Clare’s Road to the Thoroughbred Makeover: The Makeover Is a Team Sport

For 673 accepted trainers, the journey to the Retired Racehorse Project‘s 2019 RPP Thoroughbred Makeover has begun! Between now and the Makeover, to take place Oct. 2-5 at the Kentucky Horse Park, four of those trainers will blog their journeys, including their triumphs and their heartbreaks, successes and failures, for Eventing Nation readers. Read more from EN’s 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover Bloggers: Lindsey BurnsHillary McMichaelClare MansmannJennifer Reisenbichler.

When I was a kid, I got teased a lot that I got into riding because it was an individual sport. Apparently I didn’t play well with others, or I was bossy, or independent or, like, maybe all of the above and it should probably be mentioned that all that teasing came mostly from my own parents.

As I have matured (it’s recent), I have realized that nothing could be further from the truth. Training a horse well is a collaborative effort, making it necessary to keep your horizons broad, meet new people, reach out to others, think outside the box, study, read books, discuss situations, and above all, exercise your humility.

Oh my gosh, it’s like everything the horse person thought they were getting away from in life. Joke’s on us.

We, at Pacific Farms, have a bit of a leg up on this team effort, as our business plan and marriage covenant require us to figure out how to work together. Every. Single. Day.

Tom and Clare Mansmann on OTTBs Alarming and Unbridled Glow. Photo by Anna Purdy.

All joking aside, we love it, but that’s because we love each other, and we truly love horses. Here’s another kicker. We love people. In this business, we’re all aware that the love of the horse and the human can get lost all too easily. This is not because anyone gets into it just for the money or greed (come on), but because horse people really are fairly crazy and wear down the professional (also a crazy horse person) who actually started for the love of the horse and maybe even had friends, but after years of nickel-and-diming, mind-boggling sales stories (seriously, folks), poor nutrition (of the human, not the horse), and heartbreak, a solitary office job that allows the luxury of keeping one nice horse to ride in fair weather at someone else’s barn sounds pretty groovy.

A few years ago, we were in a deep dark hole bit of a rut. Our firstborn child was in and out of hospitals for years, and we had a second child in the midst of that because it sounded like a great idea at the time (it WAS a good idea … eventually). Tom was running the business largely by himself while I was home being a night nurse, and a day nurse, and a therapist. We were surviving but that’s about it. It was the Thoroughbred, along with the 2016 TB Makeover, that re-inspired us and re-invigorated our business. It was also the Makeover that brought to light all we
can learn from others, and the fact that we must, and that is why we are going again, four years later!

Because we like horses, we need people. And so we branched out.

We took up a little cutting.

Photo courtesy of Clare Mansmann.

And here is my much less successful but ridiculously fun attempt at cutting:

We picked the brains of hunter trainers, and even let them braid for us. (Thx, Charlotte Cannon!)

Buff Dude and Clare Mansmann at the Warrenton Horse Show. Photo by Susan Carter Photography.

We shipped out to learn more about ranch riding and trail obstacles.

Due to our lessons, people actually thought Tom knew what he was doing here. Even Vino. Tiz Solo Vino and Tom Mansmann at the 2018 TB Makeover. Photo by Lucky Clover Photography.


We ride at least twice a month with Jimmy Wofford and, yes, we know how blessed we are to be able to have access to his knowledge. He has taught us how to better teach horses in any discipline.


Jimmy Wofford giving his seal of approval to Alarming. Just not a treat, much to Alarming’s dismay. Photo by Amanda Cousins.

We walk out with hounds and talk to the huntsmen, to see if fox hunting is the horse’s jam.

Tom and Vino, second in line, at the 2018 TB Makeover Field Hunter division. Photo by David Traxler.

We take advantage of visits from Richard Lamb.

Fun with Richard Lamb. EVERYONE should ride with him at any given chance. Photo by our daughter.

We take advantage of a long-time friendship with Dressage muckamuck, Ali Brock.

Ali and Dude. He’s super impressed. Photo credit: my obnoxious self.

We take advantage of our friendship and now partnership with Amanda Cousins of Ashland Equestrian.

I don’t have a picture of Amanda helping me, though she does, oh so much. I DO have this picture of me forcing her to stretch, and that’s priceless. Photo by Anna Purdy.

We take advantage of the RRP Makeover Trainer group on Facebook by messaging other trainers in other disciplines with questions too lame to post publicly. Over and over.

Basically, we take gross advantage of all that the Makeover offers, which is access to a wealth of knowledge and resources. So much so that there is no excuse to not become a well-rounded trainer trying to develop well-rounded horses that have safe and successful futures ahead of them. And when we know all there is to know about horses and how to work with them, then I suppose we can go off on our own. But since that literally will never happen (literally), we love them too much not to rally the troops and celebrate our team spirit.

Alarming smooch. Photo by Amanda Cousins.