Originally created 01/25/02

National Cutting Horse Association rules



Here is a list of the National Cutting Horse Association rules to be used in the 23rd annual Augusta Futurity:

1. Each horse is required to enter the herd deep enough to show its ability to make a cut. One such deep cut will satisfy this rule. Failure to satisfy this requirement will result in a three-point penalty.

a. A horse will be given credit for its ability to enter the herd with very little disturbance to the herd or to the cow being brought out to cut.

2. When an animal is cut from the herd, it is desirable that it be taken toward the center of the arena, and credit should be given for doing so. Additional credit will be given to the horse that drives the stock a sufficient distance from the herd to ensure the herd will not be disturbed by its work, thereby showing its ability to drive a cow.

3. Credit will be given to the rider with a loose rein throughout a performance.

4. Credit should be given for setting up a cow and holding it in a working position as near the center of the arena as possible.

5. Any cutting horse or rider that creates a disturbance at any time throughout the working period will be penalized:

a. Any noise directed by the contestants toward the cattle will be penalized one point.

b. Each time a horse runs into the herd, scatters the herd while working or picks up cattle through the fault of the horse, the horse will be penalized three points.

c. The judge shall stop any work because of training abuse of the horse by the contestant, or disturbance of the cattle. Any contestant failing to stop immediately will be fined $500, payable to the National Cutting Horse Association, prior to entry in any other NCHA-approved event.

6. A horse will be penalized three points each time the back fence actually stops or turns the animal being worked within one step (three feet) of the fence; the back fence to be agreed on and designated by the judge or judges before the contest starts; meaning the actual fence only, no imaginary line from point to point to be considered. If any of the contestants voice objection before the contestant starts, the judge or judges shall take a vote of the contestants and a back fence acceptable to the majority shall be designated and used.

7. If a horse turns the wrong way with tail toward animal being worked, an automatic score of 60 points will be given.

8. While working, a horse will be penalized one point each time the reins are used to control or direct the horse, regardless of whether the reins are held high or low. A one-point penalty also shall be charged whenever a horse is visibly cued (when a rider guides the horse by visible means) in any manner. If the reins are tight enough that the bits are bumped at any time, he shall be penalized one point each time, even though the hand of the rider does not move.

a. A horse must be released as soon as the desired animal is clear of the other cattle. Additional reining, cueing or position will result in a one-point penalty for each occurrence.

b. A rider shall hold the bridle reins in one hand. A three-point penalty shall be charged if the second hand touches the reins for any purpose except to straighten them.

c. Spurring behind the shoulder shall not be considered a visible cue. A three-point penalty shall be assessed each time a horse is spurred in the shoulder.

d. A toe, foot or stirrup on the horse's shoulder is considered a visible cue. A one-point penalty shall be charged for each occurrence.

9. If the horse lets an animal that it is working return to the herd, the horse will be penalized five points.

10. If the rider changes cattle after visibly committing to a specific cow, a five-point penalty will be assessed.

11. When a horse goes past an animal to the degree the horse loses the working advantage, the horse will be penalized one point.

12. Unnecessary roughness, such as a horse actually pawing, biting or kicking cattle, will result in a three-point penalty.

13. A contestant may quit an animal when it is obviously stopped, obviously turned away or is behind the turnback horses and the turnback horses are behind the time line. A penalty of three points must be charged if the animal is quit under any other circumstances.

14. If a horse quits a cow, a penalty of five points will be assessed.

15. If a horse clears the herd with two or more cattle and fails to separate a single animal before quitting, a five-point penalty will be charged. There is no penalty if time expires.

16. Horses must be ridden with a bridle having a bit in the mouth or with a hackamore. A bridle shall have no nose band or basal and hackamores shall be of rope or braided rawhide with no metal parts. A judge must be able to freely pass two fingers between the hackamore and muzzle completely around the horse's nose. Choke ropes, tie downs, wire around the horse's neck, nose and brow band, tight nose band, quirt, bat or mechanical devices giving the rider undue control over a horse will not be permitted in the arena where an NCHA-approved or sponsored event is being held. A breast collar may be used, no portion of which may pass over the horse's neck. Chaps and spurs may be worn. Any time a contestant is guilty of an infraction of this rule or any part therein, he shall be disqualified. A judge has the right to have a contestant report to him if he is suspicious of any infraction of this rule.

17. When a contestant is thrown from a horse, or the horse falls to the ground, an automatic score of 60 points will be given.

18. Any rider who allows the horse to quit working or leave the working area before the allotted time is up will be disqualified for the go-round with no score.

19. A contestant will be awarded a complete re-work if, in the judge or judges' opinion, 2 1/2 minutes were not allotted for the work, or if excessive disturbances had been created by factors other than those caused by the contestants or their help, and the judge or judges have stopped the time.

Such factors would include gates coming open, fences falling down and objects entering or falling in the working portion of the arena.

Any re-work must take place within the group of cattle drawn by the contestant, and must occur before change of cattle is executed. At the contestant's option, the re-work may occur immediately or as the last work in that set of cattle. No re-work shall be granted if the contestant involved has incurred a three- or five-point penalty prior to a disturbance.

After the cutter has completed his 2 1/2 minutes work, if, in his/her opinion, a situation has occurred of sufficient seriousness as to warrant a rerun, he/she may immediately make a request for the same to the contestant's representative or to the designated equipment judge, who shall report this fact to show management before the next horse is called to work. Show management shall make such facts as are available known to the judge(s) and if they are unanimous in agreement that due cause did exist, a re-run may be granted, provided the original work was free of a three- or five-point infraction.

20. A judge marks from 60 to 80 points. Half-points are permissible.

21. When the judge is in doubt about a penalty, the benefit always goes to the contestant.