National Ranch Cutting Horse Association
Section I – General
Rule 1: The National Ranch cutting Horse Association (NRCHA) has as its
basic purpose the public exhibition; breeding of, and constant
promotion of the ranch cutting horse.
1A: NRCHA approved contest are restricted to NRCHA members only.
The only exception will be NRCHA approved shows held jointly
with other organizations or associations (as provided for in Rule
1C) whose members may not be members of the NRCHA.
1B: All owners and riders must be members in good standing with the
NRCHA to compete in an approved show. In the event that a
person competes in an NRCHA approved contest and is not a
current NRCHA member, said person may be fined in the amount
of $100.00. Failure to pay the assessed fine will be cause for
denial of membership. In addition, a $100.00 fine (per occurrence)
will be assessed any show management that allows an entry to
show without the current required membership. The foregoing to
be interpreted and enforced in conjunction with Rule 8A.
1C: The NRCHA may, within its discretion, approve shows sponsored
or conducted by a non-affiliate or conducted jointly by the
NRCHA with other organizations or associations.
Rule 2: Any individual or affiliate conducting a cutting horse contest
sanctioned by the NRCHA must follow the Standing Rules of the
NRCHA, unless modified in conjunction with contests held jointly
with other organizations or associations.
2A: All references hereinafter contained providing for compliance with
the standing rules of the NRCHA shall be enforced with the
understanding that exceptions or modifications may be approved
by the Board of Directors in connection with contests held in
conjunction with other organizations or associations.
Rule 3: A horse does not have to be registered in a breed registry to show
in a NRCHA approved contest. But if a horse is not registered a
veterinarian statement on the age of the horse and a notarized
statement from the owner stating that the horse has never been
registered or shown must be provided to the NRCHA. If a horse is
registered it must be shown under the name assigned to the
respective horse by their breed association.
Rule 4: The term “Show Management” as used herein is the organization
or individual acting as sponsor of a cutting horse contest for which
said organization or individual sought and received the approval of
the NRCHA to conduct the same.
Rule 5: Show Management may take any actions necessary which it feels
are in the best interest of the show, in compliance with NRCHA
Standing Rules. In the event that a member feels that Show
Management has not acted in the best interest of the show or has
violated NRCHA Standing Rules the member may file a protest
with the NRCHA Board of Directors.
Section II – Membership
Rule 6: Membership in the NRCHA is a privilege, not a right, application
for which shall be made on forms and by fees and procedures
prescribed from time to time by the NRCHA. Membership, or
application thereof, may be cancelled or denied by the Executive
Board or Board of Directors for any cause detrimental to the
interest of the NRCHA, its programs and policies, or harmonious
relationship of its members as determined by the Executive Board
or Board of Directors. Membership cancellation or application
denial proceedings under this rule shall provide for prior notice and
hearing. Any person whose membership is cancelled or denied
may request a hearing before the Board of Directors within ten
(10) days of receiving notice that membership in the NRCHA has
been cancelled or denied. Such cancellation or denial becomes
final unless the NRCHA receives such request within the time
period. The effect of membership cancellation or denial may be
denial of privileges, including show privileges, of the NRCHA.
Every member, by joining the NRCHA, or non-member, by
participating in NRCHA approved events, does hereby agree:
6A: If unsuccessful in an attempt to overturn NRCHA decisions,
actions, rules or regulation, to reimburse the NRCHA for
reasonable legal fees, court costs and other expenses in defense of
such suit; and
6B: If legal action is undertaken against the NRCHA, whether in law or
equity, such action must be taken in Federal and State Courts
located in Burnet County, Texas.
Rule 7: Any individual, firm, partnership, corporation, limited liability
company, limited partnership, trust or any other legal entity
organized or approved by the State of Texas, or organization of
good character and reputation (collectively “Entity”) interested in
cutting horses may become a member of the NRCHA by applying
to the NRCHA and paying the required fees. To be eligible for any
NRCHA premium awards or prizes, both owners and riders must
be current NRCHA members in good standing. In the event of
membership application of an Entity, one (1) person shall be
named as its voting member at the time of membership application.
Changes in the name of such voting member shall be submitted in
writing to the Secretary by the Entity.
Rule 8: Membership shall be in three categories: Annual Membership,
Affiliate membership and Life Membership. Membership in the
NRCHA is non-transferable.
8A: Annual Membership: An annual fee of $100 shall be paid for
each annual membership; said fee to become due on January 1 of
each year and to be considered delinquent if not received within
thirty (30) days from date of invoice shown on the membership
records of the NRCHA. The annual membership fee for a minor
child under the age of 18 residing in the same household as a
member in good standing shall be $25.
8B: Affiliate Membership: Organizations consisting of at least ten
(10) members who are also NRCHA members in good standing
and interested in cutting horses may be designated as Affiliates of
the National Ranch Cutting Horse Association upon acceptance of
their application and payment of an annual fee of $100, said fee to
become due on January 1 each year. Affiliate memberships may
be denied or canceled at any time by the Board of Directors.
8C: Life Membership: Any qualified individual, firm or partnership
may become a life member of the NRCHA by payment of a Life
Membership fee of $500. No annual fees are required. Life
Memberships are non-transferable.
Section III – Approved contests
Rule 9: To be NRCHA approved, a signed Show Application form must be
received in the NRCHA office no later than the first (1st) day of the
month preceding the month during which the show is held. All
approved shows must appear on the NRCHA’s website at least
fourteen (14) days prior to a contest. If Show Management
subsequently determines that any change is necessary, Show
Management must request and obtain written approval of the
change from the NRCHA. Any approved change concerning an
approved show, including but not limited to: added money, entry
fees, payout schedule, office charges, dates, location or start time
of a contest, must appear on the NRCHA’s website at least
fourteen (14) days prior to the contest. After the change has been
approved by the NRCHA, if the NRCHA determines that written
notification must be provided to its membership, written
notification of the change must be mailed by the NRCHA
Executive Secretary to the entire NRCHA Membership ten (10)
days prior to the scheduled event. The affiliate must reimburse the
NRCHA within twenty (20) days after the date of billing,
reflecting postage, printing, stationary, or any other related costs.
Rule 10: A show that is approved by the NRCHA must comply with all
NRCHA Standing Rules or as may be modified pursuant to Rule
Rule 11: All judges for an NRCHA approved show must be approved by the
Board of Directors.
Rule 12: When a Show Application is submitted for show approval by a
current NRCHA affiliate, show approval will be considered for
that particular show, provided; (1) The show is directly sponsored
or conducted by the affiliate requesting show approval; (2) The
added money does not exceed $200 in any one class, unless
specifically approved by the Board of Directors or Executive
Board; and (3) There is no other NRCHA approved show within a
one hundred (100) mile radius.
Rule 13: Show Management of all NRCHA approved contests must use
official Judges Cards provided by the NRCHA and shall post same
in a conspicuous space immediately following each class and goround.
Show Management must forward Judges Cards to the
NRCHA along with completed NRCHA Show Results and fees
with ten (10) days of the closing date of the show(s).
