H.L. Akin, who served as president of the National Cutting Horse Association in 1961-62, died August 15 at his home in Oklahoma. His tenure saw the birth of the NCHA Futurity.

“I don’t want to take credit for it, but we started the Futurity in 1961, then came along with the Non-Pro (class),” Akin recalled when the NCHA was celebrating its 50th anniversary. “I think those two events created more growth and prosperity for the cutting horse industry than anything that’s ever happened.”

Akin, who ranched on the banks of the Red River, was a firm believer in giving the non-pros — known as amateurs in the beginning — a chance to compete at their own level.

“There has to be a place for every person, even if he’s just a prospective cutter,” Akin said. “If you don’t give him any incentive to work hard and improve, you kill our association. If an amateur has a chance, he’s going to go out and buy the best horse he can wrangle and try to beat those other amateurs.

“I just hope these young boys today appreciate what those guys like (founder) Ray Smyth did before my time. They were some fine people who worked hard and they spent a lot of money out of their own pockets making this thing what it is. I’m just proud to be a part of it.”

“The first cutting horse I ever saw was Matlock Rose on Jesse James (at the Fort Worth Fat Stock Show),” Akin recalled. “I never saw anything that looked so beautiful in my life, seeing that horse cutting with Matlock on him.”