Tarot Lady’s Horseshoe Spread

Get the bottom of your problem in record time with the Tarot Lady’s favourite spread. Easy to follow, insightful & choc full of information to guide you to a better path.

Guest post by Theresa Reed

The Horseshoe Tarot Spread is a very reliable layout that I have been using for years. It gives more depth than a 3 card spread but isn’t as complicated as something like the Celtic Cross Tarot Spread. Although I can take no credit for designing it (I believe I found it in a book called Classic Tarot Spreads), I can attest that it is effective and powerful.

There are 7 cards in this spread. Begin by shuffling the cards and cutting them as you wish. Put them back together and then, taking the cards from the top of the deck, lay them out face down in a “horseshoe” formation, with card number 4 being at the top.

The positions are:

  1. Past events that may be influencing the question
  2. Present events
  3. Immediate future
  4. Attitude of querent regarding the question
  5. Other influences
  6. Obstacle
  7. Likely outcome
horseshoe tarot spread

How To Use The Horseshoe Tarot Spread

I always turn over the 4th card first as this gives insight into how the questioner is viewing the situation. For example, if a Major Arcana card shows up, it can indicate that this is a very important and perhaps life altering question. Also, notice if this card is in conflict with what they asked – this can indicate that they may desire something different than what they said.

After you have assessed how the client is viewing the situation, turn over all the other cards and then proceed to look at patterns or read them in sequence if you prefer.

For me, the obstacle card is the focal point – as a practical gal, I want to know what the questioner is up against and how we can work around it. If there is a positive card here, I view it as a sign that there will be no issues or the client will surmount things easily.

(There are other schools of thought here – some readers may view a positive card here as an obstacle! You’ll have to decide what makes the most sense to you. We all have different ways of seeing and the beauty of tarot is in its flexibility.)

Now, if the obstacle card is a challenging one, this could point out what needs to be done. For example, if the 5 of Swords were in this position, they may have to work on being honest or practicing teamwork in order to get the best results.

A very difficult card here can also suggest a big “NO” to the question. Trust your own instincts here but do pay attention as I have found this position to be extremely relevant to the outcome.

Sometimes if the spirit moves me, I may turn throw out one more card to see if there is any additional advice for the client.

Let’s look at a question to see this spread in action. The following Tarot reading is a personal reading I did for this post and centres around some family issues that I’m currently experiencing.

How do I deal with the current situation with my family?

The cards drawn are as follows:
  1. Past events – King of Swords
  2. Present events – Knight of Pentacles Reversed
  3. Immediate future – The World Reversed
  4. Attitude – 6 of Cups
  5. Other influences – Queen of Cups Reversed
  6. Obstacle – Knight of Cups
  7. Likely outcome – The Fool Reversed
horseshoe tarot reading

Of course, if I look at card number four first, the 6 of Cups indicates that I do have some fondness for my family and would like to see harmonious interactions with them. (I tend to be very negative about my family due to the current situation but this is true – ultimately, I would like better relations.)

Next, I notice that there are a lot of Court Cards here, and to me, each one represents the different family members that I am dealing with. (My dad, my sister and my two brothers.)

I also see that two of these cards are reversed and the upright cards are not in sympathy with each other (Swords vs. Cups). Two Major Arcana cards are also in the future positions – and these are both reversed. Interesting.

So how to interpret this hot mess?

Although inwardly a peaceful situation is what I desire, there doesn’t seem to be enough cooperation at this time to achieve this. Too many conflicts are present and there may not be a resolution that serves everyone’s agenda.

The King of Swords indicates that my father is the base of the issue (currently, we are at odds about his care) – and the other court cards show much different attitudes regarding how this should be dealt with. There is grasping concern over money (Knight of Pentacles reversed) and other raw emotional issues (Queen of Cups reversed) that seem to have dammed the whole works up and perhaps there may not be a way to rectify it.

