Horseshoes is a fun game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Oftentimes people tell you that it doesn't really matter if you keep score, but those people don't understand the true essence of a game. Score is a neccessity as well as having a winner and a loser. It doesn't mean that the loser has to be made fun of or ridiculed but it does mean that someone will win and someone will lose.
In order to preserve the integrity of the game, it is important to understand how to score the game correctly. Horseshoes can be played with either 2 or 4 people. In either event there are 4 horseshoes being tossed per round, 2 for each side. The way that points are scored is by either landing you horseshoe around the stake, a ringer, or by landing closest to the stake. Lengthwise the game can be played for either a certain amount of innings or rounds, or it can be played to first to reach a certain number. That is completely up to the players.
The highest scoring toss a player can have in horseshoes is called a ringer and is worth 3 points. A ringer is a toss where your horseshoe encircles the stake. The toss counts as a ringer as long as you can draw a straight line from either side of the horseshoe and it would not touch the stake at any point. If a player tosses a ringer on both of his tosses than it would be worth 6 points that round.
Points are also awarded for whoever lands closest to the stake that inning. If a horseshoe is touching or leaning against the stake than that horseshoe is awarded the one point. If no one is touching the stake than whichever shoe is the closest nets the one point for its tosser as long as it is closer than 6 inches. A good way to measure if the toss is closer than 6 inches is by using the horseshoe itself. By standing the horseshoe on its edge at the stake that will give you 6 inches out from the stake. Ringers don't count in the discussion for the closest to the stake point, but it can be gotten by the same tosser as a ringer so it is entirely plausible to score 4 points on a round.
Now another key aspect of the game is the ability to cancel out tosses of your opponent. If your opponent lands a ringer and then you toss one, they cancel each other out and no points are awarded. Same thing if you land shoes that are equally distant from the stake then these cancel each other out as well, no points are awarded here either.
Now that you know how to score the game, get out there and have some fun. Remember though to be safe, as injuries can occur when playing horseshoes. Always be sure to give the players a wide berth when tossing them and in the landing area. Enjoy yourselves safely!