Skip to main content
Partner logo
Mobile Icon Link Mobile Icon Link Mobile Icon Link Gamecocks+

Nov. 27, 2007

Lindsay Williams is a senior from Sand Springs, Oklahoma, and a team captain on the reigning national champion South Carolina equestrian team. A three-time participant at the Varsity Equestrian National Championships, Williams stepped foot on campus in 2004-05 to help the Gamecocks claim their first National Championship in 2005. She then helped lead the Western team as Carolina earned the Reserve National Championship in 2006 and the overall championship again in 2007. The Western team had its best finish last season with a Reserve National Championship, and sat down with Williams as she hopes to lead Carolina to its third overall title this season in her four years with the program.

When did you first get interested in riding horses?
I’ve ridden horses since I was two with my parents, in front and behind them. I got to competitive equestrian when I was about eight. I rode gated horses, fancy walkers and fox trotters and showed them until it got to where I could either go one way and go with the “big lick” or I could find another route. At that point in time, my dad and I started looking at what else I could show. In 2001, I came across reining. I saw it and said I wanted to do it.

Are you the first one in your family to become a competitive rider?
I am the first one to do competitive riding. My brother can ride – he’s a better rider than I am – but he didn’t do it. I’m the only one that wanted to go show, but both of my parents rode.

Has your family always lived in Oklahoma?
Yes. I was born off of Fort Sill. My dad was stationed there, and since then we moved to Sand Springs (Oklahoma) and I have lived there my whole life. I went to one school my entire life.

What made you decide to leave Oklahoma and come to South Carolina?
It was a situation where I wanted to look at schools and see which one I was more comfortable with. I wanted to get away from home and go venture. I had traveled the past three years before then, back and forth across the country hauling with my dad, so me staying in another state wasn’t a big deal. I went to Oklahoma State and though, `I’m only 45 minutes from home. I need to get a little bit further than that!’ USC was the only school that I had an official visit at. I left afterwards and knew I was coming here. I loved the people and the coaches.

What’s your favorite aspect of just riding?
That I can get away from everything! When I ride, it’s like I’m in my own little world and nothing else matters. I don’t think about anything when I’m riding except riding. It’s really weird. It’s my escape from the world. If I had a bad day or had a bad class or something else happens, I know I can get on a horse and it all disappears. Riding is my escape from all of my problems in life.

Why reining?
It was fun and it had a certain aspect of difficulty that kept me going. Normally I get something done and I get bored with it. I’ve never been bored with reining. There’s always something new, something to work on or something to get better at. You can never know it all. You can never know it all in aspect of riding, but reining there is always something to work on and get better. It’s something challenging and something to keep me thinking and doing something occupied. I don’t do well with spare time so it keeps me busy! You can go to trainers around the country and each one will show you something different. You can pick up little things from each one to put your program together. It’s a very open world. People are very welcoming and help you. If I had a problem and I didn’t know anybody, I would walk up to an open trainer and say, `Hey, I need help. Can you just watch me?’ and they would help. It wasn’t political. It didn’t matter what your name was, you’d still get the same help. The people are just very friendly and open.

Did you ever try equitation?
I did jumping for a while. My dad didn’t like it; he thought it was too dangerous. I did the fancy walkers but I didn’t like it because to further my show experience I had to get rid of the “big lick” which was something I liked to do. I try bell racing but I didn’t like it. Speed events weren’t really for me. I tried horsemanship but got bored with it. I fell asleep in showmanship classes, so I knew it wasn’t for me. I need something fast but difficult and very precise.

Do you think there’s a difference between the riders that gravitate towards the Western discipline and those that are English riders?
Yeah, and without demeaning anybody, it seems like the Western is a bit more relaxed. Of course with horsemanship you’re going to deal a lot with body position, and also in reining if you don’t fall off, that’s all we care about. Just don’t fall off. It’s not how you look; it’s how your horse looks – how you make the horse perform. It’s not how pretty you’re sitting or if your heels are down or your shoulders are back. That’s why I’ve had a hard time because I ride horribly. I’ve gotten a lot better. Coach Sorrel has been a big aspect in that. She told me daily to put my heels down and put my shoulders back because nobody ever taught me that. There was just `you need to sit here and put your weight on the side.’

Back to your prep career, you won the Youth 14-18 NRHA World Title. What was that experience like for you?
It was very long! We had a late start. I originally had a different horse in the beginning, and it’s your points added up from January to the end of show season in November. So it’s all of your points but it’s one rider, one horse. If you switch horses, you have to start all over again on that horse. I switched horses in May. It was very rewarding as in the people I met and the friends that I made. That was also my escape from school. I would leave Wednesday afternoon and Thursday go to the horse show and take my schoolwork with me. The best thing about the whole World Championship would be the people I met and the friends I made along the way. There are things that you learn about taking care of your horse and taking care of equipment.

What was it like winning that first national championship here at USC in 2005?
It was unbelievable. I knew that it was possible and that we had a fighting chance to do it, but not being around the experience at all and going to your first nationals and winning it, I don’t think it hit until a week after. We were on such a high from that. It was a pretty big deal.

The past couple of years you’ve been a main cog in helping get the national championship again last year and the reserve in 2006. What has it been like to be a part of a successful stretch in South Carolina equestrian?
It’s been pretty much amazing. Not so much winning the shows, it’s the every day at practice that really makes it worthwhile. We can all help each other. If I go and tell another girl riding reining something, they’ll listen, and if they tell me I’ll listen. We’re all very supportive of each other. One pair of eyes can’t fix us. We need more than that. We need a lot of people to look at us and help, and that’s the main reason we’ve had such a good stretch. The team’s truly clicked and we haven’t had problems. We just get along. I’d call myself sort of anti-social because I sleep maybe 80 percent of the time. If I’m not in class I’m sleeping. I don’t really do much but all the other girls are OK with it. We all get along so well and understand each other’s quirks.

Is that one of the best parts of being on the team?
Having the support factor is great. They’re there to support you whether you win or you lose. Coach Sorrel’s always there with good advice. Here everybody helps because it’s not about just you, it’s about the team. Even the people that aren’t riding, they are in the stands yelling and help out just as much as the girls riding that day.

Have your parents had a chance to see you ride at USC?
They own a store in Tulsa, so it normally depends on if they can shut it down on a Saturday. One or both of them should be able to make (events close to Oklahoma). My mom went to my second national and saw me ride there. My dad went last year, and that’s the only time they’ve seen me ride because they can’t leave the store. They’ll be out here for S.E.C.’s. There are only about five people working there so if one person leaves the store seems halfway shutdown.

You won best-groomed horse award last season. What exactly is that?
At the beginning of the year each girl is assigned a horse. You have to check on them and if anything is wrong with them you let the coach know or take care of them. Scarlet is my take care horse. I give her baths every other day and brush her down because the more you take care of their coats, the shinier they get. It’s just how much attention you give to the horse. You may not ride that horse everyday, but you still take care of that one.

At the midpoint of your senior season, how would you describe your experience at USC overall?
I’ve learned how to become a better teammate. When I cam here I was very individual and set in how I did things. I’m a lot more open to opinions and thoughts now. I would say working how to work with people and lead people has been the overall best thing I will come away with as well as the friends. The team experience and leadership ability that Coach Sorrel has given me has probably been the best.

What are your graduation plans?
South Carolina’s been very good to me. I will graduate with a degree in retailing, and with my parents’ store in Tulsa I’ll more than likely work for them. I’m going to look at the different opportunities available to me, but there’s an 80 percent chance I’ll work for them.