The Knight of Cups in the obstacle position is overall a positive one in my opinion. It could indicate making a peace offering, an olive branch to get beyond this – or it could also point out relying on one of the brothers to lean on (I get on very well with my younger brother). But even with this card and the 6 of Cups present, the majority of reversals don’t allow for a rosy picture.

The World Reversed and The Fool reversed suggest that my karma is not completed here and it may be time to develop a spiritual attitude, turn this situation over to the universe until I can get absolute closure. It may be out of my hands for now.

The Story So Far

So in short, it doesn’t look hopeful (although I may wish it to be so) but if I can view this as part of my own spiritual reawakening and allow my younger brother to be a source of support, perhaps I can find a healthy balance and move forward at the proper time. Until then, I may have to accept that this conflict is simply not under my control.

(On a side note – not everyone reads reversals and that is fine. If the cards were not reversed, perhaps this reading would have looked a bit more positive than my interpretation.)

Card Pairing The Horseshoe Tarot Spread

This spread is ideal for card pairing – which can add an extra layer and depth to the reading. Let’s try it on this spread, shall we?

Since there are 7 cards, naturally the 6 of Cups will not have a partner – this gives it a special significance as it stands alone. Again, it points out where my head is at regarding this situation and I will stick to the original thought of wanting harmony.

The World reversed and the Queen of Cups reversed
This pairing can indicate unfinished business either with the sister or perhaps with the emotional aspect of the situation. Is there a way to bring closure? Notice that the image of the World reversed looks longingly towards the Queen of Cups reversed who is looking away. Even if a positive ending is desired, there is an unwillingness to do the emotional work to get there. This indicates fruitless effort, and difficulty getting to the heart of the matter.
The Knight of Cups and Knight of Pentacles reversed
When we pair the two Knights, we also see that they are looking away from each other – suggesting an impasse. Two people who cannot see eye to eye. The Knight of Cups and Knight of Pentacles could work together but if they are both concerned with their own agendas, then it seems as if nothing will get accomplished. They are stuck because of stubbornness and an unwillingness to put aside differences.
The King of Swords and the Fool reversed
By far the most interesting combination to me, this is mastery and folly combined but also what this says to me is that the father has created this situation, whether unwittingly or not. It is a family dynamic, karmic in nature that was borne many years ago. And there is no way this can be changed unless he does something about it – or we create our own families, separate from this situation. Sometimes the people we are born with are not necessarily our “spiritual families” and we need to take the lessons but then move on, put the baggage behind us and surround ourselves with the people we really want to be with.

Final Thoughts

So again, this only confirms to me that things are not in my hands but I can choose to create the harmony I seek in my own household – and I can refuse to play into the pattern. It may not be an easy answer but it may be the only answer.

I hope you enjoyed reading about the Horseshoe Tarot Spread, and would love to hear what you thought about it in the comments section below!

Theresa Reed

theresa reed the tarot lady

Using the power of the Tarot to empower YOU!

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33 thoughts on “Tarot Lady’s Horseshoe Spread”

  1. I love this Horseshoe Tarot Spread – it’s versatile and lends itself perfectly to Card Pairing. As Theresa points out in her description, Card 4 is the focus and most important card, that would remain true with card pairing as Card 4 wouldn’t be paired at all – it would stand alone, unaffected by any other card – pretty neat, don’t you think?!
    Do you have a question for Theresa regarding her Horseshoe Tarot Spread? Do you use this type of spread? Do you find it as useful as Theresa? Feel free to ask either of us any questions, or just share your thoughts with us – we’d love to hear from you :)

    • Hi Theresa,
      I used the Horse Shoe Tarot a long time ago, but I only did it once when I started having a rich and deep interest in Tarot. I found your reading very interesting and I never seize to learn more and more. Thank you for sharing and enlightening me even more. I am going to try it and see how it works for me and how I feel using it again.
      Have a Fabulous Day!!
      Elizabeth Zaldivar

  2. I really enjoyed reading this and seeing the horseshoe in action, it’s not normally a spread I have chosen to use, but I may have to rethink that!

