Inducted - Monday, April 12, 1999
Sculptor: William J. Williams
Where is Tom Bass in the Hall of Famous Missourians?
Tom Bass helped break the color barrier at the turn of this century while revolutionizing the saddle horse profession. Bass was known for his gentle and humane training methods and was said to have never raised a whip or a club and rarely his voice to his horses. He invented a special bit that is less intrusive and painful to a horse's mouth, but he never patented it because he wanted to "give it to the horses of the world; something to make their way in life a little easier." The Tom Bass Bit is still in production today.
Bass is regarded as one of the world's greatest saddle horse trainers. Born into slavery in Boone County, he lived most of his life in Mexico, Missouri where he trained horses for a number of notable individuals including Theodore Roosevelt and Buffalo Bill Cody. In addition, he rode in the inaugural parades of Presidents Grover Cleveland and Calvin Coolidge and was invited to Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebration in England. Because his talent as a horseman was greatly admired, Bass was allowed to show in the same ring with white trainers when America was still a very segregated place in the decades following the Civil War.