Genevieve Munson of Rogers, Arkansas, concluded the 2024 HITS Chicago Lamplight Spring Spectacular Series with remarkable performances, securing top finishes in several key events. Notably, she claimed first place with her longtime partner, Zonderling, in the $35,000 CWD Grand Prix on Saturday, June 22, and the $20,000 Alliant Private Client Cup on Thursday, June 20.

In the week’s highlight event, the $35,000 CWD Grand Prix, six horse-and-rider pairs advanced to the jump-off. Lisa Goldman-Smolen set a challenging pace on Sovereign, an 18-year-old Selle Français stallion by Frontal owned by Barbara Disko, finishing in 44.309 seconds. With Goldman-Smolen yet to ride Ivaro N, an 11-year-old KWPN gelding by Elvaro also owned by Disko, Munson needed a quick and clear round with her mount Zonderling to assure the victory. Munson delivered, crossing the finish line fault-free in 41.953 seconds. Despite a strong effort with Ivaro N, Goldman-Smolen clocked in at 43.728 seconds, securing second and third places with Sovereign and Ivaro N, respectively. In the end, it was Munson and Zonderling that led the lap of honor.

Genevieve Munson and Zonderling. Photo by Alison Hartwell Photography

Munson’s journey with Zonderling, affectionately known as “Joey,” began in an unconventional way. A trainer in Oklahoma offered Joey for sale after clients found him too challenging.

“He over-jumps everything, making him difficult at lower levels, but he’s done very well with us,” explained Munson.

Now a longtime partner, the 20-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Escudo I that Munson owns with Mark Holden has proven to be an ageless rockstar.

Lisa Goldman-Smolen and Sovereign. Photo by Alison Hartwell Photography

Zonderling’s comeback is nothing short of remarkable. Following a traumatic trailer incident in 2022, where he fractured his sternum, Joey faced an uncertain future with no literature on equine sternum fractures to guide his recovery. After extensive veterinary care and careful rehabilitation, Joey not only returned to full health, but also regained his competitive edge, culminating in his triumphant performance at the Lamplight Spring Spectacular Series.

Lisa Goldman-Smolen and Ivaro N. Photo by Alison Hartwell Photography

“He’s a bit of a goofball,” shared Munson. “He gets really excited when jumping the big classes, so mounting him is quite an event. He loves his job, and that’s why he’s still going strong. After the injury, we didn’t know if he would come back to jump big fences again, but he’s proven he still has that fire.”

Prior to Saturday’s Grand Prix, Munson also excelled in Thursday’s $20,000 Alliant Private Client Cup in the Douglas Elliman Arena. She delivered two unbeatable performances, claiming first place with Zonderling with a double-clear effort and a jump-off time of 34.48 seconds. This latest success adds to the impressive list of achievements for the pair, who have been together for five years.

Genevieve Munson stands for presentation. Photo by Alison Hartwell Photography

After a whirlwind week of excitement, Munson expressed gratitude for her horses and the support she’s received.

“Every round with Joey now is extra special, because at 20, you don’t get many horses jumping these classes,” she said. “I’m thankful to the owners who support us and the improvements at HITS Chicago that make these experiences so positive.”

Second place in the $20,000 Alliant Private Client Cup went to Brian Murphy aboard Light Speed Equestrian’s 10-year-old KWPN stallion by Chacco Blue, Glenara Chacco DP, who also went double-clear, clocking in at 36.63 seconds. Munson’s second mount, Contendro Star, a 16-year-old Hanoverian gelding by Contendro I she owns with Sandra Woodbury, had the fastest four-fault jump-off with a time of 35.39 seconds.

For a full list of results, please visit www.showmanagementsystem.com