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Wrangling the horse market: Young cowgirl shares her passion for training and selling horses

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Lance Creek – Tessa Manning is a 14-year-old cowgirl who has a passion for horses. She grew up on a fifth-generation ranch with her family and has been involved since she was born.

“I’ve learned a lot about ranching from my grandparents and parents,” Tessa says. “I also learned how to ride at a very young age.”

The family’s history and ranching roots run deep, but when she is not busy playing two high school sports – basketball and volleyball – Tessa spends a majority of her time training and selling horses.

Grandpa’s love and influence

Until recently, Tessa’s love for horses grew into a passion for working, train- ing and selling the four-legged friends, and her grandpa Alvin Manning has played a major role in helping her accomplish her goals.

“I got involved in selling horses when I was 13 years old,” Tessa says. “The first horse I ever sold was a little Appaloosa pony mare my grandpa bought for $1,450 from a previous sale.”

“Grandad knew it wouldn’t take long for me to fall in love. She was lightly started compared to anything I had been on up to that point, but my grandpa told me if I would work hard, I could do good on her and continue selling many more,” she continued.

Tessa learned a lot from the Appaloosa mare which she and her grandfather later sold for $9,000 at a sale in Douglas.

“My grandpa started and continues to drive my love for horses,” Tessa says. “I’ve had so many oppor- tunities, chances to meet some truly amazing people and the ability to learn and care so much about horses because of him.” 

Horsemanship skills

There are many skills Tessa teaches the horses she works with.

“I try to do everything with them and teach them respectful ground manners, being saddle broke and being able to handle anything extra,” Tessa explained. “Just recently, I learned how to lay a horse down, though I’m far from mastering this skill. Hopefully in a few years I will be able to teach things like that as well.”

There is a lot to learn when it comes to working with horses and how to make a good one, she shares.

“My grandpa taught me some valuable things that go into making a good horse and sometimes the things that make a good horse are not taught,” she says.

In addition to working with her horses, Tessa showed in 4-H when she was 10 and 11 years old. She competed in trail, barrels, poles and goat tying.

Today, Tessa focuses more on training and selling horses. One of her high- est selling horses was sold last year at Jake Clark’s horse sale in Cody, selling for $29,000.

Horse characteristics

There are several things Tessa’s grandpa taught her to look for in a horse, she shares. This includes clues as to whether horses are smart, gentle, willing, athletic and have a solid build.

“While most of these characteristics are not able to be found, sometimes you are able to build them up,” she says.

Tessa works with nearly 40 horses on her family’s ranch and is hopeful to have more in the future.

“I don’t necessarily have a favorite,” she says. “I’ve enjoyed working with some more than others, but sometimes the less enjoyable horses are the ones I learn the most from.”

“When my grandpa traded and sold horses, he had anywhere between 100 and 150 head of horses out on our ranch,” she explains. “While I hope to eventually be able to attain that, for right now, 40 head of horses is more than enough to keep a freshman in high school who plays two sports plenty busy.”

Biggest lessons and future advice

Life offers many life lessons, and Tessa notes there are even more valuable lessons when working with horses. It takes hard work, determination and responsibility.

“One of the biggest and hardest lessons I’ve learned is to always have patience,” she explains. “You can’t get frustrated, you have to be calm, respectful and brave

when working with horses.” There are several key things trainers need to remember when training horses, and it starts with the horse’s foundation, she shares.

“Work on making a solid foundation on a horse you can build up, whether this foundation starts when the horse is one-year-old or 10 years old, it’s important to have a solid, broke horse you can count on,” she says. “Always be patient and learn from everyone and everything possible, especially from the horse.”

She encourages horse trainers to push not only the horse out of their comfort zone but the trainer as well.

“Work on breaking through comfort zones, always have a good attitude and have even a better plan toward adversity,” Tessa concludes.

Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send com- ments on this article to

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