Close Only Counts in Horseshoes

Close Only Counts in Horseshoes
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.47

     challenging words:    archery, pitchers, stake, circular, since, entire, variation, boxing, chariot, phrase, fairly, settled, title, races, pitching, order
     content words:    Olympic Games, Civil War, United States, Frank Jackson

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Close Only Counts in Horseshoes
By Jane Runyon

1     Since at least two hundred years before Christianity began, men have been nailing iron plates or rings onto the bottoms of horses' hooves. These pieces of metal helped to protect the horse's hooves from damage. The horses were used for moving people and goods from one place to another. If the hoof of one of a man's horses was damaged, that horse could not be used for work. This could cause the owner to lose business or a means of transportation.
2     In the time of the Greeks and Romans, the people enjoyed watching athletic contests. Sometimes these contests were for the praise of their gods. That is the reason the Olympic Games were begun in ancient Greece. There were five basic sports contested at the very early Olympic Games. There was boxing, weight lifting, chariot races, archery, and discus throwing.
3     You may be asking yourself, what does one thing have to do with the other? That can be answered fairly simply. In discus throwing, a circular plate of metal about 11 inches in diameter had a hole in the center. A strap was put through the center and both ends were held by the athlete. The thrower swung the metal plate around his head and let go of one of the straps. The discus would fly forward. The thrower who could get the discus to go the farthest distance was declared the winner.
4     Many Greek citizens enjoyed watching this sport. They also wanted to try their hand at discus throwing. They could not afford to purchase the metal discus that the athletes used. They settled for using the old, discarded pieces of metal that had been used on the horses' hooves. They also created a bit of a variation on the game. A stake was pounded into the ground. The horseshoe pitchers tried to get the metal close to the stake, touching the stake, or best of all, around the stake. Sometime during the history of the game, a second stake was placed in the ground and pitchers aimed at one end, then threw those shoes back at the stake where they began.
5     In 1869, some Englishmen decided it was time to set up some rules for the game. They decided that the two stakes should be 19 feet apart. There was no rule about how much the horseshoe could weigh. There was a rule as to how large the horseshoe could be.

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