Competition is a tradition
In the game of horseshoes, the average horseshoe weighs about 2.5 pounds. However, for members of the Tajchman family, the game carries more weight. It is a family competition every time they get together.
Saturday at Chingawassa Days, four of the 12 teams registered in the horseshoe tournament featured Tajchmans or the throwers were related by blood or marriage to the Tajchman family.
Brothers Frank and Charles Tajchman registered as one team. They, along with another brother Mark, have played horseshoes together since they were kids.
“Dad was real good,” Frank Tajchman said.
“He started us in the house with rubber horseshoes,” Charles Tajchman said.
Each recalled how they never broke anything while playing indoors.
With a bye their first round, Frank and Charles sat in lawn chairs under a tall tree in Central Park by the horseshoe pit to watch their competition.
Brother Mark made up one-half of a second team. His longtime friend and teammate Bryan Alexander was like family.
“We’ve competed in two-man horseshoe tournaments in Marion County and the surround area going on 10 years,” Mark Tajchman said.
Father and son duo Aaron Hett and Travis Hett made up the third Tajchman team, as Aaron married Lanell Tajchman years ago.
Travis Hett said his primary interest in horseshoes was not placing first, but rather to beat his uncles, specifically Charles.
“Charles is the master,” he said. “I trained in Central Park every night during the week leading up to this tournament.”
Charles said he set up a horseshoe pit at his house near his vegetable garden.
“It’s my main hobby,” Charles said. “I don’t like to brag though, that always backfires.”
Greg Avant and Alec Buford joined made up the fourth Tajchman-related team in the tournament. Each is in a relationship with a different one of Charles Tajchman’s daughters, Amy and Kari, and each has taken up horseshoes like a rite of passage.
“Nice shot, Captain Hook,” Charles said to Avant as his son-in-law scored three points with a “hook.”
A “hook” is term used to describe when a horseshoe catches the stake by one edge of the heel calk and spins around to secure a ringer.
A “ringer” is determined when the shoe comes to rest around the stake without either heel calk touching the stake.
Throwing two “ringers” is a called “a six-pack,” because it is worth six points. Scoring a six-pack is no easy task.
Charles Tajchman said it was tactically better to throw first in a game because the horseshoes can bounce off each other. However, the second person can cover the first throw and cancel out their initial score.
At the Chingawassa Days tournament, the top three teams were awarded trophies and cash prizes.
Mark Tajchman and Alexander took first place without losing a game. Coming in second were Ray Barrett and Jesse Blosser from Council Grove. Aaron and Travis Hett took third.
Travis Hett accomplished his goal of beating his uncles at their own game, but likely, that title will come under challenge at the next Tajchman family gathering.