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Thiel sisters bring new meaning to "house-divided"

2192 days ago
UGA Athletics
Photo: UGA Athletics

The Georgia-South Carolina "Border War" rivalry is nothing new to the No. 7 ranked equestrian team.

The Bulldogs will be taking on the eighth-ranked Gamecocks for the second time this season. That, however, is not the only rivalry that will be occurring this weekend. There's a sibling rivalry as well.

Senior Charley Thiel will be competing against her little sister, Madison, for the last time of her collegiate career.

"Last year when she was a freshman and I was a junior our teams competed against one another three times but this year when we competed against each other in the fall," said Thiel. "We actually drew up against each other in reining. That was an emotional day for my parents and it was a lot of new emotions for [us]."

Thiel regards her sister as her inspiration, her biggest supporter and her biggest critic. She attributes this relationship with her to even before they started showing at the collegiate level.

"We will always be the one standing on the side of the arena cheering for each other," said Thiel. "We're also going to be the first ones to meet each other when we come out and I'm going to give her a critique and she's going to do the same for me."

Regardless of how either sister competes, or what the other says, Thiel said in all it's very balanced. One of the only times Thiel recalls when she felt torn was last Fall during their head-to-head.

"We both wanted each other to do as well as we could," said Thiel. "When I lost to her that weekend I felt a little bit defeated, but I was so proud of her and her ride that it made everything okay."

Madison seemed to feel the same way when she realized she had bested her older sister.

"[I went from] 'yes!' to 'uh oh! She's my big sister!' in a matter of seconds," said Madison. "But I knew that if I won or she did, we would be so sincerely happy for the other. Of course we had to joke around a little bit and give a little 'sisterly' love but if I'm going to be beat out there, I want my sister to be the one that does it and I know she feels the same way."

While both sisters want each other to do well in the arena, regardless, there's still that element of school pride. Thiel and the rest of the Georgia team are excited to be back on their home turf for this meet. She believes that the team gets a "boost" from their home fans and horses.

"We're not going to let anyone take it away from us in our house," said Thiel. "I want to win my point, I want Georgia to win for sure. I'm Dawgs all the way, [but] I just have a little bit of a soft spot in me when the Gamecock reiners go against our reiners, it's different than [with] any other school."