Tik Maynard Teaches Introducing Play with Your Horse

 

Transform "Work" into a Joyful Experience

Many riders and horse owners ask the same questions: How do I figure out what my horse is thinking? How do I train a horse empathetically? How do I motivate my horse to want to learn?

The answers are also questions: How do you make it playful for them? How do you make training interesting and engaging? 

Play is not work. Play is something we choose to do. So, by definition, work can turn into play simply by making it something the horse chooses to engage in. Learn from 2024 Road to the Horse champion and FEI event rider Tik Maynard, and leave this program with a better base of communication skills, a proven method of transforming "work" into "play," and a stronger bond with your own horse.

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Learn How to Target Train

Develop the basics of clicker and target training, allowing you to transform your horse's mindset from one of work to one of curiosity that can help keep your horse engaged in a variety of situations. 

Observe Play in the Herd

Identity and study the body language of horses as they play in a natural herd dynamic, and learn how to transfer what you learn from these observations into your own work with your horse to hone your communication with them. 

Strengthen Your Bond

Create a deeper relationship with your horse by transforming the concept of "work" into a concept of "play" which will yield tremendous benefits over time as you continue to teach them new skills from a viewpoint of fun and joy. 

Course Overview

Here are just a few of the many things you'll have access to with this course: 

  • 15 video lessons and demonstrations with¬†Tik Maynard
  • Learn several games you can play with your horse to strengthen your relationship
  • An Equestrian Voices podcast with Tik Maynard and Caroline Culbertson
  • An understanding of how a "play" mindset can transform your relationship with your horse
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Introducing Play with Your Horse Lesson Plan

In this lesson, you'll watch a short video that depicts horses of various ages at play. What do you notice about the body language and dynamics of these scenes?

Listen as Tik talks through this video, analyzing the forms of play we're seeing and relating this back to what he will teach you in this course.

In this Equestrian Voices episode, Tik and Caroline discuss why play is crucial to horse training and how to incorporate it into daily interactions can teach us to be better observers, facilitate better communication, and reignite our passion for horses.

In this lesson, Tik demonstrates basic target work, and how to begin the process with your horse. 

Watch as Tik uses a clicker to teach a human the basics of target training - observe the level of play and fun that both participants are having!

In this lesson, Tik will show you (and volunteer Paige) how to introduce target training with a 3-year-old filly we call "Po". 

In this demonstration lesson, you'll watch how the Sending game works. For this, you'll want to use a single barrel stood on end. If you don't have this, find something you can place a treat on that's high enough for the horse to find it and walk around it. 

Watch as Tik teaches our volunteer, Ashley, and her 10-year-old gelding, "Superbad" or "Brad", the Sending game. 

Before learning how to do the Boomerang game, you'll watch Tik demonstrate with his horse, You'll see how this builds on to the previous game, the Sending game. 

For this game, we'll use our volunteer, Ashley, to build on the idea of the Sending game. The idea of this game originates from horseman David Lichman from California.

Remember, the idea of teaching this concept to a person helps us learn timing and cues, as well as to see the experience from the horse's perspective. 

We're back with Tik and Ashley and her horse, Brad. We just watched Tik and Ashley work on the cues for this without the horse. Now let's see what happens and watch Brad learn in real time.

Watch as Tik helps with correcting the course when Brad has questions about what he's learning.

Next up, we'll build on what we've learned with the Figure 8 exercise. For this, you'll want to use barrels, set about 14 or 15 feet apart (adjusted to be further apart if you work at the trot or canter. This distance is good for using the barrels at a walk.). If you don't have barrels, you could use short jump standards or something else that's safe and large enough to guide the horse around.

Tik will demonstrate this exercise with Galileo before moving on to teaching people and horses how to do this game. 

Here, Tik works with our volunteer, Ashley, to teach the Figure 8 that you just watched him demonstrate in the previous lesson.

This practice is intended to really teach us as humans to learn what the horse is feeling and what we want to anticipate from them at the end of the rope. It's going to feel strange, and that's okay! 

In this lesson, you'll teach a horse the Figure 8 game by watching this horse, Brad, learn it himself. We think you'll find a lot to learn and enjoy in this lesson! 

It's time for the finale, where you will learn how to teach the Pedestal game as our last lesson. 

Tik will demonstrate this exercise with his horse, Galileo. 

 

For this, you'll want a partner, of course, as well as a rope halter and a long rope or lunge line. Not everyone will have a pedestal to use, so if you substitute for a different piece of equipment please ensure it's a safe environment that can support the horse's weight. 

Think of this game as a "riddle", like a crossword puzzle. This concept applies outside of "just" playing with your horse too. Approaching questions like a puzzle creates lateral thinking and a tendency to think outside the box, which can help with solving other problems in and out of the saddle.

In problem solving, there is no cheating. If you slow down, simplify things, or back up, you're not "cheating" - you're making the question clearer for your horse. 

This is a cool lesson to work! In this final lesson, Tik works with our volunteer, Casey, and her horse, Ricky Bobby, to teach the Pedestal game. Watching the learning process is really impactful and can help you apply the concepts to your own horse. 

Meet Tik Maynard, your Masterclass Instructor

Tik Maynard is a horse behavior expert, trainer, coach, clinician, best-selling author, and international-level competitor who has combined his love of eventing with horsemanship training. Tik's mother competed in grand prix dressage while his father was a grand prix show jumper. Tik grew up riding in the show jumping ring frequently and eventually became interested in Modern Pentathalon - a sport in which he won the National Championships and competed in the World Championships twice.

He and his wife, Sinead Halpin, who is a 5* three day event rider and member of the U.S. Equestrian Team, run Copperline Farm in Citra, Florida, accompanied by their two young children. Most recently, he won the 2024 Road to the Horse Competition, considered by most to be the World Championships of colt starting.


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