As the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority’s (HISA) shoeing rules take effect today, here’s what Thoroughbred racetrack farriers need to know.

HISA’s Racetrack Safety Program prohibits traction devices on forelimb and hindlimb horseshoes during racing and training on grass or synthetic racing tracks. Traction devices include, but are not limited to rims, toe grabs, bends, jar calks, stickers, traction nails and/or mud nails.

While traction devices are also prohibited on forelimb horseshoes during racing and training on dirt tracks, the rules will not be enforced for hindlimb shoes. Toe grabs of up to 4 mm on hindlimb horseshoes will be allowed. In addition, 2 mm outer rim shoes that are around the entire circumference of the shoe are allowed on dirt and synthetic surfaces. 

“The inclusion of a 2 mm (outer) rim (around the entire circumference of the shoe) is intended to provide an option for additional traction if conditions are warranted, without altering the conformation of the hoof relative to the ground surface,” Dr. Susan Stover, who chairs HISA’s Racetrack Safety Committee, told American Farriers Journal. “The 2 mm height is the maximum height that the rim can extend from the ground surface of the shoe.”

Farrier Registration

HISA requires all Thoroughbred racing participants, including farriers, to register for access to restricted areas of a racetrack in the course of their work.

A covered person is licensed by a state racing commission and is involved with Thoroughbred covered horses or Thoroughbred covered horseraces.

Although the deadline to register was July 1 to avoid disruption of access, any covered person can register online at To register, you will need to provide a mailing address, email address or mobile phone number and any racing license with your details. You may upload a photo of your racing license.

As a covered person, racetrack farriers are subject to the shoeing rules, as well as sanctions if violations are cited. Sanctions, which are found in Rule 8200 on Page 4025, range from a cease-and-desist order to a lifetime ban from registration. The rule also permits the authority to issue a Notice of Suspected or Actual Violation to a Covered Person.

“This mechanism requires the Authority to specify the nature of the suspected or actual violation and requires the Covered Person to respond to the Authority’s notice,” according to the rule. “The Notice provision is intended in part to allow safety issues to be addressed without immediate resort to formal disciplinary action.”

A fine of up to $50,000 can be imposed for a first violation. A second violation of the same or similar offense can result in a fine from $50,000 to $100,000. However, “a revision will be proposed to clarify that a second violation could incur a penalty up to $100,000 (not $50,000-$100,000),” Stover says. The rule also allows the following sanctions, although conditions are not placed upon them.

  • Deny or suspend the registration of a covered person for a definite period, probationary period, or a period contingent on the performance of a particular act.
  • Revoke the registration of a covered person subject to reapplication at a specified date.
  • Impose a lifetime ban from registration with the authority.
  • Bar a covered person from associating with all covered persons concerning any matter under the jurisdiction of the commission and the authority during the period of a suspension.
  • Impose a temporary or permanent cease-and-desist order against a covered person.
  • Require a covered person, as a condition of participation in horseracing, to take any remedial or other action that is consistent with the safety, welfare and integrity of covered horses, covered persons and covered horseraces.
  • Deny or require the forfeiture of purse money, disqualify a horse or make changes to the order of finish in covered races.
  • Censure a covered person.
  • Prohibit a racetrack from conducting any covered horserace.
  • Impose any other sanction as a condition of participation in horseracing as deemed appropriate by the Authority in keeping with the seriousness of the violation and the facts of the case, and that is consistent with the safety, welfare and integrity of covered horses, covered persons and covered horseraces.

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 universal application of the shoeing rules while offering no latitude for variable climates, track surfaces or horses.

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