1. How do I know which class I should be showing in? Is it based on earnings?
Yes, the vast majority of NCHA class distinctions are based on earnings. The best place for you to begin showing will most likely be in the $2,000 Limit Rider class at a weekend show. That class is designed for people who have lifetime NCHA earnings of $2,000 or less and is also the only class adults can show in that allows riders to borrow another member’s horse or the $1,000 Amateur is for members that have less than $1,000 in eligibility earnings and hold an Amateur card (own their horse or family member)
Other realistic options would be the $15,000 Amateur, the $35,000 Non-Pro or the $50,000 Amateur (See Amateur Rules)—assuming that you have an Amateur and/or Non-Pro card and own the horse. The monetary distinctions in these classes mean that riders have NCHA eligibility earnings of less than $15,000, $35,000 and $50,000, respectively. Of course, the level of competition increases with each step up the earnings ladder.
2. How do I locate a cutting horse trainer who will help me improve?
Every year in the NCHA yearbook (November Issue) as a service to members and trainers. It is a listing of cutting horse trainers by state, with address and phone numbers for each trainer. The same information is available online at the NCHA’s web site.
Anyone who pays a nominal fee can be listed in the Trainer’s Directory. Those with $10,000 and those with $200,000 or more in NCHA earnings are so designated in the book.
For trainers who wish to be listed, the deadline for address and telephone number changes is Sept 1. The NCHA Membership Department must be notified of any such changes prior to that day.
3. I just bought a horse. Can I show it this weekend?
Yes, but only after you fax NCHA a copy of the completed signed breed transfer report showing buyer, seller, date of sale and a copy of the original registration papers. The NCHA fax number is 817-244-2015. To be on the safe side, it is always best to call and confirm the transmission with the Show Department. If you fax your papers over the weekend, you should call first thing Monday morning. Keep copies of both until you receive the original papers and take copies of both with you to the show.
4. What is the difference between an Amateur and a Non-Pro?
An Amateur must not:
- have ridden or trained horses for remuneration
- have assisted in training horses or riders for remuneration within the last 10 years
- have been married to or lived with a professional trainer in the last 10 years
- have resided on the premises with a parent, step-parent or foster parent who was, while living there, a professional.
- be directly or indirectly employed by a professional trainer or work at a horse training operation
- have been an apprentice trainer at any time.
- see complete Amateur Rules
In addition to all the requirements previously stated, the following earnings limitations must be met for Amateur eligibility:
(1) members less than 60 years of age: a maximum of $100,000 ($50,000 Limited Age/$50,000 Weekend) in eligibility lifetime NCHA cutting horse earnings; or
(2) members age 60-69: A maximum of $400,000 may be earned between NCHA-approved weekend earnings and NCHA Limited Age Event earnings to remain qualified for Amateur status. Members with less than (i) $400,000 in total earnings; and (ii) with earnings less than $200,000 in either weekend or limited age events at the beginning of the point year will be eligible to compete in one or both of the categories they qualify for. Earnings in excess of $200,000 at the beginning of the point year in either weekend or limited age events will make Amateur card holders ineligible to compete in the category for which they do not qualify. Earnings in excess of $400,000 will make card holders ineligible to compete in Amateur competition; or
(3) For members over age 70: There is no cap on earnings.
NCHA rules define a professional as anyone who has trained horses astride in any equine discipline for direct or indirect remuneration.
Non-professionals are those who have not received direct or indirect remuneration to show, train, or assist in training a cutting horse or cutting horse rider. Non-professionals may not train horses in any equine discipline. However, NCHA does not consider professional cutting horse trainers’ spouses or employees who do not teach cutting horse riders or train cutting horses on cattle or any type of training device to receive indirect remuneration. Those individuals can show as Non-Professionals.
For a complete explanation of Amateur and Non-Pro status, refer to NCHA’s current Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations.
5. How do I obtain an Amateur or Non-Pro card?
Before entering any Amateur or Non-Pro class at an NCHA show, you must complete an Amateur/Non-Pro application, in addition to your membership, and submit it along with a $20 fee, for approval to the NCHA office. Your approval status will be indicated on your membership card.
The normal approval turnaround time for receiving your card once received at NCHA is two weeks. However, if you need immediate approval because you are planning to show right away, call the Membership Department and they will make every effort to get your application approved sooner. Normal business hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time, Monday through Friday.
If you are planning to show in either an Amateur or Non-Pro class, your NCHA membership card should have “Non-Pro/Amateur” printed on the card. If it does not, contact the Membership Department.
