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Posts Tagged ‘Father’s Day’

FathersDay2020-horseandriderbooks

Photo by Ladd Farm Photography

We’re celebrating fathers this weekend. Thank you to eventer, trainer, horseman, and author of IN THE MIDDLE ARE THE HORSEMEN Tik Maynard for this original essay.

God, I’m turning into my dad. I forget where I put the car keys, my wallet. I wear riding pants to the grocery store. I can’t find the milk—it’s right in front of me! I only listen to music I know the words to. My wife has to repeat herself.

Every year my dad hears my mum less and less. Recently she spent weeks deliberating how to tactfully suggest he go in for a hearing test. “Maybe he just needs a hearing aid?” she said. “It’s his happiness I’m worried about,” she explained.

After the test, the doctor sat my dad down.

“So your wife says you don’t hear her anymore?”

Dad, a little embarrassed: “That’s what she says.”

Doctor: “Well, Rick, I don’t know what you’re going to tell her…. Your hearing is fine.”

My parents met in 1957. My mother was eleven. My dad was fifteen. They both grew up in Southlands, a neighborhood in Vancouver. They both loved horses. My mother took lessons at his grandparents’ farm. (His parents, and grandparents, rode; hers did not.)  Recently I asked my mother about how they met:

“Rick was getting into trouble (rolling cars with his girlfriend, amongst other things) so he and his parents [Rick is an only child] moved back in with his grandparents. That’s when I started getting to know Rick better, but as I was fourteen and he was eighteen, and he had a steady girlfriend, there were no expectations on my part. But we used to go up the UBC trails a lot, and at one point, as we were galloping along the beach at Spanish banks, he said, ‘You are so much more fun than Sally!’ So I guess that is when I started getting a bit of a crush.

“That was how we met. How he proposed is funny, too. I was about eighteen, and he was twenty-two. We did a lot of fun stuff together: riding up trails; hikes; swimming; flying around the province in the two-seater Luscombe that was provided by Pitt Meadows Flying Club. It was Valentine’s Day, I forget the year, probably 1965 or ’66, and we went canoeing on the Squamish River. It was kind of cold and rainy and neither of us really had canoeing skills. We started to go sideways and hit a bridge overpass and capsized. The river was shallow enough that we could stand up and drag the canoe to shore. Rick’s movie camera got soaked. We aborted the trip and went home. He lit a fire and we got warmed up. At that point he produced the ring which had been in his pocket the whole day waiting for the romantic moment! But that was years before we actually got married, in 1968. We picked the date of August 29 because Gramps was the official photographer at the Pacific National Exhibition Horse Show, and in those days the PNE was divided into three sections. Your horse had to stay for the whole section, and in between there was a ‘changeover day’ where the horses went out, and the next section of horses came in. On that day there was no photographer needed, so Gramps had the day off. August 29, 1968, was changeover day at the PNE. And Gramps was the official photographer at our wedding.”

This August that will be fifty-two years.

My parents, like most couples I assume, but don’t know for sure, argued. Sometimes with my mother losing her patience. Often with my father leaving the room. But never once in my entire life did I hear the words “breakup” or “divorce.” Their relationship gave me a powerful faith in marriage, loyalty, and family.

My faith in our “family unit” was so strong it might be called blind—and this ability to weather any storm, together, is what I want to give my own family and son.

 

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Photo courtesy of Tik Maynard

 

My dad also gave me a love for animals. Far beyond that, he gave me an empathy for animals. He became a vegetarian in 1959, before it became a big fad in Vancouver. And I was born a vegetarian. I eat dairy and fish, but I can count on one hand the number of times I have tried red meat. (What we are doing to the oceans has convinced me to be more careful about fish now, too.)

I can’t imagine it was easy for my dad to tell his parents and his friends he had given up meat. Today he is just as strong in his convictions. This is how it began, again in my mother’s words:

“In 1959 Rick was living in Maple Ridge on a farm. He was in Pony Club and was selected for the Inter-Pacific Rally in Australia. The other two team members were Tom Gayford, and I think Jim Elder, but I’m not sure about that. They both flew to Australia, but the Maynards had no money, so Rick got passage on a freighter. [The MV King Arthur, carrying lumber, on the way there. The SS Suva, with a load of Sugar from Fiji, on the way back]. I think it took six weeks to get there. Anyhow, some time before he left they got a couple of piglets. Higgledy and Wiggles. ‘Large Pink’ or ‘Yorkshire’ animals. When Rick came back from Australia they were in the freezer! Trauma!”

So my Dad was seventeen when he made this seemingly small decision to act on his own beliefs rather than those of the society around him. But that decision has caused me, and many others that have met my dad, to question their own beliefs. My dad still remembers those pigs. They were intelligent. Each had a character unique to them. And both were “pink with lovely floppy ears.”

