Gigha has been an active rider since childhood. After graduation from the University of Florida in 1996, she started what was then called "GBS Dressage", and was later renamed "Lochinvar Dressage" following the death of her FEI horse Lochinvar in 1998. After training for several years out of Hanover Farm in DeLand, she was able to buy her own farm in 2005, which was christened "River Oaks Farm".
Gigha began her riding career as a child and competed in her first recognized dressage competition at the age of 12. At the age of 14 she became the youngest rider to medal at the Sunshine State Games (a prestigious competition at the time) competing at First and Second Level on her off-the-track Thoroughbred mare renamed "Erin". Her first riding instructor was Baiba Bourbeau and Gigha will be forever grateful for the solid basics, work ethic, and love for the horse which she learned riding with Baiba. As a child Gigha competed in eventing and hunter/jumper (and catch-riding) before switching exclusively to dressage. She later rode extensively with Nancy M. Smith (a former member of the USET, a medalist at the Pan Am Games, and short-listed for the 1996 Olympics), whom she still admires greatly. Other noteables whom Gigha has worked or cliniced with include Hilda Gurney (former Olympian and Grand Prix level trainer), Bo Jena (director of dressage at Sweden's National Stud "Flyinge"), Anne Gribbons (Grand Prix level trainer and international competitor and "O" judge), Sue Williams (Grand Prix level trainer/competitor) and Susanne Hamilton (Grand Prix level trainer/competitor.)
Gigha has had much success and on a variety of different horses, from starting young horses thru Grand Prix, and with a competition career spanning more than three decades. She believes all horses can benefit from dressage training. While not all horses may have the talent to be competitive at the FEI levels, she works to bring out the maximum potential in each individual horse, and she has had much success on some very unlikely horses. She believes good basics and a solid foundation are the keys to success in dressage, and her methods have proven successful time and time again, with numerous National and Regional Year-End Awards and Championships; including Year-End Awards Regionally and Nationally thru Grand Prix dressage.
Gigha is active as a dressage trainer and instructor, and judges several schooling shows each year as well. She has also been an ASEA nationally certified equine appraiser since May 1999, specializing in dressage and sport horse appraisals.
Gigha is also active with the Friesian Sporthorse Association (FSA) and is proud of her role in the development and growth of this registry. She has had roles as President and Vice President, and is currently putting her breeding knowledge to use as their Breeding Director. She is a proud breeder and promoter of Friesian Sporthorses, and fully endorses the Friesian Sporthorse Association. She was also a member of the American Warmblood Society for more than a decade as their Dressage Representative for Florida and their inspection liaison with the Friesian Sporthorse Association, until the FSA discontinued the inspection-sharing arrangement in 2013 following the death of the AWS's director. In 2009 Gigha was named AWS Director of the Year for her work as their inspection liaison. She is also an active member of the USEF (United States Equestrian Federation) and the USDF (United States Dressage Federation.)
Over the last decade+, Gigha has enjoyed success with her horses "Charleston" and her Elite Friesian Sporthorse stallion "Lexington", both of which she bought as foals and raised/ trained herself. Together she and Charleston won National and Regional Year-End Awards at Training, First, and Third Level, and competed thru Fourth Level, before Charleston was sold. Charleston was also named FSH Horse of the Year 2006.
In 2008 Gigha began showing Lexington, wrapping up the year as the 2008 USDF All-Breeds Champion and the 2008 IFSHA National Champion at Training Level. In 2009 she rode Lexington to a 35th place ranking for USDF Horse of the Year, with a year-end median First Level score of 70.526, and being named IFSHA First Level Champions for 2009 and the USDF All-Breeds Champions for First Level 2009. She also won a national USDF All-Breeds Award in 2009 riding the German Warmblood stallion "G Walkabout" (owned by Carrie Simmons). In 2010 she and Lexington competed at Third Level, with scores to 70%+ and wrapped up the year with another USDF All-Breeds win (2010 USDF All-Breeds Champion Third Level) and being named the FSA 2010 High Performance Award Reserve Champions. In 2011 Gigha debuted Lexington at FEI Prix St George as a 7-year-old, and Lexington was named 2011 FSA High Performance National Champion. In 2012 Gigha & Lexington were ranked 15th for USDF National Horse of the Year at PSG with a very impressive year-end average of 69.74%, and they were also again named FSA High Performance National Champion, this time for FEI Intermediare.
Gigha and Lexington made their Grand Prix debut in 2013 and were named FSA High Performance National Champion for 2013. In 2014, and again in 2015, they were the USDF All-Breeds Friesian Sporthorse Grand Prix National Champion, and were once again the FSA High Performance National Champions also. In 2017 Gigha and Lexington once again were the USDF All-Breeds Friesian Sporthorse Grand Prix National Champions, for the last time, as Lexington was sold in 2017.
