By Britney Grover
Portraits by Lauren DeLalla
Taking a look at Tik Maynard’s family tree, it may not be a surprise that he ended up with a career in horses. Tik’s parents, Rick and Jen Maynard, own and operate Southlands Farm in Vancouver, Canada. A grand prix show jumper with horseman parents before him, Rick also coached the Canadian Modern Pentathlon teams for the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Olympics. Even Tik’s siblings all stayed involved with horses on some level, helping out at the farm alongside their careers.
Now, Tik has his own successful riding and training business near Ocala, Florida, with his equestrian wife, 4* eventer Sinead Halpin. But even with his equestrian family and upbringing, Tik’s path to becoming a professional horseman was far from charted. In fact, when Tik was young, horses were little more than “fun,” just another school sport like basketball. It took talent, a dream-crushing injury, rediscovery, personal reflection, years of study, working his way around the world and more to get Tik to where he is now — enough to fill a book, which is exactly what he did along the way.
An Early Start
Though his birth certificate reads Thomas Ian Kevin Maynard, he’s always gone by Tik. When asked how his name got abbreviated, Tik replied, “It was actually the other way around. When I was born, my older brother was 2 ½ and started calling me Tik. My parent’s hadn’t chosen a name so they decided to keep Tik but make it into initials so it wouldn’t just be ‘Tik’ on my birth certificate.”
Tik’s parents were already well-entrenched in the equestrian world by the time Tik was born. His mother, Jen, was a grand prix dressage rider; his father, a show jumper. The couple supported their young family by running a tack shop and taking horse show photos — they were the first official photographers at Spruce Meadows. Tik’s earliest memories of horses involve riding in Pony Club and attending shows around Canada with his father — though he wasn’t exactly paying close attention.
“My dad competed on and off his whole life, but his heyday was when I was young,” Tik remembered. “Sometimes I’d be helping with the horses, and other times I’d be off playing in the barn and making forts from the hay bales and things like that. We’re probably lucky we didn’t kill ourselves — there were about a hundred hay bales and we’d play underneath them all.”
Through Pony Club, Tik became a skilled rider and competitor, gaining his first taste of international competition as a member of the Canadian team at the Kentucky Horse Park in Prince Phillip Games, various horseback relay races. He also became involved in tetrathlon: running, swimming, shooting and riding. Tik added fencing to his skill set and competed in modern pentathlon after attending the University of British Columbia. A member of the National Team, Tik won the National Championships twice and went on to the World Championships in Guatemala and Germany. He represented Canada at the Pan American Games in 2007 and set his sights on making the 2008 Olympic team — still, horses were just a sport.
“When I was growing up, horses were always fun,” Tik said. “I liked competing a lot, but I thought of it as any other game you do as a kid, like basketball and things like that. I didn’t think of it as being a long-term passion for me.” So when he fell during the warm up ride for a World Cup in Mexico City and broke his collar bone, ending his Olympic pursuit, Tik had to make some major decisions.
Tik has always had an active mind. “I’m not very good at being bored,” he said. “So I’m usually never bored — I always find something to keep myself busy.” In recent years those “somethings” have included juggling, but that desire for stimulation was probably part of what made pentathlon so appealing, with its five different disciplines — and what piqued his interest in eventing during his very first cross-country ride. As he healed from his injury and was faced with the decision on what to do next in his life, Tik was spending time at home in Vancouver when his father suggested they go on a casual cross-country ride, taking jumpers out in a field to jump small obstacles. That well-timed ride was just catalyst enough to make Tik choose to pursue riding further instead of going back to school.
In 2008 he began his equestrian career as a working student at Johann Hinneman’s dressage barn in Germany — yet it would be several more years before Tik himself knew it was the beginning of a lifelong pursuit. “It wasn’t until I started learning more about animal behavior, how horses think and feel and play, how they interact with each other, doing groundwork with them and working with really green, young and complicated horses that I started to see it more as an intellectual pursuit than just a physical one,” Tik said. “That was when I really thought this was going to keep my interest for the rest of my life.”
Tik’s education as a working student ranged the gamut of equestrian disciplines and took him around the world. Tik left Johan Hinneman’s barn to work for and learn from Ingrid Klimke. From there, Tik studied under eventers David and Karen O’Connor in Florida, a horse trainer in Texas, Olympic show jumper Anne Kursinski, Ingrid Klimke and more. From the first position in Germany, Tik chronicled his experiences.
