The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority confirmed with American Farriers Journal on Thursday, May 12, 2022, that it is delaying the implementation of the federal Thoroughbred racetrack shoeing regulations, as well as clarification of its language.

“The delayed enforcement date is to allow shoe manufacturers to have sufficient time to ensure adequate inventory for compliance,” Dr. Susan Stover, chair of HISA’s Racetrack Safety Committee, told American Farriers Journal. “The horseshoe rule will be enforced starting Aug. 1, 2022.”

Stover, an International Equine Veterinarian Hall of Fame member from the University of California, Davis, recently notified horseshoe manufacturers of the extension. While manufacturers are appreciative of the confirmation of the enforcement date, there remains confusion surrounding the regulations.

“Victory is awaiting final details from HISA about shoeing regulations, as well as the results of current litigation and how that will affect the national adoption of HISA regulations,” says Mark Hickcox, sales manager at the Rosedale, Md.-based Victory Racing Plate Co. “Victory feels confident when HISA is enacted definitively that we will be prepared to supply race plates that meet the regulation. We are 100% behind improving the welfare of the horse and Thoroughbred athletes, and helping farriers do that by any means possible.”

Thoro'Bred Inc. previously told American Farriers Journal that the delay will benefit both manufacturers and retailers.

“Given the significant change in the product mix stemming from the new rules, an extra 30 days will give both manufacturers and retailers additional time to adjust their production and inventories,” says Remco van der Linden, vice president of Thoro’Bred Inc. in Anaheim, Calif.

HISA has faced legal challenges since the bill was signed into law in 2020 by President Donald Trump. A lawsuit spearheaded by the National Horseman’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA) and 11 of its state chapters was dismissed March 31, 2022, by a federal judge. The suit alleged that HISA was an unconstitutional delegation of government authority to a private entity. HBPA plans to appeal.

A second lawsuit filed by three states and various racing commissions and organizations remains pending. The lawsuit, which largely mirrors the HBPA’s, was filed by the states of Oklahoma, Louisiana and West Virginia; racing commissions in Oklahoma and West Virginia; the United States Trotting Association; the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association; Hanover Shoe Farms; Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority, which owns Fair Meadows Racing and Sports Bar; Global Gaming, which owns Remington Park; and Will Rogers Downs.

The rules have also drawn criticism from some within the farrier industry over their vague language, the universal application on all Thoroughbred racetracks, as well as the short time frame for manufacturers and distributors to fill a large inventory void.

The new shoeing rules, which can be found on Page 27, Section 2276 of the HISA Racetrack Safety Program, are brief and focus solely on traction devices.

“(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.”

Stover emphasizes that toe grabs, as referenced in section (a), are prohibited.

“Toe grabs are not allowed at all,” she says. “Any wear plate at the toe must not extend beyond the ground surface of the shoe. The inclusion of a 2 mm (outside) rim (around the entire circumference of the shoe) is intended to provide an option for additional traction if conditions warranted, without altering the conformation of the hoof relative to the ground surface. The 2 mm height is the maximum height that the rim can extend from the ground surface of the shoe.”

According to an exclusive American Farriers Journal survey, 58% disapproved of the new federally mandated shoeing rules while 42% approved. Much of the opposition is rooted in the blanket application of the shoeing rules while offering no latitude for variable climates, track surfaces or horses.

The rules were put in place to improve the safety of the horses racing at tracks all across the United States, according to an earlier statement attributed to Stover.

“These new rules will decrease fatalities by detecting horses with mild pre-existing conditions through expanded veterinary oversight and the review of medication and treatment records and training histories,” according to the statement. “They will also provide a window into understanding and preventing the development of mild injuries in the first place via uniform surface maintenance standards and ongoing data analysis.”

Learn More