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July 14, 2010

COLUMBIA, S.C. – With just a month unitl the equestrian team begins fall practice, senior captain Chloe Gray sat down with to answer some questions.

Q: The Western team finished third in the country after being the No. 10 seed at the 2010 Varsity Equestrian National Championships… How did it feel to be the surprise team of the National Championships?

A: Finishing third this year at Nationals was a huge feat for us. We went into the competition extremely prepared and it was definitely displayed in our riding. It was an amazing feeling being a part of such dedication and teamwork and I was never more proud to be a member of this team.

Q: You and sophomore Alex Arute were selected as team captains for the upcoming season… how does it feel to be chosen by your team to serve as captain?

A: I am thrilled for the upcoming season and as a senior next year it is such a privilege to be captain. I think we will have a wonderful year and I’m excited to be paired up with Alex.

Q: The Western team is losing three regular starters (Amy Biffle, Emily Bookwalter, and Lydia Roof) from last year’s squad… what will the challenge be for this year’s team to be just as successful, if not more, than last year’s team?

A: Amy, Bookie, and Lydia will be greatly missed next year but we have some great freshman coming in. The starting lineup of upperclassmen is extremely strong and I have all the confidence in the world that we will be victorious next season.

Q: During the off season what are your fellow teammates and yourself doing to stay at the top of your game?

A: Over the summer I know many of my teammates and including myself are continuing to ride and show with our trainers at home to receive constant instruction in order to stay sharp. Riding as many horses as possible and getting in the show pen is essential to staying up to date with your riding. It never hurts to extra work in the off season that’s for sure.

Q: As the main component to this sport, you are required to show an unfamiliar horse to the best of your ability and receive a higher score than that of your competitor. What are you as a senior and the other upperclassmen on the team able to bring to the table to help the Gamecock Equestrians succeed?

A: As an upperclassmen, I think experience is the main ingredient to success at this level. Being able to remain calm throughout the ride even when things go wrong is extremely important. A crucial part in this sport is being able to break down the ride and push certain areas of the pattern where you feel your horse will be able to plus rather to just run as hard as you can go. Winning definitely requires some strategy while you are showing.

Q: Two weeks ago you won the 2010 National Youth Reining Championship at the NHRA Derby in Oklahoma City… what was that like?

A: Being able to win out at the Derby was a huge accomplishment for me. I have never been able to put it all together out there and it feels great. After this tough year losing my mom it was really hard to get my head back in the game when it came to showing on the circuit. I definitely felt her with me while I was showing. It was so great of my trainer’s wife Shannon to let me show her horse when my horse got hurt the day before. I haven’t had that much fun showing in a very long time. What can I say, I had a blast!