Forgive me. I didn’t know Tik Maynard was such a big deal! I was asleep for a couple of decades, immersed in my work in the energy conservation field and a proud disowner of technology, literally living in the woods at the end of a dirt road, while Tik Maynard lived a big juicy life and became a big deal in the horse world.
Since we met at a horse trial in Altoona Florida I have been catching up with what the rest of the world already knows about Tik, and sifting through a treasure trove of information about him on that Interweb thing you young people use!
I met Tik this April at Rocking Horse Spring Horse Trials on a hot, breezy, sunny afternoon, the day after a storm broke and we all ran for cover.
I was there helping an old friend Nicole Parkin; with three out of her four young horses competing over two days, she had a lot to juggle! Nicole’s youngsters were great; all coming home with good experiences. One of them even won their division!
After Nicole and her husband Frank left with their horses, I decided to stay, soak up the sunshine and enjoy watching athletic horses as they galloped across this manicured park. It had been 30 years since I was last there with my old horse O'Reilly, and although I had retired, many of my old friends were still at it. It would be fun to see them in action again, after all these years!
I positioned myself in the shade of a grove of towering mossy oaks where the first question on the course was – two skinnies related to each other on a line in the shade – and I saw one pair make it look like poetry! Yes, many others made it through the same combination successfully, and yes, this gorgeous dark horse was nice to look at, but it was something else. There was something about their expressions - the looks on both the horse and rider's faces - that could be felt. It was pure joy! They were having such a sweet ride! I stopped to listen to the announcer, waiting to be told who this young magician was, and wasn’t surprised when I heard him say, ‘Tik Maynard’.
“Yep!” I thought! “That makes sense!"
I had heard that Tik was into liberty work, so, it stood to reason that he would have a special connection that translated into the kind of sweet partnership I saw while riding cross country.
Consulting my memory vault of what I knew about Tik … revealed shamefully little! I was, after all, just coming out of my hiatus from the horse world. I made a mental note to learn more about Tik and figure out what he looked like in person. At this point he was just a horse-human blur in the woods to me, and a few vague notions about him coming from BC and being into Liberty work. That was about it. I put ‘research Tik’ into my mental ‘to-do’ file, and moved around the course to watch the rest of the day’s offerings, as one gorgeous horse-rider pair after another galloped by.
With the sun much lower in the sky, I straggled back to the near empty car park to see someone checking out my little green VW Bug, ‘Mable’, in all her logoed glory; a blue-eyed man, with a bright open face and the friendly quality of so many in this sport. He was curious about my car, my podcast, my purpose, and super supportive of the ideas I was talking about.
It was nice to feel heard and seen, and as I fired Mable up for the drive home I found myself marveling at how people were still so friendly in this remarkable sport! Before pulling out, I remembered the box of Christian Lowe Leather Care products my friend Christian had sent me to give to my hosts and interviewees. I thought, “Perfect! I’ll give that nice man an armload of products, just for being so darned friendly! THAT’S what this is all about!”
I marched over with my arms full of gorgeous leather care products to where this nice young man was sitting on the grass beside his trailer, while his horse grazed and his toddler climbed all over him. A beautiful sight! He continued doing what he was doing with the little fella, who I was introduced to as Brooks. He explained that at 2 and a half, Brooks had just become a big brother a few days earlier, and he was spending some much-needed time with his daddy.
I melted, handed him the goods and said, "This is just a little gift for being so friendly!” And as he shook my hand, he introduced himself as Tik Maynard.
I told him about seeing him earlier on course, having so much FUN with that gorgeous dark horse, and about wanting to meet him. I was kind of blown away because I truly didn’t know it was him! He invited me to stop by the farm in the coming week, for some sort of tour or demonstration.
Whaaaaat? Of course, I will postpone leaving Florida until you can fit it in!
I was planning to leave Florida to meet an old acquaintance Jan Liteshoe in North Carolina, to talk HeartMath and Natural Horsemanship. I banked on being able to catch up with her in some other way and my whole plan went on hold, until this father of two, whose wife Sinead is an uber-competitive international Three-Day Event Rider, could fit me it ... with their toddler and new baby. I held my breath and hung around the Laws checking my texts every fifteen minutes. Now? No? How about now? Does today work? How’s tomorrow look?
He fit me in between spring storms, as another bout of unsettled weather broke through. As I wandered around the end of the barn to find Tik I came upon his mother, Jennifer, with week-old baby Violet in a pram, and Mom, Sinead, riding. Amazing!
Tik excused himself to prepare the round pen for our demonstration and I chatted with his Mom
who marveled at the path her son has taken, and how he assimilates learning from so many sources and does what he does. We chatted about my theory that feel is learnable and that some of us need to practice being who our horses needed us to be, in order to connect. After a few minutes Tik appeared and we followed him out to the round pen in the shade of mossy windblown oaks.
