EQUUS

TOM BASS PORTRAITS

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This studio portrait of Tom Bass was taken in about 1918, when he was at the height of his career and nearing 60 years old. Bass was known above all as a man of great integrity and kindness, both to people and to horses.

No inscriptio­n identifies the rider in this George Ford Morris image, but that the rider is Tom Bass can be deduced from the characteri­stic costume (bowler hat and bow tie), dark complexion and hair, moustache, and (above all) the feeling of the hand upon the reins—anyone who has ever finished a horse or ridden in a double bridle cannot mistake the mastertouc­h upon those reins. The horse is the famous *Obeyron, best of the Asil stallions imported to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, who later became one of Buffalo Bill Cody’s mounts. This image was taken sometime after 1893, probably at the 1894 or 1895 Atlanta Horse Show which was attended by both Bass and Morris. Bass posed for the photo— Morris was showing the stallion that week— but undoubtedl­y also took a spin on him, perhaps partly out of curiosity to see how he compared to Columbus.

Tom Bass on the five-gaited multi-champion Jack O’Diamonds. Here again we can study the hands of a master horseman. The photo from which this portrait was made was taken before the wreck with Columbus which caused Tom to lose much of the feeling in his right hand.

Tom Bass on the powerful and absolutely sparkling mare Miss Rex. This photo was taken in Chicago in 1893, in the park outside the exhibition hall as Tom warmed her up for one of her appearance­s at the World’s Columbian Exposition. Bass is in britches and boots, so this was probably an “all work” class. Note the sensitive hands “talking” to Miss Rex through the reins.

Tom Bass on Columbus in an expressive and extremely beautiful passage on the large circle. This was before their 1902 accident. The two hands of a master horseman never do the same thing at the same time, for the simple reason that the horse’s left and right pairs of legs never do the same thing at the same time.

Tom Bass on his most famous mare, Belle Beach, in a hugely scopey and impulsive passage (verging upon Spanish trot) upon the large circle. An engraving after this George Ford Morris photo appears on Tom Bass’s tombstone.

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