When it comes to horseshoes, you might say Anthony Rondow is a dead ringer for his father.
Both Anthony and his dad, Tony, love the game, are avid players and each hold multiple B.C. horseshoes championship titles. However, the younger Rondow now has another award to add to his growing list of accomplishments: the 2016 Canadian Horseshoe Peewee Champion.
“It feels good,” said eight-year-old Anthony who lives in Lake Cowichan and practises at least once a week at the horseshoe pitches in Youbou. “It was my first time. There were a lot of people there.”
The nationals were held Aug. 13 and 14 at the Victoria Horseshoe Club.
It wasn’t until the second day of the event that Anthony began to feel a little bit of the pressure. There were four other youths competing in the peewee category alongside Anthony, two from B.C. and two from Saskatchewan, but ultimately he came out on top.
Anthony’s average during the tournament was 21 per cent — this means he was getting 21 “ringers” for every 100 shoes thrown. A ringer is when the horseshoe lands with both prongs on either side of the metal stake, planted in a sand-filled box 12 metres away.
Tony was thrilled with his son’s performance at the event.
“I’m very proud and so excited for him,” he said.
Anthony’s average going into the event had been 15 per cent.
“He played way beyond what he’d been doing, which is awesome because of the pressure. Lately I tank under pressure but he excels under pressure. And that’s the name of the game.”
Tony, who is a five-time B.C. champion, has been playing since 2000, which means Anthony has been surrounded by high-quality competitive horseshoes his entire life.
“When he was two months old he went to the Canadian championships in Calgary with me. Now he’s eight years old, and he’s been around horseshoes since then,” said Tony. “This year [provincials are] in Abbotsford so we’ll go to that. He basically goes wherever I go and that’s how he got into the game.”
Following in his father’s footsteps is definitely one of the reasons Anthony enjoys the game.
“I like it because I first saw my dad play it, and then he taught me. I started playing and I started getting ringers, and I really liked that,” Anthony said.
Jerry Melissa, a veteran horseshoe player from Youbou who tied for second place in his age category at the event, had high praise for the young champion.
“Anthony is fantastic,” he said. “He comes from good horseshoe stock… I was thrilled with his play!”
Melissa said that when they’ve practiced together in Youbou, Anthony has shown promise.
“And voila when it counted he rose to the occasion. He acts and plays like a player many years his senior,” he said. “Anthony is very enthusiastic and has a flair for the game. Just recently he discovered how to throw an open shoe, all the time. He will do well in the years to come.”
As Anthony demonstrates, whether practising at the pitches in Youbou or at the national level in Victoria, there is more to horseshoes than simply chucking a curved piece of metal at a peg in the sand. In addition to good aim it takes rhythm and consistency, which Tony compares to the fluid motion of a golf swing.
“The younger kids, a lot of them play but they’re more just throwing shoes. They don’t have the follow-through, the rhythm,” said Tony.
He hopes more young people will start taking the game seriously and entering competitions. He doesn’t know of any other kids in Lake Cowichan playing horseshoes.
However, Anthony has already made a number of friends through provincial and national competitions.
The 2017 nationals are in Guelph, Ont., and Tony expects they will attend.
“He’ll be the returning champion. That’s pretty awesome.”