13A: In the event NRCHA Show Results are not received in the
NRCHA office within ten (10) days of the closing date of the
show, the NRCHA affiliate which sponsored the show will be
fined a $100 late charge, unless waived by the NRCHA Board of
Directors upon determining just cause for late submittal of show
results. Failure by an affiliate to pay the assessed fine will be
cause for cancellation of future NRCHA approved shows.
Rule 14: The NRCHA reserves the right to deny approval or cancel the
approval of a show which it deems not to be in the best interest of
Rule 15: All NRCHA approved contest may be video taped. The video cost
may be passed on to the contestants. Video tapes must be retained
by the Show Management or video service provider for not less
than thirty (30) days after the closing date of the contest and shall
be available to the NRCHA upon request at no cost to the
Rule 16: All members of the NRCHA are responsible for determining class
eligibility for themselves and all horses they own or exhibit as
determined by the combined records of all cutting and cowhorse
associations of the first day of the current NRCHA point year
16A: Upon determining that a horse or rider has won money in a class
for which the horse or rider is ineligible, the NRCHA records will
be adjusted to remove the ineligible horse or rider, with the
ineligible earnings to be reallocated among the remaining class
participants to establish the correct class standings. Any member
in violation of this rule shall be subject to the disciplinary
procedure of Rule 40.
16B: To be eligible for any NRCHA earnings or awards, both owners
and riders must be current NRCHA members in good standing.
16C: There are six (6) classifications of NRCHA approved contests:
1. NRCHA Junior Cutting Horse Class:
Open to any horse, regardless of breed, sex, color,
conformation, or appearance that is six (6) years of age or
less. Any horse competing in this class must have lifetime
earnings of $500 or less as determined by the combined
records off all cutting and cowhorse associations on the
first day of the current NRCHA point year, NRCHA
earnings do not count toward a horse’s eligibility. Riders
may elect to ride two (2) eligible horses in this Class.
a. Participants in this class must comply with the NRCHA
eligibility rules. (See Section IX.)
b. Any horse exhibited in this class must be owned by the
contestant showing the horse, by the contestant’s
spouse, by the contestant’s minor child, or by the ranch
that the contestant is employed by.
2. NRCHA Senior Cutting Horse Class:
Open to any horse, regardless of breed, sex, color,
conformation, or appearance that is seven (7) years of age
or more. Any horse competing in this class must have
lifetime earnings of $1,000 or less as determined by the
combined records off all cutting and cowhorse associations
on the first day of the current NRCHA point year, NRCHA
earnings do not count toward a horse’s eligibility. Riders
may elect to ride two (2) eligible horses in this Class.
a. Participants in this class must comply with the NRCHA
eligibility rules. (See Section IX.)
b. Any horse exhibited in this class must be owned by the
contestant showing the horse, by the contestant’s
spouse, by the contestant’s minor child, or by the ranch
that the contestant is employed by.
3. NRCHA Youth Cutting Horse Class:
Open to all members of the NRCHA who are eighteen (18)
years of age or younger on the first day of the current
NRCHA point year.
a. A contestant in the NRCHA Youth Cutting Horse Class
may ride any NRCHA eligible horse, regardless of a
horse’s sex, breed, or ownership; unless stallions are
prohibited from the contest at the time show approval is
b. No points shall be awarded in a Youth Class having less
than two (2) entries.
c. If the class has eight (8) or more then the class shall be
divided into a Junior and Senior Youth Cutting Class
with the Junior Class being thirteen (13) years and
under and the Senior Class fourteen (14) thru eighteen
(18) years of age. If by doing this it causes one class to
have less than two (2) entries, then the class shall not be
4. NRCHA Novice Cutting Horse Class:
Open to all riders and horses having lifetime earnings of
$1,000 or less as determined by the combined records of all
cutting and cowhorse associations on the first day of the
current NRCHA point year. Any horse exhibited in this
class must be owned by the contestant showing the horse,
by the contestant’s spouse, or by the contestant’s minor
child. NRCHA earnings do not count toward a horse’s
eligibility. Riders may elect to ride two (2) eligible horses
in this Class.
a. NRCHA eligible contestants are not eligible to
show in this class.
b. Participants in this class are not eligible to compete
in the NRCHA eligible classes.
5. NRCHA Open Cutting Horse Class:
Open to any horse, regardless of breed, age, sex, color,
conformation, appearance, or previous record. Horses are
to be judged on performance only. Open riders in this class
are not restricted to earnings or eligibility. A NRCHA
eligible contestant may exhibit a horse in this class
provided the horse is owned by the contestant, the
contestant’s spouse, or the contestant’s minor child, or by
the ranch that the contestant is employed by. An NRCHA
eligible contestant must pay all entry fees and charges in
relation to the entry. Riders may elect to ride two (2)
eligible horses in this class.
6. NRCHA Halter Class:
Open to any stallion, mare, or gelding that is competing in
an NRCHA Approved Cutting Horse Contest. This class
will be conducted following the Junior, Senior and Youth
Cutting Horse Classes and prior to the Open and Novice
Cutting Horse Classes. Stallions will compete against
stallions, mares against mares and geldings against geldings
in all NRCHA halter Classes. All horses entered in the
classes will be placed. A Grand and Reserve Champion
Halter Horse will be chosen from the first and second place
horse in each class. The Grand Champion shall receive
five (5) more points than the highest point earning entry
from any class and the Reserve Champion shall receive
three (3) more points than the highest point earning entry
from any class. A contestant at an NRCHA Cutting
Horse Contestants must show at halter for their cutting
points and/or earnings to count for NRCHA year end or
16D: No horse may be shown twice in the same class on any single day.
(See Rule 23.)
16E: Unless a class has two (2) or more horses entered, earnings or
points will not be considered for year end NRCHA awards.
Rule 17: Any owner who shall permit his horse to be entered or exhibited by
an ineligible rider in NRCHA classes shall be subject to
disciplinary action by the Board of Directors.
Rule 18: The designated contestant representative has the option of either
making a decision on or conducting a contestant vote on the
number of cattle bunches for the class. Show Management shall
then determine how many horses will be worked in each cattle
bunch. The decision on the number of cattle bunches and the
number of horses per bunch must be made before the draw for
working order of horses.
Rule 19: Judges must draw for working order of horses in all classes that
have any added money. Show Management may elect to designate
a contestant not entered in the class involved to draw the working
order of horses in those classes with no added money. Any draw
must be witnessed by the designated contestant representative for
the class involved. All draws must be made before each class or
go-round. The draw will be conducted by using numbered tokens
or balls. A numbered token for each entry shall be placed in a
container, and a blind draw shall be conducted by the judge or the
19A: In the event that a horse which was properly entered is left out of
the draw, a complete redraw of the class will not be held. In order
to establish a working order for the additional entry, the judge will
draw one numbered token from the tokens originally drawn. The
additional entry shall work after the entry originally drawn in that
position. For example, if the number six (6) is drawn for the
additional entry, that additional entry will work as entry six (6) A.
19B: If a horse is drawn twice, the judge shall draw to determine which
draw position is to be used. The original cattle changes are not
19C: If a horse is drawn which is not in that class, the entry shall be
scratched. The original cattle changes are not affected.