The application can be completed several ways: Online with a credit card payment, torn out of the Cutting Horse Chatter, or printed from the website and mailed with a check to the NCHA, or faxed with credit card information to 817-244-2015.
6. Is it against the rules to compete in Non-Pro or Amateur classes without your card?
Yes. Any earnings won in such circumstances will not count toward NCHA lifetime earnings or awards for horse or rider. The money must be returned, you will receive a warning letter reminding you to validate your Amateur or Non-Pro status. If you continue to show without your card, however, you will be fined.
7. Can I complete the Amateur or Non-Pro application at the show where I would like to compete and pay the secretary?
Yes, you may complete the Amateur/Non Pro application at the show, if a director is available to approve it and it is submitted with the fee to NCHA office with the show results, however, if for some reason you are denied Amateur and/or Non Pro status by the NCHA office any earnings won in those classes will not count toward the rider or horse.
We highly recommend that you submit your Amateur/Non Pro application for approval to the NCHA office with payment prior to showing.
8. Does the owner of the horse competing need to be a member?
Yes, the owner of any horse ridden in an NCHA-approved show must be a current member for any points or money won to be counted towards awards and lifetime earnings.
9. Do I have to ride my own horse to show in NCHA competition?
There are several NCHA classes in which the horse’s rider does not have to be the owner of the horse (Open, $5,000 Novice, $25,000 Novice, $2,000 Limit Rider, Junior Youth and Senior Youth). Holders of Non-Pro/Amateur cards may compete in the $2,000 Limit Rider on any horse, regardless of ownership, without jeopardizing their Non-Professional status. In all Amateur and Non-Pro classes, you must own the horse you ride.
The $2,000 Limit Rider class is a great way for any member who is new to cutting to gain experience before stepping up against more experienced riders.
10. If I typically compete in the $15,000 Amateur class but decide to show in the $50,000 Amateur one weekend and earn a check, do my earnings count against my $15,000 Amateur status?
NCHA tracks all of your earnings. Money won in a $50,000 Amateur class counts just the same as money won in a $15,000 Amateur class--all towards your total eligibility earnings. You can easily keep up with your earnings by visiting the "Rider Earnings" section.
11. What happens when my earnings reach $15,001? Can I still compete in the $15,000 Amateur class?
You may continue showing in the $15,000 Amateur through the end of the point year, which is 2 Sundays before Thanksgiving for Weekend and the Sunday before Thanksgiving for Limited Age events. The new point year always begins on December 28. The same is true for any class with a monetary limit. (See Standing Rule 6.i in the Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations)
12. Do my children need their own NCHA membership?
Yes, if they want to compete in Youth classes. All youth members who compete in the Junior (13 and under) or Senior (14 through 18) Youth divisions must have their own membership number. The special $25 Youth membership fee also allows them to participate in valuable leadership activities, awards programs and scholarships.
13. How long does my NCHA membership last?
NCHA memberships can be purchased for one year ($60). One year of membership begins on January 1 and is valid through December 31 of the same year, whether it is purchased on January 1 or halfway through the year. Membership does not include your Amateur/Non Pro card.
14. How do I get cutting news and updates online?
You can always access NCHA information at nchacutting.com.
15. What is available to NCHA members online?
NCHA’s web site contains a wealth of information that is available at your fingertips, any time of the day or night. At nchacutting.com you can find information about local affiliates, shows in your area, applications, upcoming clinics, NCHA staff, archived editions of the Chatter and more.
16. I moved since joining the association. Does NCHA need to know?
Yes. Notify the NCHA Membership Department of your new address as soon as possible. This will help ensure quick delivery of your next Cutting Horse Chatter magazine.
17. How do I get listed in the Membership Directory?
NCHA’s membership directory is called the Yearbook. All members are listed in the publication, which is distributed every other year in November. The deadline for notifying the Membership Department of address or telephone number changes is September 1
18. Where can I find the New Members Guide?
The New Members Guide is available in PDF downloadable format here.
19. What are the Limited Open and Limited Non-Pro classes?
Offered during NCHA Limited Age Events.
The Limited Open class is restricted to riders whose lifetime earnings in NCHA-approved events are less than $50,000 at the beginning of the year. The Limited Non-Pro riders cannot have more than $200,000 in earnings and compete in the class.
20. Why does NCHA use five judges for the major limited-age events?
Nearly 20 years ago, NCHA instituted the Adjusted Monitor System in order to make judging fair for each contestant. The system is used at all major limited-age events with five judges and may be used at three-judge shows.
