be played all year round and does not require expensive equipment due to the fact that horseshoes typically last an entire lifetime with proper treatment, adding to the appeal and accessibility for Espinola.
This horseshoe pitching enthusiast practices mainly in his backyard alongside his livestock. He and his family setup stakes the standard-length away from where they throw their collection of horseshoes to ensure realistic, competition-like throws.
“I just practice pitching at home,” Espinola adds. “That’s all you really need.”
Teo Espinola knows that he is a part of an increasingly small community, but he will never lose his dedication to the sport. A lot of his support comes from his family who taught him almost everything he knows.