Judging Horse Events - Cattle Classes

Horses January 16, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

It is important to understand that there is a difference when judging cattle classes under a breed association's rules and regulations versus a jackpot or rodeo event. The following descriptions and penalties will be based on the rules and regulations of a breed association.

  • Breed associations (AQHA, APHA, etc.): judged on the performance of the horse
  • Jackpot, rodeo, etc.: judged on time

Roping Events

The purpose of a roping class is to provide an opportunity for the horse to demonstrate and be judged on its natural talent and ability, its willingness to perform, and the level of training that makes it suitable for competitive timed roping events outside of the arena. The rope horse will be evaluated through a series of individually judged maneuvers that, when combined, result in a score that most accurately reflects its ability to allow its rider to catch and handle a calf and/or steer most efficiently and effectively.  

Requirements

  • The horse must start from the roping box.
  • Tie-down roping and heading horses only in dally team roping must start behind a barrier.
  • Only the horse's performance, including manners behind the barrier and at all other times, is to be judged.
  • There is a one-minute time limit.

Legal Catches Defined

  • Required in both header and heeler.
  • Heading
    • Legal catches in heading are both horns, half-head, and around the neck.
    • Any figure-eight, front leg, or the tip of a horn is not a legal heading catch.
  • Heeling
    • Legal catches for heeling include a catch that holds from behind the steer's shoulders and back, around the flank, or on one or both heels.
    • A tail-only catch is not a legal heeling catch.

Tie-Down Events

The roper may throw only two loops and must be done within the two-minute time limit, which is from the time the calf leaves the chute until the roper signals the time is complete. Even when the time limit is complete, the horse will continue to be judged until the rider has mounted the horse and ridden forward.

  • Failure to catch is a no score.
  • Any catch that holds is legal, but the rope must remain on the calf until the tie is completed and the roper has mounted the horse.
  • If the calf is not standing when the roper reaches the calf, the roper must re-throw the calf by hand, crossing any three feet, and tie with not less than one complete wrap and a half hitch.
  • The rope must be run through a foul rope around the horse's neck and may, at the discretion of the rider, be run through a "keeper." If a keeper is used, it must be attached to the noseband of the tie-down but never in front of the head stall and cannot be attached to the bridle or bit.
  • Only the roper may touch the calf while the horse is being judged. The roper may dismount from either side and leg or flank calf.

Scoring

On a 0 to 100 basis, an average performance is 70. Each maneuver is scored on a +3 or -3, in ½-point increments. The tie-down roping horse will be judged on four different maneuvers:

  • Box and barrier
  • Running and rating
  • Stop
  • Working the rope

Penalties

One point:

  • Dragging the calf will be penalized one point for each 3 feet moved up to 12 feet.

Two points:

  • Freeze-up in the box
  • Jumping the barrier
  • Setting up or scotching
  • Rubbing the rope
  • Failure to continue backing while the roper is flanking the calf
  • Slack in the rope

Three points:

  • A two-loop run

Five points:

  • Refusing to enter the box
  • Rearing in the box
  • Breaking the barrier
  • Running into the calf
  • Horse walking up the rope
  • Blatant disobedience

No Score

  • Failure of the calf to stay tied until the roper has remounted and ridden forward to loosen the rope
  • Excessive schooling
  • Whipping or hitting the horse with the rope
  • Dragging the calf more than 12 feet
  • Inhumane treatment of the animal being worked
  • Attempting to position the horse behind the barrier, enabling the contestant to rope the animal without attempting to leave the box
  • Initiating the run with the rope on the opposite side of the horse's neck than exhibitor's roping hand

Faults

Faults are to be scored according to severity.

  • Jerking the reins
  • Slapping
  • Jerking the rope
  • Turning around in the box
  • Turning the head severely
  • Squatting in the corner
  • Stopping crooked
  • Rearing up in stop
  • Ducking off
  • Looking off while working the rope
  • Shying away while the roper is remounting

Dally Team Roping

The heading horse and the heeling horse are to be entered and scored individually, not as a team.