    • If you do use it Helen, I hope you share your results with us! I hope you find it as effective as I do.

  3. While it would have been nice to see a little more positive energy with teamwork in the cards, you still managed to present a wonderful reading with the Horseshoe spread Theresa! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Wonderful spread! Thanks for sharing it with us. I’m going to try it out this week. I still have to try out Catherine’s as well. I have a lot of homework to do. ;)

    • Hi Kat,
      Glad you enjoy the Horseshoe Spread. I will be interested in hearing your insights as you work with it.

  5. Thank you so much, Catherine. I enjoyed writing the post and hope everyone enjoys this spread as much as I do. It is my constant go-to spread. :)
    The card pairing part was the most interesting aspect to me – it works great!
    Yes, Suzi, would have liked to see a more positive outcome but it made sense and I am okay with it. We can’t always get our way and the tarot isn’t going to just tell us what we want to hear. :)

    • The pleasure was all mine Theresa, working with you was a lovely experience.
      I’m really glad you enjoyed the Card Pairing – it’s great you’re now a convert!
      Thank you for submitting your favourite Tarot spread to Contributors, I think I can speak for everyone here and say that we’re awfully glad you did :)

    • Oh, I am definitely a convert now. I’ve been using card pairing big time and it DOES add a nuance to the reading that really “fills” it out! Thanks for the tip!

  6. Thank you Theresa,
    I´ve often read about the power of this spread – but never saw it in action. Your reading is a great help for me! And I´m sure I will try this one out. It is a pretty “extract of the Celtic Cross”.

    • Hi Phine,
      Thank you for your comment. It really is a dandy spread. I have used it for many years now and it always gives good answers. (Although I wish it would have given a happy answer in the question above! LOL)

  7. You know, Theresa, I’ve seen this spread here and there (or some variation) and don’t recall ever taking it out for a whirl. You inspired me. I read for myself about a decision that I wasn’t planning on reading about. And it was wonderfully illuminating. I like that it gives more to work with than a 3 card and not as overwhelming as a Celtic Cross can sometimes feel. Thank you!

    • Hi Barbara, glad you enjoyed using the Horseshoe Tarot Spread – did you have a go at Card Pairing? It’s a great deal of fun and really adds extra depth to any reading – with or without elemental dignities – I’d love to hear how you get on, if you have a go of course (returning gentle bullying techniques…) :)

    • Thanks for the comment, Barbara. I have also seen different variations but this has been the most reliable one that I have used. I’ve been playing with it now for almost my entire career. It always amazes me. And do follow Catherine’s suggestion about the card pairing – it rocks!

  8. I have used a diffferent version of the horseshoe spread before but I like this position of card 4 and the idea of reading it first. The card pairing also gives an interesting new dimension.
    Thank you.

    • Hi Lori – Card 4 is the key and the focus of the reading, despite other more traditionally accepted positions such as the outcome. As it can’t be paired it stands alone; as the position of ‘attitude’, it clearly shows exactly what the client is bringing to the reading and therefore their life – they might not even be aware of this until it’s pointed out – which gives the reader a heads up! That has to be a good thing :)

    • Hello Lori – I have found that position 4 can “prepare” the reader for how the client is ready to deal with the issue at hand as well as motives. Pay attention to it – it is often illuminating to the real attitude/agenda behind the question – and can let you know – and them know – if they are in denial, etc. This is important to know if the work is to be healing for the client. And less aggravating for us. It doesn’t mean you’ll become a “mind reader” but at least you get an idea of what is behind the question.