For my father to imagine an animal suffering is for him to suffer as well.

I try to carry that thoughtfulness into my career with horses. This started me down the road of learning “natural horsemanship,” and then to understanding “positive reinforcement,” and now to new ideas where I see the similarities between horses, dogs, children, even myself.

My dad taught me to ride; now it is my lifestyle and career, the same as it is for him. And my dad taught me all that by never telling me what to do.

 

 

My dad always speaks to me as if I understand. He always listens to my opinion. He lets me make mistakes. He taught me at home but always encouraged me to take lessons and clinics from other professionals. My dad has attended over 250 clinics, and he has gotten “…at least one very useful idea out of every one.”

I cannot imagine a more humble student of equestrianism than my father. He has coached riders that have gone on to Grand Prix and the Olympics. Recently he has been approached about coaching show jumping for the Canadian Modern Pentathlon Team at the next Olympics. (He has already coached that team at the Olympics twice!) Yet still, at every clinic, he makes notes. Lately he has come to some of my clinics, and he watches and asks questions.

 

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In the words of Canadian show jumping team rider Brian Morton: “ Rick has been the most incredible mentor and father figure in my life. He is a man that first and foremost leads by example. Rick is one of the most naturally talented riders I’ve ever seen. He had and has the ability to win in great style on every type of horse, in every type of event. I got the pleasure to watch Rick win many times, however I’m not sure I can ever recall a boastful moment from him. He is always the first person to give credit to the horse, or to the groom or to whoever it may be that he felt contributed to his success on that day. Rick was my coach and mentor for many years, and if I won a class he was very happy for me. However, if managed to demonstrate the values of humility, perseverance, sportsmanship and patience that he holds so dear, those were the moments that I felt he was the proudest of me”

Dad, I have learned empathy, and commitment to my family from you. You have instilled in me an unrelenting-thirst-for-improvement. Sinead says I am still working on humility.

Thanks for inspiring me, Dad. Happy Fathers Day!

 

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Rick and Brooks Maynard, photo courtesy of Tik Maynard.

Horseman Tik Maynard is the author of the bestselling IN THE MIDDLE ARE THE HORSEMEN, available in print and digital formats from the TSB online bookstore.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order.

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and videos, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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Dads. What a marvelous invention. My own repaired fence, stacked hay, held horses, and drove the antique trailer he’d found for next to nothing to countless 4-H shows, all so I could be a horse girl. Pretty sure, looking back, there were plenty of other things he would have rather been doing, and better ways he probably could have spent his hard-earned money, but I don’t remember him ever complaining.

Thanks, Dad.

We tracked down some of our authors and asked them to share their memories of their fathers…or their own experiences being “Dad.” We’ll let them tell their own stories.

 

David Thelwell, son of popular cartoonist Norman Thelwell, author of PONY CAVALCADE and PONY PANORAMA

“When you are a child, ‘Dad’ is just that person who is always there to support and nurture you, to amuse and annoy you. He’s someone to turn to…and someone to stop you doing what you really want to do.

“When he is gone, you can put his life in perspective and see how important he was to you and what he was as a person.  I am grateful for everything my father did for me and my sister, and now I can understand his legacy and achievements.

“I was lucky—as long as I can remember my dad worked from home, so he was always around, and I could see what work he was doing in the studio. I thought, how great to spend your life drawing and painting, doing something that you enjoy. As I appreciate now, he gave joy and laughter to so many people, for so long. That is something few people ever achieve.”

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Norman Thelwell at work in his studio. Photo courtesy of David Thelwell.

 

Dan James, author of LONG-REINING WITH DOUBLE DAN HORSEMANSHIP:

“My dad was 99 when he passed away last year. He served in the Second World War, was a stockman, and loved the Outback. He had a lot of very funny statements. One of my favorites was, whenever we complained about working outside in the heat, ‘Well, if you worked a little faster, you would create your own breeze.’

“His name was George James.”

 

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Dr. Bob Grisel, author of EQUINE LAMENESS FOR THE LAYMAN:

“This Father’s Day, I will be thinking about my hero. He is a chinook helicopter pilot flying regular nightly missions in Afghanistan. He is not there to cause anyone harm, but rather is there to help his comrades of all nationalities and provide cultural stability to a torn country. He is the kindest, gentlest, most compassionate ‘warrior’ that I have ever known. He is my hero as well as my son. How can Father’s Day get better than that?”

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Ben Grisel is second from right. Photo courtesy of Dr. Bob Grisel.

