Frequently Asked Questions About HISA’S Rules

Definitions and General Compliance

1. What does it mean to be a “Responsible Person”?

A “Responsible Person” is identified during a horse's registration and is typically the horse's trainer. A Responsible Person is subject to specific record-keeping and reporting requirements.

2. Is the “Designated Owner” different from the Responsible Person if the Responsible Person is typically the trainer?

An owner may be the Responsible Person if the owner has not selected a trainer or if there is gap between trainers.

3. Can you explain when the Responsible Person is to be listed as the owner and not the trainer of record?

The owner may be the Responsible Person prior to selecting a trainer, during an extended lay-off period, during a period in which one trainer is being replaced by another, and other similar situations. Otherwise, the trainer is the Responsible Person.

4. Does HISA have jurisdiction over farms? What are the requirements for those working at farms?

Most employees who work at farms and layup facilities are not required to register with HISA. Employees licensed with a state racing commission and who work directly with Covered Horses are required to register with HISA. For example, if a Veterinarian is licensed by a state racing commission and is treating a Covered Horse at a layup facility, he/she is required to register with HISA.

The Responsible Person, who is typically the Trainer, must obtain and maintain all exercise and medication treatment records for horses that are at farms, layup facilities and training centers. In circumstances in which the Trainer is not the Responsible Person for the horse, the Owner will be responsible for maintaining all exercise and medication treatment records for horses that are at farms and layup facilities.

Farms, unless they provide Official Timed Works, are not covered by HISA, and are permitted to possess medications and delivery systems (syringes) necessary to properly care for horses on farm property.

5. If a Covered Horse goes to a non-covered training facility or farm and is cared for by an unlicensed horse person, is that person a Covered Person?

If a person is not licensed by a state racing commission and working with a Covered Horse at an uncovered facility, that person is not a Covered Person and does not need to register with HISA. In those cases, the Trainer of the Covered Horse remains the Responsible Person unless the owner "takes back" or changes the responsibility designation with HISA.

6. What are the purse penalties for misuse of the riding crop in a race?

There are three classes of jockey crop use violations:

  • Class 3 violations do not result in a loss of purse.
  • Class 1 or Class 2 crop violations result in the horse being disqualified from purse earnings.

7. Are timed workouts posted at two-year-old sales considered to be “official,” and will these horses be considered Covered Horses upon their first breeze show?

Timed works occurring during a 2-year-old sale are not recognized by HISA as official timed and reported workouts. Owners may register their 2-year-old horses with HISA prior to their first official timed and reported work if they wish.

8. Can you cite the research that led to the initial decision to prohibit the use of toe grabs from hind shoes, especially on dirt surfaces?

There were 2 reasons for initially eliminating toe grabs on the hindlimb horseshoes as well as forelimb horseshoes. There is strong evidence that forelimb toe grabs are associated with fatal musculoskeletal injuries, fetlock suspensory apparatus failure, and condylar fracture (e.g., Kane et al. American Journal of Veterinary Research 1996;57:1147-1152). The same fatal injuries occur in the hindlimbs, but the prevalence is lower than in the forelimbs. There was a marginally insignificant (p=0.06) relationship with hindlimb toe grabs and fetlock suspensory apparatus failure in that study. The second reason was the prevalence of (fatal) lumbar spine fractures that occur due to the power generated by breaking from the gate with hindlimb traction devices, which may provoke pathology in the spine that predisposes the horse to injury.

The Racetrack Safety Committee’s mandate is to develop rules that enhance equine and jockey welfare and minimize injury risk, and the initial toe grab decision was made for that purpose. When the Committee was made aware by elected officials and horsemen of widespread concerns that the traction provided by full outer rim shoes and toe grabs for the hindlimbs is essential for the safety of horses in certain circumstances, including breaking from the gate and track conditions that are impacted by ambient temperature or precipitation, the Committee invited a representative group of horsemen to present their concerns.

