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Dr. Jill Copenhagen

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Passing the Torch

EN is thrilled to have different members of Lauren Kieffer's team blogging in the lead up to the Pan American Games and during her temporary move to England this fall in this new series presented by Athletux. Today we have a blog from Dr. Jill Copenhagen, who has been a part of Lauren's veterinary team through Peak Performance.

Lauren Kieffer and Meadowbrook's Scarlett at Great Meadow Pan Am Selection Trials.  Photo by Jenni Autry. Lauren Kieffer and Meadowbrook's Scarlett at Great Meadow Pan Am Selection Trials. Photo by Jenni Autry.

In 1996, David and Karen O’Connor were on the US team that took home the silver medal at the Atlanta Olympics.  In the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, they won team Bronze and David brought home an individual gold medal.

In 2014, their longtime student, Lauren Kieffer, placed second at Rolex Kentucky CCI4*.  In 2015, she is on the US team headed to the Pan American Games in Toronto, hoping to bring home the gold.

If all goes according to plan, this will be the first team competition for Lauren.  It has been a long journey to get to this point.  The journey has been one of hard work and perseverance, of high highs, and of heartbreaking disappointments.

I am incredibly touched that Lauren asked me to contribute to her blog and found myself reflecting on the last few years over which I have had the pleasure to work with Lauren Kieffer.

When I first started with Peak Performance, Lauren Kieffer was the second client I met. The first was Karen O’Connor. At the time, I was still new to the East Coast eventing scene, but even I had heard of David and Karen O’Connor.

By this time, Lauren had already completed her first four-star at the 2010 Rolex Kentucky with her Anglo-Arab, Snooze Alarm, nevertheless, hers was not a name with which I was familiar. Yet.

It is through Dr. Christiana Ober that I had to good fortune to meet and work with Lauren Kieffer. As a young veterinarian with Peak Performance, I joined Dr. Ober on her weekly visits to High Acre and Meredyth South.

Jill Copenhagen. Photo courtesy of Lisa Barry Photography.

Dr. Jill Copenhagen. Photo courtesy of Lisa Barry Photography.

We typically started at Karen’s barn, and after all her horses had been seen, moved to look over Lauren’s string.  Early on, she had predominantly young horses bred and owned by Ms. Jacqueline Mars.

My initial impressions of Lauren have never wavered as I have gotten to know her better. She is very hard-working, unassuming, an excellent rider, and a true horsewoman.  Lauren is humble in victory, and gracious in defeat.

Together, we have celebrated the successes, commiserated over the set backs; had some late nights, and some early mornings.  Through it all, the horses have always come first.

With both David and Karen retired from eventing competition, and Dr. Ober’s recent decision to relocate to England to spend more time with her husband and young son, there have been a lot of changes at High Acre and Meredyth South.

Lauren grew up and trained under David and Karen. Today, she has students and owners of her own.  Similarly, I have learned so much from working with Dr. Ober, and am excited to carry on Peak Performance both in Virginia and Florida.  Both of us are looking forward to what the future will bring.

Lauren’s horses have now become the first stop on my weekly visits. She has slowly and steadily worked her way up, assembling a string of talented upper level horses.  Some of the horses have been in her program since I met Lauren, having been started by her, while others have been acquired over the years through the support of her owners.

I consider myself very fortunate to be a part of the LBK Eventing team and wish Lauren and Scarlett the best of luck at Toronto 2015.