According to the system, the high and low scores are tossed out in a five-judge show, leaving three scores to be tallied. A monitor is assigned to make rulings on major penalty discrepancies and to evaluate the judges’ performance during each go-round.
Four NCHA monitors will spend 270 days verifying scores at approved shows each year. When you consider that an average show day lasts for 9 hours, that accounts for 2,430 hours that will be spent making sure riders are scored fairly.
21. How do I find out where the weekend shows are being held?
There are two easy ways. The first place to find out about weekend events is on the NCHA web site. You can search the comprehensive listings by state, city or month.
In the Cutting Horse Chatter, which members receive every month, turn to the "Coming Events" section. The first page of that section lists show locations and their dates in each state. Details for each event are listed in chronological order in the remainder of the section. Directions, class fees, stall information, judges and secretaries are all listed for each cutting.
22. Last weekend, I saw a cutter with a trophy buckle that said ‘NCHA Achievement Buckle.’ How can I get one of those?
NCHA members are awarded these handsome Achievement Buckles from Gist Silversmiths when they have earned $1,000 in NCHA-approved weekend classes. Limited-age event money does not count toward the Achievement Buckle.
23. What are the NCHA classes?
In the early days of cutting, there was only one class, what would be called the Open today. It took a lot of courage for a greenhorn to go up against the born-in-the-saddle cowhands who dominated the competition. But as the popularity of cutting grew, a new, progressive class structure evolved which gave less experienced riders a chance to compete—and win—against their peers. Eligibility in the restricted classes is based on either a horse’s earnings in weekend show competition, or on a rider’s earnings. Here’s a capsule look at NCHA’s class structure. As always, for a complete explanation, refer to the Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations.
***** Horse Classes *****
***** Rider Classes *****
24. What kind of show is this, anyway?
Weekend shows on a weekday? Aged events for young horses? The terminology cutters use can be pretty confusing for a newcomer.
Basically, there are two different types of competition: weekend shows and limited-age events, aka “aged events.”
The limited-age events are for horses of a specific age. In general, futurities are for 3-year-olds, derbies are for 4-year-olds, and classics or maturities are for 5 and 6-year-old horses. Aged events often (but not always) have more added money, as well as higher nomination and entry fees. Typically, contestants go through one or more qualifying rounds before the finals.
“Weekend” shows, on the other hand, have no restrictions on the age of the horse. Indeed, there is nothing to stop a successful aged event horse from heading down the road to take part in the local weekend event.
And no, the so-called weekend shows don’t necessarily have to take place on a weekend, although Friday-Saturday-Sunday competition is by far the most common.
Many weekend shows have begun adding aged event classes to their schedules. But as a rule, weekend shows offer some or all of the classes listed in “Questions of Class” from the previous question. They typically have a more relaxed atmosphere than the aged events, where the amount of money on the line can test a rider’s nerves. That’s not to say the competition is easier at weekend shows. Seasoned, hard-knocking horses that cut their teeth in the aged events are the rule of the day on the weekends.
25. Who judges these shows?
The National Cutting Horse Association’s Judging Department is committed to providing well-trained judges for all NCHA-sanctioned cutting horse contests. Those NCHA members wishing to become judges must complete a rigorous training program and subsequent refresher clinics on the proper interpretation and application of the rules for judging cutting horse events in order to be considered a certified NCHA judge.
Certified judges are rated AA, AAA or AAAA, with the latter being the highest category. These ratings depend upon the number of events an individual has judged, evaluations of the individual’s judging performance at judging clinics and scores received on bi-annual written tests. However, the real proving ground for any judge is in the contest arena.
The protest is a means of evaluating judges on a constant basis. Contestants have the right to protest scores awarded by one or more judges at any NCHA-sanctioned event directly to the NCHA Judging Department. Using video, the contest is reviewed and determination is made concerning the validity of the protest. If the protest proves valid, the judge(s) involved will have the protest added to his or her record. A judge that receives two valid protests within a twelve (12) month period will be lowered one rating for a full 24 months.
The NCHA Judging Department makes the most of today’s technology. Video is used to monitor all NCHA-approved events. The monitors can review a video and a ruling can be made for the judge(s) to review the video one at a time to determine if a mistake was made in the application of a major penalty. The score can then be adjusted to reflect a final, more appropriate score. If a judge misses a major penalty on a non placing run on a protested class and does not score that class a 75 or higher, the judge would receive a valid protest. If the said judge does score the class 75 or higher, the judge would only receive a valid complaint.For more information concerning the rules used to judge NCHA-sanctioned events, consult the NCHA Case Book and the NCHA Rule Book or contact the NCHA Judging Department at (817) 244-6188.