Riders have 2 minutes in each ride to show the ability of the horse to control a cow once the cow is cut. At least two cows must be cut at different times during the ride. Some riders cut three.
Five judges rank a ride on a scale between 60 and 80 points, with half-points being allowed. The final score is reached by dropping the high and low scores and taking the total of the remaining three scores. The highest possible score is 240.
The rider guides the horse to prevent the cow from returning to the herd. Cows that return to the herd bring the highest penalty from the judges (five-point deduction from each judge). It is said a horse "lost a cow" when it fails to hold it.
The highest score in the 27-year history of the Augusta Futurity is 230.5, set by Chiquita Pistol and Tag Rice in the 2003 Futurity Open finals. Any score above 220 is considered exceptional.
Last year, Matt Gaines and One Time Pepto posted the show's best score at 229 to win the Classic Open finals. Three years ago, Rice and Chiquita Pistol marked the show's second-best score in its history, 230, in the Western Horseman Cup open finals, an unofficial event.
Click here to view an animated demonstration of the rules and procedures of cutting horse competition.