Dale and Glenda Pugh, April Hill Farm, New Bloomfield, Missouri
In the early years, Dale and Glenda worked for the well-known Callaway Hills Farm in New Bloomfield. While at Callaway Hills, Dale played a role in training the legendary Will Shriver. At their April Hill Farm, Dale and Glenda began a legendary breeding and training operation developing a long list of young horses including Supreme Attraction. Glenda also showed some of the great ones such as Callaways Capers and Preferred Prince. Glenda’s interest in horses began at an early age when her grandfather first put her on a horse. At the age of 11, she got her first saddlebred. Her father cared little about horses, but Glenda and her mother shared a love for horses. Her career has spanned 70 years. Dale and Glenda trained horses and, even though they did not actually give riding lessons, they taught riders how to ride on their own horses. One of the highlights of Glenda’s career was beating Art Simmons on her walk/trot mare at the American Royal. Art got 2nd in that show. According to Glenda, “Art was the hardest to beat and she thought she really had a feather in her cap when she beat Art Simmons!” Dale has been inducted into the United Professional Horsemen Hall of Fame, St. Louis National Charity Horse Show Hall of Fame, and the American Royal Hall of Fame. Dale was known nationwide as one of the best trainers of young horses. He served in the United States Navy during World War II and passed away at the Veteran’s Home in Mexico, Missouri, February 17, 2008 at the age of 90. Dale and Glenda consider one of their greatest accomplishments to be their ability to make training a horse and the rider such a pleasant experience that the horsemen continued in the sport. They were very proud that the majority of their customers stayed in the business for the long-term.
Source: Interview with Glenda Pugh, 2/16/2016; Horsetalk.co.nz, March 2008; Information from Don Harris, Feb. 2016; Dale Pugh obituary, Fulton Sun, Feb., 2008
Don Harris – Simpsonville, Kentucky
Few horsemen have reached the pinnacle of their sport as Don Harris. Don was born in a small town in Indiana, the son of a coal miner. In his early years, Don dreamed of being a basketball coach. His father purchased him a horse while growing up and riding horses began as a hobby. He moved to Shelby County Kentucky in 1969 to work on Coppercoin Farm at the urging of Marjorie Wagner. Harris has trained and competed in horse shows for over 50 years winning some of its highest honors. He has been awarded the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Lifetime Achievement Award and the Jimmy A. Williams Tropy, American Horse Shows Association (now USEF) Horseman of the Year in 1980, American Saddlebred Horse Association C.J. Cronan Sportsmanship Award in 1996, the ASHA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009, and Horse World’s Trainer of the Decade and Trainer of the Century. Harris also was inducted into the UPHA Tom Moore Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Kentucky State Fair World Championship Horse Show Hall of Fame in 1994 along with his friend and fellow competitor, Art Simmons. He has won nine five-gaited gelding class records and has trained five, five-gaited world champions; six, three-gaited world champions; and holds a record 14, five-gaited championships at Madison Square Garden; won a record 13 times at the Rock Creek five-gaited stakes; and was the 1993 five-gaited Triple Crown winner. Fellow horsemen attribute his success to training, showmanship, and sincere kindness. Harris has developed some of the greatest American Saddlebreds in history: CH Imperator, CH Giddy-Up-Go, CH Protégé, CH Sultan’s Starina, and CH Finisterre’s Gift of Love. He has also promoted the breed abroad by playing a role in sales to horsemen in Germany, South Africa, and Haiti. While Harris now only rides occasionally, he is still involved in the business providing consulting services to young trainers.
Sources: The Sentinel-News, Jan. 9, 2015; usef.org press release, Jan. 6, 2011; Resolution by the Senate of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Tom Bass 1859-1934
Born a slave in Boone County, Tom Bass became a legendary trainer of American Saddlebred horses in a world that had always been considered a white man’s profession. Due to his incomparable talents with horses and gentle nature, he rose to fame and celebrity status at a time of racial segregation. As a young man, Bass moved to Mexico and worked as a driver for the Ringo Hotel transporting passengers from the train station to the hotel. He soon began working for the partnership of Cyrus Clark (Clark built the Big Barn on the Boulevard in 1887) and Joseph Potts. While working for Potts and Clark, Bass was given his first opportunity to show an uncontrollable mare named Blazing Black. From that moment on, his career took off showing in horse shows throughout the nation and Canada. Through his talent, skill, and invention of a new bit, Bass was able to tame the wildest of outlaw horses. He rode in the Inaugural parades of Grover Cleveland and Calvin Coolidge, was the first black American to perform at Madison Square Gardens, and was a friend of five Presidents of the United States. Bass is credited with helping start Kansas City’s American Royal. Some of Bass’s famous horses include Belle Beach, Jack of Diamonds, Miss Rex, and Buffalo Bill’s white horse Columbus. At his death in 1934, his name was a household word. Even Will Rogers, a syndicated columnist, paid tribute to him by dedicating a column in his memory. Bass was considered a great trainer and rider of show horses along with being a great gentleman. Unfortunately, his barn was burned by an arsonist in 1997. The Simmons’ Stables Preservation Fund, Inc. is in the process of developing historic and educational signage to designate the location of the Bass home and barn.