South Carolina's equestrian team will host Texas A&M Friday at 2 p.m. in Blythewood, South Carolina.
The Gamecocks have not had much luck this season, losing their first two matches and only having one win under their belts against Auburn, a 10-9 victory on Oct. 10.
The team is hoping its first taste of victory can give them momentum to take down their upcoming opponents in the No. 9 Aggies.
Head coach Boo Major has gone back to preparing her riders after having time off for fall break.
“The horses have had a little rest due to fall break so they are a bit more uppity when riding,” she said. “It will be interesting to see how they will ride come Friday.”
The preparation has not toned down after the win. In fact, the team is now more determined, having its eyes on a national championship because despite the two losses, the Gamecocks are still ranked at No. 3.
Major keeps the horses and girls to a routine during practice to obtain the best results.
“We have learned instead of drilling and drilling the same things over and over again which does not help us much, but rather piecing everything we have learned from competitions as a whole helps us the most,” she said.
The fixable errors the team has dealt with over this fall portion on the season all stem back to Major’s point that the Gamecocks need to minimize their mistakes.
“Although, I would rather have my girls override their horses than not ride them enough,” Major added. “I would rather see too much effort than not enough shown to win the match.”
Texas A&M is very different from the last meeting between the two programs in March 2013 when South Carolina advanced to the SEC Championship, due to some new faces on the coaching staff.
“There is a bit of newness, and we may not see the same type of riding as we did in March just due to the fact of the two new coaches,” Major said.
Texas A&M has done well to construct a very strong hunt seat division that South Carolina must adjust to on Friday. According to Major this division on Texas A&M’s team is a little more competitive and better than last year.
Some people tag these two teams as rivals, but this “rivalry” may only be due to the fact that every team in the SEC wants the bragging rights as winners of the conference, and both the Aggies and Gamecocks are still in position for the top spot. So since both teams are still fairly new to each other, they are still in more of a feeling-out process instead of engaged in a rivalry.
“Competing against any school in the SEC is competitive and could be called a rivalry,” Major said.
But after Friday’s battle, South Carolina and Texas A&M will have a better understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses to perhaps begin a stretch of years where their matchup may determine the conference winner.