Recognizing the Accomplishments
of Generations of Black Horsemen
Tom Butler and Stonewall's Supreme Rita, an American Standardbred.*
By Susan J. Young
A new exhibition, “Out of the Shadows: Bringing to Light Black Horsemen in Saddlebred History,” has opened at the American Saddlebred Museum. The museum is located at 4089 Iron Works Pwy., at the Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington, KY.
Opened in February, the year-long program showcases the contributions of African-Americans from the post-Civil War period through the 1970s. Over the years, black horsemen were caretakers, trainers and competitors in the American Saddlebred industry. But prejudice prevented their sizable accomplishments from being recognized.
George "Dan" Brown and a high stepping American Standardbred.*
Still, these men persevered to put horses into the winner’s circle on national and world’s championship levels. World heavy-weight boxing champion Joe Louis owned Saddlebreds. Tom Bass, another African-American trained them. These men, along with notables such as Walter Murphy, Junior Seay and “Walk-Trot” Thomas now shine in the spotlight at the American Saddlebred Museum.
A special video has been produced in conjunction with the exhibition. It documents the museum’s collection of historic photos, trophies and ribbons, tack, stories and other memorabilia, all assembled for the year-long exhibition.
Gene Gay with the legend Bourbon King. Foaled in 1900, Bourbon King won the grand championship at the Louisville Horse show as a three-year-old.*
For more information, contact the American Saddlebred Museum at 859-259-2746 or www.kyhorsepark.com.
*Photos owned, copyrighted and used with permission of the Kentucky Horse Park. All rights reserved. Do not link to these photos nor copy. Thank you.