19D: Each affiliate will be required to conduct a mandatory bit check of
at least two (2) horses per show day. The manner of selecting the
horses can be determined by the judge or the show secretary. The
judge will inspect the bridle at the end of the run in the show arena.
The affiliate will be fined $100 per day for violation of this rule
Rule 20: NRCHA Fee and Payout Schedule:
20A: In all cutting horse contestants approved by the NRCHA, six
percent (6%) of the total entry fees paid in a class shall be
deducted by Show Management and forwarded to the NRCHA
office. This deduction shall be sent along with all completed
NRCHA Show Results and signed Judges Cards to the NRCHA
office, so as to be received within ten (10) days of the closing date
of the show. (Note: This deduction shall be made from entry fees
only and shall not include any portion of added money or other
charges or fees.) Affiliates will also remit to the NRCHA office a
$2.00 per horse fee based on the number of horses entered at their
show. If NRCHA fees, Show Results and Judges Cards are not
received within ten (10) days, Show Management and/or the
affiliate which sponsored the contest will be fined a $100.00 late
charge, unless waived by the NRCHA Board of Directors upon
determining just cause for late submittal of show results.
20B: Entry fees and added money will be determined by Show
Management. If any charge is to be made other than an entry fee,
such as a cattle charge, office charge, handling or stall fee, video or
grounds fee, it must be stated and separated from the entry fee.
20C: No deduction, other than as specified above, shall be made by
Show Management, an affiliate or sponsor. Failure to comply with
this rule will result in show approval being withdrawn.
20D: The number of horses in a class determines the number of monies
to be paid. This number is based on the original draw, excluding
late entries. Late entries do not affect the number of monies to be
paid. If a payout other than the NRCHA recommended payout is
used by an affiliate, the payout schedule must be listed on the show
application and published in the official NRCHA publication the
NRCHA recommended payout schedule for all classes is as
No. of Entries: Monies to be Paid: Percentage Distribution:
1 – 4 1 100
5 – 8 2 60, 40
9 – 12 3 50, 30, 20
13 – 16 4 40, 30, 20, 10
17 – 20 5 30, 25, 20, 15, 10
21 – 24 6 30, 24, 18, 12, 9, 7
25 – 28 7 26, 21, 17, 13, 10, 8, 5
29 – 32 8 25, 20, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4
33 – 36 9 24, 18, 47, 41, 9, 8, 7, 6, 4
36 – up 10 22, 16, 13, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4
20E: NRCHA will not recognize any classes with fewer than two (2)
horses in order to be an approved NRCHA class.
Rule 21: Show Management may accept late entries until one-fourth (1/4) of
the horses in the class concerned have worked. Late entries do not
affect the number of monies paid, the added money, or the number
of cattle in a bunch. Any late entries must work last in the first
available bunch of cattle. When two (2) late entries arrive
simultaneously, a draw will be held and said entries inserted I the
next subsequent bunches of cattle with one (1) entry being placed
in number of cattle bunches, additional late entries will be added to
the first available bunch.
Example: 1st group – late entry A
2nd group – late entry B
3rd group – late entry C
A 4th entry would be added to the first available bunch of cattle.
Rule 22: Each horse’s scores from all go-rounds will be added together to
determine which horses advance to the finals.
Rule 23: An exhibitor may enter one (1) or more horses in an NRCHA
approved show; however, a rider may ride only one (1) horse per
class except in a NRCHA Cutting Horse Class in which a rider
may show two (2) eligible horses. Each horse must have the same
rider throughout any contest with more than one (1) go-round or a
finals. Under no circumstances can the same horse be shown by
more than one (1) rider in any one (1) class at an NRCHA
Rule 24: At all NRCHA contests, announcers are required to make known
the name of each horse and the horse’s owner and rider at the time
of their performance. The winners are also to be recognized in a
similar manner after each class.
Ruler 25: The time allotted each horse to work is two and one-half (2 ½)
minutes; the time will start when a contestant crosses a time line
designated by Show Management. If the clock has not been started
or if it malfunctions, the Show Secretary or timer shall notify the
judges(s). the judge(s) has the sole right to terminate a horse’s
25A: A contestant will be awarded a complete rework if in the judge(s)
opinion two and one-half (2 1/2) minutes was not allotted for the
work or if excessive disturbances had been created by factors other
than those created by the Contestant or his/her help and the
judge(s) has stopped the time. These factors would include gates
coming open, fences falling down, and objects entering or falling
in or near the working portion of the arena, but would not apply to
cattle scattering through wildness or normal arena activities. Any
rework must take place within the bunch of cattle drawn by the
contestant and must occur before a change of cattle is executed. At
the contestant’s option, the rework may occur immediately or as
the last work in that bunch of cattle. After a contestant has
completed a two and one-half (2 ½) minute work, if in the
contestant’s opinion, a situation has occurred of sufficient
seriousness to warrant a rerun, the contestant may immediately
make a request for a rerun to the contestant’s Representative 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 the judge(s) agrees that due
cause did exist, a rerun may be granted provided the original work
was free of a three (3) or a five (5) point (major) penalty prior to
the disturbance. Reworks shall not be granted in the event a
contestant’s equipment breaks during a horse’s performance.
Section IV – NRCHA Championships
Rule 26: The NRCHA World Finals Cutting Horse Contest will be held
annually in compliance with NRCHA Rules established by the
Board of Directors. Entry fees, any additional charges, and
schedules for the NRCHA Championships will be established by
the Board of Directors and distributed to NRCHA members.
26A: Qualifications for the NRCHA World Finals Cutting Horse Contest
in all classes are based on the contestant’s participation. For any
exhibitor to qualify for the NRCHA World Finals, he or she must
be an NRCHA member in good standing and be in the Top Twenty
in each class:
1. The Top Twenty in each class will be invited to the World
2. Points earned during the year and points earned at the World
Finals will be added together to determine the official NRCHA
Top Ten Year End Standings.
26B: No entry fees will be refunded after the draw.
26C: Should a contestant be unable to compete at the World Finals
Contest, the number twenty-one (#21) horse in the standing of that
class would be invited to compete. A qualifying contestant must
notify the NRCHA office as soon as possible of the fact that they
cannot compete, to give the substitute horse as much notice as
26D: NRCHA World Finals qualifying and points/earnings will begin on
January 1 of each year and will end on November 1 of that same
26E: Earnings won at any NRCHA World Finals Contest will be
counted toward contestants and horses total lifetime earnings.
However, these earnings will not be counted in determining
eligibility for the subsequent point year.
Section V – Judges
Rule 27 Designation as an NRCHA approved judge is a privilege, not a
right, bestowed by the Judge’s Committee, according to procedures
formulated by it, to individuals having shown cutting expertise and
good character. An individual’s conduct as a member, contestant
and/or judge must be exemplary. A judge’s conduct and ability is
subject to the continual review of the Judge’s Committee.
Designation as a judge is revocable by the Judge’s Committee with
or without notice and formal hearing, subject only to the ultimate
review by the Board of Directors.
