Equestrian Gigi Moynihan '21, a GSB senior, won third place at the ASPCA Maclay National Championship in Lexington, KT, on November 1, 2020. In this last major competition of the year, a record-breaking number of contestants upped the stakes even more. And, due to COVID-19 protocols, the tournament lasted a grueling 12-plus hours.
In the end, a triumphant GiGi and Quantico, (aka Tico), a warmblood horse, were led to center ring for the official honors. This exhilarating highlight marked the culmination of a competitive riding career that began at age 2.
"I love riding for so many reasons," said Gigi. "I love the rush I get right after competing and the ups and downs that go with it. I love the competitive nature, and that it's just me and my horse working together. And of course, I love the relationships that I form with my horses."
Even though Gigi is new to GSB, she has already learned to balance riding with her schoolwork. Over the years, she developed time-management skills so that she can devote herself to her passion.
Placing third at the national horse show proved thrilling. "The whole day was an incredible rollercoaster of emotions," Gigi said. "I was ecstatic when I placed. After the award ceremony, I called my trainer in New Jersey, and broke down into tears. I worked for hours every day of every month for the year leading up to this competition, and it paid off."
The contest began at daybreak, with all 268 riders completing the first round. From that group, the top 25 were culled to compete in a jumping round and a flat class, which judges a horse's presentation, manners, and reliability. Then the leading four participants finished a final jumps test.
Throughout the event, Gigi exhibited a beautiful riding style, as reported by Phelps Sports: "Thanks to her exemplary performance over fences that demonstrated correct, precise riding, Gigi Moynihan sat superior to her peers as the frontrunner following the challenging first fences round, leading ever since she tackled the pattern as the 36th in the start list."
Once the day's adrenaline wore off, Gigi shifted to next year and how she can hone her strategy for success. "I'll work to win an equitation final, focus on my other horses, and pursue my jumping career," she said. "I will hopefully – pandemic allowing – be competing in the U25 North American Youth Championship in 2021 and be invited to the international competition in Belgium."
We wish Gigi all the best in her next competition! We'll be rooting for her!