Long-time NCHA member Pat Jacobs, 79, passed away August 29. Jacobs was an NCHA Members Hall of Fame inductee, and he also received the NCHA Judges Distinguished Service Award.
A popular musician and raconteur, Jacobs showed against the sport’s legends, and he judged cuttings for more than 40 years, including the first monitored show. He placed the longest running advertisement in the history of NCHA’s Cutting Horse Chatter magazine.
As a teenager in Kansas, Jacobs earned walking around money by driving cattle to the rail yards and helping load them onto stock cars.
“My heroes were always cowboys, so I helped drive cattle every chance I got,” he said. “It’s all I ever wanted to do.”
He saw Buster Welch ride Marion’s Girl at a county fair, and immediately forgot about his aspirations to be a roper.
“Until that moment, I thought cutting was for old men who couldn’t rodeo,” he said. “After watching Buster, I wanted to cut.”
He got a job working for a trainer and picked up the trade mostly “through osmosis.” By the early 1960s, he was judging shows.
“I was just a tall, skinny cowboy and cutting horse trainer from Kansas,” he recalled. “I believe the only requirement then to be a judge was you had to belong to the NCHA for at least two years, and not have any suspensions. Back then, if you could get $25 for judging a cutting, you were pretty well paid.”
As a showman and as a judge, Jacobs was always looking for ways to improve the sport. After a weekend show, he and his fellow cutters would brainstorm, and more often than not Jacobs was the one chosen to deliver their ideas to NCHA headquarters.
“On Monday, I would call (NCHA Executive Director) Zack Wood and bend his ear, telling him about our ideas. I did it often enough where if I didn’t call him on Monday, he would call me and ask, ‘What did you come up with?'”
Jacobs once recalled a time when cattle suppliers would make sure only their best stock would be used at the shows.
“It was a showcase for them to have their cattle on display at the county fair,” he said. “A lot of times, the cattle were furnished, with the trucking and everything else, at no cost. Maybe our new members need to look back and reflect on all the efforts of the judges, the ranchers and livestock men who tightened their belts to help a growing association.”
Jacobs’ adventures were featured in Tom McGuane’s collections of essays, Some Horses, and in his own book, Outcasts, Outlaws, and Second Chance Horses: The Pat Jacobs Story.
A viewing will be held at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Ashland Ks at 7:00pm on Friday Sept 2, 2016. The funeral will take place at 10:00 am Saturday, Sept. 3. A celebration of life will be held in this area at a later date.