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The Next Generation – Tanner Korotkin: “Whether or not you can play the mental game, is the key to your breakthrough”

Tuesday, 25 August 2020
The Next Generation

Photo © Angela Vogel
Moving on to the jumper division after huge success in the equitation ring, 19-year-old Tanner Korotkin has gotten an opportunity of a lifetime – riding for Shane Sweetnam. Photo © Angela Vogel.


Text © World of Showjumping



Tanner Korotkin is another example of the incredible width of talent Team US holds in their young rider line-up. Moving on to the jumper division after huge success in the equitation ring, the 19-year-old has gotten an opportunity of a lifetime – riding for Shane Sweetnam.

Born into an equestrian family, Korotkin was originally bribed into riding. “At first, I didn’t want to ride – I was into baseball,” Korotkin tells. “My parents bribed me with a trip to the Universal amusement park in exchange for a lesson with Linda Smyth and I did that – took the lesson and ended up loving it, and have loved it ever since.”

Korotkin got a firm base with North Run’s Missy Clark and John Brennan. “I started doing equitation with my parents when I was 15, and after my first year I ended up riding with Missy and John,” he explains. “They helped me through the rest of my equitation career and brought me multiple wins – such as Devon and top ribbons at all the equitation finals. All of it, every lesson I have had, has made me tougher, and a better rider,” Korotkin continues. “I think I learned a ton with Missy and John; all of the primary basics I needed to help me take the next step forward in my career. They have been some of the most influential people in my career and have helped me get to the point where I am now.”

In May 2020, Korotkin got a job offer from Sweetnam. “Living near to them, we have known the Sweetnams for a long time,” Korotkin tells. “I guess I just happened to be in the right place at the right time; I wanted to turn professional and needed a place to go, while Shane needed another rider. For me, it felt like one of the best opportunities of my life, so I instantly accepted the offer. As a coach, Shane is absolutely incredible. Every day, he pushes me to work harder on myself. His work ethic is something I have tried to mirror as much as possible.”

Sweetnam tells that Korotkin fitted straight away with his team when arriving at Sweetoak Farm in May. "He works hard, has a lot of talent and the right attitude to be a top rider," Sweetnam says. "His parents have given him a very good foundation and that makes my job easier and bodes well for the future.”

Photo © Angela Vogel
"He is a great horse and jumps fantastic, I could not ask for a better jumper," Tanner Korotkin tells about Country Boy. Photo © Angela Vogel.

In addition to the horses he rides for Sweetnam, Korotkin brough with him two mounts of his own; Country Boy (Carry Best x Quirinus) – an 11-year-old stallion, and Deauville S (Diamant de Semilly x Lux Z) – a 14-year-old gelding. “Laura Kraut showed Deauville for years before me – he has done absolutely everything and has all the experience in the world,” Korotkin tells. “Deauville is a bit of a special horse – he has his own brain – but he jumps incredible. Going into big classes, he has so much to teach me. It is a great experience for me to be able to enter the ring with a horse that has already been there and done it – I am just learning every step of the way. Country Boy was previously ridden by Andy Kocher, and we are still working on his rideability. He is a great horse and jumps fantastic, I could not ask for a better jumper.”

While the North Run-team and Sweetnam all have influenced Korotkin’s career, his biggest motivation stems from home. “I think what motivates me the most, is my dad,” Korotkin tells. “He was –  and still is – a professional, but never really got a top horse. Now, he really wants me to make it as far as possible, and he gives me the drive I need. I know I have to work for it, but I also know I have the opportunity to make it to where I want to be in this sport, and that knowledge is a driving force for me,” he continues. “I really just want to spend every single day accomplishing as much as possible in order to further myself.”

“Jumpers and the thrill of it is what I enjoy the most,” Korotkin continues. And while the competition aspect is a great source of joy for him, so is the endless learning process involved. “Every single show, I am learning something. Getting into the ring, jumping big jumps – I could not ask for anything else. I think you can learn things absolutely everywhere; in the show ring, but also outside of it. There is always something to learn from other professionals; the way they run their yard, the way they run their business, how they do things with tack – a million different things. I am trying to absorb everything around me, whether I am at home or at a show.”

“I have always looked up to McLain Ward,” Korotkin continues when speaking about his idols. “Ward, too, comes from the background of being a professional’s kid. He didn’t have it given to him, he had to work for it and he really did and ended up becoming one of the best riders of our time. His position, style, his work ethic, are all things I have always admired.”

Photo © Angela Vogel
“There is a huge new wave of young riders, it is a tough competition all over the world. Whether or not you can play the mental game, is the key to your breakthrough,” Korotkin says. Photo © Angela Vogel.

“I think the biggest challenge is going into the big classes, competing against the best of the best, while also competing against everybody in your age division, trying to do the same as you,” Korotkin answers when we move on to speak about the challenges young riders face in the sport today. “There is a huge new wave of young riders, it is a tough competition all over the world. Whether or not you can play the mental game, is the key to your breakthrough,” he says.

As a young rider, how to handle mistakes is something that Korotkin believes is of huge importance. “I feel like there are a lot of young riders like me who go into the show ring, make a mistake and get caught up and upset about it, which leads to screwing up again,” he explains. “If I have a bad round, I give myself a few minutes to think about it and a few minutes to be upset. One thing I have always felt extremely strongly about is learning from mistakes; taking it in and then moving on. You should not let a mistake carry on with you to the next round; it should not cause you to make another mistake. Give yourself some time to be upset, then go into the next round and move on,” he advices. “When it comes to good rounds, I watch my videos over and over again and see what little things I could have done better, and see what I can do to get more edge.”

As to the future, Korotkin simply wants to keep evolving. “Since I started riding, I kept watching my dad and his students in the Grand Prix rings and I really wanted to get in there, too,” he tells. “Seeing them race around a jump-off, over huge fences, was always the most exciting thing for me to see. Continuing to move up by every single class I do and learning as I go, motivates me. I will keep pushing myself and see where I end up. In this sport, anything can happen – and I want to do what it takes to jump at the highest level.”

“It is hard to say, but I hope that in five years-time I have improved as a person, rider and horseman – and hopefully I will be competing at the top,” he says. “I am curious to see where this journey I am on takes me.”


No reproduction without written permission, copyright © World of Showjumping


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