In 2008, 26–year–old Tik Maynard faced a crossroads not unlike that of other young adults. A university graduate and modern pentathlete, he suffered both a career–ending injury and a painful breakup, leaving him suddenly adrift. The son of prominent Canadian equestrians, Maynard decided to spend the next year as a “working student.” In the horse industry, working students aspire to become professional riders or trainers, and willingly trade labor for hands–on education. Here Maynard chronicles his experiences–good and bad–and we follow along as one year becomes three, what began as a casual adventure gradually transforms, and a life’s purpose comes sharply into focus.
Over time, Maynard evolved under the critical eyes of Olympians, medal winners, and world–renowned figures in the horse world, including Anne Kursinski, Johann Hinnemann, Ingrid Klimke, David and Karen O’Connor, Bruce Logan, and Ian Millar. He was ignored, degraded, encouraged, and praised. He was hired and fired, told he had the “wrong body type to ride” and that he had found his “destiny.” He got married and lost loved ones. Through it all he studied the horse, and human nature, and how the two can find balance. And in that journey, he may have found himself.
I thought this book was EXCELLENT and highly recommend it for anybody that finds horses being a part of their life. I do think it is one of those great reads, however, that even the non-equestrian community could get a lot out of. As much as it is about horses, it is also about life and failure and learning and choices and personal responsibility.
I few of my favorite highlights were the sharing of some high level horseman as to how they think “horsemanship” should be defined. I also really like his philosophy of thinking of a horse’s emotional state in terms of levels of tension or levels of relaxation. And I loved loved loved the point he describes taking a ride through “The Fork” because I’ve been there, I’ve ridden my horse in those same spaces and I could clearly see just exactly what he was writing about.