27A: Any judge that has a valid complaint lodged against him may be
put on probation by the judge’s committee for a period in which
said judge is to complete four consecutive entire shows without
any valid complaints being made, at which time the judge’s
committee shall remove the judge from probation. If said judge
has another valid complaint during the probation period, the
judge’s committee will review and may revoke the judge’s card
immediately. Any complaints filed by any member of the NRCHA
will remain anonymous to the Board of Directors/NRCHA
membership and the judge whom is being reviewed. The judge’s
committee shall adopt procedures for the implementation of Rule
27A, such procedures to be approved by the Board of Directors.
Rule 28: Individuals over the age of twenty-one (21) may be designated as
an NRCHA judge upon approval by the Judge’s Committee,
subject only to the ultimate review by the Executive Board or
Board of Directors.
28A: No individual will be approved as a judge who has a record of
suspension, probation or other disciplinary action with the
NRCHA for the two (2) year period immediately preceding the
date a Judge’s Application is received by the NRCHA office.
28B: No person appearing on the published ACHA, NCHA, American
Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), or American Paint Horse
Association (APHA) suspended lists shall be permitted to judge an
NRCHA approved cutting horse contest.
28C: All of the foregoing requirements being in addition to the condition
of Rule 11.
Rule 29: Judges in all NRCHA approved contest must use official NRCHA
Judges Cards and sign each card. The following criteria must be
met in regard to judging at any NRCHA approved contest.
29A: Each judge(s) shall indicate penalties assessed in the spaces
provided on the Judges Cards. Also, it is mandatory for each
judge(s) to fill in “credit” columns on the Judges Cards with the
Average; + Above Average; - Below Average
29B: There must not be any consultation between judges until after
judges Cards are turned in. After the Judges Cards are turned in,
there will be no changes made, OTHER THAN in monitored
events approved by the NRCHA. In such event all changes MUST
be signed by the Judge.
29C: When two (2) or more individuals are judging a cutting horse
contest or go-round and one (1) or more judges cannot complete
judging a contest or go-round, the score or scores of the remaining
judge(s) who complete the contest or go-round will be the sole
basis of computing the contest or go-round results. Each judge
must score each horse individually, and if any one (1) of a judge’s
scores is counted in a contest or go-round, all of that judge’s scores
must be counted except as provided herein.
29D: When two (2) or more individuals are judging a cutting horse
contest of more than one (1) go-round and one (1) or more judges
becomes unable to continue between the go-rounds or before the
finals, the said judge(s) shall be replaced by an alternate judge(s)
designated by Show Management.
29E: Where four (4) or more individuals are judging the cutting horse
contest, the highest and lowest scores for each horse may be
discarded and the accumulated scores of the remaining judges used
to compute the contest or go-round results. This rule shall also
apply to finals.
Rule 30: A judge may not judge his parents, children, spouse, spouse’s
parents, employer, employee or relatives of either the judge or his
spouse. A judge may not judge anyone who lives in the judge’s
household. If in the event at least two (2) judges scores are
dropped from a contestant’s score, Rule 30, 30A, 30B, 30C, and
30D do not apply.
30A: Furthermore, a judge may not judge a horse that he has owned,
exhibited, trained, managed or sold for direct or indirect
remuneration within the sixty (60) day period immediately
preceding the NRCHA approved contest at which said judge is
officiating either in full or in part.
30B: A Judge may not judge any rider, or a horse owned by said rider,
who has had lessons from said judge or given lessons to said judge
within the sixty (60) day period immediately preceding the
NRCHA approved contest at which said judge is officiating either
in full or in part.
30C: A judge may not judge any rider, or horse of any said rider, who
has trained or assisted in training the judge’s horse within sixty
(60) days preceding any NRCHA approved contest at which said
judge is officiating either in full or in part.
30D: If such a horse, owner, or rider as specified in Section V, Rule
30A, 20B, or 30C, is entered in a class, the entry fee shall be
refunded and the entry not shown. A judge may be suspended
from the Approved Judges List for an infraction of this rule.
Rule 31: Show Management shall report to the NRCHA office any judge
who is absent from his duties after accepting an assignment. The
judge shall be removed from the NRCHA Approved Judges List
until the judge submits a written statement to the NRCHA office
explaining his absence and requesting reinstatement to the
NRCHA Approved Judges List. A judge will be reinstated to the
NRCHA Approved Judges List only after the Executive Board or
Board of Directors determines that a judge’s absence was for just
Rule 32: Complaints and/or protests regarding an NRCHA judge may be
made by current NRCHA members only.
Rule 33: Any contestant may protest a judge’s decision regarding a class in
which the contestant participated, if the alleged protest involves a
major penalty of three (3) points or more, or, three (3) or more (1)
point penalties in the same run by submitting to the NRCHA
Judge’s Committee a written statement requesting a review of a
judge’s performance. Said statement must be filed (postmarked,
faxed, or hand delivered) within seven (7) days of the closing date
of the show involved and must be accompanied by a personal
check, money order, or cashier’s check in the amount of onehundred
dollars ($100.00) made payable to the National Ranch
Cutting Horse Association. If after review by the Judge’s
Committee, the protest is found to be valid, the fee will be returned
to the contestant. When protests are not found to valid, the fee will
be retained by the NRCHA.
33A: In the event an NRCHA approved judge’s membership is
suspended by the National Ranch Cutting Horse Association for
any reason, the judge’s approved status shall be cancelled and all
rights and privileges forfeited until otherwise determined by the
NRCHA Board of Directors. (See Rule 28A.)
Rule 34: A judge(s) must present in writing any grievance that he/she may
have against contestants or Show Management to the NRCHA
Board of Directors. A complaint by a judge must be filed
(postmarked, faxed or hand delivered) within seven (7) days of the
Rule 35: Once an NRCHA approved cutting has commenced, Show
Management is not authorized to dismiss a judge for any reason
relating to the actual performance of his judging responsibilities.
Show Management, however, may dismiss a judge for blatant
misconduct while on the show grounds, such as using abusive
language, consuming alcoholic beverages, or illegal drugs
immediately prior to or during a contest, etc. A judge may be
dismissed for any reason by the NRCHA Executive Board or
Board of Directors if, in their opinion, it is in the best interest of
the NRCHA to do so.
Rule 36: A judge shall conduct himself in a manner fitting and proper to one
afforded the honor of officiating at any NRCHA approved contest.
Any misconduct on the part of the judge at any NRCHA contest,
such as consuming alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs
immediately prior to or during a contest, the use of abusive
language, showing obvious favoritism to, or discrimination against
either an individual or a horse performing in a contest, or any
misconduct unbecoming a judge, will make him subject to
disciplinary action following a complete and impartial hearing
before the NRCHA Board of Directors or Executive Board
regarding an alleged rule violation.
36A: A judge should not appear on the show grounds before the stated
time for entries to close except as may be required by Show
Management. Judges shall not visit, beyond the exchange of
normal greetings, with owners, trainers, exhibitors or agents
before the show and shall talk only with representatives of Show
Management, until the entire contest or show is completed.
36B: Under no circumstances will a judge be permitted to enter a contest
for which said judge is officiating.
36C: A judge shall not discuss with any contestant previous scores,
classes, or related happenings during a show or within thirty (30)
days after a contest at which the judge has officiated. A judge
shall not intimidate, or attempt to intimidate, a contestant. The
penalty for violating this rule will be a six (6) months suspension
from the NRCHA.
