Futurity Rules and Guidelines

Purpose: The purpose of the futurity is to create a fun, safe, and competitive environment for breeders to enjoy each other’s company and cattle while acknowledging the animals that best represent the future of the Texas Longhorn breed by rewarding the breeders that enter animals displaying the unique characteristics of this breed.

Judging: To accomplish this goal 5 futurity judges will score the animal in the ring on the attributes that set the Texas Longhorn breed apart using a scoring range of 60-80 points. Judges should not be trying to place the animal nor deliberate with other judges.  Each animal will individually enter the ring by class from youngest to oldest so judges can score the animal in the ring on its own merit. The high and the low score for each animal will not be used, and the remaining 3 scores will be added together to determine the placing of each animal per class.  Judges will score the animals to the tenth of a point.

Grooming of Animals: Exhibitors are encouraged to show their animals in a neat and clean condition. Washing, brushing, combing, and trimming of excess hair is permitted, but should be kept to a minimum so animals can be shown with a natural appearance. All animals must be exhibited with the hair brushed down and smooth without the use of adhesives, aerosol sprays or agents that deter from the animal’s natural appearance. The tail switch is to be long and full without trimming or docking, and no balling or back combing of the tail switch. While trimming and clipping grooming of animals is permissible for futurities, specifically prohibited practices are the training of hair upwards or forwards and/ or being pulled upwards or forwards on any part of the animal’s body by brushing, combing or any other means.The sanding, oiling, and polishing of horns; and polishing of hooves is prohibited .

Alteration Of Physical Features: Alteration of an animal’s appearance by cosmetic and/or surgical changes are deemed unethical and will be grounds for disqualification. Some examples are, but not limited to, the weighting of horns, banding, surgically altering of navel, dewlap, or other skin areas, surgically altering knees or hocks, or injecting any substance under the skin or into any muscle (i.e.: steroids or growth implants of any kind), the practice of artificial filling by drenching, pumping or use of any other device is prohibited.

Acceptance of Rules: The presentation of a signed entry form by the owner shall be deemed acceptance of the Rules and Regulations and all other rules pertaining the futurity. In the event of failure to sign an entry form, the first entry into the show ring of an animal owned by the exhibitor shall be deemed to be acceptance of the Rules and Regulations by the owner.

Health Certificates: The term “health certificate” means a legible legal record, made on a federally approved form issued by an accredited veterinarian, which shows that the animals listed thereon meet the requirements of the state of destination. Health Certificates are required for each futurity.

Health Certificates must: 1. Accompany animals and be available on request at check in.  (For liability purposes it is recommended that a futurity make a photocopy and keep on hand and the original be given back to the owner or exhibitor) 2. Be presented at the time of check-in 3. Individually identify all animals, showing positive identification of each animal by name, tattoo and/or brand with PH number,  4. List Veterinarian certified (palpation, blood test, or sonogram) breeding information. (Any animal over 18 months of age confirmed as pregnant will be announced to judges as noted on health certificate).  5. Show required test and/or vaccinations AND, 6Show name and address of owner or exhibitor. Animals with active lesions or ringworm with resulting loss of hair, or multiple warts easily visible without close examination will not be permitted to exhibit. Please note this also includes Michigan cattle!!

Females: Any female over 30 months of age that does not have either a nursing Texas Longhorn calf at side (no cross bred calves will be allowed to be shown at side), the results of a positive pregnancy test (palpation, blood, or sonogram) listed on health certificate, or a registered offspring will be disqualified, and show will not be required to refund entry fees. Pregnancy information and/or age of calf at side will be made available to the judges.  Also, any animal over 18 months of age will have pregnancy status announced to the judges if confirmed pregnant on health papers. Please have this noted on the health certificate.

Protests: All protests must be given to the futurity host before the futurity results are posted or announced.

