The NCHA recently announced rule changes. • Photo by Molly Montag.

New NCHA Programs, Rule Changes in Effect for 2021

Cutting horse competitors will notice several changes – some big and some small – were implemented this year by the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA). There also are new NCHA programs.

The NCHA recently issued a round-up of all the changes, to remind cutters of things that might be a little different coming up. It also released details of new programs — the National Circuit Championship and the NYCHA Regional Championship.


Eastern and Western Nationals will return to a qualified entry format in 2022.  Shows held in 2021 will begin the qualifications from NCHA Affiliates and NCHA Circuits. Participants can qualify one of two ways: The Top 30 in 2021 Circuit Standings from each of the 12 NCHA Circuits, as determined by NCHA records from the 10 weekend classes, plus the two Youth classes; OR the Affiliate top ten as determined by affiliate records from the same classes.

Limited age events will now be open to horses ages 3 – 7.  This rule change is for the 2021-point year only.  Show management will have the option to include 7-year-old horses in limited-age shows; though it is not mandatory they do so.  The title and structure of the class are at show management’s discretion.

Hall of Fame riders are no longer eligible to roll back in the $50,000 Amateur in weekend competition, regardless of their age.

At Limited Age Events following NCHA Leveling rules, the Top 100 rollback for all divisions has been adjusted to include rankings from the previous year to the previous two years.

National Circuit Program 

In addition to the rule changes, two new NCHA programs are in place for 2021: the National Circuit Program and the NYCHA Regional Championships/NYCHA BraveHearts Shootout. 

The National Circuit Program created 12 circuits with local growth and competition in mind. This program is designed to offer weekend cutters a place to compete locally while gaining national recognition. Members must designate which circuit they plan to compete in with NCHA. Designate early, as points will not be awarded retroactively. To designate a circuit for you or your horses, please contact Linda Smith at [email protected]. For the full program details, visit

NYCHA Regional Championship

The NYCHA Regional Championships invite the top riders in the Junior and Senior Youth divisions from each of the eight regions to compete in the inaugural NYCHA Regional Championships, held in Fort Worth during the Summer Spectacular. In addition to competing for the Regional Championship title, each youth member will be partnered with a veteran to compete in the BraveHearts Shootout. To learn more about this event, visit

A complete list of NCHA rules and regulations can be found in the NCHA 2021 Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations available at NCHA would like to wish all of our competitors, owners, trainers, and sponsors a safe and prosperous show year!