Tik and the gorgeous, glistening Galileo – the same horse I had watched him gallop cross country at Rocking Horse – put on a little show. Actually, I think they just tuned us out and played, and let us witness it. It was beautiful and mutually respectful and full of JOY and FUN! He graciously answered questions and allowed me to record it, which you can see on YouTube.
Since then, I have immersed myself in all things Maynard. Tik has evented at the Advanced level and been Long-Listed and Short-Listed for Canadian National Three-Day Event Team. He has won the Freestyle twice at the Thoroughbred Makeover, teaches clinics in the United States, Canada, England, and Scotland and is an on-line instructor for The Horseman’s University and for the Noelle Floyd Equestrian Masterclass. He is a regular contributor to podcasts and online magazines, and he wrote a book. A GOOD book.
I read his book, watched a bunch of clips on you-tube and the Noelle Flloyd Masterclass, signed up for a course and have been enjoying his fresh take on life with horses. He crosses genres, from horses for sport, to horses for utility, to horses for liberty work and relationship, and keeps a sense of ‘play’ in everything he does with horses. In an industry that can take itself pretty seriously, Tik’s attitude is refreshing.
Tik Maynard is a lot of things. He is an athlete, a writer, a teacher, a horseman, a husband, a business partner and a father, and as near as I can tell he’s not done! Tik is definitely still open to evolving and wearing more hats. That’s because at his core, Tik Maynard has an insatiable curiosity about life and is a consummate learner.
Born into a family of horse people, he didn’t initially choose horses. With a mother who studied the art of dressage to the Grand Prix level, and a father who was an International Three-Day Eventer come Grand Prix Show Jumper - it seemed kind of inevitable! Like a dying breed of horsemen, he was born into it, and there was much he absorbed and took for granted from growing up around horsey parents.
At a certain point, he had to choose it. Life, as it will, presented him with an opportunity. Of course, that opportunity was disguised as a challenge, as they so often are! Tik’s opportunity looked like a broken shoulder and a broken heart, when he sustained a career ending injury and got dumped, in one fell life swoop. At 26 years old, after years of international success on the Canadian Modern Pentathalon Team, it was suddenly over.
And that’s where Tik’s book, In the Middle Are The Horsemen, comes in. In it he chronicles how he pivoted from this turning point.
“It was a funny time of life for me to be crawling out of hibernation, but waking up is a curious thing: We open our eyes, but we don’t know what the day will bring.”
“That was how I felt – as if I had been moving in shadows, doing what was expected, and then suddenly, a spotlight caught me, and a voice roared: “WAKE UP!” Not the most inspiring two words, but effective, like a slap across the face. “WAKE UP!” And I listened. I put pen to paper. It was a clear first step in a marathon.”
Tik followed his curiosity and his insatiable thirst for knowledge and understanding. Like a quest for the meaning of life – he pivoted from disaster and made a plan to explore the art of horsecraft with the world’s best. Tik didn’t mess around! He made a list of the top names in the horse business and set off with an open mind and an able body in an exchange of labour for learning known within the horse industry as ‘a working student position’. The working student is a vulnerable position and a dying breed; willing to trade sweat equity for learning, and to clock inhumanly long hours in service of the best interests of the horse and in pursuit of excellence. Tik was also willing to own his weaknesses and show us what he learned along the way. It is a positively charming book!
A few weeks into my Tik Maynard marathon, I got to interview him for my podcast. He agreed to do it because he is so darned nice and genuinely seems to LIKE this sort of thing – his eyes sparkle and he asks good questions – but I know it was hard to fit in with a new baby in the mix of an already full life. Running low on time before his podcast date, he fit me in as he drove to the airport.
He was absolutely gorgeous and engaging and thoughtful. We talked about pivoting and being proactive, about what partnership feels like, and about the most important qualities of a good trainer regardless of which discipline they practice. This appealed to me most - as the daughter of a cowboy-come-veterinarian on one side, and with a mother who rode English and came through the Pony Club system on the other - I had inherited a broad range of horsemanship models. All of them claimed to be ‘the way’ with horses and many used conflicting ‘methods’ yet got similar results. Finding the common threads between them always intrigued me. Someone like Tik, who treats Western Horsemanship, Liberty Work, Dressage, Show Jumping and Eventing all with equal respect for what they bring to the table, is very rare, but with his influence it is sure to become more common.
In the end, the common thread we shared when judging whether someone was a good horse trainer or not, was joy. I hope you will tune in to our talk, where you can hear his passion and enthusiasm for life with horses and his speculation that for him, it will become more about the art of horsecraft than sport, as the years go by.
Take a chance,