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Red Deer Horseshoe Club wraps up its season — and a quarter-century of play

It’s playing in the real world — and in a healthy social environment
The Red Deer Horseshoe Club held a provincial tournament last weekend in the green space north of the Golden Circle. The club has been around since the late 1970s. (Contributed photo)

Dean Smith didn’t know anything about pitching horseshoes when he decided to join one of Red Deer’s older clubs.

He made the novice mistake of bringing a real horseshoe to his first meeting of the Red Deer Horseshoe Club— not the regulation U-shaped bars that are about twice the size of an actual horseshoe and weigh exactly 2.5 pounds each.

The 36-year-old recalled his jokester friend, Paul, kept a straight face during the car ride there, but shared a good chuckle with the other members when Dean pulled out his authentic horseshoe.

Smith has since become good friends with the others. Good-natured ribbing and camaraderie have kept him returning to club events ever since, he said — although it took Smith about a year to get really good at the activity.

“I’d tell people, ‘better get back. This might not go in the pitch but might hit one of you people’ …I was dangerous,” he said with a chuckle.

Smith is now president of the club of about 15 members — mostly men age 17-plus, but also a few women.

He’s hoping to recruit a few more people before next year and noted some business sponsors are already lined up to pay for new jerseys for next summer.

During the June to September playing season, the Red Deer Horseshoe Club players often travel around the province, from Lethbridge to Westlock, to participate in various tournaments. Often the hosting teams will put on a barbecue and present chances to mingle. It’s a great way to socialize with people of all ages, added Smith.

“It’s an amazing sport or hobby you can do with friends or family in a healthy social environment.”

Throwing horseshoes is not a high-impact workout, which makes it doable for people who are aging out of more impactful sports, he said. Throwing the U-shaped bars 20 to 40 metres will still give your forearms and wrists a workout, however, and the slight lunge before throwing can lightly work your thighs.

Last weekend, the club that was officially formed in 1986 but goes back to the late 1970s, held a provincial tournament, inviting other horseshoe clubs from Ponoka to Cardston. The two-day event was held in the green space just north of the Golden Circle.

”It was fun getting out into the fresh air and meeting some new people,” said Mike Didrikson, the club’s vice-president. He believes playing in the real world is a nice counterbalance to all the time people spend online.

He was tickled when Red Deer City Councillor Bruce Buruma made some introductory remarks at last weekend’s tournament, then proceeded to get a three-point “ringer,” on his first throw — with the horseshoe hitting the stake.

For more information, or to join the club, please email

Lana Michelin

About the Author: Lana Michelin

Lana Michelin has been a reporter for the Red Deer Advocate since moving to the city in 1991.
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