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Sept. 20, 2011

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – As the South Carolina equestrian team prepares for its season opener on Friday against Fresno State, GamecocksOnline will have a Q&A with each member of this season’s freshman class. Today, we feature Hunt Seat rider Katherine Schmidt, who goes by the nickname “Schmitty”.

How are your first few weeks on campus going?
“I am really enjoying campus living thus far. There is always something going on around South Quad and down by Russell House which makes living here exciting and interesting. I have also become good friends with the other freshmen, we all have been having a lot of fun together.”

Now that the team is a few weeks into practice, how do you feel about the progress you are making?
“I think I am making good progress. I have ridden several of the hunt seat horses and I feel that I get along with them well. I also enjoy working with Coach Major and Coach Gwin, they know the horses so well and give me important advice on how to ride them as best as I can.”

What is the biggest challenge for you as you adjust to the new “team-style” that exists in collegiate equestrian?
“The biggest challenge is definitely working as a team. Outside of school, riding is very much an individual sport and now I have a team of girls to ride with. I think it will be challenging but exciting to learn how to become a good team member.”

How do you like your teammates and coaches?
“I really like everyone. We all share a common passion for both the sport, the school and winning. This is an important combination that I believe will lead us all to victory.”

What made you decide to be a Gamecock?
“After touring the campus and One Wood Farm, I fell in love with being here in South Carolina. I am also friends with several girls who graduated and were on the equestrian team. They had nothing but good things to say and through their enthusiasm I decided this is were I wanted to go. I knew if they were so excited about being a Gamecock, I would love it too.”

Do you have any specific goals for the upcoming season?
“I hope to be able to ride this season and travel to Waco with the rest of the team. I would say my biggest goal for now would be to preform at my best both in the show arena and in the classroom.”

How old were you when you first started riding, and how did you first start riding (parents, friends, etc.)?
“I started riding before I could walk. My mother had horses in the backyard and put me on when I was a toddler. As I got older, I got more passionate and addicted to the sport. Once I started competing, I never looked back because I knew this was what I loved to do.”

How do you get prepared or pumped up before you head into the ring for a big ride?
“I don’t really pump myself up. I prefer to go over the plan for my course in my head and make sure I am mentally prepared. If I over think the course, I am more likely to mess up so I watch a few other riders then walk away to prepare my horse. Before I go into the ring, I’ll go over the round one more time to make sure I’ve got it.”

Outside of equestrian, do you have any other special or unique talents or sports?
“Riding was the only sport or activity I have focused on since middle school. However, I really enjoy playing ping pong with S’mores (Catherine Pasmore). We discovered our hidden love for the sport over the summer: we are terrible but we love it!”

What is your major and explain why you chose it?
“As of now, I plan to be a business major. I feel that this could lead me down several different paths out of college. I’m not sure of what career I want to go into after I graduate but having a business degree will open some doors that I want to explore further.”