My Para-Dressage Journey!
***I will often use terms like “us”, “we” or “our” when describing my journey or goals because it is not just about me. It is about all those who support, train and work tirelessly to help me reach my goals. If it was not for the “us”, “we” and “our” that I refer to there would be no journey, and what we achieve together is as much their achievement as it is mine***
Hello and thank you for visiting Tanya Shevchenko Para Dressage. Let me tell you a little about myself. I am from an amazing little hamlet call Neuanlage Saskatchewan Canada, which is located just outside of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and conveniently 5 minutes from away from Equilibrium Therapeutic Riding where I train under the talented Erin McCormick. It is very possible I spend more time at Equilibrium than I do at home as we (my coaches, Apollo and I) work steadily towards my goals of competing internationally in the equestrian sport of Para-Dressage. The ultimate goal is training our way to the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris. I am honored to say that as of December 1st, 2021 I am an Equestrian Canada National Team Program Athlete on the Talent ID Squad and look forward to representing Canada in future Para Dressage events, both Nationally and Internationally, this year. I am also a Development Athlete under the Canada Sport Center Saskatchewan.
I am a mom of two beautiful Children. My son Corbin is 11 years old an loves BMX racing, Lego and anything with wheels and an engine. My daughter Sloan is 9 years old and follows in her momma’s footsteps with her love of horses, dressage and hopes to one day ride for Canada in the Olympics. I am also proud to be a Registered Nurse at the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital, Maternal Care Center. In my spare time (which is not much these days) I enjoy golfing, skiing and being outdoors.
The Back Story
Let me give you a little detail into how my Para-Dressage journey began. As a child, I started riding seriously at the age of 8. Shortly after beginning lessons, I started competing, and showed two wonderful Quarter Horse geldings named Denim and Zany. This was a passion my dad and I shared together. I competed in both Western and English all around competitions. After high school, I took a break from competing to start nursing school, and begin my career as an Registered Nurse. Sadly, before I finished university, my dad passed away from lung cancer, and I had to make the heartbreaking decision to take a break from riding altogether. Over the next 10+ years I built my career in nursing, met my husband Bryce, and we had 2 beautiful, crazy kids. I had everything a girl could want but missed horses and riding deeply.
Fast forward to 2015, when I started having pain in my right ankle. At first I thought it was an old injury acting up. Being a nurse, I ignored it because that is what healthcare workers do when our family or ourselves have an injury that doesn’t require an emergency department (horrible but oh so true). However, the pain soon worsened, my foot started to swell and lose circulation, and I found myself unable to weight bear. Shockingly, I was diagnosed with a non cancerous though very aggressive giant cell tumor in my ankle. In October 2015 I had surgery to remove the tumor and do a bone graft. I spent the next 6+ months recovering. I returned to work but never regained full function of my ankle, and had chronic pain and swelling. Unfortunately, 9 months later I found out the tumor returned, with vengeance, and completely destroyed my ankle. On January 6th, 2017 I underwent a right-leg below-knee amputation.
That morning, with my family and friends by my my side, I made a decision. I remember it very vividly. I knew I needed to make this huge decision before I went into the operating room. I needed to decide if I would wake up from the surgery letting amputation own me and define my life or if I would wake up and OWN my amputation. As I drifted off to sleep I chose to OWN it, to wake up and get on with living life.
I chose to rise above amputation! I promised myself I would define who I came out of surgery as rather than be defined by my amputation. Six months after the surgery I literally got back on the horse. I started therapeutic riding to regain my mobility, and help me walk again. Over the next year, I focused on learning to walk in a prosthetic, and finding new ways of doing the things I used to do and love.
In 2018 my coach Erin and I went to a Clive Milkins clinic in Alberta, and that is where the “Aha moment” happened. In the two short days that we were at the clinic my mind shifted, and like a switch my goals changed! We left that clinic knowing my purpose for riding was no longer therapy, but on training to become an athlete, Para-Dressage Athlete!
Now this is the part of the story where you come in. I need your help and support, even if that comes in the form of kind wishes, prayers, encouragement or volunteering to clean tack or grooming my horse or if you are interested in sponsorship or donating. Your help and support will make a huge impact and help us as we advance to international level competition and one step closer to Paris 2024.
Thank you for taking the time to get to know me a little better. I look forward to having you be part of my team!
Love Tanya and Apollo.