Horseshoes have curve appeal

Published 1:51 pm Saturday, April 14, 2018

With the start of spring comes more people spending time outside, and local horseshoe enthusiasts are no exception.

The season of tournaments started in March and lasts through September. The first official outing of the Virginia Horseshoe Pitching Association happened on March 24 at the court at Sleepy Hole Park.

About 13 people came out to play, said Sherwood Brown, president of the Portsmouth Horseshoe Club, who was the scorekeeper for the day.

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It’s a far cry for the 20 or 30 people who used to show up at most tournaments. Most of the folks playing on March 24 at Sleepy Hole lamented cornhole, which has stolen a lot of players, they said.

But plenty of folks are sticking with horseshoes because of its appeal. They say it’s a good way for them to stay active and meet people.

“It’s good exercise, and you meet people all over the state,” Brown said. “It’s good for everybody. People just enjoy it.”

Most people got into the sport because their family members played. Plenty started in the backyard and moved on to actual competitions.

“My grandfather and uncle played,” said Virginia Tolbert, who at 15 years old was by far the youngest competitor on March 24. “It’s fun, and it’s a family thing. It’s a fun sport.”

On the other end of the spectrum, some of the men who aren’t as young as they used to be still pitch horseshoes because it is a way they can stay active without being too taxing on their aging bodies.

“The movement is my exercise,” said Glenn Barlow. “I love the sport, and there’s nice people you meet.”

For Guy Holley, pitching horseshoes gives stress relief.

“You can come out and feel free and relieve a lot of stress,” he said.