Best of JN: On Determination with Genevieve Munson

If you were to look up the word “determination” in the dictionary, you are bound to find a photo of fourteen-year-old Genevieve Munson. Despite her remote location in Northwest Arkansas, this ambitious young rider has risen through the ranks while adding several prestigious accomplishments to her riding resume. 

Photo by Jennifer Kaiser

From Humble Beginnings To Pony Finals Champion

Since the moment she could sit up on her own, Genevieve has been on the back of a horse. Following in her older siblings footsteps, the Rogers, Arkansas native began taking riding lessons at a local as a child. She made her schooling show debut when she was four and by the time she was seven years old she had moved up to the rated circuit.

“When I was seven I showed my little hunter pony,” Genevieve recalled, “and at nine I started riding with the local Pony Club and achieved my D3 rating. That’s when my transition to the jumpers really started. We went to do a demo as a D3 rider in Kansas City and that is where I met Bluebell’s owner, Carlie Beisel.”

The little blue roan pony had come to Carlie’s barn to be a dressage pony for one of her students, but the duo wasn’t clicking right away. One day, while a young rider was leading Bluebell around the farm, the pony spooked and jumped a five-foot gate. That is when Carlie knew it was time for a career change and the 13-year-old pony went to live with Genevieve. 

“Bluebell is what really brought me to the jumper ring,” shared Genevieve. “I owe so much to that pony. She gave me my next step-up and kind of tossed me into the spotlight.”

Genevieve and Bluebell. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography

And toss her into the spotlight she did; together, Genevieve and Bluebell accomplished some pretty incredible feats including winning the individual and team gold at the 2014 Pony Finals. “For me it was always the goal,” Genevieve reflected on their 2014 success. “That’s where I wanted to go so that is what I was going to do. It was blissful, of course, because I had finally figured out how to make that a reality.”

“Make It Happen” Mentality

Genevieve has carried that same focus and determination throughout her riding career and it has served her well. Rogers, Arkansas isn’t known to be an epicenter for top equestrian talent, but she has never let that hold her back.

“I have a circle of people around me that support me and help me. I am very lucky to have that,” she shared of her unusual training scenario. Genevieve rides and trains at home with the help of her older sister, but partners up with different trainers as she travels all over the country to compete. That networking has afforded Genevieve the opportunity to work with trainers such as Martien van der Hoeven, Matt Cyphert and Linda Allen.

“Certainly I’ve met roadblocks along the way and obviously there is a financial strain, but we have always figured out a way to make this happen,” she continued. One of those systems that has allowed Genevieve to compete at the higher levels was by catch riding while at shows. Over the years Genevieve’s networking skills and perseverance have caught the eye of riders, such as Michael Burnett, who have allowed her the opportunity to show their horses and garner more experience in the ring.

Photo provided by Genevieve Munson

“I met Michael at the George Morris clinic last October and we connected later. Next thing I knew he was reaching out to me in regards to catch riding for him here and there and it has worked out really nicely,” shared Genevieve. “My purpose is to present a trainer’s sales horses in the best possible manner in the junior classes. There is a benefit for both parties so it is truly a win-win.”

Some of those catch rides Genevieve takes on are spur of the moment with their first time together being in the show ring, but she doesn’t let that unnerve her. “It comes down to feel,” she said. “If you depend on knowing what the horse might do all the time, you will never succeed. Catch riding all comes down to the adaptability of the rider. You have to have the feel!”

Conpardie Z wins Low Junior Jumpers today at HITS Balmoral. Thank you to the owner for making this possible! And congrats on the win Genevieve!

Posted by Burnett Farms – Michael Burnett on Saturday, July 14, 2018

Always Looking Ahead

With accomplishments such as a silver medal at the NAYC, competing at the FEI Nations Cup in 2016 and clinicing with Anne Kursinski and George Morris, we imagine it’s challenging for Genevieve to pick a most memorable moment of her career so far. While she admits that she holds her Pony Finals win in 2014 near and dear to her heart, she said she is more focused on looking forward than reliving the past.

“I want to be on top. I don’t always know how I am going to get there, but I am learning along the way.” For now, Genevieve is focusing on the six horses in her string and hopes to spend two weeks at the Mid States Falla and Fall Finale where she aims to compete in some Welcome classes and smaller stakes. The American Royal, EAP Nationals and National Championships in Vegas are also on her radar, as well as returning to ride with George Morris this fall.

Photo by Jennifer Kaiser

Genevieve finds a way to make all the pieces of the puzzle fit together with the hopes of seeing her large goals come to fruition. She aspires to return to the NAYC next year, compete at the World Equestrian Games in the future and hopefully make the team for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. Dreams that large may scare some, but Geneveive remains unfazed. “It’s just another step in the ladder,” she told JN with a sense of calmness and determination that leads us to believe anything is possible for this enthusiastic young rider.