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HQ 965972

January 17, 2003

CLA-2 RR:CR:GC 965972 HEF


TARIFF NO.: 4201.00.60

Mr. Zongyi Zhang
Applied Concepts, Inc.
700 Second Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

RE: Revocation of HQ 085282; horse boots

Dear Mr. Zhang:

This is in reference to Headquarters Ruling Letter (HQ) 085282 issued to you on October 18, 1989, by the Director, Commercial Rulings Division, concerning the classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States, (HTSUS), of rubber horseshoes. We have had an opportunity to review this ruling and believe it is incorrect.

Pursuant to section 625(c)(1) Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1625(c)(1)) as amended by section 623 of Title VI (Customs Modernization) of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, (Pub. L. 103-82, 107 Stat. 2057, 2186), notice of the proposed revocation of New York Ruling Letter (NY) H87074 and HQ 085282, was published on November 27, 2002, in the Customs Bulletin, Volume 36, Number 48. No comments were received in response to this notice.


HQ 085282 states that the merchandise known as the “Soft Shoe” is made of rubber and is different from the traditional steel horseshoe in that it extends onto the hoof of the horse and fastens around the back of the hoof. The shoe is used for transporting, riding, work, breeding, and endurance.


Whether the subject merchandise is classifiable within subheading 4016.99.60, HTSUS, which provides for “[o]ther articles of vulcanized rubber other than hard rubber: other: other” or as saddlery and harness for any animal under subheading 4201.00.60, HTSUS.


Classification under the HTSUS is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (GRIs). GRI 1 provides that articles are to be classified by the terms of the headings and relative Section and Chapter Notes. For an article to be classified in a particular heading, the heading must describe the article, and not be excluded therefrom by any legal note. In the event that goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRIs may then be applied.

In understanding the language of the HTSUS, the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System Explanatory Notes (ENs) may be utilized. ENs, though not dispositive or legally binding, provide commentary on the scope of each heading of the HTSUS, and are the official interpretation of the Harmonized System at the international level. Customs believes the ENs should always be consulted. See T.D. 89-80, 54 Fed. Reg. 35127, 35128 (August 23, 1989).

The HTSUS provisions under consideration are as follows:

Other articles of vulcanized rubber other than hard rubber:



Saddlery and harness for any animal (including traces, leads, knee pads, muzzles, saddle cloths, saddle bags, dog coats and the like), of any material:

4201.00.60 Other.

EN 42.01, in pertinent part, states: “This heading covers equipment for all kinds of animals, of leather, composition leather, furskin, textiles or other materials. These goods include, inter alia, boots for horses.”

Horse boots are not defined in the HTSUS or the ENs. A tariff term that is not defined in the HTSUS or ENs is construed in accordance with its common or commercial meaning. Nippon Kogaku (USA) Inc. v. United States, 69 CCPA 89, 673 F.2d 380 (1982). Common and commercial meaning may be determined by consulting dictionaries, lexicons, scientific authorities and other reliable sources.

The definition of horse boots which Customs relied upon in HQ 085282, dated October 18, 1989, defined boot as “a protective sheath for a horse’s leg.” Webster’s II New Riverside University Dictionary (1984) at p. 190. Thus, in HQ 085282, Customs did not consider the subject merchandise as a horse boot because it was a protective shoe for the horse’s hoof and not the horse’s leg. We now believe this ruling to be incorrect and the definition relied upon to be too narrow for purposes of correctly construing the legislative intent of Congress in adopting heading 4201.

In another dictionary, “Boot” is defined as “a protective covering for the foot and part of the leg of a horse.” The Oxford English Dictionary (1989) at p. 404. Since this definition conflicts to some extent with the one previously relied upon by Customs, it is our opinion that the meaning of the term is imprecise such that a clear definition of that term cannot be determined. However, whenever the common meaning is somewhat indefinite, "it is proper to consider the interpretation commonly placed upon it in the particular industry involved." United States V. Colonial Commerce Co., Ltd., et al., 44 CCPA 18, C.A.D. 629 (1956).

Hence, we look to the tack industry with respect to the marketing of these goods. Protective horse boots are designed to protect different parts of the horse’s leg and hoof. The area that a horse’s boot may protect extends from the oblique extensor of the knee and the superficial flexor tendon to the coronet band and hoof. Thus, the term horse boots seems to include not only articles forming a protective sheath for the horse’s leg, but also articles which cover solely the hoof. See About the Horse, at http://www.horseboots/athrs.html (Oct. 11, 2002). Examples of these articles include but are not limited to quarter boots, bell boots, and coronet boots.

Current industry standards include horse boots which form a protective sheath for the horses leg as well as boots which cover only the hoof, and boots covering both the leg and hoof. It is Custom’s opinion that HQ 085282 construed the definition of “boots for horses” too narrowly. Sources dating back to the 1940s have deemed horse boots as articles protecting either the horse’s leg or solely the horse’s hoof. See Margaret Cabell Self, Riding Simplified 7 (A.S. Barnes & Company, Inc. 1948) (Diagram featuring coronet boots, rubber boots, and boots (buckled on)). This evidence combined with the common and commercial meaning in the tack industry lead to the conclusion that horse boots include not only boots covering the horse’s leg but also boots which protect and cover the hoof only. It is important to note that bandages or wraps used for medical purposes such as the treatment of wounds are not classified as saddlery. Such items are more specifically provided for in heading 3005.

Thus, the subject merchandise’s proper classification is under subheading 4201.00.60, HTSUS, which provides for “Saddlery and harness for any animal (including traces, leads, knee pads, muzzles, saddle cloths, saddle bags, dog coats and the like), of any material: other.”


The subject merchandise is classifiable in subheading 4201.00.60 HTSUS, as “Saddlery and harness for any animal (including traces, leads, knee pads, muzzles, saddle cloths, saddle bags, dog coats and the like), of any material: other.”

Effect on Other Rulings:

HQ 085282 is revoked.


Myles B. Harmon, Acting Director
Commercial Rulings Division

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