2021 Tom Bass Seminar on Diversity in Equestrian Sports
The 3rd Annual Tom Bass Seminar on Diversity in Equestrian Sports was held as a Zoom webinar on Saturday, November 20th, 2021. The virtual meeting examined issues relating to diversity in domestic and international activities.
Launched in 2019 as part of the annual Day of the African Equestrian (DOTAE) celebrations, the 2021 seminar took place in a time of political, commercial and societal disruption - highlighted by a widening gap between ‘the haves’ and the ‘have nots’ in the United States and other countries.
The seminar paid tribute to equestrians of color participating in Tokyo 2020, the recent Olympic and Paralympic Games, as riders, coaches, officials and members of supporting delegations.
A legendary American Saddlebred trainer, Tom Bass (1859 - 1934) was born enslaved in Columbia, Missouri. He played a prominent role both in the establishment of the American Royal Horse Show in Kansas City and in the promotion of the city of Mexico, Missouri as the ‘Saddle Horse Capital of the World’.
Highlights of his extraordinary career include championships at two World’s Fairs and more than 2,000 blue ribbons. For many years he was the only African-American permitted to compete at the American Royal.
The Tom Bass bit, developed to give the rider control without causing pain to the horse, is still in use today.
During his lifetime, Bass performed before such luminaries as Queen Marie of Romania, William Jennings Bryan, P.T. Barnum and U.S. Presidents Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and Calvin Coolidge. His more prominent clients included Mr. Roosevelt, Buffalo Bill Cody, Anheuser-Busch executives Adolphus and August Busch and Will Rogers.