The Unique Traits Judges are Looking For

  • The head should be of moderate to pronounced length with moderate width across the forehead and a wide muzzle, giving an almost rectangular profile.The ears will be small and held close to the horn.Long hair in the ear is preferred.The neck should be trim in females and well-muscled in bulls, with no evidence of hump, and should blend in well at the shoulder.
  • The neck should be trim and tie in smoothly in both sexes.The bull should have a crest over the midpoint of the neck.The shoulder should be free with a moderate slope in both sexes.The topline should be strong and level with good width.The hip should have a moderate slope from hooks to pins.Level hip/elevated pins or sharply sloped hips should be severely discounted.The tailhead should be balanced and neither square nor overly sloped exhibiting a characteristic “fish-hook” in the sacral vertebrae.The tail should be long and straight with a tail switch that reaches to at least the mid cannon and preferably the fetlocks at maturity.
  • The body should be deep in relation to the length of spine with balance between the heart girth and flank depth.Ribs should be well sprung.The brisket should be clean and free of excessive fleshiness with moderate width.
  • The feet and legs should be strong with a large foot and well angled pasterns.There should be a moderate set to the hock when viewed from the profile.Front and hind feet should point forward, being neither pigeon toed nor splay footed.Both sexes should have a strong stride with no knuckling of the pasterns, the rear foot should track precisely in the footprint of the fore foot.Upright pasterns or “post legged” animals are highly objectionable.Excessive space between claws is objectionable.
  • Muscling should be smooth in both sexes.The topline should be broad when viewed from the rear with good width of loin.The musculature should be carried well down the stifle in the rear and into the forearm on the foreleg.The hip should be well muscled without appearing square.Larger horned animals may have increased musculature in the neck, to support the increased head weight, but should still maintain appropriate smoothness.
  • The haircoat should be slick and short (seasonally) as Longhorn cattle are not considered haired cattle.Coat patterns and colors are extremely varied.
  • The underline should be clean with no prominent navel/prepuce or excessive flesh.The udder should be attached well forward in the front quarters and high in the rear quarters.The udder floor should be level with evenly spaced teats of a small diameter and short to moderate length.The teats should not extend below the level of the hock.Testicles should be even and of an appropriate circumference for age.Testicles should hang level and not show any evidence of twist.(On males an optimal scrotal circumference should be 32cm at 12 months of age)Larger is better.
  • The most distinctive feature of the Texas Longhorn is the horn.Horns should be of moderate diameter, with the diameter of the horn not to exceed that of the poll.Females should have out swept horns with twist or curl preferred.Males can have a wide variety in shape and angle of horn.Horns less than 48” (4 feet) at maturity for both sexes are highly objectionable.
  • Overall, the animal should appear well balanced and functional.Traditional Longhorn conformation traits are centered around ensuring functional efficiency, early fertility, hardiness, and longevity.

Expanded Description of the Texas Longhorn


Legs and Feet – The Texas Longhorn should stand squarely on all four corners. The legs should not be camped under or post legged. When the Texas Longhorn walks the movements should appear fluid and the back foot should set down in the front track. If a line were drawn from the pin bone down through the lower leg it should intersect the hock and the fetlock and be perpendicular to the ground. The front legs should set squarely beneath the shoulder blade or scapula without evidence of bow or being knock kneed. From the ankle to the foot there should be an approximate 45 degree angle to help facilitate mobility and correct travel. The hooves should be of a moderate length to help maintain the correct pastern angle. Extremely short or long hooves will cause a change in the angle and put extra stress on the ankle joint eventually decreasing longevity in the animal. The toes or claws of the Texas Longhorn should be close together and not splayed out.

Head - The head of the Texas Longhorn when viewed from the front should be fairly flat across the poll or with a slight dome.  There should be no upward “v” shape to the poll, where the horn base has a larger circumference than the poll.  A “v” shape to the back of the poll is not objectionable, as it indicates the potential for twist. There should be a moderate to pronounced length from the poll to the muzzle with the muzzle and eyes being approximately the same width. This length of the head helps the unborn calf’s head to be positioned correctly between the front legs at time of birth. A straight profile from the side is preferred (no dished or roman noses).  The eyes should be wide set and should not bulge from the socket.  The muzzle should appear straight lacking any indication of wry nose or twist.  The teeth should meet the dental pad squarely.  Over bites or underbites are highly objectionable or undesirable because it causes an animal to be less hardy.

Ears - The ears of the Texas Longhorn should be small and rounded being held up tight against the horns. Large, droopy ears or ears exhibiting a sharp point are undesirable. The ears should be filled with long coarse hair to protect them from insects

Horns - The horns of the Texas Longhorn cow should not have extreme base circumference.  They should be slender to moderate in base circumference. There should be evidence of curl or twist in mature cows. The horns of the Texas Longhorn bull are broader based than the cow. The horns of the bull can be a large variety of shapes. The base of the bull, cow and steer should be uniform throughout the length of the horn. The horn base should tie in smoothly to the skull and should not appear bulbous or ballooned as it leaves the head. The bulbous or ballooned horn shape is highly undesirable in Texas Longhorn cattle. 

Shoulders - The shoulders of the Texas Longhorn should be closed (when viewed from above there should not be a distinct gap or divot between the shoulder blades).  There should be no evidence of coarseness or an open appearance where the blades are separated. This type of closed shoulder lends itself to calving ease in the breed. The shoulders should tie smoothly into the back, with no evidence of a pronounced dip behind the shoulder when viewed from the side. The shoulders of the Texas Longhorn bull while still having closed shoulder blades will be thick and muscular as the bull must utilize his shoulder power when mounting a cow. The shoulder blade or scapula should have an approximate 45-degree slope from the point of the shoulder to the crest of the shoulder blade. An incorrect slope at the shoulder can contribute to structural and mobility problems leading to a decrease in longevity.

Back – The back of the Texas Longhorn should appear fairly level when viewed from the side. There should be moderate width across the top of the back if observed from the front or back of the animal. The back should tie smoothly into the shoulders and hips. When the animal is on the move the back should appear flexible and fluid in its movement.

