3rd Annual Tom Bass Seminar on Diversity in Equestrian Sport Takes Place This Saturday

Screenshot from the 2020 Tom Bass Seminar.

It’s nearly time for the 3rd annual Tom Bass Seminar on Diversity in Equestrian Sports, to be held this Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021! This year’s seminar will be presented via Zoom webinar beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET. Eventing Nation is proud to once again partner with this important event, which launched and is dedicated to continuing an industry-wide discussion about issues of race in equestrian sport. EN editor Sally Spickard will participate in this year’s panel which includes:

Jeff Chambers, Legacy Multimedia Productions
Lydia Heywood, Jamaican Event Rider (based in the UK)
Elizabeth McCall, Journalist
Sandra Murphy, Equidiet (UK), Ltd.
Mia Rodier-Dawallo, International Para Dressage Competitor
Randy Saavy, The Compton Cowboys
Sally Spickard, Editor, EventingNation.com
Ashley Swift, Affiliate & Communications Specialist, United States Equestrian Federation
1:30 p.m.Welcome – Melvin Cox, SportsQuest International, Moderator
1:35 p.m. Section One: Domestic Panelists
Panelists: Mia Rodier-Dawallo (Para-Dressage Competitor – USA), Ashley Swift (United States Equestrian Federation), Randy Savvy (The Compton Cowboys), Bruce Griffin (Griffin Sport Horses)
Presentations: Update on the USEF Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Plan by Ashley Swift (Affiliates and Communications Specialist, USEF (10 min.)
2:15 p.m.: Break
2:20 p.m. Section Two: A Youthful View
Discussion Leader: Abriana Johnson (Young Black Equestrians)
2:40 p.m. Section Three: The Business of Horses
Topic: Opportunities for entrepreneurship in the global equestrian community
Discussion Leader: Sandra Murphy (EquiDiet Ltd. – UK)
3:10 p.m. Break
3:15 p.m. Section Four: Media 
Panelists: Elizabeth Kaye McCall (Author, Journalist & Media Consultant), Sally Spickard (Eventing Nation, Strides for Equality Equestrians), Jeff Chambers (Project Director, Legacy Multimedia Productions)
3:55 p.m. Break
4 p.m.: Tribute to Participants in Tokyo 2020 (Olympic and Paralympic Games)
4:05 p.m. Section Five: International
Panelists: Lydia Heywood (Eventing Competitor – Jamaica), Sandra Murphy (Equidiet Ltd – UK)
4:45 p.m. Q&A
5 p.m. Wrap-up
Free online registration for the seminar is now open here.

Launched in 2019 as part of the annual Day of the African Equestrian (DOTAE) celebrations, the 2021 seminar takes place in a time of political, commercial and societal disruption highlighted by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, never-ending cultural wars, ramifications of the MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements and a widening gap between ‘the haves’ and the ‘have nots’ in the United States and other countries.

This year’s edition will feature the following panels: Domestic Sport, Youth, Media and International. The seminar will pay tribute to equestrians of color participating in the recent Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo as riders, coaches, officials and members of supporting delegations. This year’s roster will be a mix of returning panelists as well as some very exciting new voices, to be announced soon. The event will be moderated by Melvin Cox, Managing Director of SportsQuest International, LLC and a Lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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 … reviving equestrian heritage in lower and middle income communities
  • Developing broad-based community support for equestrian activities at all levels
  • Building sustainable programs that support diversity in the horse industry
  • Incorporating the lessons gleaned from social activism into the ways in which we do business
  • Leveraging (new and traditional) media in horse focused education and promotion
  • Developing stories that more accurately reflect the life experiences of equestrians of color
  • Incorporating the rich equestrian heritages of non-white, non-European communities (including African, African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Native-American, Romani, South Asian and others) into our shared equestrian narrative
  • Celebrating participants in the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games
  • Supporting entrepreneurship within the equestrian marketplace

The seminar is presented by The African Connections Research and Education Fund, Inc. and SportsQuest International, LLC. Public Relations assistance and technical support are being provided by the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC). You can rewatch the 2020 edition here.