After full consideration of the matter, the Committee strongly recommended the use of full outer rim shoes for hindlimb traction because these shoes provide traction while enabling the hoof to land flatly on the track surface, whereas toe grabs accentuate stressors on bone and soft tissues, which contributes to injury. Moreover, the only study investigating the association of hindlimb toe grabs with injury revealed that injuries to the suspensory apparatus were more likely to occur to horses shod with hindlimb toe grabs while there is no evidence indicating that toe grabs protect horses or riders. However, given the concerns expressed, the Committee recommended to HISA that the horseshoe rule shall not be enforced for horses racing on dirt surfaces that are shod on the hindlimbs with traction devices in the form of either a full outer rim shoe (up to 4 mm in height) or a toe grab (up to 4 mm in height).

The Committee will continue to evaluate all available research and evidence on an ongoing basis to ensure that its rules have their intended consequence of improving horse and jockey welfare. We welcome any stakeholder to share any data or research findings that are contrary.

Claiming Rules

1. How is the Responsible Person changed in the Authority’s database after a claim has taken effect? How quickly will this be “posted” as changed?

The Claims Clerk is responsible for changing the Responsible Person designation in the HISA system. The system is updated within minutes of the posting. After this happens, the Current Responsible Person will:

  • Receive a HISA notification on the portal as well as an email notifying them of the change in designation and prompting them to provide treatment records to the new owner;
  • Click on the hyperlink to the sample template of the claim form as directed in the email to download the form; and
  • Fill out the form or compile a similar document and email it to the new Responsible Person and/or Owner.

A step-by-step document explaining the process can be downloaded from the Resources page on the HISA website at

2. Who is responsible for a claimed horse (including financial/emergency care) if the claim is voided after the race due to a positive post-race sample?

The original owner is responsible for all costs if the claim is voided.

3. How will the Attending Vet’s 60-day medical records for a claimed horse be transferred to the new trainer, as required by Rule 2261?

The veterinary treatment records submitted to HISA by the Attending Veterinarian are associated with the horse data record, and as such, they travel with the horse. As soon as the Designated Owner and/or Responsible Person are changed in the portal, the new Designated Owner and Responsible Person have access to the treatment records of the claimed horse.

However, trainer treatment records, which are only required to be maintained (and not submitted to HISA unless requested), must be transferred manually. The recommended process is for the previous trainer to give the records to the Regulatory Veterinarian, who will then give the records to the new trainer.

Medications, Treatments and Vaccinations

1. Does all pre-race Lasix administration for races that currently permit Lasix require approval by the Regulatory Vet?

Yes, the Regulatory Vet must be made aware of and approve the administration of Lasix.

2. Do shockwave machines need to be registered with HISA?

No, shockwave machines must be registered with the state racing commission.

3. Are horses that have been treated with shockwave therapy required to work under Regulatory Veterinarian observation to come off the Veterinarians’ List?

No. At the end of the 30 days, horses that were treated with shockwave therapy automatically come off of the Veterinarians’ List.

Veterinarians' List and Scratches

1. Do Regulatory Vets have to notify the stewards if they determine a horse should be scratched?

The Regulatory Veterinarian has the sole authority to scratch a horse. However, Regulatory Veterinarians will notify the stewards of the scratch. The stewards cannot reverse the decision of the Regulatory Veterinarian to scratch a horse.

2. What will constitute ‘in writing’ to inform a trainer that their horse is on the Vets' List? Text? Email? Paper form?

Being on the Veterinarians’ List will be recorded on the horse record in the HISA portal. The Responsible Person (typically the trainer) for the horse will receive a message through the HISA messaging system that the horse has been placed on the Veterinarians’ List.

3. May horses be released prior to the expiration of the 7-day stand down after a sick scratch?

Horses may not be released prior to the expiration of the 7-day stand down time after a scratch due to illness.

4. Are horses placed on the Vets' list for unsoundness required to have a blood test to be removed from the Vets' List?

No, horses placed on the Vets' List for unsoundness are not required to have a blood test in addition to other requirements to be removed from the Vets' List.

Regulatory Veterinarians do have the discretion to order diagnostics at any time for any horse, and may therefore require blood work when assessing a horse for unsoundness during a workout for removal from the Vets' List.

5. Can horses with 2 listings in 365 days work under Regulatory Veterinarian observation to come off the Vets' List before the expiration of the 365 period (the “off-date”)?

