Growing up in Edmonton, AB, Tatiana began riding when she was eight and became a working student before moving to Toronto, ON, at the age of 11. Over the years she worked with and rode for an impressive list of professionals including Wayne McLellan, Christina Schlusemeyer, Bobby Braswell, Missy Clark, Jan Tops, Jos Lansink, and Nick Skelton. “I have learned many systems and training methods which have given me an education to work with different types of horses using various approaches,” she says. “I feel blessed and very grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business, and I have taken great things away from each and every person.”
Now 24 and running her own business in Germany riding a string of talented horses for various owners, she credits these formative years as important to her growth as her time in the show ring. “Horse management is one of the most important components to not only achieving success, but also maintaining it,” she believes. “You must know how to make decisions that are suitable for both the horse and rider. My main focus is to always keep the horses happy, healthy, and give them all the love and attention they deserve.”
The road has not always been smooth, and Tatiana has experienced some career setbacks due to injury. In 2007, a horse fell on her and shattered her left foot. “This happened in the middle of WEF when I was riding for Missy Clark,” she remembers. “I lost half of the circuit due to the injury, which was heartbreaking, as it was my most profound [last] junior year and I had the best horses I’d ever had in my life.” The determined rider was back in the saddle just six weeks later.
At the end of her junior career, Tatiana had the opportunity to be a rider at Stephex Stables in Belgium, one of the world’s top sport horse sales barns. At just 18, the high-pressure European environment deeply immersed her into life as a professional. “I was very young to leave everything I had ever known, but to me it was an incredible opportunity,” she explains. While working there in 2008, she was kicked into a concrete wall, breaking her sternum and suffering a serious concussion and cuts requiring stitches to her face. She was once again riding just six weeks later.
In the spring of 2011 she suffered a femoral neck fracture (at the intersection of the hip joint and femur), determined to be caused by compromised movement on her left side due to the initial break in the foot four years earlier. Immediate surgery was required, resulting in a large plate and three screws to fix the fracture. Again, she was back in the saddle in six weeks, but over a year later the pain was still present due to scar tissue around the metal holding her hip together. After competing through the summer of 2012, Tatiana underwent a two-part surgery; bones were broken and re-aligned, screws and plates were removed, and bone grafts were used for reconstruction. Normally a minimum three-month recovery, she again healed quickly and was riding nine weeks following the second surgery.
Despite career-jeopardizing injuries, Tatiana never lost her perspective. “It’s always difficult to stay positive during the time off,” she admits. “I had good days and bad days, but I always looked forward to getting back on the horse. Every injury has taken its toll on my body, but I’m too in love with the horses and addicted to the sport. No matter what happens, I will always keep going. When setbacks occur, I’ve learned to stay calm, positive, and develop a new strategy. I will keep fighting to achieve my goals.”