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Tom Bass

Tom Bass

Tom Bass broke down color barriers as a world-class equestrian and trainer of show horses over a career that spanned half a century. Bass was born into slavery on a plantation in Boone County, Missouri. As a youngster, he showed natural talent for handling and riding horses. Around age 20, he moved to Mexico, Missouri, where he worked at a stable and established a reputation as an expert trainer. Known for his gentle methods, he invented the Bass bridle bit as a more humane device for leading horses. Bass operated a stable in Kansas City in the mid-1890s and helped found the American Royal Horse Show in 1905. He was the first African American to ride in the competition. Bass trained horses and provided riding instruction for many of the city’s prominent citizens. He would later travel the world performing and competing in shows. During his career, Bass performed before five U.S. presidents and earned prizes at every horse show in the country with his prized mount Belle Beach, collecting more than 2,000 blue ribbons. He was inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians in 1999.

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  • 1859 – 1934

    Tom Bass broke down color barriers as a world-class equestrian and trainer of show
    horses over a career that spanned half a century. Bass was born into slavery on a
    plantation in Boone County, Missouri. As a youngster, he showed natural talent for
    handling and riding horses. Around age 20, he moved to Mexico, Missouri, where
    he worked at a stable and established a reputation as an expert trainer. Known for his
    gentle methods, he invented the Bass bridle bit as a more humane device for leading
    horses.


    Bass operated a stable in Kansas City in the mid-1890s and helped found the
    American Royal Horse Show in 1905. He was the first African American to ride in
    the competition. Bass trained horses and provided riding instruction for many of the
    city’s prominent citizens. He would later travel the world performing and competing in
    shows.


    During his career, Bass performed before five U.S. presidents and earned prizes at every horse show in the country
    with his prized mount Belle Beach, collecting more than 2,000 blue ribbons. He was inducted into the Hall of Famous
    Missourians in 1999.