December 2015 - Genevieve Meyer
Written by Sydney Callaway
Saturday, 28 November 2015 01:32

horse people

Setbacks don’t alter Maclay Regional winner’s goal of ever-improving horsemanship.

by Sydney Callaway

I have known Genevieve Meyer for many years, as we have competed together in the equitation and jumper ring on several occasions. I can always spot her by her intent focus and perfectly polished boots. Genevieve is a hardworking young girl with a dream of riding professionally and the drive to get there. We all know the saying “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” However, when you put hard work and talent together, not even the sky can limit this young rider.

photo by Kim F. Miller

The Result

Genevieve recently made headlines for taking home a big win in an equitation class, the Maclay Regionals for Zone 10. This is a qualifying class for the Maclay Finals held in Kentucky every November. The equitation world is a subsection within the hunter/jumper community where only the most stylish, cool headed and poised riders come out on top. Do not be fooled, winning a medal class is never as easy as it looks. I competed in equitation for many years and can say, first and foremost, the equitation ring can make or break the mental toughness of a rider.

“It is easy to get wrapped up in posing,” Genevieve states. “I think it is important to remember that the equitation should just be a tool to prepare the up and coming riders for the jumper ring. I think the equitation is a great tool to learn how to handle the pressure, and to really get a strong riding foundation that you can always go back to.”

This point Genevieve makes about how to handle pressure is something we can all relate to. In the equitation ring, the focus on perfection reaches a height akin to ballet. The qualities that make a great show jumper can often hurt a rider in the equitation ring, as the emphasis has become increasingly on slow, methodical, controlled movements from both rider and horse. “The emphasis should be placed more on riding to train your horse, and to always work towards a better riding horse,” Genevieve states. “You shouldn’t be focusing on having a perfect round as much as making the perfect effect.”

Coral Reef Cruise Z. Photo: SportFot

Ann Karrasch, one of her longtime trainers, endorses this approach. “It was exciting to have all of that hard work pay off and for her to be able to go out there and ride the ride she wanted to ride, to keep her position and everything the way she wanted, was a huge bonus for all her hard work.  We always want to do well but it is always with the mind set to be the best rider she can be. For her, doing the equitation is to learn how to be a smooth, well connected rider.”

­­Mental Aspect

Focusing on being a smooth, well-connected rider is easier said than done. It’s only natural to get wrapped up in the results, the exact plan, the need for perfection. Going into the Maclay Regionals in September, Genevieve had been having rough year. Setbacks included hurting her arm, a concussion, a burst appendix during Spruce Meadows and colic surgery for her horse Coral Reef Cruise last year. This year, her top junior jumper Coral Reef Santos Utopia experienced a career ending injury.

“I think what was most exciting was that she was able to come back and win despite all the hardships,” Ann explains. “It is from those experiences in life that allow you to be able to look through those tough moments and keep a positive outlook. It can bring you down or you can use it to grow. We have always tried to encourage her to not let it bring her down.  When things are unfair [with Cruise getting sick, or her best horse breaking down – blowing out a tendon and never jumping again] I try to tell her to focus on what she got from that horse. The ability she has to act the way she did in those situations, those are the things we are striving for – the horsemanship.

Genevieve with her mom, Gwendolyn, and trainers Vinton and Ann Karrasch.

“It’s easy to get caught up in the competition. From the beginning her mom and Vinton and I instilled that the horses come first, no matter what. Those moments where it was really hard, she was able to do the right thing for the horse.”

Values: Horsemanship Above All

Indeed, the training of the horse and the growth of ourselves as horsemen and women is what we should all keep in mind, whether we are in or outside of the show arena.

Coral Reef Cruise Z. Photo: Gwendolyn Meyer

Genevieve has trained with Ann and Vinton Karrasch her entire life, and she cites them as the key component in bringing her to this point in her career. “Ann and Vinton are who I work with everyday, they’ve been with me through thick and thin and have gotten me to where I am today.” Their base is the Meyers’ Coral Reef Ranch in San Diego.

Genevieve and the Karrasches have a unique relationship due to their “family style” approach to working with Genevieve and their long-standing partnership. Genevieve views Ann and Vinton “as part of the family more than anything… they are there for me through everything.”  While many riders switch trainers during their junior careers, Genevieve has followed a path found very rarely within the Big Eq world, and success has followed right behind her.

“I personally think that being with them for so long has made our relationship very strong and they always know where I am in my head as much as in my riding. They can always tell when I am locked up in my head and know exactly what to say. And they know what can help me in every situation. I feel we have great communication because we have been together for so long, and I understand the way they say things really well.”

Ann elaborates on the coaching style she and Vinton use with Genevieve, stating that they are “similar in style, though Vinton is a lot more structured. We are a good team in that way. I am more of a feeling person while Vinton is structure and setting programs and following them. It’s a good balance in that way. I have the feeling for what I want from Genevieve while Vinton emphasis a specific plan for the ring. G and I take what Vinton says and work together on the finer details of feel and how to get it.”

Coral Reef Ranch owns a few Grand Prix horses that are shown by the Karrasches in many big classes, as well as those campaigned by Genevieve’s mother Gwendolyn Meyer, an accomplished amateur jumper contender. Genevieve is always the first to be a cheerleader for others, including her trainers. “I think that I want to see them do well as much as they  want to see me do well.”

Coral Reef Ranch also owns Coral Reef Via Volo, affectionately known as “Shrimp,” Beezie Madden’s 2012 Olympic mount. Genevieve will occasionally get help from legendary horsemen, John and Beezie Madden, at the shows, as well as Stacia Madden, who is stationed on the East Coast.

Coral Reef Santos Utopia. Photo: SportFot

The Future

Genevieve had strong performances back East this fall. A “pilot error” in the Maclay Finals was counterbalanced by Cruise being nearly perfect, she reported. And she was pleased to finish in the top 25 at the USEF/Pessoa Hunt Seat Medal finals in Harrisburg, her first appearance there. “I want to be able to present Cruise as the best horse he can be and keep an open mindset while I am there.” Genevieve still has one junior year left. She plans to continue doing the equitation, and hopefully make time for the Zone 10 NAJYRC trials held in California.

University is also in the plans for Genevieve, possibly in Europe. Being located in Europe would allow her to delve more into the show jumping scene, while juggling academics, a large focus for herself and her mother. When elaborating on her “5-year plan” Genevieve says she would like to make riding a career, advancing into some World Cup classes and earn her red coat by representing the States in international competition.

Wherever this young star chooses to go, horses seem to be here to stay. The world is at her feet and she has the maturity, drive and dedication to be the best she can be.