I first heard the distinctive and authoritative voice of announcer Tom Mannos at the Middlesex County Horse Show, back in the days when it was actually held in Middlesex County, at scenic Johnson Park in New Brunswick.
Happily, I had plenty of other chances to listen to his polished, always professional approach at other New Jersey shows, including Hunt Cap in Three Bridges and those being held at the Horse Park of New Jersey in Allentown. Going further afield, I welcomed his familiar sound at the Hampton Classic and Madison Square Garden when the National Horse Show was held there.
Tommy, now 90 and still in stride, was honored this month with the Jimmy Walsh Trophy for the second time in recognition of over 50 years of service to the Long Island Professional Horseman’s Association at their annual banquet. All of his family flew in to see him accept an original bronze sculpted by Marilyn Meiselman.
Tom got introduced to horses when he was nine, spending a summer on his uncle’s Montana ranch. He knew the animals would always be part of his life, and became involved with reining and cutting horses, as well as riding in 20 states, Canada and two Caribbean islands.
He went on to become a radio broadcaster and a television actor, announcer and advertising executive. When he bought a horse for his son, Mark, he entered the equestrian world.
After attending horse shows, he realized they needed better announcing and public address systems. After announcing at a schooling show where he did a play-by-play on a trail class, he received an offer to announced at his first American Horse Shows Association recognized show.
He wound up announcing more than 30 shows a year, and his sound system became TM Sound, with 20 loudspeakers, six amplifiers, two miles of wiring and 42 radios that he took from show to show in a three-quarter ton van.
His announcing career also included horse expos and demonstrations from Michigan, Wisconsin and Kentucky, as well as Dressage at Devon and all the Belmont Park horse fairs. Through the years, his talent has been impressive and his dedication unfailing.