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In the Middle Are the Horsemen


Review by Nancy Brannon

In the Middle Are the Horsemen, by Tik Maynard, is a compilation of Maynard’s journal entries (some of which were published in Gaitpost and some in the Chronicle of the Horse) from his three years as a working student with several of the top riders/trainers in the world. In the horse industry, working students aspire to become professional riders or trainers and willingly trade their labor for hands-on education. Being a working student entails hard work and long hours, but Tik emphasizes the learning process; here he records his lessons learned on the way to becoming a horseman.

 “This story is about learning, writing, running, getting hired, and getting fired (a few times). It is about other things, too. Most of all, this is a story about horses,” Maynard writes.

Maynard, from Vancouver, Canada, is the son and grandson of prominent equestrians. His dad, Rick Maynard, is a Grand Prix show jumping rider and was coach of the Canadian National Pentathlon Team. His mother, Jennifer, is a Grand Prix Dressage Rider. His brother Jordan manages the family farm, Southlands Heritage Farm, and his brother Telf manages Southlands Riding Club. Tik had been coached by his parents since he began riding, and he was greatly involved in Pony Club, becoming an A graduate.  He was on a national winning Pony Club Games team that won the Prince Phillip Cup. He competed in Tetrathlon in Pony Club and later competed in the Modern Pentathlon at the Pan Am Games in 2007.

In 2008, 26-year-old Maynard faced a crossroads. A university graduate and modern pentathlete, he broke his collar bone at the World Cup in Mexico City, ending his pentathlete career. With all this equestrian background, he still wanted try something new with horses, so he decided to contact the best horse trainers in the world and become a “working student” for a year. This one year turned into a three-year stint, working for some of the best horsemen and horsewomen in the world.

His working student positions first took him to Germany to work for dressage great Johann Hinnemann, also the first job from which he was fired. “It would be years before I thought about the difference between riding a horse and understanding a horse,” he wrote. But it was Ingrid Klimke who helped him learn the understanding.

Quotes from Klimke:

“I see two ways to build confidence in horses. One is to keep having positive, successful experiences. The second is to go through something difficult, but to come out okay on the other side.”

“To become a great rider, one must ride great horses.”

Moving from dressage to eventing, he went to work for David and Karen O’Connor. “The O’Connors started all their horses using methods similar to those taught by American horseman Pat Parelli…starting to build a relationship with a horse from the ground with a rope halter.” David and Karen O’Connor had a partnership with Pat and Linda Parelli for years. Here Tik begins pondering the question of how “natural horsemanship” is different from “horsemanship,” and what exactly is “horsemanship” anyway? David O’Connor explained that so often people learn to compete before they learn to ride and learn to ride before they understand horses. It’s the understanding that must come first. And “David and Karen O’Connor were proving to me that treating others with kindness was more rewarding in the long run. Respect fosters loyalty and hard work.”

He worked for renowned figures in the horse world such as Ian Miller and Anne Kursinski and gets to learn from Anne’s mentor, George Morris. Another from whom Tik learns a lot is Anne Kursinski’s barn manager Asa Bird.

But for something completely different, he goes to Loving, Texas to work for Bruce Logan. Logan has learned from Pat Parelli, Craig Johnson, and Ronnie Willis. And of course, those traditions root from the teachings of Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance.  “The way a horse learns is, number one from confidence, then understanding, then the achievement, the result,” Logan says. With horses, honesty and consistency are key, Tik learns. It’s from Logan that the title of the book comes when he says: “Over here are the ‘natural horsemen.’ And often there is nothing natural about what they do. And over there are, well, whatever the opposite is – the people who don’t take into account the horse and what its capabilities and tendencies are. In the middle, though, are the horsemen.”

Through his journey Tik studied the horse, and human nature, and how the two can find balance. He got married and lost loved ones. And in the process, Tik’s goal was to become a great horseman – the kind of person a horse would choose if a horse had the option. Working for Sinead Halpin for a weekend turned out to be a fateful meeting; Tik chronicles their romance and blooming partnership.

Tik is now married to eventer Sinead Halpin and his horse training combines 3-day eventing with horsemanship. Find more about him at and on facebook Tik Maynard Company.

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