Horseshoe Tarot Spread Explained: How to Read the Horseshoe Spread

The horseshoe Spread is a simpler variation of the Celtic cross spread and is popular among beginners still getting to grips with the Celtic Cross spread. But it’s not just for beginners. Even the most experienced tarot readers can benefit from the horseshoe spread. 

The Basics

There are seven cards in the horseshoe spread, and they are laid out in the shape of a horseshoe (hence its name). 

Who Should Use this Horseshoe Spread?

Have you ever tried the Celtic Cross but felt it was a little too large and overly detailed? Then you should definitely give the Horseshoe spread a chance. But aside from that, the Horseshoe spread is a simple spread that is always surprisingly flexible and easy to read. 

The Horseshoe spread can provide quite detailed information and can be rather versatile too. My favorite thing about the Horseshoe spread is how simple it is but still covers every area. 

Okay, so we’ve covered the basics and you’re ready with your cards. So let’s get to it. Next up, we will discuss the different meanings behind each position in the Horseshoe spread.

Horseshoe Spread Position Meanings

Horseshoe Spread Position Meanings

Card 1: Influences From the Past

Our present is influenced by the past. And it is this card that helps us see what happened in the past to bring us to the present situation. There are no limits dictating a time frame- this card could indicate past events that occurred a couple of days, weeks, or even years back. Tarot cards aren’t here to dictate to us, but rather ignite things lurking in our subconscious.

So, trust whatever past events this card brings to mind is the events you can learn from for your current situation. Use this card as an indication of the background for your question or situation. 

Card 2: Present Situation and Circumstances

This card can let us know what is influencing the current situation. Bear in mind that this card is not a dead ringer for the present day. So, give it a wide birth of a couple of weeks. Use this card to gather information about the current situation, and use this card position (especially if court cards are involved) to see which people might be involved.

Card 3: Influences on the Horizon

This card indicates what upcoming influences are likely to affect the outcome of your situation. This card position can also be used as the near future position. The previous two cards should also be considered when reading this card position. Remember, nothing is set in stone- this card simply lets you know where your situation is headed based on the previous two cards.

Use this card as advice, especially if it is in the reverse position or seems negative. While you can’t change the past, you can adjust the future by changing how you react to the present moment. 

Card 4: How to Proceed

This card can offer advice for the best course of action. While the fourth card in the horseshoe spread is also referred to as The Answer card, it is often difficult to decipher. That is because the fourth card will often be an indication of your desired outcome, instead of reflecting reality. However, this card can also be some sage advice to help achieve your desired outcome.

You might notice some parallels between the final outcome card (which is the final outcome), but remember that the answer card and the final outcome are not the same.

The answer card will often reiterate and support the outcome, but it is often the outcome you most desire instead of the most likely outcome. The answer card can also be suggestive of your personality or even where you stand in relation to the situation in question. 

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  • If the Answer card is in opposition to the Outcome card then you are encouraged to double-check the decisions you are making. An opposition between these two often indicates that you should seek an alternative route as your choices are not leading you down the right path. 
  • Are you looking for a definitive yes or no? Then both your Answer card (card in position 4) and the Final Outcome (card in position 7) should be in the upright position. If the cards are reversed then you should prepare for some setbacks and ask yourself “how am I blocking myself?”. 
  • Although the Answer card is in the fourth position, it is typically the last card to be read. This is especially true if you are doing a reading for someone else and the answer card appears negative. Guide yourself or the querent through the reading with gentle tact so that the answer card is understood from a broad perspective. 

Card 5: Surroundings 

The fifth card indicates the attitude of people around you. People close to us will always have an effect on us and this card is helpful for people to understand how those around them are affecting the situation.

This card gives more of a general overview of the surrounding energy and can be used to gauge other people’s attitudes about the situation. Again, pay attention to what court cards appear throughout the reading.

Card 6: Potential Obstacles

This card is a practical one so you can identify the things stunting any progress. If the card has a more negative feel, then it is likely that you are fearful about the situation. If the card has a more positive feel, then you (or the query) are leaning more on the hopeful side.

If you want to understand the root of these fears, then you are encouraged to draw additional cards to deepen your understanding of your fears.  

Card 7: Final Outcome

And finally, we reach the seventh card, the Outcome card, in the horseshoe spread. This card indicates the outcome if nothing changes. Remember, nothing is fixed – just take this outcome as the most probable given the current factors impacting the situation. 

These factors can include the emotions, thoughts, words, and actions of everyone involved in the situation. If this card has a positive feeling then keep going on the same path.

But, if the card is reversed or has a negative association then there is room for improvement. If this card is more negative, then look at the Answer card for practical advice on how to change the course of action. 

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  • Feel free to draw additional cards to help understand the basis of a reversed or negative outcome card. It may help you see what behaviors will cause a negative outcome (or the outcome you don’t desire). 

