Tom Bass: “Horses are like humans”

Tom Bass

Today is the day we honor Martin Luther King, Jr and this month is Black History month. Many African Americans from the South were horse trainers and riders for plantations back before emancipation. The famous Black Cowboys can be traced to them. There is also Tom Bass, a gentle horse trainer, who once said “Horses are like humans”. ~ HfH

From: Horse Connection
By: CuChullaine O’Reilly

Tom BassIt was the Golden Age of the American horse. The hayrides, sleighing parties, buggy drives, circus parades, and proud cavalry drills that have now passed into legend were everyday equestrian events then. Literature was influenced by the activities of Theodore Roosevelt, Rough Rider, president and devoted horseman. Paintings by contemporary artists of the time with names like Charles Russell and Frederic Remington reflected the legend of the American West. Popular songs enshrined “jingle bells” and “old paint.”

The horse reigned supreme and every able-bodied American, man or woman, boy or girl, regardless of race, was in contact with the American horse in one form or another. They plodded across the Pennsylvania farm on Old Dobbin, raced towards the Montana horizon on a half-wild Cayuse or took the air around Central Park behind a matched team of high-steppin’ Cleveland Bays. No matter. God’s noblest gift to man, the horse, was King.

In such an environment every one naturally rode. Human nature has changed very little in only one hundred years. Then as now, what you rode said a great deal about your social status. Before anyone ever imagined the words Lexus or Rolls Royce, Americans were arguing the finer points of Narragansett Pacers versus Chickasaw ponies.

All Americans, red, yellow, white and black rode. Then as now some of them rode better than others.

In such an age, among so many horsemen one man stood out. His legendary ability to “talk” to horses was the buzz of the nation. In a world of horseplayers, he was the equestrian Mozart.

Before Jackie Robinson ever donned a Dodger uniform – there was Tom Bass. Before Rosa Parks ever demanded a seat in the front of the bus – there was Tom Bass. Before Martin Luther King ever had a dream – there was Tom Bass. Before Barack Obama ever ran for President – there was the legend of Tom Bass – the black horse whisperer.

Born a slave, the friend of Presidents, the most famous Black American horseman this country has ever known, today his story is consigned to oblivion. Yet once his name was a household word synonymous with equestrian feats of unparalleled beauty and achievement.

But he didn’t start out famous. He started out in chains.

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1 Comment
  • karen

    Great post!

    January 20, 2014