By Ruby Tevis
Portraits by Melissa Fuller
Dedication, perseverance and a support team like no other—that’s Liz Lund’s recipe for eventing success. An accomplished eventer, breeder and trainer, Liz splits her time between Copeland Farms North in her home state of Minnesota, and Copeland Farms South in sunny Ocala, Florida. As Liz continues growing her business, she has only one mantra: Love what you do, and the rest will fall in place.
Liz fell in love with horses on her 7th birthday after her parents hired a pony for her birthday party. With a newfound obsession, Liz started riding lessons and never looked back. Liz became a barn rat at St. Croix Equestrian Center, begging her parents to drop her off at the barn to clean tack, groom horses and watch lessons with her friends. “Every day we could be there, we were,” Liz said.
In 1998, Liz attended her first recognized show at the Minnesota Fall Harvest Horse Show. “I remember that I couldn’t slow the canter down, so I did a circle and my trainer was not happy with me,” Liz said. “I didn’t know you couldn’t circle at a horse show without penalties!”
Looking for a barn closer to home, Liz discovered Jacqueri Oaks Stables and Nancy McDonough. There, she signed up for Pony Club and discovered eventing. “I got my first lease horse and I spent the show season learning about the rules and all the ways you can get eliminated in eventing,” Liz laughed. “Too many refusals, not having a current Coggins test, falling off, and more.”
As she spent her high school years learning the ropes, Liz was connected with Katy Bloomquist and David Holub who owned a small farm nearby called Trophy Hill. “I spent a few summers there before heading off to Connecticut after high school,” Liz said. In Connecticut, Liz worked for an amateur dressage rider and followed her to Wellington for the winter. Finding it too difficult to pursue eventing in Wellington, Liz discovered the magical land of Ocala.
From Applebee’s to Living the Dream
Liz spent a short time in Florida before returning to Minnesota to spend time with her father, whose health was failing. “My father passed away in April 2006,” Liz said. “My horse, Hannah, helped me through that difficult time.” Purchased with the help of her grandmother, Hannah, or Lady Hannah B, was Liz’s first horse of her own.
With the opportunity to work off Hannah’s board at Otter Creek Farm in Menomonie, Wisconsin, Liz decided to apply for the University of Wisconsin-Stout to earn her undergraduate degree.
“I was working part time at the Applebee’s in town,” Liz said. “I had brought a few training horses with me to college, but thought if I could get a few more, then I wouldn’t have to work at Applebee’s any longer!”
Set on majoring in business administration, Liz took her education from management, marketing and accounting classes and applied it to building her own business. During the summers, Liz traveled to Michigan to expand her riding education as a working student for Phillippa Humphreys and followed her to Ocala for a winter season.
“Phillipa was inspiring,” Liz said. “She enjoyed her horses, her family and friends. She passed in a riding accident in the spring of 2016. She loved life and brought joy to everyone around her.”
After she graduated college, Liz returned to Trophy Hill, this time to lease it. “Katy and David helped give birth to my business!” Liz said. Alongside her client and training horses, Liz continued her journey with Hannah.
“Hannah was the first horse I took up through the levels. We rode at Intermediate and what is now the three-star level,” Liz said. Outside of eventing, Liz also entered dressage and show jumping competitions, competing to Fourth Level and 1.20m respectively. “I also hooked her up to a sled and drove around in the snow or rode bareback in only a neck rope!”
Building Her Business
As Liz grew her clientele, she outgrew the barn at Trophy Hill. “Tracy Kooman gave my business its second home at Elysium Farms in Independence, Minnesota,” Liz said. “Tracy helped me grow my business. She hosted fundraisers for me, and has always been a big supporter.”
Though Liz describes eventing as feeling like “home” to her, she has always held a high appreciation for dressage and show jumping on their own. “Alison Sader Larson has helped me immensely over the years with dressage,” Liz said. “She also gave me the opportunity to purchase a mare called Lucy, whose presence in my life has brought about many meaningful accomplishments.”
Lucy, known as Rhine Maiden, a chestnut Hanoverian mare, was competing with Alison at Third Level when Liz was offered the opportunity to buy her. “I took Lucy and evented her through Preliminary before she started stopping out into the water,” Liz said. With Alison’s help, Liz and Lucy worked their way up to Intermediate I in dressage until she was leased to a young rider in Wellington.
In 2015, Liz moved to Copeland Farms, owned by Heidi Kelly. “I was able to expand my business to an even more luxurious 35-stall barn,” Liz said. Copeland Farms would also become home to a new adventure for Liz—breeding. When Lucy returned from her lease, Liz decided to breed her to First Dance, and welcomed her first colt, Franklin Delano CF, in 2017.
“To date I have five foals on the ground, including three out of my Thoroughbred mare, and Lucy gave me my first filly last year,” Liz said. “She is a full sibling to Franklin, who won the 5-year-old class at the Woodloch Young Event Horse Qualifier with an 81.6!”
The Future Ahead
With Franklin climbing toward Preliminary, Liz has quite a roster of horses heading into 2023, including Bowknot Billy, an off-the-track Thoroughbred whom Liz purchased in 2018. “We competed at Preliminary until he colicked in November of 2021,” Liz said. “He has taught me to really listen to my horses and that some horses will try to do things they don’t want to do just to please you. If you listen closely enough, you may just hear what they are trying to say.”
Deciding he would be better suited as a show jumper, Liz hopes to compete in the Thoroughbred jumpers at the World Equestrian Center this winter season. “My other horse, R’Mani CF, just finished his first CCI2* in the fall, and I’m looking forward to another fun winter season with him,” Liz said.
While Liz makes plans for the future with her horses and sets goals for herself, she tries to stay grounded in her expectations. “Early on, I traveled anywhere and everywhere to teach lessons. I would ride anything, and thank goodness I don’t have to do that anymore!” Liz said. “Later in my career, I learned about burnout. I got to a point where I didn’t want to ride—I didn’t enjoy what I was doing.”
Liz took a hard look at her goals, and most importantly, the reasons behind them. “I realized it wasn’t that I necessarily wanted to ride at the top of the sport at any cost,” Liz said. “I wanted to enjoy my horses, and I wanted my horses to enjoy me. When setting goals for my riding, I ask myself, ‘Is this what I want, or is this what I think I should want?’”
Now managing two farms, Copeland Farm North and Copeland Farm South, Liz hopes to grow her team of employees and plans to someday purchase the farms from her investors. With 80 acres, 55 stalls, multiple arenas and a cross-country course, Copeland Farms North was purchased by Jim and Maura Tierney after the original Copeland Farms was sold in 2021. In May of 2022, the Tierneys purchased Copeland Farms South, allowing Liz a consistent home base in Ocala for each winter to come.
“I have the best crew of employees anyone could ask for,” Liz said. “They are hard working, knowledgeable and willing to learn if they don’t know something, then willing to teach me if I don’t know something. They love the horses, love their work and strive to do their best each and every day.”
Outside of the barn, Liz hosts a podcast, “Unstable & Unbridled,” with her friend and assistant trainer, Rachel McIntosh. “Our uploads may be inconsistent, but I promise they will bring a smile to your face when you listen to our at-times-ridiculous but educational podcast,” Liz laughed.
Surrounded by good people and doing what she loves, Liz hopes to bring joy to others through her training. “I am so lucky to have such a great barn, with a great group of clients, that are at all different stages of their own journeys and being able to support and nurture one another on each of our own paths,” she said. “I enjoy being a role model and hope to show others that you can make it in this industry. It’s hard. It’s a lot of work. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
For more information, visit www.lizlund.com
Photos by Melissa Fuller, msfullerphotography.com