Hips - The hips should appear wider than the shoulders and have a moderate slope ( 15-20 degrees ) from the hooks to the pins. There should be evidence of adequate muscling that appears long in its make. Short bulging muscles or double muscling are undesirable traits (these types can cause mobility problems lending to decreased longevity). The muscling should extend from the top of the hips down through the upper leg while maintaining a smooth appearance when viewed from the side or back.

Tailhead – The tailhead should extend out from the end of the spine and have a small U shape or what is known at the fish-hook at the end of the spine. Following the fish-hook, the tail should extend out over the hip and curl down between the hips. The tailhead should be approximately the same height as the end of the spine. Extremely high set or sloping tailheads are highly objectionable.

Tail – The tail of the Texas Longhorn should be long and slender.  The switch or coarse hair on the end of the tail should be long and full and should touch the ground or near to it. The tail is the Texas Longhorns natural fly swatter. Short tails with thin switches are undesirable in the breed.

Neck and Brisket – The neck of the Texas Longhorn should be of a moderate length. Extremely short or extremely long necks are undesirable. The moderate neck length of the longhorn allows the head of the unborn calf to better lay in the correct position at time of birth lending to calving ease. The neck of the cow should be smooth and feminine in appearance. The mature bull will have a noticeable crest on the top of the neck forward of the shoulders and be thicker and more muscular than the cow giving the Texas Longhorn bull a masculine appearance.

Ribs – The rib area of the Texas Longhorn should show adequate width and depth. When viewed from the front or back the rib cage should be evident with plenty of spring or outward extension. The longhorn cow should be moderate to long sided with her depth carrying back through the flank area. This type of build helps to provide adequate room to carry future calves and plenty of room for consumption of available forage and feed.   Bulls should also exhibit adequate spring of rib as this is a heritable trait.

Underline – The underline of the Texas Longhorn should be trim and free of extra skin exhibiting little to no navel flap.

Udder – The udder of the Texas Longhorn cow should be well attached extending up high in the back between the hip muscles. The front of the udder should be well attached and tie smoothly into the underline or belly. The udder should have four small diameter teats that do not balloon or strut when full of milk. While a cow may have two extra non-functioning teats high on the back of the udder, extra teats on any other part of the udder are highly undesirable.

Sheath – The sheath of the Texas Longhorn bull should be trim and tight against the belly. It should never appear pendulous or have extreme amounts of extra skin.  The opening of the prepuce should point forward, never toward the ground.

Testicles – The testicles of the Texas Longhorn bull hang squarely under the bull without being overly pendulous. They should not appear twisted to one side or be drawn up or smaller on one side. The testicles should be of uniform size with a definite line between them and have a small bump in the center at the bottom of the scrotum. On bulls two years or older the testicles should measure a minimum of 34 cm.

Vulva – the vulva of the Texas Longhorn cow should be perpendicular to the ground.  The vulva should never angle in towards the body of the cow creating a shelf that can accumulate fecal matter (this can lead to reproductive problems and shorten the reproductive life of the female).  Vulva should also hold a darker pigmentation.  The low or non-pigmented areas on the animals allow opportunity for cancer.

Hair – The hair of the Texas Longhorn will vary according to the climate in which they live. In the hot summer the hair will normally be short and smooth. Texas Longhorn bulls should exhibit coarse thicker hair on the head, neck and crest (hair coats will vary according to season and region).

Hide – The hide should be pliable and not overly thick when felt.  The presence of excessive skin such as in zebu (Bos indicus) or zebu cross breeds is undesirable. Skin should be pigmented .The low or non-pigmented areas on the animals allow opportunity for cancer.

Color – The color of the Texas Longhorn can vary greatly from animal to animal and was best described by J. Frank Dobie in his 1941 book “The Longhorns” as quoted here: "The colors were more varied than those of the rainbow. There were brindles; blues – mulberry blue, ring-streaked blue, speckled blue, grullas – so named because they had the hue of the sandhill crane, also called mouse-colored or slate duns, washed-out and Jersey creams -- all hues of "yellow" browns with bay points; blacks, solid and splotched with white, brown and red; whites both clearly bright and dirty speckled; many sabinos, red and white peppered; reds of all shades except the dark richness characteristic of the Hereford, pale reds being very common; paints of many combinations. The line along the back was common, as in the mustang breed. Coarse brown hairs around the ears were characteristic. The shadings and combination of colors were so various that no two were alike.”

Since historically the Texas Longhorn was a composite breed there are many color traits that are evident in the modern cattle.  Before the establishment of the registries Longhorn type cattle were intermingled with many of the prominent beef breeds of the time, including Hereford.  The original cattle entered in the registry all passed visual inspection by Longhorn experts of the time.  Due to the nature of genetics some color patterns, such as the “dark richness” mentioned by Dobie, can be found in some lines of modern cattle. Color patterns distinctive of zebu type cattle, such as the colored topline with white sides, were not present in the breed at the time the registry was closed in 1975.