Okay, so now you have a pretty detailed explanation of the card positions. Next up, we’re going to focus our attention on how to read the spread as a whole so we can better assimilate the information.

How to Read the Horseshoe Spread

  • Card numbers 1,2 and 3 can be read together in flow as a story. From this point, you should be able to understand the advice presented with card number 4. These first three cards form the ‘story’ of your situation. Understanding the story we create and are living through helps us to know where to make necessary changes.
  • Cards 5 and 6 should be read together as well. These cards indicate what is working against you or what is helping you to achieve the best possible outcome. 
  • Card 7 can either be read on its own (usually this is when the outcome is positive). If card 7 is indicating a more negative outcome then use card four to understand how to avoid it and achieve the best possible outcome. You can also draw accompanying cards to help you understand card 7’s message. 

v shape spread

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Notice which cards are in conjunction with each other. For example, if you have a card offering a negative outcome, look for what card is sitting directly opposite it as it can indicate who or what is causing the negative outcome (especially if the opposite is a court card).

Now you have the information from the cards, what do you do next?

Believe me when I say your best friend is your journal. The information can often be challenging to digest and a spider’s web to understand. Write down the cards you receive and any small details that you notice. This helps you to keep track of every nuance with each card and helps you get to grips with the overall flow of the reading. 

Using the Base Card

I like to add an additional base card for the Horseshoe spread. This base card is the card that lies on the very bottom of the deck after you have shuffled the cards. Use this as your base to understand the feeling of the overall spread.

Look at the base card before you read the spread. Even if you don’t understand it fully it will become clear once you start reading the cards in the spread. 

And lastly, remember to keep an open mind. The past position card can indicate an event or relationship that happened years ago, or it could indicate something that happened to a couple of days before the reading. Just keep an open mind and avoid rigid thinking. 

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FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What is the Difference between Horseshoe and Celtic Cross Spread?

Answer: The Horseshoe spread is a simpler version of the Celtic cross spread as the position meanings are more generic. This makes it less daunting for beginners as the card positions are more flexible. 

Question: Is the Horseshoe Spread considered a Beginners Spread?

Answer: While the Horseshoe spread is ideal for beginners, it is often used by even the most experienced tarot card readers. 

Question: Can I do a Horseshoe Spread with Oracle Cards?

Answer: Yes, of course, you can. Just use your favorite deck of cards- whether they are angel oracle or traditional tarot. But remember that the Major Arcana cards in the tarot deck can offer substantial information. However, most oracle decks come with Major Arcana cards that closely resemble the traditional tarot’s major arcana as well. 

Question: What If the Final Outcome is a Reversed or Negative Card?

Answer: While this card symbolizes the future, remember it is only a likely outcome and not a definite outcome. If the card is positive, then continue soldier on! Is the card reversed or indicating a negative outcome? Then look at it as offering you an opportunity to understand the result of our current actions.

Now, before you find yourself in a pool of despair, remember that you can direct the future by adjusting your present. By adjusting your actions you can achieve a positive outcome.

Difficult circumstances are just that- circumstances. They aren’t final, and you can find a way around them. Are you unable to adjust your actions to suit a more favorable outcome? Then you can at least prepare yourself to manage the less desirable outcome. 

A reversed card can also indicate that there is blocked energy somewhere. Like I said in the post, your Answer card can indicate where you need to focus your attention. Similarly, look out for court cards that can shed some light on who or where the block is. 

Question: How do I know if a tarot card is reversed or upright?

Answer: Read the cards as they face the query if you are doing a tarot card reading for someone else. If the card facing the person is reversed, then read it as a reversed card. 

Question: Can I read the Horseshoe Spread for Myself?

Answer: Yes, of course, you can. Many beginners want to know whether or not it is ‘bad’ to use tarot cards for themselves. You can always do a reading for yourself, just keep your mind clear and approach it with an open mind. And remember to record your reading in your journal. 


The Horseshoe spread is a great introduction to the Celtic Cross spread. My advice is to practice the Horseshoe spread and write down your reading in your journal. Everything gets simpler with a bit of practice! Before you know it you will be able to do the Horseshoe spread without a single second guess.

I love the horseshoe spread because it is flexible and can be used for various situations and applications. Get into the habit of drawing the base card. This base card helps you have a solid foundation for the reading. And if you are learning the Horseshoe spread to do it for other people, then bear in mind that you are the guide.

Give it a couple of practice runs on your own first before you do the spread for someone else. If there are negative cards in a reading for someone else it is your responsibility to guide your querent and not just shock them.

Use the surrounding cards to help them understand why may be a seemingly negative outcome. Make sure your querent understands the entire story, and remember to read the first three cards as a story and use them to understand the rest of the spread.

And finally, have fun!

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