POWHATAN - Blessed Sacrament Huguenot's students witnessed a momentous signing on Monday afternoon when senior Elizabeth Carter officially penned her decision to attend Oklahoma State and compete for the school's Division I Equestrian team.
"It's such a great feeling...I've looked forward to it for so long," Carter said after signing. "It's been one of my biggest dreams...to ride in college. I'm just really proud of everything that I've done this year and before that and thankful for everyone that's helped me and kept me on the right path to getting here."
OSU is definitely a ways away - it's roughly 1,250 miles west of Powhatan County and about a five-and-a-half-hour flight from Richmond - but Carter really felt at home there.
"It's a great atmosphere and I really love the campus - it's gorgeous," Carter said. "The girls there on the team are so nice and friendly and I got along with them really well...I spent a couple days there with them on an official visit and I really enjoyed being around the girls."
She will compete in hunt seat events, which include flat patterns and jumping over fences. Carter said that OSU has its own farm and horses, so she'll ride OSU's horses during practices and at home meets. But when she and her team travel to other schools and compete in away meets, she'll ride the horses provided by the hosting school, meaning that she'll compete with unfamiliar horses when she's on the road.
"It's very different - the jumping is pretty much the same but it's harder because you're on a different horse; you don't know anything about it," she said. "But the flat, the style of the flat is very different from what I'm used to, so I'm excited to see what that holds and take on that new challenge."
And two of the horses she's ridden in competitions, Talinsky and Andiamo, could be described as opposites in terms of the ways that they go and want you to ride them. And as Carter's trainer Katherine Schmidt described this summer: “For her to learn the versatility of riding two very different horses is really a good thing for her and her future...she’ll be able to ride multiple types of horses and figure them out pretty quickly, which is a really good skill to have.”
Schmidt had also praised Carter as a very hard worker - “You can tell her to get to the barn at 4 a.m. and she wouldn’t bat an eye,” Schmidt had said - and Carter said she loves the bond that you create with the horse you’re riding.
She's also earned big marks along the way. She achieved her best Bryan Trophy Horsemanship equitation class finish this past summer (third) while riding Talinsky in the Deep Run Horse Show. After that, she won the Culpeper Equitation Classic, and Andiamo - whom she's had since he was a baby - was champion at Culpeper.
"He was really awesome," Carter said with a chuckle.
Carter's trainers Schmidt and Janet Simpson both helped her immensely with the recruitment process.
"They were really great with sending videos that I had given to them - they would cut them together and send those to them, and then just telling them how I was around the barn," Carter said. "That was very helpful for them to share their knowledge on me and to speak so highly of me."
Both trainers also strongly influenced her growth and development as a rider.
"I'm just so grateful for everything they've taught me and what I've learned from them," she said.
Carter looks forward to getting into the collegiate atmosphere, figuring herself out, growing and becoming a better rider and seeing where that takes her. But as for the first thing she believes she'll do when she gets on-campus, she'll "probably go to the barn," she said with a laugh.
"I'll go to the barn, see the horses, see the teammates, my coaches," she said. "I'm really excited to be there."