By Tyler Bui
Gigi Manigault had a successful junior career competing in the hunter ring—and it wasn’t until she became an adult amaetur that she stepped foot into an equitation class. But once she did, she was hooked.
The Charleston, SC native is currently a student at the University of South Carolina and competes in the THIS Adult Medal, the Amateur-Owner Hunter division, the Adult Amateur Hunter division, and various adult equitation classes.
Manigault began riding at age 10, first competing on the local show circuit before moving to Finally Farm to train with Jack Towell and Liza Towell Boyd four years ago.
“I started competing in the Children’s Hunter division, and I was 15 at the time, so instead of competing in the junior equitation I decided to stay in the hunter ring,” says Manigault.
She currently has two horses with which she competes in the Amateur Owner Hunter division; one horse she shows in the Adult Hunter Division; a young green hunter; and an equitation horse leased from Don Stewart.
“I started doing the THIS Adult Medal and the Ariat Adult Medal when I aged out. I was leasing a horse named Big Bang, owned by Emily Burgess, and the equitation classes were supposed to just be practice, but I started to do well and really enjoy the classes,” she says. “Now I take the equitation just as seriously as I do the hunters.”
Manigault’s equitation horse is an 8-year-old named Wizard of Odds. She has been paired with him since April 2021 and loves his big personality.
“He’s great at the equitation because of his adjustability; you can halt within a second, and he can turn like crazy,” says Manigualt. “He’s definitely a horse that likes games, so the equitation courses keep him really interested.”
When it comes to the THIS Adult Medal, Manigault enjoys the two-phase format and how it gives riders the opportunity to improve upon their first round and better show off their riding skills to the judges.
“I like the equitation, because it’s very technical. The courses are different and challenging,” she says. “It’s different than a handy, because you don’t have to show off your horse. It’s about who rides the best track and how well you can ride it.”
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