Thoroughbred farriers will be restricted by new rules when the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority’s nationwide regulations go into effect on July 1, 2022. The regulations focus primarily on the traction devices farriers will be permitted to apply to Thoroughbred horseshoes, according to the American Farriers Journal.
All rules in the HISA Racetrack Safety Program were approved by the Federal Trade Commission on March 4, 2022.
The new shoeing rules can be found on Page 27 in Section 2276, and are written as follows:
(a) Except for full rims 2 mm or less from the ground surface of the Horseshoe, traction devices are prohibited on forelimb and hindlimb Horseshoes during racing and training on dirt or synthetic racing tracks.
(b) Traction devices are prohibited on forelimb and hindlimb Horseshoes during training and racing on the turf.
(c) Traction devices include but are not limited to rims, toe grabs, bends, jar calks and stickers.
“I am glad to see this rule,” podiatrist Dr. Scott Morrison of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., told AFJ. “There is clear evidence that toe grabs have a negative biomechanical effect on the musculoskeletal system of the horse. It will improve the health and safety of the horses. I also think this rule will help even the playing field as all horses will need to be shod in a similar manner. Additionally, it removes the pressure on farriers to shoe horses with toe grabs, which compromise the hoof capsule and makes their job of maintaining a healthy hoof more difficult.”
In an earlier draft of the rules, the commonly-used traction devices called toe grabs had been allowed.
HISA posted the following clarification to the Federal Register on Jan. 5, 2022: “Initial draft allowed some usage of toe grabs but, based on significant industry input and considered research and available industry information, ultimately concluded it was prudent and appropriate to totally preclude toe grabs on forelimbs and hind limbs.”
The same document within the Federal Register, which was the initial Notice of Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA)
proposed rules and request for public comment, explains the reasoning behind the shoeing rule: “The rule limits the height of rims used as traction devices on forelimb and hindlimb horseshoes. The rule prohibits use of any other traction devices. Traction devices have been thought to increase a horse’s ability to ‘dig in” to the track surface and prevent slipping. Traction devices reduce the horse’s ability to plant its hoof properly and move correctly through the surface. That reduction of movement contributes to catastrophic breakdowns and skeletal and muscle-related injuries.
“The rule follows the scientific evidence that shows that traction devices increase equine injuries. The rule is intended to increase the safety of covered riders and covered horses by reducing the number of accidents resulting from injuries associated with the use of traction devices. Lower racehorse attrition will enhance racetrack welfare by having greater racehorse inventory to fill races, larger race fields, and consequently greater pari-mutuel betting. The rule will standardize traction device use nationwide.”
Among others, the Federal Register document cites a 1996 study published in the American Journal Of Veterinary Research as evidence behind the new shoeing rule. It explains: “In a study of 201 Thoroughbred racehorses that died during racing or training at California racetracks, toe grabs were identified as possible risk factors for fatal musculoskeletal injury, fetlock suspensory apparatus failure, and fetlock condylar fracture. The odds of fatal musculoskeletal injury, fetlock suspensory apparatus failure, and fetlock condylar fracture were 1.8, 6.5, and 7.0, respectively, times greater for horses shod with low toe grabs than for horses shod without toe grabs on front shoes.
“Horses shod with regular toe grabs on front shoes had odds 3.5, 15.6, and 17.1 times greater (P <0.05) for fatal musculoskeletal injury, fetlock suspensory apparatus failure, and fetlock condylar fracture, respectively, compared with horses shod without toe grabs. The odds of horses shod with rim shoes were a third (P <0.05) of those shod without rim shoes for either fatal musculoskeletal injury or fetlock suspensory apparatus failure.”
The full HISA Racetrack Safety Program can be viewed here.
Read more at the American Farriers Journal.