What is the Golden Horseshoe Test?

And Can Homeschoolers Participate?

~the first in a series of articles from CHEWV~

In 1716, the lieutenant governor of Virginia, Alexander Spotswood, gathered a group of men and set out to discover the land beyond the mountains. The group experienced both great times and great struggles as they explored lands west of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  When they returned, Spotswood awarded each man a golden horseshoe, and they became known as the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe.

West Virginia began promoting West Virginia Clubs in 1929 to help students appreciate their Mountain State heritage and history. Two years later the first Golden Horseshoe test was given. The top scorers from each county received a Golden Horseshoe pin and were dubbed Knights and Ladies of the Golden Horseshoe.

Every year since 1931, 8th grade students have had the opportunity to study the state’s history, economics, culture, and geography, and then take the Golden Horseshoe Test. Sponsored by the West Virginia Cultural Center, the test is given in local middle schools, and only the top scorers are awarded the Golden Horseshoe.

Since many homeschool students have asked if they can take the test and how they should go about preparing for it, this school year CHEWV will highlight different aspects of West Virginia studies in an effort to help them achieve this milestone. Next month we will look at potential textbooks and other information sources that parents can utilize as they teach their children West Virginia history.

If you know of a homeschooled student that has received a Golden Horseshoe, please send their name, county, and year they received the award to HSDC@CHEWV.org. If you have a photo of them at the ceremony, please send that as well.


WV History Tip #1: Summer is a great time to visit West Virginia’s historic sites, a great way to provide visual and sensory understanding to history lessons. 


Read the second article in this series here.

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