New Mexico Second State to Mandate Racing 'Safety Reins'

New Mexico became the second state to adopt a "safety reins" rule when the New Mexico Racing Commission approved the measure Aug. 21. The Ohio State Racing Commission adopted a similar rule in March.

The New Mexico regulation will take effect May 15, 2008, to give horsemen and jockeys time to get up to speed. The Jockeys' Guild has been lobbying regulatory agencies around the country to mandate use of the reins, which requires a secondary rein that serves as a backup should a rein break.

"The Guild would like to thank the New Mexico Racing Commission and the New Mexico Horsemen's Association for their dedication to safety reins," said John Beech, the Southwest regional manager for the Guild who attended the Aug. 21 meeting. "They want to give everybody (time to comply), so it goes into effect next year."

A safety rein is a rein with a wire or nylon cord stitched into the traditional leather or nylon rein during the manufacturing process, with the cord attached to the bit with a metal clasp. If the leather reins break, jockeys can grab the nylon.

Art Gray, who developed the reins, told The Blood-Horse earlier this year they have been certified by a testing laboratory as providing additional strength to conventional reins. Gray has background as a horseman and racing official and currently operates a security firm in New York.

(Originally published at  

About the Author

Tom LaMarra

Tom LaMarra, a native of New Jersey and graduate of Rutgers University, has been news editor at The Blood-Horse since 1998. After graduation he worked at newspapers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania as an editor and reporter with a focus on municipal government and politics. He also worked at Daily Racing Form and Thoroughbred Times before joining The Blood-Horse. LaMarra, who has lived in Lexington since 1994, has won various writing awards and was recognized with the Old Hilltop Award for outstanding coverage of the horse racing industry. He likes to spend some of his spare time handicapping races.

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