36D: A judge may review any run prior to the announcement of the
official placing of the class. If there is doubt, the benefit of doubt
goes to the rider.
Section VI - Contestants
Rule 37: There are four (4) classifications of NRCHA Contestants:
37A: Ranch Rider: Any person that meets the NRCHA Eligibility
Requirements as set out in Section IX.
37B: Novice Rider: Any person who has lifetime earning of $1,000.00
or less as determined by the combined records of all cutting horse
37C: Open Rider: This classification is open to any NRCHA member
in good standing.
37D: Youth Rider: Open to any member of the NRCHA who is
eighteen (18) years of age or younger.
Rule 38: Rules governing contestants:
38A: Show Management has the right to disqualify or refuse entry to
any contestant for actions of misconduct, unsportsmanlike conduct,
or harassing the judge(s), Show Management, employees, or other
contestants. If a contestant is disqualified for violating a Standing
Rule of the NRCHA, all entry fees and premiums pertaining to said
contestant shall be forfeited.
38B: A contestant may drop out of any class due to injury to the
contestant or the contestant’s horse, or due to serious injury,
sickness or death in the contestant’s family and receive all monies
won in go-rounds. A contestant shall not at any time withdraw
from any class in which the contestant is participating due to
dissatisfaction or grievance with the judges(s), Show Management,
or other contestants without forfeiting all money won in previous
go-rounds. In no event will entry fees, or any part thereof, be
refunded after a class starts. A class will be considered started
when the draw is completed by Show Management.
38C: All contestants must work at the appointed time so designated by
the Show Management or be disqualified for that class or go-round
with no score. A contestant who fails to work at the appointed
time will receive no score for that class or go-round.
38D: Training activities of any kind while on the show grounds, other
than in designated practice facilities, are prohibited. A contestant
shall not be allowed to abuse or mistreat any horse in any manner
in the show arena or on the show grounds. Show Management or
the judge at an NRCHA approved contest may disqualify a
contestant if that contestant violates this rule and all premiums
pertaining to said contestant shall be forfeited. A contestant shall
not enter the show arena at any time at an NRCHA approved
cutting horse contest with any kind of training device or gimmick
of any nature. However, martingales may be used on helping
horses and breast collars that are attached to the swells of the
saddle are legal.
38E: After the buzzer sounds, the contestant will discontinue working
and ride his/her horse forward past the time line before
dismounting, except to retrieve a lost article. Once the lost article
is retrieved, the rider must remount and continue riding the horse
forward past the time line. Failure to comply with this rule will
result in disqualification from a class or go-round with no score.
38F: A contestant or member shall not talk with the judge(s), beyond
the exchange of normal greetings, before the show or until the
entire contest or show is completed or make any comments within
a judge’s hearing about any performance during the contest or
show. A contestant or member is prohibited from making
comments to a judge(s) regarding the manner in which a class was
judged until at least thirty (30) days after the class involved.
38G: A contestant, or member, shall not engage in any form of
misconduct or harassment toward Show Management, judges or
NRCHA employees at any NRCHA approved show or event.
Infraction of this rule will result in a fine and possible suspension
by the NRCHA Board of Directors or Executive Board.
38H: Unsportsmanlike conduct in the show arena or on the show
grounds is prohibited.
38I: A contestant shall not intimidate, or attempt to intimidate, a
judge(s). The penalty for violating this rule will be a minimum of
sic (6) months suspension from the NRCHA.
38J: No dogs are permitted in the show arena or designated warm up or
practice areas while an NRCHA approved cutting horse contest is
taking place. Dogs anywhere on the grounds must be on a leash at
38K: No alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs may be consumed or
brought into the show arena or designated warm up or practice
areas while an NRCHA approved cutting horse contest is taking
place. Anyone found consuming alcoholic beverages or illegal
drugs in any of the areas defined above shall be asked to leave by
Show management. Members shall be disqualified from the
contest and will be subject to disciplinary procedures by the
Executive Board or Board of Directors for violation of this rule.
38L: Inhumane treatment or abuse of a horse in any manner in the show
arena or on the show grounds is prohibited.
1. If Show Management or a judge at any NRCHA approved
show discovers inhumane treatment or abuse of a horse, they
may immediately bar the responsible party and horse from
further competition in the show. Show Management must
notify the NRCHA Board of Directors of any action taken
regarding enforcement of this rule within seven (7) days of the
closing date of the show involved. After further review, the
NRCHA Executive Board or Board of Directors may impose
additional disciplinary action for violations of this rule.
2. Inhumane treatment includes, but is not limited to, the
exhibition of a crippled or injured horse, or a horse with any
other health abnormality, which could thereby result in the
horse’s undue discomfort or distress. The decision of Show
Management or a judge as to inhumane treatment should be
based upon consultation with a veterinarian. If Show
Management or a judge determines, at the sole discretion of
either, that the welfare of the horse requires immediate action,
and a veterinarian is not available, Show Management or a
judge may implement any action allowed by this rule.
3. Abuse includes, but is not limited to, excessive jerking,
spurring, whipping or any other act which could cause trauma
or injury to a horse. Any act of abuse, or intent to abuse a
horse, in the show arena or on the show grounds which could
also potentially endanger the safety of other persons or animals
will be dealt with in the strongest possible manner as provided
by this Standing Rule.
38M: After the start of any NRCHA approved or sponsored show, any
person in the working area in front of the judge’s stand must wear
western attire, including a western hat. Long sleeved shirts with
collars must be worn. Long sleeves must be worn rolled down.
Shirts must be buttoned or snapped down the front. T-shirts and
slipover knits are not permissible. Show Management may waive
the required western hat rule under extreme weather conditions.
Chaps are optional. Failure to comply with this dress code will
result in disqualification from a class or go-round with no score.
This rule may be set aside by show Management for practice
38N: Any NRCHA member or non-member whose check given in
connection with the exhibition of cutting horses is returned by the
maker’s bank shall result in the contestant being assessed a fee of
$25.00 per occurrence. Full restitution for the face value of the
check plus the $25.00 fee must be received within thirty (30) days
from date of notice. Notification shall be in accordance with
Standing Rule 45.
1. Any check given by the owner, contestant or on contestant’s
behalf in connection with the exhibition of cutting horses that
is returned by the maker’s bank and the payor or contestant
fails to make full restitution within thirty (30) days of date of
notice, or any owner of contestant who fails to pay entry fees
and/or related show expenses, shall forfeit all winnings and
such winnings shall not count for any NRCHA special or year
end awards until full restitution, including all fees, are
2. Failure to make full restitution, including all fees, within thirty
(30) days of date of notice will result in an automatic
suspension with no disciplinary hearing necessary. Suspension
will be sustained until full restitution, including all fees, are
received. Suspension will be in accordance with Standing Rule
3. In the event, after written demand upon the payor or contestant,
an affiliate has not received restitution for an NSF check, the
affiliate may forward the NSF check and evidence of written
demand upon the payor or contestant to the NRCHA office.
Upon receipt of the above items, which must occur within
ninety (90) days from date of the NSF check, the NRCHA will
reimburse the affiliate in the amount of the NSF check.
