6.1    Objective

The Cattle Handling phase tests the ability of the horse and rider to work cattle individually and with teammates.  The test is performed with a team of 3 or 4 riders.  The objective is for each rider to move an assigned cow from the herd and put it in a designated pen, and for the team to demonstrate teamwork by herding/containing cattle efficiently and accurately.  This is a timed event.


6.2    Arena

A sample arena configuration is shown in the following diagram.  The recommended minimum size is 70m x 30m (230 ft. x 100 ft.).  It must have adequate, safe fencing to contain cattle.  A holding pen is set up at one end of the arena.  The exact size and position of the holding pen can vary; it can either be within the perimeter of the arena or set up as a separate pen.  At the opposite end of the arena is the herd zone, where the cattle are held prior to the start of the test.  The size of the herd zone should be approximately 20 to 30 percent of the arena. 

A foul line separates the herd zone from the sorting zone.  A chalk line or flags/cones at each side of the arena mark the boundary between the herd and sorting zones.

The arena surface must be flat and free of stones.  A sandy surface is recommended, but any natural surface will suffice as long as it is not slippery or too hard. 

Four cattle per team must be available for 4-member teams (or three cattle for 3-member teams); a number or color identifies each set. 

In addition to the head judge, a foul line judge is placed with an unobstructed view of the foul line.  All judges must have walkie-talkies.


6.3    Test Execution

The team captains will participate in a draw to determine which set of cattle their team will handle and the order of go.

Each team will enter and leave the arena at a walk; the riders may not be assisted through the gate by anyone on the ground.  The team is expected to salute the judge upon entering the arena.  Once the team is assembled in the sorting zone, the judge will ring a bell (or other audible signal) giving approval for the first rider to proceed.  The rider has 60 seconds to start the test.

The team works together to separate their assigned cows from the herd, one at a time, one cow per rider.  Each team member works individually to separate one of the assigned cows.  As soon as the cow has been separated and herded outside the herd zone, one or more members of the team may assist the rider in herding the cow to the holding pen.  The other members contain the remaining cattle in the herd zone, but may not cross the foul line.  Once the test is completed, the cow is free to return to the herd and the team prepares for the next rider’s test.

The time limit for separating a cow is 3 minutes.  Time starts when the rider crosses the foul line for the first time and stops when the selected cow is herded into the holding pen and all other cattle are in the herd zone. Any rider who fails to get his/her cow in the holding pen within the 3-minute time period does not get a time score, noted on the score sheet as NT for No Time.


6.4    Time Penalties

One course fault equals a 10-second penalty added to a team member’s total elapsed time.  Course faults will be assessed when:

  • A cow other than the one being sorted oversteps the foul line (each occurrence)
  • A team member other than the one currently performing the test crosses the foul line before the cow is in the sorting area (each occurrence)
  • Loss of any part of tack or attire (including hat or helmet).

6.5    Scoring

Each rider is scored on the basis of time taken to perform the test plus any penalty time assessed for faults incurred.

The team score is calculated by adding the time scores of the top three members of the team.  Teams of four will use the best three scores; teams of three will use all three scores.

Placements will be based on the number of cattle penned (completed tests) and the time.  Teams with the highest number of completed tests (most cattle penned) will be ranked from the lowest aggregate time to the highest.  Subsequent placements based on the number of completed tests will use the same criteria.


6.6    Grounds for Disqualification

Competitors committing the following faults will be disqualified:

a.   Taking more than 60 seconds to begin a test once the judge has given permission to proceed.

b.   Crossing the foul line before the judge has given permission to proceed.

c.   Roughing:  Includes but is not limited to unnecessary or aggressive contact; running over, stepping on, or knocking down cattle while in pursuit; causing cattle to collide with holding pen panels; or horses biting cattle.

d.   Endangering any other rider or horse.






























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