University of South Carolina's Katherine Schmidt Tops Collegiate Equitation Championship

RELEASE: February 8, 2014
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: Laura Cardon for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Katherine Schmidt and Striptease with coach Carol Gwin and Jill Townsend (Sportfot)
Katherine Schmidt and Striptease with coach Carol Gwin and Jill Townsend (Sportfot)
Wellington, Fla.
- Twenty one-year-old Katherine Schmidt, of Ridgefield, CT, emerged victorious from the Collegiate Equitation Championship on Friday evening at the FTI WEF. Schmidt is a junior at the University of South Carolina (USC), where she is a double major in Marketing and Management.

Schmidt made it through the first round of the evening's competition after beating out Auburn University's Christina Lin. Schmidt rode David Raposa's Chanel to a 76 to advance to round two. Schmidt secured her trip to the final round with a score of 87 aboard Ashleigh Stewart's Coco, jumping past Baylor University's Samantha Schaefer.

For the final round, Schmidt was up against Oklahoma State University's Samantha Elser, who ultimately finished second. Both ladies rode Emma Butchard's Striptease, owned by Emma Butchard, for the final round of competition. Schmidt edged out the victory with a score of 83 to Elser's 80.

Schaefer was also awarded with the Professionals for NCAA Equestrian High Score Award for her first round score of 90 with Ilan de Taute, owned by Alan Chesler.

The Collegiate Equitation Championship pits the nation's best varsity level collegiate riders against each other in a head-to-head competition. Riders are organized into brackets, where each bracket must each complete a course on the same horse, which is unfamiliar to them. The rider with the highest score on that horse advances to the next round.

Schmidt's coach, Carol Gwin felt Schmidt also owed a lot of her success to her relentless work ethic and well-grounded demeanor.

"Schmidty's just a great person. She's a really hard worker. She's always the one that's going to be practicing extra and trying to be better. She's very modest. I think she rides beautifully, and I can't say enough nice things about her. She's definitely someone that deserves this kind of win," Gwin smiled.

A testament to Schmidt's humble character is the fact she failed to mention she's undefeated this season for the USC Gamecocks. Gwin revealed she's yet to be beat, with her record currently standing at 8-0 before her victory in Wellington.

While Schmidt and her teammates will hit the road to take on the University of Georgia on Saturday, the Taylor Harris Insurance Services (THIS) Children's Medal will kick off hunter competition for the weekend at the FTI WEF. Jumper action continues tomorrow with the highlight of the week, the $370,000 FEI World Cup™ Qualifier Grand Prix CSI-W 5* presented by Rolex, at 7 p.m.

Schmidt, affectionately known as "Schmidty" to her teammates and coach, put in consistent rounds throughout the night before laying down an incredibly handy final course with Striptease.

"I saw Sam go and [Striptease] got a little quick, so I thought I could manage her here and there and try to slip inside [for a few of the turns]. I think I was able to get her back a little bit early and do the inside turns, which I think set me apart from Sam at the end of the day," Schmidt commented.

Schmidt had total confidence in her final round mount, a 15-year-old Royal Dutch Warmblood mare, despite never getting on the horse before entering the International Arena Friday evening.

"Striptease knows her job. She was happy to be out there. It was nice to kind of relax a little bit and try to show off," Schmidt explained. "She's been around the block I think. She was a little bit downhill, so I had to pick her up a little bit, but she was very sweet and would jump from anywhere."

Schmidt was born into a family of horse lovers; her mother had horses all her life and Schmidt described being born with ponies in her backyard. By the time she was a toddler, she was already in the irons. After showing ponies throughout her childhood, Schmidt went on to the equitation and jumper divisions.