Horseshoe Guy

Larry Cowan

Since he was 12 years old, Larry Cowan has been excited about playing horseshoes.

As his father and uncle pitched endless games of horseshoes, Cowan carefully observed how the game was played when he was growing up on a Kansas farm.

“It was always friendly competition between the two of them,” said the 84 year old San Antonio resident. “When I wanted to pitch horseshoes, they helped me learn the game.”

Obviously, Cowan had the right teachers as he snared a gold medal in the National Senior Olympics conducted in Albuquerque last month in the 80-84 age division. During the one day competition, he pitched from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Horseshoes is a game played between two people using four horseshoes and two throwing targets (stakes) set in a sandbox area. The game is played by players alternating turns tossing horseshoes at the stakes in the ground, placed 40 feet apart.

This wasn’t the first gold garnered by Cowan. In 2005, he won his first gold in the Senior Olympics.

As an avid pitcher of horseshoes, he belongs to the Horseshoe Pitching Association in Albuquerque and travels the state of New Mexico from May to September pitching horseshoes.

While competitions can be serious, Cowan admits it can be a fun and exciting game to play as more and more young people, especially women, are taking up the sport of pitching horseshoes.

“There’s a lot of women pitching shoes these days … and I’ve taken a trashing from them once in a while,” he said. “It’s all fun, though.”

Horseshoes wasn’t the only sport Cowan qualified to compete in the Senior Olympics. He also qualified in archery, where he had competed in the Senior Olympics before in Louisville, Kentucky. However, since the competition times overlapped on the same day, Cowan decided pitching horseshoes took precedent.

Cowan pitches horseshoes about once a week at the park across from the Senior Center in Socorro. When competition nears he practices almost every day – sometimes in Socorro, other times in his own backyard where he has his own horseshoe pit set up. During that time, he’ll pitch between 50 to 100 horseshoes a day.

Cowan’s next tournament will be September when he travels to Albuquerque to compete in the state competition.

Right now, he’s resting from his big win and recovering from recent surgery. But … rest assured, he’ll be ready to go to score another ‘ringer’ of a win.