 

Florence Le Goff, daughter of renowned equestrian coach Jack Le Goff, author of HORSES CAME FIRST, SECOND, AND LAST:

“When I was a young girl my father and I would enjoy fishing together on his boat. A day on the Essex River was full of fish (and sometimes eels and rays!), lobster retrieval, and driving the boat while he gave you a lesson on ‘red right return.’ Much like our riding sessions, he was a humoristic drill sergeant! He was a master at enlisting you to help launch the boat on the ramp, pull up the lobster pots, and be his ‘Number Two.'”

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Jack Le Goff fishing with friends. Photo by Florence Le Goff.

 

Jonathan Field, author of THE ART OF LIBERTY TRAINING FOR HORSES:

“Being a father is the priority in my life right now. I aim to lead as an example for my boys to go forward as strong young men, to hold themselves with integrity, and to value others.

“I was so proud of my son Weston the other day when the hockey arena maintenance man told me he had never had a boy come up to him, shake his hand, and thank him after every ice time (which is at least four days a week). I was particularly touched because I never suggested to Weston that he should do this specifically, but just, in a general sense, to look out for the people around you who help you in some way…and thank them.

“This also made me begin to realize that in some ways my work as the guiding hand for a young man is coming to an end…soon we will stand alongside each other, and I will be in a new role as a father.”

 

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Tik Maynard, author of IN THE MIDDLE ARE THE HORSEMEN:

“Being a dad has made me want to be a better son. My dad, at 76, has started eventing again, and now we all go to the horse shows as a family.

“Here are two things that I would not have believed a year ago: Having a kid is more time consuming than having a horse. Having a kid is more rewarding than having a horse.

“I love this saying I heard recently, from Confucius: “You have two lives. The second begins when you understand you only have one.”

 

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Denny Emerson, author of KNOW BETTER TO DO BETTER and HOW GOOD RIDERS GET GOOD:

“Winter or summer, my father’s Morgan, Millers Commander, was a huge source of joy and companionship. What more can we ask of a horse?”

 

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Daniel Stewart, author of FIT & FOCUSED IN 52 and PRESSURE PROOF YOUR RIDING:

“Several years ago I was teaching a 12-day clinic tour of Alaska and asked my father to join me for the trip. I’d work from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and then he and I would spend the rest of the day together, acting like tourists. At some point toward the middle of our trip, he asked if he could read my book RIDE RIGHT; he spent the next few days reading it from cover to cover. When finished I asked him what he thought. While I was expecting something along the lines of ‘Wonderful,’ or ‘Great,’ or ‘I’m so proud of you…’ he simply said, ‘So when are you going to write another?’ When I replied that I didn’t really plan on writing another book, he said I was crazy and that I had much more to teach than what he had read.

“So, long story short, I went straight home and started work on my second book. When I look back on that father-son trip, many memories come to mind, but none of them as inspirational as when he told me that I was crazy for not writing another book!”

 

Jochen Schleese, author of SUFFERING IN SILENCE:

“I often wonder what makes or forms our thoughts; why we feel what we feel, or why we do something for someone else instead of just for ourselves. This year I lost my dad, and although he is not with us anymore, he will always be in my heart. I am his legacy, in so many ways. From the the day I was born he was there for me. He taught me values that I passed on to my children. As a child I often thought, ‘Why is my dad so strict with me?’ only to realize many years later that he did what he did because he loved me and wanted me to be ready for this fast-moving world.

“I believe this should be the job of all of the fathers of this world. Love, protect, and teach your children what is right and what is wrong. Be role models to teach your children love and respect, and teach them to earn trust with fairness and kindness. It should be in each father’s instinct, to protect and provide, to teach and take care of their children and family, so they can survive when they someday lose their father.

“My dad taught us to try to always understand the ‘why’; to be independent with our thoughts; to become leaders and not lemmings; to understand that the person who knows the ‘how’ will always follow the person who understands the ‘why.’

“I am so lucky and happy to have such beautiful children with my wife. My children are truly beautiful—not only outside but more importantly, inside. I always spent as much time as I could with them in their early years—as much as my business travels allowed. Besides the evenings and weekends, I also took Tuesdays off. We called this ‘Family Day’ and spent it doing things together: skiing, swimming, playing board games, reading. In hindsight, children grow up so fast, I feel I should have spent way more time with them. I guess my dad and I are really alike…we live and breathe each day for our family. Nothing makes me more happy than to see such healthy, wonderful, and successful children, and to enjoy the wonderful memories of the time I have had with them. It’s a tribute to the way we brought them up that my kids still love to spend time with us, go on vacations with us, and call us from wherever they are in the world—almost daily.

“One of my many wishes I have as a dad is that my children will always have as wonderful a memory of me as I have of my dad. This year will be my first Father’s Day without him, and although he was just ‘buried’ at sea in the Baltic, I will never lose his love and guidance.”

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and videos, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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