EQUUS

AT THE HORSE SHOW

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Rex McDonald’s last show, August 15, 1913 at the fairground­s in Mexico, Missouri. It was a tour-de-force get-of-sire class, with every entrant a son or daughter of the great coal-black champion. From foreground to rear: Rex McDonald with his last owner Ben Middleton, up; Golden McDonald (Cason McDonald), Tom Bass up; Miss Cliff (Miss Denmark D), D.E. Holman up; Madison McDonald, James Bufford up; Rex Arbuckle, M. Middleton up; the Stuart Colt, L.B. Barnet up. Tom Bass had a hand in training most of these horses.

It takes many shows to forge a champion. Here we see Tom Bass (far right) at the Mexico fairground­s on an unidentifi­ed three-gaited (walk-trot-canter) horse. I can find no picture of Tom Bass, not even the most casual snapshot such as this, in which he is not more properly dressed, better seated, more at ease and yet more alert and ready for whatever the judges might call for next, than his competitor­s.

Tom Bass is credited with being one of the founders of the American Royal Horse Show. This panoramic view shows Saddlebred horses inside the old Royal arena. Stabling was on a basement floor directly below the show ring, and the author (who groomed a time or two for various competitor­s) remembers well how the horses could be heard thundering along overhead as streams of dust filtered down through the cracks. The building has now been razed and replaced by a more modern facility.

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