2020 Tom Bass Diversity Seminar to Be Held at Tryon International Three-Day

Donna Marie Cheek, who in 1981 became the first black member of the U.S. Equestrian Team, is among the 2020 Tom Bass Seminar panelists. Image courtesy of Donna Marie Cheek.

The 2nd annual Tom Bass Seminar on Diversity in Equestrian Sports will be held on on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, following cross country at Tryon International Three-Day Event. Eventing Nation is proud to once again partner with this important event, whose inaugural edition last fall at TIEC foreshadowed this year’s ongoing reckoning with issues of race in equestrian sport.

The year’s seminar will be presented virtually due to Covid-19 from 3:30 p.m. ET and will be live streamed on the main arena Jumbotron. Those following from afar can tune in here on EN, TIECHorsesDaily or via presenters The African Connections Research and Education Fund, Inc. and SportsQuest International, LLC.

Panelists, most of whom will participate remotely, will discuss issues relating to diversity in domestic and international arenas. This year’s roster includes returning panelists, including Leslie Wylie of EN, as well as some very exciting new voices — we’ll be introducing you to them in the coming week. The event will be moderated by Melvin Cox, Managing Director of SportsQuest International, LLC and a Lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Registration for the seminar is now open here.

The seminar’s namesake is an homage to legendary American Saddlebred trainer Tom Bass (1859 – 1934), who was born a slave in Missouri. After the Civil War he found work as a stable boy and eventually became a world champion competitor, esteemed trainer and founder of the American Royal Horse Show in Kansas City. For many years he was the only African-American permitted to compete at the American Royal. He invented the Tom Bass bit, a benchmark for humane bitting that is still in use today, and performed for five different U.S. presidents. His clients included President Roosevelt, Buffalo Bill Cody, Anheuser-Busch executives Adolphus and August Busch, and Will Rogers.

Tom Bass riding his famous Saddlebred mare Belle Beach. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Topics to be explored by panelists include:

  • Demystifying horse sport – not for rich kids only!
  • Developing broad-based community support for equestrian activities at all levels
  • Leveraging new and traditional media in horse focused education and promotion
  • Making horses ‘legit’ again in lower and middle income communities
  • Identifying and promoting heirs to the popular equine icons of yesteryear
  • Incorporating the rich equestrian heritages of non-white, non-European communities into our shared equestrian narrative

We are grateful to Tryon International Equestrian Center for supporting the Seminar again this year. The Mill Spring, NC, venue is hosting the USEF National Four-Star Championship, as well as Prelim through Intermediate horse trials and FEI CCI2*-L, CCI3*-L and CCI4*-S divisions, Nov. 11-14.

[Plans Announced for 2020 Tom Bass Seminar on Diversity in Equestrian Sports]