Horses can work to get off the Vets' List before the off-date, but cannot race until after the off-date.

Recording-Keeping and Recording

1. Are trainers and/or Responsible Persons required to submit horse treatment records?

Trainers and Responsible Persons are not required to submit horse treatment records to HISA, but they must maintain treatment and medication records and make them available if requested by HISA, stewards or Regulatory Veterinarians. HISA has developed templates that trainers may use to document their horses’ treatment and medications if they do not have a program in place.

For horses returning to the racetrack from a layup of 60 or more days, trainers must obtain records for the last 30 days of:

a) Treatment and rehabilitation procedures; and

b) Daily exercise activities that occurred during the layup.

HISA has developed templates that trainers may provide to layup/rehabilitation facility personnel to record required information.

Requiring this information will assist HISA in analyzing the factors associated with the high rate of catastrophic injuries that occur in horses soon after return from layup. For this purpose, the information will be treated anonymously (the identities of the trainer, horse, and layup/rehabilitation facility will not be disclosed).

2. If veterinary procedures are performed at an equine hospital and not in the presence of the Responsible Person, typically the trainer, how will the procedural data be submitted to the Authority?

The trainer is responsible for obtaining the medical records from the equine hospital or for ensuring that the Attending Veterinarian obtains the records and uploads those records to the HISA database.

3. Do trainers’ records have to be submitted to the Authority each day as do veterinary records? Where will the trainers’ records be housed and who has access to the records? How will the information in the records be used, and who will use it?

Trainers and Responsible Persons are not required to submit information to HISA, though they must maintain certain records and make them available if requested by HISA. HISA has developed templates that trainers may use to document their horse’s treatment records if they do not have a program in place.

Veterinary records will be maintained by HISA on its database and available to regulatory veterinarians for use in connection with pre-race inspections and other diagnostic and safety-related purposes. Access to the information in the HISA database will be limited to HISA officials for research purposes.

4. How will Attending Veterinarian examination notes and records be provided to the Regulatory Veterinarian/HISA prior to workouts or entries?

The preferred and most efficient method for Attending Veterinarians to submit examination findings to HISA is through the HISA portal or through one of HISA’s software integration options, but the information may be submitted by another method.

5. Will equine injuries and fatalities be reported by HISA? What will the racetracks’ Postmortem Reviews entail aside from the mandatory necropsy, and will the results of the review be reported?

Equine catastrophic injuries will be entered in the Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database (EID) as has been done in previous years.

In addition to the necropsy, racetracks’ Safety and Welfare Committees will conduct interviews with the deceased horse’s connections, including but not limited to the Responsible Person (typically the trainer), jockey or exercise rider, groom(s) and others participating in the care of the horse. The racetrack’s Safety and Welfare Committee may develop its own interview process, but HISA has provided guidelines/templates for interviews, documentation, and the recommended Postmortem Review process that racetracks can use or modify.

National Standards and Protocols

Racetracks may generate their own emergency drills to match racetrack-specific circumstances. HISA may develop sample drills for racetracks to use or modify.

HISA has a template of hazardous weather protocols that Racetracks can use and/or modify to match the Racetracks’ specific environmental circumstances and considerations.

3. Will there be a standard infectious disease management protocol for all racetracks, or will the racetracks develop their own protocols?

Racetracks are welcome to develop their own protocols that align with racetrack specific considerations. HISA will provide biosecurity guidelines and templates online that racetracks can use or modify.

4. What are the necropsy standards?

HISA has a document outlining necropsy guidelines that the racetracks (and diagnostic laboratories) can use and/or modify for their own circumstances. This can be found on the Resources page.

Registration and HISA Platform

1. What if the HISA system does not recognize my name?

The HISA system checks the RCI and Equibase databases. The HISA system may not recognize a person's name if:

  • A person races horses under a stable name or an LLC
  • The state in which the person is licensed does not use RCI's system
  • Information stored in one of the databases doesn't match the information entered when registering

When the system doesn't find a match, it will display the message “you might be new to racing.” If you select “yes,” the system will allow you to continue with the registration process.

