Lauren Mitchell with Craighaven Black Heart being presented the EquiMatch Junior High Points Series win by Jess Land from EquiMatch – Photo by Michelle Clarke


  • EquiMatch Junior High Points Series

  • Auckland and Waitemata Show Hunter Groups Junior Equitation

Lauren Mitchell has claimed a trifecta of Auckland & Waitemata Show Hunter Groups Junior Equitation crowns with her latest victory for the 2023-2024 season.

The 19-year-old from Taupaki in West Auckland took the quinella in the EquiMatch Junior High Points Series, a crown she last won with the now-retired Sonny Bill in 2021-2022, this year winning aboard Craighaven Black Heart on 68 points and coming second with Marokopa CJ on 47. She won the Junior Equitation by 15 points ahead of Gisborne’s Ella Rouse.

But Lauren says such success hasn’t just happened overnight. “I think the thing is with Black Heart is that she is so quirky you have to get to know her. She isn’t a simple ride but she will give you her entire heart as long as she trusts you.”

The 13-year-old mare has spent nearly half her life with Lauren and it took quite some time to get to this point. “There were many seasons where it didn’t go so well but I persevered and she really gives you a nice feeling in the ring when it all goes well. She loves her job,” says Lauren. “She is usually the only horse who is still full of energy at the end of a show, dancing around on the spot!”

Ten-year-old CJ is the “baby” of the family. “He is like a toddler. I bought him as a project so wasn’t even meant to stay around but now everyone just loves him. He has that sort of personality. He is cheeky and gets away with everything but at the same time takes everything very personally. I need to be gentle, kind and hold his hand a lot but when he listens it all comes together. He’s a bit like a Lab whose ears just switch off sometimes.”

CJ wasn’t anywhere near the series leaderboard up until HOY. He did well in the first half of the season and not so great after Christmas but managed to pull it together for the last couple of shows.

Lauren and Craighaven Black Heart being presented the Auckland & Waitemata SH Groups Junior Equitation Series by Marilyn Thompson from Auckland Show Hunter and Jenny Stiles-Joustra from Waitemata Show Hunter – Photo by Michelle Clarke


Lauren started show hunter when she was about nine she figures. “I like the rhythm of it and that everything has to be perfect and in synch.”

Since 2021 she has won six series crowns but every win is special.

“It takes a lot to keep the horses happy and healthy,” she says. “We haven’t chased the series this season, I just haven’t had time and really didn’t want to be competing every weekend. The horses can get sour and unhappy and especially when the ground gets hard. I am very particular about what I put my horses on.”
She’s got no intention of giving up for some time and is now eyeing the junior and open of the year crowns as well as the open series but life has got busier between her conjoint Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Commerce as well as a part time job.

She only has two horses in work at home and loves nothing more than to head to the beach and forest with them and her mum. “It just makes the horses so much happier to not be stuck in an arena all the time,” she says. “I am really proud to finish the season with them both happy and healthy.”


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Diana Dobson – 19 March 2024