Rules & Guidelines

While the philosophy of the Rodear is to have a minimum of rules governing the course, the following will be strictly enforced:

  • The objective is to complete the course while achieving the most points in the least amount of time.
  • In the event of a point tie, tie-breaker will be the fastest time.
  • Handlers will sort their own cattle from a small herd of no less than 15 head of cattle. As with the course, the objective is to perform the sort in a quiet and controlled manner.
  • No restrictions on use of the horse/rider to assist dog in maneuvering cattle through the obstacle course.
  • All obstacles will require BOTH the dog and horse/rider to negotiate and complete.
  • Quiet and controlled maneuvering of cattle is required. Contestants will be disqualified for excessive chasing or abusing of livestock and/or chasing cattle outside of the boundaries of the course.

Class Structure

This class is open to any dog and any handler. If you are a trainer who trains dogs for any type of remuneration, this is the class you must compete in. Other handlers may be assigned to this class based on their skill level. Competitors designated as open handlers are not eligible to compete in the Stockman or Novice classes.

This class is designed for those handlers who don’t necessarily compete on a regular basis and would have difficulty being competitive with those in the open class. Following the National Finals, the champion and reserve champion handlers, along with the top two in the national point standings will be advanced to the Open class for future competition.

Green Dog
This class is open to any handler with a dog that is no more than two and a half years old as of October 1st of the current competition year. Proof of dogs age must be provided prior to competing in this class. Dogs eligible to compete for the 2024 competition year must have a birthdate on, or after April 1, 2022.

This class is provided for beginning handlers just starting in rodear competition. Handlers may compete in this class until they have won three times before being moved into the Stockman class. Following the National Finals, the champion Novice handler and the leader in the national point standings will be advanced to the Stockman class for future competition.

Ranch Class
The ranch class is a class that is open to any handler. Any dog, regardless of age is eligible to compete in the ranch class.
This class is designed to give open handlers an opportunity to compete with dogs that are not ready to compete in the open class. It is also a class where more inexperienced handlers can compete with dogs that may have previously been competing in open competitions. Open level handlers will not be able to compete with dogs that have competed in any open stockdog competitions.
A handler in the ranch class may be a stockman or novice handler and compete with any level of dog, or an open handler with a dog that has not previously been in any open competition.

Youth class
Beginning with the 2024 season, this will be a recognized division in Rodear America competition. Contestants must be ten years of age or under at the beginning of the current season to be eligible to compete. While this division will not feature advancement to the National Finals Rodear, points will be tracked throughout the year and a championship buckle awarded at the years’ end.

3D Lucky Dog Jackpot
This is a separate jackpot class option not associated with any of the regular classes and will run as a separate class with a fun twist to the game. Standing points will not be awarded in this class. Any handler and any dog are eligible, which means this gives everyone another place to run their dogs in a class that is not classified. The twist is in the payouts. Click here to see more about how it works.

Guidelines for the 2024 competition year

  • With the exception of the Green Dog class, current contestants in Rodear America competitions will be assigned to a class based on their skill level and prior accomplishments by the Rodear America board of directors. A list detailing this information will be posted on the Rodear America website.
  • Contestants are welcome to compete in classes above their designation if they desire to do so, i.e., a stockman entering the open class or a Novice entering the Stockman or Open.
  • New contestants to Rodear competition will be evaluated and assigned a class.
  • Green Dogs - All dogs must provide proof of age to compete in this class. For a registered dog, a copy of the dog’s registration papers is sufficient. In the case of a grade, or unregistered dog, this requirement may be satisfied by a letter from the breeder stating date of birth, or veterinarian records of vaccinations that indicate age.

Guidelines for determining Classification

The following guidelines will be utilized by the Rodear America board of directors to assist in determining a contestants classification for competition. This determination will be made taking the skill level of the handler, horse and dog into consideration. Thereby assessing the competitive abilities of the three as a unit.

Open - Any contestant who trains dogs for any type of remuneration will be limited to competing in this class. Additionally, other competitors in this class must be able to effectively communicate with their dog and possess sufficient horsemanship skills to be able to utilize both their horse and dog to address individual obstacles, as well as negotiate a complete course in a
competitive manner. A dog should be biddable and obedient taking commands, and exhibit the ability to effectively control stock in a low stress manner.

Stockman - Competitors in this class will be those who do not fall within the designation of either the Open or Novice classes.

Novice - This class was developed to encourage new, or inexperienced handlers and dogs in rodear competition. Competitors in this class will be those just beginning in rodear events. They may be novice type handlers with limited experience in walking trials and new to working a dog from horseback, or they may be experienced horsemen who are new to working cowdogs.

*The Rodear America board of directors reserves the right to review and reclassify any contestant.

National Finals Rodear Qualifying

Qualifying for the National Finals Rodear will be based on points accumulated throughout the competition year. Points are accrued by dogs in all classes except the Novice class where points are attributed to the contestant. Points are earned according to placings whereby one point is earned for each eligible entry they place above in each class entered.
For example, in a class of ten, the class winner would receive nine points, third place in the same class would receive seven points, etc.

The top 20 eligible dogs in the national point standings at the end of the competition year in the Open, Stockman and Green Dog divisions will be eligible to compete at the National Finals Rodear. In the event dogs within the top 20 are unable to compete, Rodear America will invite the next highest qualifying dog(s) to fill open positions within the top 20 standings.

Regional Qualifying

Points will be tracked in the region of a contestants residence in addition to nationally. This will offer more contestants an opportunity to qualify for the National Finals Rodear than in previous years.
The top 5 dogs in regional points standings from each region in the Open, Stockman and Green Dog classes will qualify to compete at the National Finals Rodear.