Gigha has also enjoyed success competing Lexington's offspring for their owners. In 2013 she and the Lexington son "Lennox ROF" were ranked 25th for USDF's prestigious Horse of the Year at Training Level and were the 2013 USDF All-Breeds Friesian Sporthorse Training Level National Champion. In 2014 Gigha and the Lexington son "Lancaster ROF" competed in the 4-Year-Old Young Horse classes with scores to 77%, and were the 2014 USDF All-Breeds Friesian Sporthorse 4-Year-Old YH National Champion. Check our "News & Updates" page and our Facebook page for the most up-to-date information!
Gigha has appeared in magazines such as Halifax Magazine, Hunter & Sport Horse, Warmbloods Today, Dressage Today, The Yankee Pedlar, Horse & Pony, The Centerline, Connections, Equestrian (the national publication of the USEF), and The Chronicle of the Horse. In 2012 she was featured on the cover of Warmbloods Today magazine.
Gigha was also active for a time offering tips and training advice via the internet, but she discontinued this because she felt that real training issues are best dealt with hands-on.
In addition to teaching, training, and judging, Gigha has
also written articles and short essays which have been featured on websites and in publications such as Warmbloods Today, Dressage Daily, EuroDressage, Florida Sporthorse, Baroque Horse Magazine, MyHorseFly, DressageTheory, Modern Dressage, Horse & Pony, and various newsletters. Her whimsical "Dressage in 2030" has been being passed around the internet since before anyone had even coined the phrase "gone viral", although over the years her credit as the author has often been lost and replaced with "unknown".
Some of Gigha's recent articles (thru 2013) have included:
-- Fact & Fiction about Frozen: the latest pros and cons of using frozen semen (Warmbloods Today, Jan/Feb 2010)
-- 70 Days in Oklahoma: the first 70-Day Stallion Test held in North America (Warmbloods Today, March/April 2010)
-- Breeder's Point of View: how this tough economy is affecting sport horse breeders (Warmbloods Today, May/June 2010)
-- Born to Breed: Should your fancy colt become a breeding stallion? (Warmbloods Today, September/October 2010)
-- Breeding for Color: without sacrificing quality (Warmbloods Today, March/April 2011)
-- The One and Only Legendary Nico: A unique stallion's life ends tragically (Warmbloods Today, July/August 2011) reprinted with permission in Baroque Horse Magazine, Nov/Dec 2013)
-- Inspections 101: Should you have your foal inspected? (Warmbloods Today, September/October 2011)
-- the popular breeder's series "Best of Bred" (Warmbloods Today)
-- Improving the Bottom Line for Small Breeding Operations - Breeder's Point of View (Warmbloods Today, January/Feb 2013)
-- As Good As It Gets: Lord Locksley and Susanne Hamilton (Warmbloods Today, January/February 2013)
-- Breeding for Color: without sacrificing quality (reprinted with permission in Florida Sporthorse, Jan/Feb 2013)
-- In Utero: An INteresting Option The pros and cons of selling or buying a foal in utero (Warmbloods Today, March/April 2014)
In the last decade+ Gigha has become active breeding Friesian Sporthorses. She currently owns and stands one of the only approved Friesian Sporthorse breeding stallions in the US (the Elite Book Grand Prix stallion Lexington) and produced her first Friesian Sporthorse foal in 2007. Although she only produces a couple of foals per year, she has enjoyed a great deal of success as a breeder, and has established River Oaks Farm as a leader in Friesian Sporthorse breeding. River Oaks Farm's Friesian Sporthorses have been inspection site winners, FSA National Inspection & In-hand Award winners, USDF/DSHB Regional Champions, USDF All-Breeds Champions, and USDF/DSHB Horse of the Year Top 10 finalists. To date, Gigha has bred four consecutive National Champion Friesian Sporthorses (2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013) by her stallion Lexington. Her homebred Friesian Sporthorse gelding, Lauderdale ROF by Lexington, earned the highest score ever awarded to a Friesian Sporthorse at inspection -- a fantastic 89.1%. In 2014 Gigha was awarded the prestigious "Elysium Farm Fund for US Breeder Excellence" grant from the Dressage Foundation, which enabled her to attend the 2014 USDF Sport Horse Forum at Iron Spring Farm.
In 2022 Gigha branched out in a slightly different direction and (with the generous help of silent partners / sponsors) acquired two young PRE stallions.
Gigha currently lives in Seville, Florida and trains out of River Oaks Farm (Seville.) Please email for more information.