2021 NCA Finals Information & Entry Rules

NCA National Finals Information

Rules For Entering The 2021 NCA National Finals

  • To be eligible for the 2021 NCA National Finals, all dogs, Intermediate teams, and Novice teams must have earned points in NCA sanctioned trials in the 2020-2021 qualifying year (April 1, 2020 – March 31, 2021).

  • Entries will be accepted by the NCA office between April 10 and May 15, 2021. Handlers can enter online or by mail; mailed entries must be postmarked no later than May 15, 2021.

  • Only NCA members are eligible to compete in the NCA National Finals.

  • All entry fees are $250 per dog or team. If paying by credit card, there is an additional processing fee of approximately 3% per transaction.

  • Nursery ONLY: Please submit a copy of the dog’s registration papers to document proof of age.  Nursery dogs must have been born after 10/1/17. 

  • Open and Nursery dog, Intermediate team, and Novice team entries will be accepted in order of points earned with the exception of the Horseback class.

  • Horseback class is open to all handlers/dogs with points in any class, excluding Novice. Priority will be given to any dog/team with points earned in a horseback trial. Any remaining openings will be filled based on the date the entry is postmarked.

  • Any dog with any NCA points is eligible to enter for the class they have earned points in (except Horseback). If more dogs or teams than the number allowed in a class is entered, a waiting list will be established. The waiting lists will be kept open until the first day of the Finals (June 15, 2021.)

  • Refunds will be given for withdrawal until May 25, 2021. After that time, refunds will be given only if another dog from the waiting list is available to take the vacated position up to the first day of the Finals (June 15, 2021).

  • Full entry fee refunds will be given to any dog or team on a waiting list if a place does not open for them to run. A handler on the waiting list may ask to be removed from the list at any time and a receive a full entry fee refund, however transaction fees paid by credit card will not be refunded.

  • ALL ENTRIES MUST INCLUDE HANDLER/DOG PROFILE AND PAYMENT. Entry forms without either payment or the handler/dog profile will not be accepted.

Class Sizes and Limits

    • Open 

      • 50 dog limit, 2 dogs per handler limit.
      • Dogs qualify, not handlers. A qualified dog may be run by any NCA member.

      Nursery (Dogs born after 10/1/17)

      • 35 dog limit, 2 dogs per handler limit.
      • Dogs qualify, not handlers. A qualified dog may be run by any NCA member.


      • 30 team limit, 2 dogs per handler limit.
      • Dog/handler teams qualify, not dogs or handlers.


      • 20 team limit, 2 dogs per handler limit.
      • Dog/handler teams qualify, not dogs or handlers.


      • 20 dog limit, 2 dogs per handler limit.
      • Open & Nursery – Dogs qualify, not handlers. A qualified dog may be run by any NCA member.
      • Intermediate – Dog/handler teams qualify, not dogs or handlers.
      • Novice handlers are not eligible to enter the Horseback class.

    2021 NCA National Finals Rules

    Entries and Substitutions

    • A handler may enter up to two qualified dogs per class in the NCA National Finals. Any dog, Intermediate team, or Novice team is qualified to be entered if they have earned any NCA points during the qualifying year.
    • If entries submitted exceed class limits for Open, Nursery, Intermediate, or Novice then earned points for each dog, Intermediate team or Novice team in each individual class will be the tiebreaker.
    • The Horseback class is unique in that entries will be accepted for dogs or teams from the Open, Nursery or Intermediate classes. Dogs with points earned in a horseback trial will be given priority. If there are spaces still available after that, entries will be accepted based on the date they were received at the NCA office.
    • Those dogs or teams entering, but not eligible to compete, will be put on a waiting list in case of withdrawals. Waiting list dogs are ranked in descending order of points earned for all classes except the Horseback class.
    • A handler may substitute a qualified dog for an entry at any time prior to the beginning of the Finals. Substitutions must be within the class. However, if the substituted dog has not earned sufficient points to be eligible to compete in that class, it will be added to the waiting list. (For example, if a handler initially enters Open dogs ranked 3rd and 27th among the entries, but then wishes to substitute a dog that would be ranked 55th, the substituted dog will not be eligible to compete until there are additional withdrawals.)

    Course Rules

    •  Course is points and time.
    • Handler to send dog from, and is free to move anywhere, behind handler line.
    • Time begins when cattle leave trailer or set-out panels, or when handler sends dog, whichever occurs first.
    • The outrun will not be judged, and points will not be awarded or deducted based on the outrun.
    • Must get one head through each obstacle before proceeding to next obstacle.
    • Handlers may retry any obstacle before moving on, but once it’s obvious to the head scorer that a retry is being attempted, previous points earned at that obstacle are forfeited. Handlers may retry obstacles as many times as they wish.
    • After cattle have mixed, handler must either retry or move to the next obstacle.
    • Runs will receive full time unless all cattle exhaust.
    • Running on the course is not allowed. Violations will result in points for that obstacle being forfeited.
    • A stock stick may be carried.
    • Handlers may not enter, reach into, or put any object into obstacles. Violations affecting the outcome of the run will result in points for that obstacle being forfeited.
    • If cattle leave the course and the dog was not responsible, a rerun may be given at the discretion of the head scorer. If a rerun is not given, the head scorer may allow points earned to be scored with full time allotted. If the dog is responsible for the cattle leaving the course, a full DQ with no score may be given at the discretion of the head scorer.
    • A handler may retire their dog for points earned and a maximum course time at any time during their run.
    • Intention to retire should be indicated clearly to the head scorer.
    • During their run, handlers may question scorer as to completion of an obstacle, time used, clearing of obstacle, etc. Scorers will not provide information unless asked.
    • If a dog appears out of control and is abusing the cattle, the head scorer may instruct the handler to retire. Dog will receive points earned to that point in the run and maximum time.
    • Grievances must be directed to the course director. Course director may consult with scoring committee. Decisions of the course director and scoring committee are final.
    • Instructions given at handler meetings take precedence over these rules.

        Final Rounds

        • The top 40% (maximum) of dogs in each class, based on sum of scores in two preliminary runs, will qualify for the Final round in each class. In the event of tie scores, the dog/team with the fastest combined times will be taken.
        • The run order for the final rounds will be from lowest to highest combined score.
        • Champions will be determined by the sum of preliminary scores plus the final round scores (cumulative scoring).
        • Ties will be broken by sum of times for the two preliminary runs and the final run. If a tie still remains, the tie will be broken by the final run placing.