Novice Qualifying

The top 10 contestants in the national standings for the Novice class will be eligible to compete at the National Finals Rodear. These contestants will compete during the two long go rounds of the preliminaries. At the conclusion of the preliminaries the Champion Novice will be named.

Limit of dogs to qualify

  1. Any contestant who qualifies with more than three dogs in the top 20 of the national standings in any one class will be limited to entering a maximum of three dogs per class.
  2. Advancing to the short round finals, a contestant may qualify two dogs per division.
    In the event that a contestant entered three dogs in a division and through semi-finals competition, placed all three within the top five of that division, the contestant will be given the option to advance the two dogs of their choosing.
    In the above referenced scenario, the dog placing sixth in the semi-finals will be moved to fifth place to fill the top five short round finalists.

National Finals judging, scoring and review

All competition during the National Finals will be scored by a minimum of three judges dedicated solely to this task. Video review will be employed by the Director of Judges to resolve any close calls or discrepancies between judges scorecards. Scores announced immediately following a run will not be considered “official” until the Director has completed his final review and reconciled all judge’s scorecards. This will be done in a timely manner. Scores will be announced as “official” once the judges have completed all reviews.

Should a handler have an inquiry regarding his/her own Finals run, that handler should review the video of their run and, if there is still an inquiry, contact the show office in between classes, not during the running of a class. There will be no inquiries considered by the Rodear Staff or Director of Judges regarding any contestant’s score other than that of the inquiring handler.

Rodear Regions

Competitors will be able to earn points in the region of their residence that will provide the opportunity to qualify for the National Finals Rodear.

There will be three regions for qualifying, Eastern, Central and Western, as indicated on the accompanying map.

Points earned at sanctioned events within an individuals region will be counted toward both the region and national point standings. Points earned outside of an individuals region will be counted in the national standings only.

In each region the top five dogs in the point standings in the open, stockman and green dog divisions will be eligible to compete at the National Finals Rodear. This is in addition to the top 20 dogs in the national point standings in each of the aforementioned divisions.

Click for larger view

Entering a Sanctioned Rodear & Accumulating Year End points

A competitor may enter unlimited dogs within their eligible classes at a sanctioned event. However, they will only be awarded year end points for their top four placing dogs in any one class. Additionally, other contestants in the same class will only be awarded points for finishing above dogs eligible to receive points.

Withdrawing an entry

  1. A contestant may withdraw any, or all of their entries to a sanctioned event up to 14 days prior to the beginning of the competition without penalty and be entitled to a complete refund of any entry fees paid.
  2. Withdrawing an entry less than 14 days prior to an event the contestant will be responsible to pay cattle charges for said entry.
  3. If a contestant elects to withdraw an entry after the draw has been done for their class, they are responsible for paying/forfeiting the entire entry fee. Exception: cases involving medical emergencies will be handled on an individual basis by the event host.

Zero Tolerance Policy

The following will be adhered to at all Rodear America hosted events. Hosts of sanctioned events are encouraged to follow and maintain a like policy.

The primary objective of Rodear competition is for competitors to have fun while being challenged to exhibit the superior stockmanship skills of themselves, their dogs and horses. To that end, Rodear America has adopted, and will enforce, a ZERO TOLERANCE policy at all of its sanctioned events to include the following:

  1. There will be no abusive treatment of any kind, to any animal, at any time allowed anywhere on the event premises. This includes any act which the general public would perceive to constitute abusive treatment. Any act of inhumane treatment, mistreatment, or intent to mistreat an animal will be dealt with in the strongest possible manner allowed by this policy.
    1. Cattle may not be contacted in any manner by the handler or their horse. Running or pushing cattle causing them to run into obstacles or over fences will not be allowed.
    2. No rough handling of dogs is permitted. This will include training, schooling or correcting a dog in any manner that could be perceived as rough.
    3. No training devices, or dummy training devices, will be permitted to be used on, or worn by dogs at any time.
    4. Inhumane treatment or excessive training of a horse in any manner is strictly prohibited.
    5. Inhumane treatment of a horse includes the exhibition of a lame or injured horse, or one that appears to be.
    6. Excessive training of a horse includes excessive jerking, cueing, whipping, slapping or hitting a horse; or any other act which may cause trauma to a horse.
  2. If the event management or judge discovers a violation of the foregoing they may immediately bar the responsible party and their dog from further competition and forfeiture of all entry fees at the event. Additionally, each person found to be in violation of this policy may be subject to the following discipline:
    1. 1st offense - $500 fine and six months probation* within Rodear America hosted events.
    2. 2nd offense - $1,000 fine and six months suspension from Rodear America hosted events.
    3. 3rd offense - lifetime suspension from Rodear America hosted competition

* The term probation as used herein refers to a probationary period wherein should another violation of any kind occur, a period of suspension may be levied by the Rodear America Board of Directors.

Dress Code

Recognizing the ranching roots of the sport of Rodear, it is only fitting that we do our part to preserve and promote our western heritage. To assist in achieving that goal the following dress code will be enforced at all Rodear America hosted events.

Appropriate western attire and tack must be worn/used while showing. This includes a western hat, long sleeved western shirt with collar and cuff, and boots. A western saddle and bridle must also be used.

Individuals in violation of this policy at a Rodear America hosted event will be disqualified and receive a score of zero for the class the violation occurred in for the first offense. A second offense will carry the same penalty with the addition of a $100 fine and 90 day probation*. The third offense will have a $300 fine and 90 day suspension.

* The term probation as used herein refers to a probationary period wherein should another violation of any kind occur, a period of suspension may be levied by the Rodear America board of directors.