2. Are breeders required to register with HISA?

Breeders are only required to register if they are required to be licensed by their state racing commission. Licensure by a state racing commission is the threshold requirement for registration with HISA for all persons. If a breeder is not required to be licensed by their state racing commission, there is no requirement to register with HISA.

3. How is an LLC, partnership or corporation registered? Is there a separate registration process for a stable name?

LLCs, corporations, or partnerships cannot register with HISA. One member of the LLC, partnership or corporation must register and become the “Designated Owner.” The Designated Owner will be able to share information about the horse with other registered Owners of the horse.

Stable names cannot register with HISA. The owner’s name must be identified as the Designated Owner for a horse. If there is more than one owner of a horse, the Designated Owner can share a horse’s information with the other owners once they are registered with HISA.

4. Does HISA regulate horses in other countries?

HISA does not regulate horses outside of the United States, and owners, trainers and horses outside of the U.S. do not have to register with HISA. However, if a horse that resides outside of the U.S. races at a Covered Racetrack in the U.S., the horse must be registered. The horse’s owners, trainers and jockeys are also required to register.

5. How is Coggins information input into the HISA system?

The person who registers the horse can enter the Coggins information, the Responsible Person can update the Coggins information after registration, and the Racing Office can enter the information into its system, which will update the HISA system.

6. How are multiple owners handled in the registration process? Are syndicates and clubs required to register all of their members? Are Owners who are not required to be licensed under state requirements also not required to register with HISA? How is the Responsible Person designated in a syndicate or club ownership group?

If all owners are required to be licensed by a state racing commission, all must register with HISA, and one of the owners must register as the horse’s Designated Owner. The Designated Owner will have the ability to share access to the horse’s information with the other owners. Owners who are not required to be licensed by a state racing commission are not required to register with HISA. If a horse is in training, the Responsible Person is typically the trainer.

7. Are association members who do not provide care to Covered Horses but are licensed and have access to racetrack backsides and other restricted areas considered to be Covered Persons? As examples, is a Racetrack Chaplain or Jockey’s Agent required to be registered? Is a horse racing industry association employee required to be registered?

Yes, Racetrack Chaplains and Jockey’s Agents are required to register with HISA. Depending on the circumstances, horse racing industry association employees will probably not be required to register with HISA. Racetrack employees are required to register with HISA if they have a state racing commission license and are directly involved in horse racing.

However, racetrack employees or contractors who do not have access to restricted areas of a racetrack (the stable area or paddock, for example) in the ordinary course of carrying out their duties are exempted from registering. This means that if a racetrack employee’s job does not regularly require the employee to access the stable area in the normal course of work, the employee is not required to register. A few examples may help illustrate the registration exemption rule. 

  • Racetrack superintendents are required to register because their ordinary job duties are carried out in the restricted areas of a racetrack.
  • A racetrack public relations employee who occasionally spends time in the stable area is not required to register, because access to the restricted areas of the racetrack is not a part of the ordinary course of that employee’s job duties.

It is important to note that HISA registration does not affect barn and track access. State and racetrack rules continue to control access.

8. How is the identity of the Responsible Person changed in the Authority’s database after a private purchase?

Once the legal ownership of the horse is settled, the current Designated Owner will select the function to change the owner designation. This will send a message to the new Designated Owner, who must accept the role in order for the transfer of the Designated Owner status to occur.

After the death of a Covered Horse?  

When the current Designated Owner of a horse marks the horse as deceased, the Responsible Person and Designated Owner of the horse are set to blank.

After leaving a trainer’s facility and care for another trainer’s facility and care? 

The Designated Owner must change the name of the trainer (Responsible Person) in the HISA system.

If a Covered Horse is sent to an equine hospital for elective or emergency care?

The trainer remains the Responsible Person for the horse, and is required to obtain the medical records or ensure the Attending Veterinarian obtains the medical records related to the elective or emergency care.

9. What happens if a former trainer refuses to transfer “Responsible Person” status to the new trainer?

The Designated Owner can go into his or her account and “take back” the horse by becoming the trainer. The former trainer will not be able to prevent the owner from designating himself or herself as the trainer.

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