  9. Interesting pairing, I thought in cards 1 and 7; the Chariot and 2 of Pents. More interesting b/c I used the Legacy and the 2 of Pents is riding one of those big front wheeled bicycles…so 2 cards about moving forward on vehicles both with varying degrees of control or lack of control! Cards 2 and 6 are 3 of Pents Rx and 6 of Wands Rx (elementally neutral, right?). The question was about work and maybe finding a mentor, so these together show dissatisfaction with the quality of my work and not feeling like I’m doing well enough. Also interesting 3 and 5–9 of Wands Rx and the Emperor–looking for an authority figure to help ease my burden. Catherine, regarding bullying: nicely done!

    • I’m glad you gave it a go and that my tactics worked ;)
      If we forget the positional meanings and just look at the pairing of the cards themselves, we can have a lot of fun – and often come up with some new information.
      1 & 7 – Chariot and the 2 of Pentacles
      Moving to a new job; actively seeking balance;
      2 & 6 – 3 of Pentacles rx and the 6 of Wands rx
      The honeymoon is over and work sucks!
      Things aren’t as wonderful as the first seemed
      3 & 5 – 9 of Wands rx and the Emperor
      Having authority but feeling powerless;
      They’re just a small idea of pairing without the positions, though it’s still useful to keep the positions in mind, pairing without them makes them purer, more intuitive, and more likely to throw something up you didn’t see before – adding to your interpretation.
      What did you think about those? Do you think you would interpret your original pairings differently if you forgot the positional meanings for a moment?

  10. Awesome spread….just so you know it works with oracle cards too….since I’m sitting at the computer I grabbed the nearest deck…and gave it a deal…I asked how I could get a bit more satisfaction out of life as things have been in an uproar lately…
    Card Four: My Attitude is The Country Home…peaceful, fun, relaxing, enjoyable.
    Card One: Past: Thought…yes I have spent WAY too much time in thought in the past.
    Card Two: Present: The Consultant (me)…but also in this position…my role…eveyone wanted something, asking advise, telling their stories etc…overwhelming presently.
    Card Three: Immediate Future: Sweet Card…hmmm nice…something good will make me happy.
    Card Five: Other Influences: A Lot of money…well…in this case…a need for a lot of money to deal with some of the factors coming up.
    Card Six: Obstacle…Hope….I read this as my pessimistic attitude of late…so lack of hope.
    Card Seven: Likely Outcome: a Sincere Friend…in the end friend(s) will get me out of my slump…mentally and emotionally.
    Thought and A Sincere Friend…some of my negative or stressful thoughts in the past have centered around friends.
    The Consultant (me) and Hope….I give people hope in my role and yet it is a draining one…so it is important to balance me and others….
    Sweet Card and A Lot of money….LOL….well a lot of money would be sweet…but I think it is a reminder that life (the future) can be sweet and the “influence” of a lot of money or lack thereof will not make the future bitter.
    Hope you dont mind me hijacking the comments with oracle cards…I will certainly try it with tarot also….this is a nice spread because it broadens the base of the whole ‘past, present, future’ reading.

    • Hi Ginger – what a great comment and reading!
      I certainly don’t mind you ‘hijacking’ the comments with oracle cards, you’ve added a very valuable angle to the whole thread.
      Without seeing the oracle cards you’ve used, it’s difficult to say anything about them, but your interpretations based on their titles sounds pretty darn good to me :) Not to mention your card pairing, which is excellent!
      You’ve been very honest about your situation and that always helps when reading for yourself, but you also helped the rest of us see how your oracle cards transpose into real life – so thank you for that Ginger. Your contribution here has been a great one:)

    • Hi Ginger, I LOVE your interp with the oracle cards! Brilliant!!! Who is the author for these cards? I must see them in action! Thanks for your comment,

  11. Oh, Catherine, you’re asking me to throw out the structure and let my mind/intuition run amok, er, freely all over this reading! :-)
    Seriously, I see what you mean. So, loosening up a bit, I’d be more inclined to say:
    1st pair: Moving forward toward balance (in my case from the strictly theoretical toward more practical application).
    2nd pair: I’m sticking with not happy with MY work and public recognition and/or perception of my work isn’t filling the void.
    3rd pair: If I coupled your interp with the theory/practice issue, it works well–authority in theoretical matters but feeling powerless in practical areas.
    Thanks for playing, Catherine. This was fun and illuminating. I like it.