38O: The responsibility for reporting violations of Standing Rule 38
rests with, but is not limited to, Show Management, NRCHA
Officers, Directors, officials and the judge(s).
38P: Any member desiring to file a complaint regarding any alleged
violation of any NRCHA Standing Rule may do so by submitting
the complaint in writing to the NRCHA Board of Directors,
together with a personal check, money order, or cashier’s check in
the amount of $100.00 made payable to the National Ranch
Cutting Horse Association. A complaint must be filed
(postmarked, faxed, or hand delivered) with the NRCHA secretary
within seven (7) days of the closing date of the contest or incident
involved. The NRCHA Board of Directors retains the right to file
a complaint within one (1) year of the contest or incident involved.
Upon receipt, all complaints will be referred to the Executive
Director or appropriate committee for investigation and
consideration. If after review and investigation of the complaint,
the Executive Director or the committee is of the opinion that a
rule violation has occurred, the Executive Director or committee
shall report it findings to the NRCHA Board of Directors and
request a hearing by the NRCHA Board of Director or Executive
board. After said hearing, the board of Directors or Executive
Board may take disciplinary action consistent with the provisions
of these rules as it deems appropriate. The decision of the Board
of Directors shall be final and binding unless a written notice of the
member’s intention to appeal that decision is received in the
NRCHA office within twenty-one (21) days of the date of the letter
notifying said member of the disciplinary action taken against him
or her. If notice of appeal is timely received in the NRCHA office,
a hearing will be scheduled to determine whether or not a rule
violation occurred; and if so, what disciplinary action, if any,
should be taken against the member. The hearing will be
conducted pursuant to the provisions of NRCHA Standing Rule 40.
Rule 39: A Contestant Representative shall be designated for each NRCHA
approved class to serve as sole liaison between contestants and
39A: Provided a Contestant Representative has not been appointed by
the Show Management, it shall be the duty of Show Management
to hold a meeting of all contestants in each class prior to the draw
of that class for the purpose of electing a representative for the
duration of the show. In the event the Contestant Representative
has to leave the show for any reason, he shall appoint a
representative in his place for the duration of the show. Any
Contestant Representative so appointed or elected must be a
contestant in the class involved.
39B: The Contestant’s Representative, or any appointed alternate, must
submit a Confidential Contest Report if he observes any actions by
a contestant, Show Management or judge detrimental to the best
interests of the NRCHA. Such action includes, but is not limited
to, the following: any horse being abused, abusive language,
intoxication, use of an illegal drug, use of a prohibited training
device, or any other infraction of NRCHA Standing Rules.
Section VII - Disciplinary Procedures
Rule 40: Any NRCHA member may be disciplined, fined, placed on
probation or suspended from the NRCHA and any member or nonmember
may be denied all privileges, including show privileges, of
the NRCHA by the NRCHA Executive Board or Board of
Directors whenever it shall have been established by a
preponderance of the evidence that such member or non-member
has violated any rule of the Association. When the rule in question
contains a specific punishment provision, any disciplinary action
taken must be consistent with that provision.
40A: When a member or non-member shall be accused of any violation,
the individual shall be given not less than fifteen (15) days notice
of a time and place for a hearing such accusation by the Executive
Board or board of Directors. At the designated time and place of
the hearing, the individual shall have an opportunity, in person or
by counsel, to be heard and to present evidence in his/her behalf
and to hear and refute evidence offered against the individual.
Notification of such hearing will be issued in accordance with
Standing Rule 45.
40B: No continuance shall be granted unless requested in writing at least
seven (7) days prior to the hearing and good cause is shown. A
continuance shall be granted or denied at the sole discretion of the
NRCHA President or in his absence or if unavailable, by the
40C: The decision of the NRCHA Executive Board or Board of
Directors shall be final and binding on all parties.
40D: A suspended member of the NRCHA will not be allowed to
participate in any NRCHA approved cutting horse contest as an
owner of a horse, a rider, or an agent. In the event such suspended
member enters an approved contest during the period of the
member’s suspension either as an owner, rider, or agent, an
additional six (6) months will be added to the member’s
Rule 41: Any member of the NRCHA who threatens or actually inflicts
bodily harm or injury to another person based upon that person’s
action, conduct, or decisions while acting in an official capacity for
the NRCHA or for any NRCHA approved contest shall be
suspended from membership in the NRCHA for a period of not
less than one (1) year.
Rule 42: Any member may be suspended and denied privileges of the
NRCHA, and any non-member, approved show or official thereof
may be denied privileges of the NRCHA for the failure to pay
when due, any obligation owing to the NRCHA or an NRCHA
Affiliate or for giving a check (or one given on contestant’s behalf)
returned by the maker’s bank for entry fee, stall fees, office
charges, stock charges, premiums or any other fees or charges
connected with the exhibition of cutting horses; provided,
however, that the member or non-member subject to suspension
shall be given thirty (30) days written notice of the amount due and
the intention of the NRCHA to suspend or whit hold privileges.
Any suspension and denial of privileges under this section shall
terminate upon full payment of the obligation due the NRCHA.
Rule 43: If any member institutes litigation in which the NRCHA is
included as a defendant in an effort to recover damages, to
overturn enforcement or interpretation of the Constitution, Bylaws,
Rules or Regulations, or for any other reason what so ever, and
does not prevail in said litigation by the recovery of all relief
requested, said member shall be liable to the NRCHA for its
attorney’s fees, costs of courts, and other expenses incurred in
connection with such litigation. Venue for any litigation in which
the NRCHA is included as a defendant shall be Burnet County,
Rule 44: No person shall make a derogatory remark, nor take, or threaten to
take, adverse actions against an NRCHA sponsor its agent,
servants or employees, relating in any manner to the sponsor’s
involvement with the NRCHA or an NRCHA approved contest.
Any person who violates this rule is subject to disciplinary action
and is also responsible to the NRCHA for any loss or damage
caused by a violation of this rule.
Rule 45: Every notice required by these rules and regulations may be served
by delivering a copy of the notice to the person to be served, or
his/her attorney, either in person or by mail, postage prepaid, to his
her last known address as it appears on the NRCHA records and
upon mailing, such notice shall be deemed received by such person
when it is deposited in the United States mail.
Section VIII - Rules for Judging Cutting Horse Contests
Rule 46: A horse will be given credit for his ability to enter a herd of cattle
quietly with very little disturbance to the herd or to the cow being
brought from the herd. One (1) deep cut must be made into the
herd, or a three (3) point penalty will be assessed.
46A: When an animal is cut from the herd, it is more desirable that it be
taken toward the center of the arena, and credit will be given for
same. Additional credit will be given the horse which drives a cow
a sufficient distance from the herd to insure that the herd will not
be disturbed by the horse’s performance.
46B: Credit will be given for the ability of the horse to hold a cow in the
center of the arena, although no penalty should be imposed if a
cow goes to a fence on either side of the arena.
Rule 47: During a run, a rider will not be penalized for light or normal
contact while reining a horse; however, setting a horse down hard,
jerking a horse, stopping a horse excessively on the ends, or a
horse that clearly must be held or started to keep from quitting a
cow will be penalized. A one (1) point penalty will be assessed for
each occurrence. No credit will be given for riding with a loose
rein throughout a performance.
