A Letter to TomCatt, by Tik Maynard

A Letter to TomCatt, by Tik Maynard

This letter is written by Equestrian Masterclass instructor Tik Maynard with images by Impulsion Media. 

Dear TomCatt,

I have watched RTTH for a long time, and I believe the winner is often not the one that is the most experienced, or with the best timing, or feel, or skill. There are so many other variables: the preparation, the judging, knowing the rules, luck, and of course, picking the horse.  Most of all there is the ability to not be rattled. For whatever reason I was able to get into that Zone, that Sweet Spot, that Unthinking-Place, on the first day, and to more or less stay there with you, the next two days.

My goal was to be the best prepared for that particular format. That might have had something to do with us getting into that Flow State together. For sure I was lucky too. No one can say what days the sun will shine, and what days it will storm. The only thing I could do was be  prepared for any weather.

I think it goes without saying that the format of RTTH is unique, and not how I usually start horses. We only had three days together to build a partnership, which is a bit, I imagine, like climbing Everest, a once-in-a-lifetime experience for very few people.  Something only for the well prepared.  Something not to be taken lightly — a hike on a small or medium-sized hill, is probably the healthier thing to do, and I had prepared myself to turn back down the trail away from the summit if the conditions were not just right.  

But the most difficult decisions are made when a lot is on the line, and there is also a place to showcase the Trade and Art of Starting Horses, in a world that emphasizes the Grand Prix, to see what happens when just the right trainer and just the right horse, can come together on just the right day. I came to climb Everest, and you climbed right along with me, and for that, I thank you.    

The RTTH format was challenging for both of us - scaling mountains always is. With that foreknowledge, I treated you, and the situation, with as much respect and empathy as I was able. 

Most of all though, you should know that it was not my effort alone. I had an incredible team around me, and I couldn’t have found that Zen place without Juliette, Nick, Sinead, and Jake. Our amazing performance together also comes from all the mentors that helped me prepare, and over the years taught me about Colt Starting, including, but not limited to, and in no particular order: Bruce Logan, Tom Pierson, Martin Black, Jonathan Field, Glenn Stewart, Nick Rivera, Jake Biernbaum, Diane Canafax, Pat Parelli, Linda Parelli, Yvonne Barteau, David O’Connor, Oscar Scarpati, Cristobal Scarpati, Mark Rashid, Chris Cox, Vicki Wilson, JR Robles, Dan James, Kathy Baar, and Elsa Sinclair. Most of these people I have met in person, a few only briefly, but they all left a lasting impression on me, and allowed me to be the best version of myself for you when it mattered most.

But there is still so much more gratitude to go around. Gratitude for Pitchfork Ranch. Gratitude to RTTH staff, volunteers, fans, sponsors etc etc. Gratitude to my family, friends, coaches, students. So many people! I love them all, TomCatt, and they share in our success.

I also feel so much gratitude for everything that led me to meeting you - all the experiences, the luck and the coincidences. The debt I owe all the horses that I’ve made mistakes learning on, and learning from, is deep, but hopefully is repaid by not making the same mistakes on other horses as I move forward.

Most importantly, I want to thank you, TomCatt. There are no words. What we went through together is beyond description. The three days with you at RTTH 2024 still feels like a dream. Like I’m going to wake up and it will all have disappeared. 

But it won’t have disappeared. In fact, the opposite is true. In partnership with NOELLE FLOYD, Beatrice Von Gontard, and Adie Von Gontard, and you will be staying with me in Florida.  Adie is one of the principal shareholders, and the president, of the Pitchfork Ranch, where you were raised. NOËLLE FLOYD is a digital media platform founded by my dear friend Noëlle Floyd. It is dedicated to continued education for both horses and riders.

We won’t be putting any saddles on you for a few months — Next on the agenda for us is to work on some groundwork and liberty training. Can’t wait to start!  

Love, Tik