Official horseshoe rules divide a game into innings during which each player pitches twice. Shoes landing around a stake earn three points; shoes within six inches of the stake, one point. The game ends when the pre-established total points, total shoes thrown or the greater of the two, are reached.
Players must throw both shoes separately, underhanded, within a period of 30 seconds and must throw with the same hand throughout the game. Official rules specify foul lines and pitching area based on the player's age, gender and physical ability. A foul line of 20 feet is specified for players under 12 years old, 37 feet for men, and 27 feet for women and men over 70 years of age.
Players are responsible for ensuring that the pit area around the stake is properly prepared prior to the game. Material in the pit must be the same height as the platform from which the players pitch the horseshoes. Both players must agree to any leveling of the pit during a game.
Official rules also specify two types of scoring: cancellation or count-all. Other rules describe pitching rotation, establish how ties are broken and outline procedures to be followed when unexpected events, such as a broken stake, occur. The National Horseshoe Pitchers Association is responsible for these rules.