47A: The rider shall hold the bridle reins in one hand. A three (3) point
penalty shall be assessed if the rider’s second hand touches the
reins for any purpose other than to straighten the reins while
returning to the herd after working a cow.
47B: If a rider or the rider’s horse creates a disturbance at any time
throughout the working time, penalties will be assessed as follows:
1. Any noise directed by the contestant toward the cattle will be
penalized one (1) point.
2. Any time that cattle enter the working area through the fault of
the horse or contestant, the contestant will be penalized three
(3) points. If, at no fault of the horse, additional cattle leave
the herd, no penalty will be assessed.
3. The judge shall stop any work because of training or abuse of
the horse by the contestant or disturbance of the cattle. Any
contestant failing to stop immediately when requested or upon
a whistle blown by the judge will be subject to disciplinary
action by the NRCHA.
47C: A horse will be penalized three (3) points each time the back fence
actually stops or turns the cow being worked within one (1) step or
three (3) feet of the back fence. The “back fence” is to be agreed
on and designated by the judge(s) 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 an objection
to the proposed back fence before the contest starts, the judge(s)
shall take a vote of the contestants and a back fence acceptable to
the majority shall be designated and used.
Rule 48: If a horse lets a cow that he is working get back in the herd, he will
be penalized five (5) points.
Rule 49: If a rider changes cattle after visibly committing to a specific cow,
a five (5) point penalty will be assessed.
Rule 50: If a horse turns the wrong way, with his tail toward a cow being
worked, an automatic score of sixty (60) points will be given.
Rule 51: If a horse quits a cow, a penalty of five (5) points will be assessed.
Rule 52: If a horse clears the herd with two (2) or more cows and fails to
separate a single cow before quitting, a five (5) point penalty will
be assessed. There is no penalty if time expires before a single
cow is separated.
Rule 53: Unnecessary aggression, such as a horse pawing, biting, or kicking
a cow, will result in a three (3) point penalty being assessed.
Rule 54: If a horse is spurred in the shoulder, a three (3) point penalty shall
be assessed for each occurrence. Spurring behind the shoulder is
not considered a visible cue, and should not be penalized.
Rule 55: A rider’s use of a toe, foot, or stirrup on the horse’s shoulder is
considered a visible cue, and a one (1) point penalty shall be
assessed for each occurrence.
Rule 56: When a horse goes past a cow to a degree that the horse loses his
working advantage, a one (1) point penalty will be assessed for
Rule 57: A contestant may quit a cow when it is obviously stopped,
obviously turned away, or is behind the turnback horses and the
turnback horses are behind the time line. If the cow is quit under
any other circumstances, a penalty of three (3) points shall be
Rule 58: All horses in the show arena, including horses ridden by herd
holders and turnback help, must be ridden with a bridle having a
bit in the mouth or with a hackamore. A bridle shall have no nose
band or bosal, and hackamores shall be rope or braided rawhide
with no metal parts. A judge must be able to freely pass two (2)
fingers completely around the horse’s nose between the hackamore
and muzzle. Choke ropes, lip wire or lip string,, tie downs, wire
around the horse’s neck, nose, or browband, tight nose bands,
quirts, bats or mechanical devices giving the rider undue control
over a horse will not be permitted in the arena where an NRCHA
approved contest is being held. Breast collars may be used, no
portion of which may pass over the horse’s neck. Chaps and spurs
may be worn. A competing horse’s tail must not be braided or be
tied in any manner. A judge has the right to have a contestant
report to him if he is suspicious of any infraction of this rule. Any
time a contestant is guilty of an infraction of this rule, the
contestant shall be disqualified. (See Rule 38D.)
Rule 59: At any NRCHA approved or sponsored show, any person in the
working area in front of the judges stand will be required to adhere
to the dress code as outlined in Standing Rule 38M. Failure to
comply with this dress code will result in disqualification from a
class or go-round with no score. This rule may be set aside by
Show Management for practice sessions.
Rule 60: Any rider who allows his horse to quit working or leave the
working area before his allotted time is up will be disqualified for
that class or go-round with no score.
Rule 61: When a contestant falls or is thrown from a horse, or a horse falls
to the ground, an automatic score of sixty (60) points will be given.
A horse is considered to have fallen to the ground when the horse
is on its side and all four feet are extended in the same direction.
Rule 62: Each contestant is limited to a maximum of four (4) helpers.
Rule 63: A judge marks each performance from sixty (60) to eighty (80)
points. One-half (1/2) points may be used.
Rule 64 When a judge is in doubt about a penalty, the benefit always
should go to the contestant.
Rule 65: A contestant will be awarded a rework under circumstances
outlined in Standing Rule 25 and Standing Rule 25A.
Rule 66: In any contest judged by two (2) or more judges, any inconsistency
in assessing a major penalty, that penalty and that penalty only,
shall be reviewed by all judges (or the monitor when applicable),
and a determination made immediately following the completion
of the class. No review may be conducted subsequent to the
announcement of the official placing of the class.
SUMMARY OF PENALTY POINTS
Infraction Points Deducted
Excessive Reining or Jerking 1
Noise directed toward the cattle 1
Cueing on the horse’s shoulder 1
Losing working advantage (a “miss”) 1
Failure to make a deep cut 3
Second hand on reins 3
Disturbing the herd (picking up cattle) 3
Horse’s unnecessary aggression 3
Spurring on the shoulder 3
Hot quit 3
Losing a cow 5
Switching cows 5
Horse quitting a cow 5
Failure to separate cows 5
Horse turns tail to cow automatic score of 60
Contestant falls or is thrown automatic score of 60
Horse falls to the ground automatic score of 60
Dismounting in working area disqualification
Improper equipment disqualification
Horse’s tail is braided disqualification
Failure to adhere to dress code disqualification
Leaving arena before time is up disqualification
Failure to stop after judge’s whistle disciplinary action
Section IX – NRCHA Eligibility Definitions
Rule 67: The Executive Board or Board of Directors of the NRCHA shall
have the sole and absolute right to determine qualifications of
applicants relative to membership and participation in NRCHA
events. The Executive Board or Board of Directors, by majority
vote, shall make such determinations as:
1. Rancher – Any operation which continuously owns fifty (50)
or more breeding animals throughout the year of membership.
Any operation that owned or pastured at least one-hundred
(100) head of livestock for at least six (6) months in the twelve
(12) months prior to the commencement of the membership
year. Any operation that has fed at least one-hundred (100)
head of livestock in confinement for the intent of fattening for
slaughter, pre-conditioning for pasture, or growing for some
specific purpose for at least six (6) months on the twelve (12)
months prior to the commencement of the membership year.
Said livestock may be owned by the ranch or outside
customers. Special provisions may be made to applicants
denied eligible by a combination of the above or in other
2. Owner – An owner or family member of an owner of a ranch
as described above.
3. Employee – A person who has maintained for a period of at
least six (6) months prior to the current membership full time
employment of a qualifying ranch.
4. Day Laborer – Day laborers are defined as one that receives
fifty percent (50%) of ones income from providing contract
labor for ranch work. Day laborers who are receiving Social
Security benefits are exempt from the fifty percent (50%) rule
but must show proof of legitimate employment.
