Why Play Is Key for Building “Try” in Your Horse, and How to Do It with Tik Maynard

Why Play Is Key for Building “Try” in Your Horse, and How to Do It with Tik Maynard
When you picture adding “play” into your horse’s training, what comes to mind?

Do you imagine your horse chasing around a large ball or nosing carrots out of a container? Or maybe you see your horse trotting joyfully behind you as you run?

The fact is, play can look like a lot of different things, but it doesn’t have to be any of the above. Play’s purpose is to teach your horse how to “try”–and in the process, both horse and trainer achieve a cooperative partnership.

Equestrian Masterclass instructor (immediately off his 2024 Road to the Horse Colt Starting competition win) Tik Maynard is a horsemanship and upper-level eventing coach who sees ‘play’ not as a series of exercises, but as a beneficial mindset. In the final episode of Equestrian Voices, 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.. They also cover:

  • The difference between anxiety and playfulness in horses, and why it’s easy to confuse them.
  • Using the social rules of play to ensure both you and your horse are winning the game.
  • Bringing play and thoughtfulness into daily activities like leading your horse.
  • What play is not–drilling, a chore, or hard work!
  • Why it’s important to slow down and take a puzzle-solving approach.
  • Rewarding softness and effort during play.

Thank you to our sponsors, Equestrian Masterclass and Nikovian (use code noellefloyd15 at checkout for 15% off).