Requiring safety reins, a move strongly endorsed by the Jockeys' Guild, will be the subject of a public hearing to be held by the California Horse Racing Board during its regular monthly meeting at Fairplex Park on Sept. 18.
Under legislation signed into law in California last year, safety reins are to be mandated if the racing board if it determines their use would provide jockeys and exercise riders greater protection from accidents and injuries than conventional reins.
The public is encouraged to submit written comments on a proposal mandating the use of the safety reins in racing and training in the state. On June 27, the CHRB approved a 45-day public notice on a rule requiring their use following a rancorous debate over the proposal between Barry Broad, representing the Jockeys' Guild, and Ed Halpern of the California Thoroughbred Trainers.
Halpern asked the board to delay mandating safety reins until national standards are developed through laboratory testing.
Safety reins contain an internal back-up cord connected to the bit, so that if the traditional outer reins break, the jockey or driver can still maintain control of the horse.
Testimony focused on how traditional reins sometimes break from continuous wear and from manufacturing defects, placing jockeys at risk, particularly when this occurs during a race. They demonstrated how the internal cord in a safety rein, either looped or clipped to the bit, is independently attached so that it helps the jockey keep control in the event the regular rein breaks.
The CTT is concerned about determining the breaking strength of the inner cord, which they consider a safety issue for horses.
The board elected to place the proposed rule out for public notice and asked both sides to submit additional information addressing the breaking strength of safety reins. Written comments should be sent by e-mail to ColleenG@chrb.ca.gov or addressed to Colleen Germek, the regulation analyst for the CHRB.