Future of Toe Grabs Cut Short
The main function of the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit is to investigate pressing issues within the horse racing industry and to do the necessary research to provide solutions and guidelines that will alleviate problems and ensure the safety of racehorses. At their most recent meeting, the subject of banning steroids was not concluded, but decisions and recommendations in regard to toe grabs have been made.
During the investigation of toe grabs, it was found that they were used to give horses more traction, but over the years tracks have become more manicured and toe grabs have become more of a threat to the health of racehorses than an aid. When horses run naturally, their motion causes their feet to slide forward slightly every time they put their feet down. Toe grabs restrict this action and create a great deal of stress on the horse’s cannon bone.
The dirt that accumulates while running or training with toe grabs on also causes added pressure. Also, if a horse was to tread wrongly and the toe grabs grip the track, serious injuries could arise. Clipping a heel with a toe grab can also lead to falls and unnecessary injuries. Even when standing still, the toe grabs still cause stress to the front legs of racehorses.
In response to these findings, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has decided to change the rules on toe grabs, allowing toe grabs to be a maximum length of two millimeters. This rule will be applied for all racing surfaces and for training. There are many international racing jurisdictions that have completely banned the use of toe grabs, and it has not affected horse racing in any way.
It is estimated that the rule in regard to toe grabs will come into effect by the start of next year, at the latest, when the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is also expected to reveal their new rules and regulations on the topic of steroid use. With the focus on the safety of racehorses on the track, the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission are working continuously towards a better future for horse racing and the athletes that are invaluable to the sport.