Tatiana Guletsky: student-athlete and competitive horse rider


Freshman Tatiana Guletsky is not only a three-sport student athlete, but she spends a lot of her free time competing in horse races. She has been riding for a total of nine years, and in the last five, she began riding competitively. During the school year, Tatiana spends about 3-5 hours a week practicing for her competitions. Most of her horse racing takes place in the summer due to her playing volleyball, basketball, and softball for the high school. Tatiana is a very well-rounded athlete, which makes her the perfect fit for horse racing.

Tatiana began riding because she had a love for animals, but especially a love for horses, “ I was always an animal person, but what got me to ride was not just my love for animals. I always watched the Olympic Athletes compete and jump over these big obstacles, and I knew I wanted to be just like them.” She plans to continue riding for as long as she possibly can in hopes that she too can one day be an Olympic rider.

Tatiana trains with her main Coach Sari, along with the help of two other coaches, Coach Mary and Coach Val. Tatiana practices at Red Coat Farms. She says with these three women helping her, she feels very confident when going into her competitions. When practicing, she said she focuses on flat work. Flat work is the normal walk, trot, and canter of a horse. In other words, she works on the different ways a horse moves. She also practices jumping over different obstacles, which is her favorite part about riding.

Tatiana says that a typical competition does indeed look like the ones you see on TV. The spectators are all dressed nicely, most of them wearing big derby-style hats, and the energy in the area is very calm.

When you walk into the arena, there is a big field with the obstacles all laid out, and you can see the beautiful horses everywhere. Tatiana competes in show-jumping, which is a style of English riding. The show season is from January to October, and at the end of every season Tatiana says it is her main goal and priority to go to Finals. This is the biggest competition of the year, and here she is able to see all other riders around the area, which allows her to be prepared for the following season. “I have always wanted to go watch Tats compete. She always shows me pictures and videos of her riding. It’s really cool she has found something so different and fun to do,” said Nicole Pieper, Tatiana’s friend (9). Tatiana is also very fortunate to have a loving and supporting family who come and watch her at all her competitions.

She has recently gotten a new horse named Amy, who she was lucky enough to take 1st place in the Hunter Division with her latest competition. The Hunter Division is where the rider shows off the style of the horse rather than the rider. “ It was a really big accomplishment being able to take first. I haven’t been able to ride as much as I would like to because I’m in softball season and Amy is a relatively new horse. I was really proud of how I was still able to show her off and get 1st place,” she said. Tatiana competes all over northern Illinois and Wisconsin, and most of her competitions are held in Gurnee, Illinois. Another big accomplishment for young rider Tatiana was when she placed 6th in the Children’s Medal. This is a big competition where you are judged based on your equitation. Equitation is referred to as the rider’s position while being mounted rather than that of the horse. Both of these titles show that she is a well rounded rider as she is able to show off both herself and the horse.

With all the time, dedication, and hard work Tatiana puts into horse racing, the riding association has granted her a varsity letter. According to the United States Equestrian Federation’s (USEF) Equestrian Athlete Lettering program, “Participants in the program must be students in grades 5-12 who document at least 100 hours of training and provide verification of participation in three equestrian competitions during the year. After completing these requirements and verification, the student will receive a certificate commemorating their achievements, a USEF Equestrian Athlete Lettering varsity letter-man patch and lapel pin for each year of participation.” This is a big accomplishment for her because by the end of senior year, as long as she remains in her other three sports, Tatiana will then be considered a 16 sport athlete. Tatiana is very dedicated to competing and practicing to become the best she can be. She is looking forward to the summer where she can really focus on horse racing in hopes to win some more titles.