“I started writing about it for a magazine in British Columbia, just a short article about going to Europe to work in a dressage barn,” he said. “At the time I even called it ‘Chapter One,’ and started with the idea that there were going to be multiple chapters to this adventure I was going to have. That idea has continued on, so you could say it’s taken me 10 years to write this book because I started in 2008 and now, in 2018, it’s being published.”
The book, “In the Middle Are the Horsemen,” not only follows Tik through the ups and downs of being a working student but details important lessons he learned along the way. “It’s been very enlightening and fun for me to be thoughtful about what I’m learning, what I’m doing with horses and what people are saying, and taking the time to put it down. I’ve learned a lot about myself and about horses and other people I’m learning from, just by going through that process.”
Also during the process, Tik worked for a stable as a trainer for three years, formed his own training business and merged with a partner — both in life and business. Tik was a working student for the O’Connors in 2009 when he was sent to help young, aspiring event rider Sinead Halpin for a weekend. Their paths crossed again while Tik was working for Ann Kursinski, and they began dating in New Jersey just before Tik started working as a trainer.
“It’s just very easy for me to get along with Sinead — we have different strengths and weaknesses in a lot of ways, but I also think we really get each other, with our passion and what we do,” Tik said. “You know how sometimes you meet kids that just know horses are going to be the rest of their lives? That’s what Sinead was like — for as long as she can remember, she was going to be not just into horses but an event rider. She’s been very single-minded and passionate about it, always trying to learn and get better. That’s something I really admire in anybody, whether they’re passionate about horses or something else.”
Tik and Sinead were married in 2014, and merged their training businesses into Copperline Farm. At the time, they were renting barns in New Jersey and then in Ocala for three months during the winter. “When we were renting, we might be going to a different barn every time because something would rent out,” Tik said. “In one two-year period, we went to 11 different barns because of one reason or another; it was ridiculous. It was so much moving, and not a lot of stability. We started looking ahead, hoping to have a family one day and a more stable lifestyle.”
To the Future
After weighing the advantages to each New Jersey and Ocala, Tik and Sinead purchased land in Citra, Florida, just north of Ocala. “For young professionals just starting out, Ocala just made so much more sense,” Tik said. “Land is a lot cheaper, there are a lot more opportunities to learn, there are a lot of clinics, and it’s a great location: If you want to go do any kind of schooling, there are probably 10 different places to go cross-country schooling within an hour.”
It’s the perfect place for Tik and Sinead as a couple and for Copperline Farm, which incorporates both Sinead Halpin Eventing and Tik Maynard, LLC. “Our businesses are 90 percent run together: We share the barn, we share the staff, we go to competitions together, we help each other. Once in a while it’s a little separate, like if someone sends a horse specifically to Sinead or me, but it’s mostly run as one business. I think it’d be very hard to do what I do and not be married to somebody who’s into horses.”
When it comes to the future, Tik and Sinead aim not exactly to grow Copperline, but to refine it. While horses might stay with them for just a few months, Tik hopes to get a few horses that stay a year or more so they can develop a deeper relationship. Likewise, Tik hopes longer three- or four-day clinics will take the place of multiple single or two-day clinics. “I get to know the people better and they get to know me, and that’s exactly the kind of thing I enjoy about teaching people or horses: when you feel like you’re more invested for the long term rather than having them for a brief one-hour lesson or having a horse for one week and then never seeing them again.”
In the meantime, Tik is excited about the June release of his book, and the communication and relationships it will open up. “Like anybody who’s gone through the trouble of writing a book, I hope that people will read it. I’ve gotten some feedback from the articles, some good and once in a while bad, and it’s always good to have that conversation with people who read your story.”
As far as competition, Sinead’s eventing career may be temporarily suspended as she and Tik take on the next lifelong-learning adventure: parenthood. They’re expecting a baby boy in September. “We’re really excited, but we also have no idea what we’re doing,” Tik admitted. “We’re really hoping that my parents, Sinead’s mom and brother and everybody comes out to help us for a little bit.”
It’s a good thing Tik has fine-tuned his skill in learning and processing on the go, because it looks like he’ll be a “working student” once more. “We don’t know a lot about babies,” he concluded, “but I’m sure we’ll figure it out.”
For more information, visit tikmaynard.com