In his new memoir IN THE MIDDLE ARE THE HORSEMEN, TSB author Tik Maynard tells a story about how he submitted his first query letter to a publisher:
I spent weeks writing, editing, and re-editing my query letter to them. I finally took a deep breath, and hit send.
Opened a vein.
I did not hear back from them.
Not for four-and-a-half years.
In 2016 we reached out to Tik, having read a piece he wrote for Practical Horseman Magazine. We were impressed by his writing and inquired as to whether he was interested in writing a book. Needless to say we were pretty horrified to discover that he had actually submitted a concept to us years before, and somehow we had not responded in any way, shape, or form! Explanation as to how this faux pas might have occurred aside, we were thrilled to eventually sync up, and the result, we at TSB feel, is something pretty special.
IN THE MIDDLE ARE THE HORSEMEN chronicles Tik’s experiences—good and bad—as a working student in the horse industry. This unglamorous “apprenticeship” position is never a walk in the park, and Tik had his share of frustrating and demoralizing episodes. But they were balanced by a steady progression in knowledge and understanding of what it takes to train, ride, and care for horses. Readers find themselves transfixed, following along as one year becomes three, what began as a casual adventure gradually transforms, and a life’s purpose comes sharply into focus.
We recently caught up with Tik—who is not only on the road teaching clinics and promoting the release of his book, but is also expecting a baby with wife Sinead Halpin in the fall. With such a big year ahead, we thought it best to ask him some of life’s most important questions.
TSB: If you were trapped on a desert island with a horse and a book, what breed of horse would it be and which book would you choose?
TM: First, lets hope its a big island with lots of grass and fresh water for the horse.
As for breed, I like all horses, so probably something useful for whatever type of island I’m on. Like maybe a heavy horse so I can pull logs to make a boat? Or a Thoroughbred if it was a big island and I had to get around a lot.
As for a book: The Grapes of Wrath.
TSB: If you could do one thing with horses that you haven’t yet done, what would it be?
TM: Compete in Road to the Horse.
TSB: What is the quality you most like in a friend?
TM: That we can laugh at jokes and laugh at ourselves.
TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse?
TM: I’m kind of weird; I like all horses. But wait, is soundness a quality? I would want a really healthy, sound horse. I have a lot of patience with horses, but rehabbing horses can stretch it.
TSB: What is your greatest fear?
TM: Right at this moment, that something will happen to my wife or my kid during the next few months. If that is too serious for this Q-and-A, then total baldness.
TSB: What is your greatest extravagance?
TM: My walnut desk, made in the United States, and the merlot-red leather chair that I bought at the same time. It easily cost three times what I would have spent on desk—I could probably have gotten one at a garage sale—but I love it so much. My father-in-law paid for it, and I will always remember him when I sit at it to write.
TSB: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
TM: Well, I love singing, and I always say that singing should be judged based on enthusiasm rather than skill. But secretly I have always wished that when I sang all my notes didn’t sound the same to other people.
TSB: What’s in your refrigerator at all times?
TM: Everything I like gets eaten, and it’s all the stuff I don’t like that is in my refrigerator all the time—like the blue cheese somebody bought for us at Christmas. Or the deli meats that my wife bought before she went away for five days to teach a clinic. I don’t eat most meats, so I usually end up giving them to Zeppo, our perfect, black-and-white dog.
Growing up with two brothers, I learned quick to eat the good stuff right away. I love chocolate milk, for example, but that never lasts.
TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
TM: Having just the right number of projects in my life. Too many and I get stressed, too few and I feel unproductive.
Also of course, the right kinds of projects. I loved writing this book, but at the same time I was working on my Green Card application, which was not a fun thing to do on a rainy afternoon. (And yes, I just got my Green Card! I’m from Vancouver, BC, originally.)
TSB: If you could have a conversation with one famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?
TM: Most of the famous people I admire probably aren’t great conversationalists. Legends from the horse world, like Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt, Reiner Klimke, well… I guess I would rather watch them ride, or ride with them, than sit down for a chat with them.
And writers are often known for being better at writing than speaking. I love Steinbeck—I could read his books all day!—but I don’t know if I would want to meet with him. It might take away from how cool he is in my mind.
I guess if I were to have a conversation with somebody famous, I would probably choose somebody good at talking, somebody funny…. Maybe Ellen Degeneres?
TSB: What’s your motto?
TM: “What’s a motto?”
“Nothing. What’s a motto with you?”
LOL. That (obviously) is Pumbaa, Simba, and Timon.
I don’t really have a motto, but what I’m most excited about right now is Sinead and I are having a son—due in September—and I’m really looking forward to watching kids’ movies. The Lion King, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles. And my favorite: The Sound of Music! I could watch The Sound Of Music over and over.
TSB: You didn’t answer the question.
TM: Okay, if you really push me for a motto it would be something in between two mottos that I like. “Do your best,” is the first, and “Give yourself permission to not be perfect, so you can be great,” is the second.
Which brings us full circle, because in the middle are the horsemen.
Tik Maynard’s new book IN THE MIDDLE ARE THE HORSEMEN is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.
CLICK HERE to download a free chapter or to order.
In the Vancouver area? Check out Tik’s book launch party at the Southlands Riding Club clubhouse, Friday, June 22, beginning at 6:30 pm. All are welcome!
Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.