Requirements

  • All heading and heeling cattle shall be protected by horn wraps.
  • Legal catches are required by both the header and the heeler (see above for legal catches).
  • The roper on the horse being judged may throw only two loops.
  • Header must head the steer, and the heeler must heel the steer.
  • Riders are to stay mounted.
  • Each contestant will select the other member of his or her team.

Scoring

On a basis of 0 to 100, a score of 70 is an average performance.

Heading

The horse will be judged on four different maneuvers:

  • Box and barrier
  • Running and rating
  • Setting and handling
  • Facing

Penalties

  • Two points
    • Freeze-up in the box
    • Jumping the barrier
    • Setting up or scotching
    • Ducking off
    • Failure to face completely
    • Freeze-up while facing
  • Three points
    • Additional loop on either end
  • Five points
    • Refusing to enter the box
    • Rearing up in the box
    • Broken barrier
    • Running into the steer
    • Refusing to pull
    • Blatant disobedience

No Score

  • Intentional and continuous stretching of the steer
  • Excessive schooling
  • Whipping or striking the horse with the rope
  • Failure to catch
  • Loss of the rope
  • Failure to maintain dally through the completion of the run
  • Refusal to face

Faults

Faults are scored according to severity.

  • Jerking the reins
  • Slapping
  • Jerking the rope
  • Turning around in the box
  • Turning head severely
  • Squatting in the corner
  • Incorrect position
  • Failure to rate
  • Failure to run the steer
  • Horse being outrun by the steer

Heeling

Heeling horse maneuvers include:

  • Box
  • Run and rate
  • Position
  • Stopping

Penalties

Two points:

  • Header breaking the barrier

Three points:

  • Additional loop on either end

Five points:

  • Refusing to enter the box
  • Rearing in the box
  • Position on the wrong side of steer
  • Running into the steer
  • Failure to stop on hindquarters and hold position through the completion of the run
  • Blatant disobedience

No Score

  • Intentional and continuous stretching of the steer
  • Excessive schooling
  • Whipping or striking the horse with the rope
  • Failure to catch
  • Loss of the rope
  • Failure to maintain dally through the completion of the run
  • Refusal to face

Faults

Faults are to be scored according to severity.

  • Jerking the reins
  • Slapping
  • Jerking the rope
  • Turning around in the box
  • Turning head severely
  • Squatting in the corner
  • Incorrect position
  • Failure to be in correct lead before the horse moves into position on the steer

Other Cattle Classes

Team Penning

  • A team of three riders must sort three specifically identified head of cattle from a herd and then pen them at the other end of the arena. Time continues until all unpenned cattle are completely on the cattle side of the starting line, within a specified time limit. The fastest time wins.
  • For more details including time, measurement, and penalties, refer to the rulebook.

Working Cow Horse

  • Judging is based on the cow work portion and reined work portion.
  • Scoring emphasis should be based on the horse maintaining control of the cow at all times, exhibiting superior cow sense and natural cow working ability.
  • For more details on the working cow horse event, refer to the rulebook.
  • Refer to the rulebook as well as the National Reined Cow Horse Association website at http://nrcha.com/.

Breakaway

  • This is a timed event with a one-minute time limit.
  • It is performed by the same general rules as calf roping.
  • The horse must start from behind a barrier; a 10-second penalty will be added to the time for breaking the barrier. Calves must be used.

Cutting

  • The cutting class is a battle of wills between a horse and cow. The horse and rider must move quietly into a herd of cattle, cut one animal from the herd, drive it to the center of the arena, and hold it away from the herd. The cutting horse must match moves with the cow, anticipating its every maneuver.
  • Score is based on these criteria:
    • Horse's ability to keep the cow away from the herd
    • Cow sense
    • Attentiveness
    • Courage.
  • Refer to the rulebook as well as the National Cutting Horse Association website at http://www.nchacutting.com/.

 

 

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.