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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Racetrack Welfare and Safety Summit Nails Horseshoes as Culprit

Welfare and Safety Summit Participants Recommends Banning Toe Grabs, Stickers, Turndowns and Jar Calks.

A cross-section of prominent participants from the Thoroughbred breeding and racing industry who attended the Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit in Lexington, Ky., on October 16 and 17 have drafted action plans in six areas to improve conditions in various facets of the Thoroughbred industry.

The six areas are Education & Licensing; Racing Conditions/Racing Office; Research; Health & Medical Records; Racing Surfaces/Shoeing/Hoof Care; and Breeding Practices.

Among the recommendations coming out of the two-day summit were:
* Make efforts to have scientific research more widely distributed among industry stakeholders.
* Examine the use or ban of certain horseshoes, such as toe-grabs, in the wake of presentations and research by Dr. Sue Stover and other participants.
* Provide continuing education for all horsemen, exercise riders, farriers and make initiatives like the Groom Elite Program more available throughout the country.

Above material quoted from a press release provided by the Jockey Club.

Mitch Taylor gave a brief presentation about shoes and shoeing and was on the working session committee designated to tackle the subjects of shoeing and surfaces.

Hoofcare & Lameness reached Mitch Taylor at home this evening. He said that he had been contacted before the meeting by the Jockey Club to present information about shoeing and hooves, and that when he arrived at the meeting, he realized that he was the lone representative of the farrier profession. Mitch gave a half-hour presentation which included an overview of hoof anatomy and function.

At the working session, the sub-committee recommended banning grabs, stickers, jar calks and turndowns by the end of 2007. Mitch Taylor was charged with reporting the group's recommendations to the larger group. The subject did come up about the use of toe grabs on hind feet, with a question being directed to Dr. Sue Stover of the University of California at Davis. As a result of her answer, the recommended ban would only cover toe grabs on the front feet.

Other recommendations included that horseshoers, trainers, and grooms should be required to show proof of continuing education efforts. One recommendation was that cd-roms be distributed for study, with questions to be answered before a track license can be granted.

Mitch said that he had discussed his role in the meeting with Thoroughbred expert farriers Steve Norman of Kentucky and Simon Curtis FWCF of England. He said that he had not been asked to be a spokesperson for any farrier group or school, but simply to provide information.

A few trainers and jockeys also provided information, but the majority of information came from a massive binder of research studies compiled from veterinary research. Veterinary surgeons Wayne MacIlwraith, Rick Arthur, Larry Bramlage and Sue Stover made presentations, as did Mick Peterson, a footing engineer who specializes in racetrack impact studies.

"I am glad that the Jockey Club decided to invite someone like me to be part of this meeting," Mitch told Hoofcare & Lameness. "Farriers and the work they do should be part of the big picture of lame horses, decreased numbers of starts, and breakdowns.

"A lot of good information was presented at this meeting," he continued. "I really believe that each person who was there wanted to do what they can to prove that the racing industry really does have the interest of the horse at heart. The recommendation about education was especially important, I think. More education will be good for the industry."

No date was set for a second meeting of this study group.

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