5. Family – the immediate family of a qualified participant may
compete. Immediate family is defined as spouse and/or any of
their dependent children.
6. Proof of Eligibility – may be requested by the NRCHA
Executive Board or Board of Directors. All information will
Rule 68: Participant Requirements:
1. All participants in NRCHA events must be approved, current
members in good standing of the NRCHA. The Executive
Board or Board of Directors, by majority vote, shall determine
whether or not a person has satisfied the above requirements
2. Participants must be an owner, employee, or day laborer or
family member of owner, employee, or day laborer as defined
3. No rider who receives compensation for training cutting
horses, working cow horses, or reined cow horses may
participate in any NRCHA classes where NRCHA
Eligibility is required.
4. All participants must train and show their own horses in
NRCHA events during the membership year.
Rule 69: Horse Eligibility:
1. All horses must be used on the ranch for legitimate ranch
2. All horses must be approved by the NRCHA Executive Board
or Board of Directors.
3. To participate in an NRCHA event, all horses must be owned
by a ranch, owner, employee, or day laborer or by a family
member of the owner, employee, or day laborer.
4. No horse with more combined NCHA, ACHA, National
Reined Cowhorse, Working Cowhorse eligibility earnings or
an AQHA Register of Merit in cutting at the beginning of the
point year will be eligible to compete.
5. All horses must have a current negative Coggins test within
one calendar year of an event.
Points on Showing and Judging
The following questions and answers are included here as an aid to understanding the
Rules for Judging Cutting Horse Contests.
1. What is the desired number of cattle to work?
The desired number of cattle to cut in the two and one-half (2 1/2) minute time
limit is not over three (3) head on fresh cattle. If a cutter can do as much on two
(2) head as another can do on three (3), the cutter working the two (2) head should
have the higher score because he or she has not spent as much time in the herd.
2. What is the preferable way to approach the herd?
A horse should never be set down hard approaching the herd. Either walking or
trotting to the herd is acceptable provided the horse is taken up very easily before
getting close enough to disturb the cattle. The horse should display no hesitation,
weaving, or reluctance to approach and enter the herd.
3. What characteristics should be demonstrated when entering and working the
A cutting horse should enter the herd with ease, concentrating on the job to be
done, not looking around excessively. The horse should be alert, but quiet,
making no unnecessary movements to disturb the cattle. A horse should go deep
enough into the herd on one (1) cut to demonstrate the ability to bring out a cow.
It is permissible to enter the herd from either side or to go completely behind the
entire herd to bring out a cow.
4. When should a rider cease reining a horse?
A rider entering the herd may have light rein contact with the horse, and may
maintain this contact throughout the run. A penalty should be assessed if a horse
is set down hard, jerked, stopped excessively on the ends, or clearly must be held
or started to keep from quitting a cow. Credit will be given for riding with a loose
rein throughout a performance: however, completely throwing a horse away is not
necessary and is not a true ranch situation.
5. What is the most desirable way to bring a cow from the herd?
The cutting horse should stay a reasonable distance from the cow if possible,
showing a great deal of expression but no illness toward the animal being cut.
Illness is defined as biting, trying to bite, pawing, kicking, or charging a cow.
Facial expression and ear position should not be considered a sign of illness. The
horse should make counter movements to the cow, regardless of the distance
separating them. The horse should nor rush or push cattle excessively in bringing
a cow from the herd unless the cow turns around and tries to get back at the edge
of the herd. The horse should bring a cow a sufficient distance from the herd
toward the center of the arena, so the herd will not be disturbed while working,
and set up the cow to be worked.
6. When is a cow set up (in working position)?
The cow should be set up as close to the middle of the arena as possible with the
horse counteracting the movements of the cow. The horse should not be moving
when the cow is standing still. When the cow moves, the horse should be just
enough faster to hold the cow, not only from returning to the herd, but also from
going from side wall to side wall without excessive assistance from the turnback
help. A higher score will be given to a run in which a horse “heads” his cattle as
opposed to a run in which the turnback riders consistently turn the cattle.
7. When is a horse out of position?
A horse is out of position when he has lost his working advantage over the cow.
This is not determined by the distance that a horse goes by a cow; it is determined
by the response of the horse to the action of the cow. A horse should have no
difficulty maintaining working advantage over a slow moving cow. The horse
that can maintain working advantage over a cow that presents a severe challenge
shall receive credit. No penalty should be charged the horse that immediately
regains position after going sufficiently past a cow to cause it to turn.
8. When does picking up cattle constitute a penalty?
A penalty shall be assessed if a cow or cattle leave the herd and enter the working
area due to disturbance caused by the horse or the contestant that is working.
9. What is a satisfactory way of quitting a cow?
A contestant may quit a cow when it is obviously stopped, obviously turned away,
or is behind the turnback horses and the turnback horses are behind the time line.
If a cow is quit under any other circumstances, a three (3) point penalty will be
10. Guidelines to consider in judging a cutting run.
A judge may apply the following guidelines in determining an appropriate score
for a cutting run.
A. Give Credit:
1. for entering the herd quietly with very little disturbance to the herd or to
the cow brought out.
2. for taking a cow toward the center of the arena.
3. for driving a cow a sufficient distance from the herd to assure that the herd
will not be disturbed by the contestant’s work.
4. for setting up a cow and holding it in a working position as near the center
of the arena as possible.
B. Consider the degree of difficulty of the run: The degree of difficulty of the
run is determined by the amount of effort exerted by the cow in its attempt to
return to the herd. A cow that turns quickly and moves rapidly is more
difficult to hold in a working position than a cow that turns and moves slowly.
A judge must give credit when a contestant is able to hold a working position
on a tough cow.
C. Consider the eye appeal of the run: The eye appeal of the run is determined
by the attractiveness of the run because of the style of the horse and the
correctness of the overall performance.
D. Consider the amount of courage shown by a contestant: A judge shall give
credit for a contestant staying on a tough cow. Credit shall be given a
contestant coming off the fence with a cow and then establishing a working
position near the center of the arena before quitting a cow.
E. Consider the amount of working time (the time a contestant actually spends
working cattle during the 2 ½ minute run): A contestant shall be given credit
for his willingness to exhibit his horse actually working cattle. Obvious
stalling in the herd or reluctance to cut a cow to allow time to run off the clock
shall have a negative influence on the total point value of the run.
F. Run content:
1. Run content is a numerical evaluation (60-80) based on a running analysis
of what actually occurs during the work, without regard to penalty.
2. Guidelines for evaluating a run: the judge will start judging each horse
when the contestant’s time begins, and each run will be started from a
median score of (70). The run will conclude at the first sound of the
buzzer. The contestant’s run content will be based upon compliance with
credit situations. Numerical value of run content will fluctuate up or down
(60-80) throughout the run. Run content may be decreased without actual
occurrence of a penalty. Actual occurrence of penalties will only be
deducted at the conclusion of the run. At any point in the run, a judge
should be able to ascribe a numerical value based on the above standard.
The standard is run content (a numerical value) minus penalties equals the
RUN CONTENT is a NUMERIC VALUE
minus PENALTIES = SCORE