    • Yes of course I am, Barbara!
      You still have your structure from your original reading, all we’re doing with card pairing is digging a little deeper. If we forget all constraints, then we have more fun doing it, but we also allow our intuition out to play – and that can only be a good thing :)
      I liked your interps too – mine were just to show you what you could do with those cards. When you blended your new ones with your reading, you gave yourself something else to think about, which sharpened your original reading and interpretation. We also had a great deal of fun – and not an element in sight!
      I enjoyed playing too, Barbara – thank you for diving in and having a go :)

    • It is great to watch both your interpretation, Barbara, as well as Catherine’s suggestions. Lots of food for thought!

  12. Thanks Catherine…I really enjoyed the horseshoe spread and will be using it on and off with some different decks to get a feel for it…
    I wanted to clarify something…#4 Card which is to represent Attitude: The Country Home represents relaxing, peaceful, fun, enjoyable….I laughed when I saw it because it is central to this reading about satisfaction….just wanting some nice peace and quiet….no drama…LOL…so it’s not exactly my attitude but it is the attitude I want…
    The Deck is the Sibilla Indovina Oracle…they are very similar to the Lenormand cards…but I am finding them a little easier to work with for some reason. the meanings just seem clearer to me.

    • Hi Ginger – have you thought that perhaps the Country Home is trying to tell you that you’re more relaxed and ‘at home’ with your current troubles than you’ve appreciated? That actually, you’re coping with them a lot better than you give yourself credit for? Just a little something for you to ponder…
      The Sibilla Indovina Oracle sounds like a really interesting deck – do you use it on your blogs? It would be great to see it in action, perhaps there’s a blog post in your reading??? ;)

  13. Hi. The horse shoe spread is new to me. It’s been recommended by Doug so I could practice a longer spread, but not as intimidating as the celtic cross. I’ve never done the celtic cross yet… I don’t feel like I’m ready for it. But this horse shoe seems approachable.
    This spread will also give me practice on card pairings. I’m not used to that either. Thanks for sharing this one. =D

    • Hi AJ – thanks for stopping by. Theresa’s version of the Horseshoe Spread is a great one – the positions are realistic and relevant to life. As you point out, it’s also a great spread for practicing or using card pairing.
      There was a great exchange between Barbara Moore and myself in this comments section about getting the best from card pairing, use that to guide you, but of course if you need further guidance, I’d be more than happy to help :)

    • Thanks for the comment, AJ. I think you’ll find that the card pairing really enhances the reading. I’ve been finding new depth to my readings by using it.

  14. Well Catherine I am in love with this site, I love the dynamics in the read that you have done on the horse shoe spread, now have been looking at tarot seriously for 2 months had a deck wait for it 10 years jj swiss that I did not understand because of the imagery.
    Looked at the site at Eon and always seemed to come up with get your own cards, well I did get myself a new deck that seemed to draw me thats good that and seem to them from the guilded tarot by artist manchetti, the images are based on the rider waite, love the pictures as am an artist. yeah have been looking at all the different methods and pairing learning loads love the site and all the things in there I was recomended by paul hughes barlow sent him an email, and you know what Eon was there in my favourits any way just never looked in there and since then cant keep my face out there.
    a new tarot student colin mcq and learning loads

    • Hi Colin – how fab you’re having such a good time with Tarot!! Not to mention Tarot Eon – it’s an awesome Tarot blog too :)
      This post is by Theresa Reed, aka The Tarot Lady, a fabulous Tarot reader and blogger too. She uses the Horseshoe Spread and I invited her to share the spread with my readers. I would love to take credit for it, but alas, it belongs to Theresa. Check out her awesome blog too by the link at the end of her post.
      Glad you’re having so much fun with Tarot – lovely to see you here again, do let me know how you progress :)

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