The long awaited interview with Lauren Mahoney has arrived. You may have seen her at one of the faces of Le Fash or know her from doing 1.45m to Grand Prix classes with her wonderful, amazing former horse Armani. Lauren seems to live a glamorous life, but one must remember that social media is all curated. Lauren is actually super nice, extremely down-to-earth, and someone I know I can go to if I ever need to talk or need advice.
She is currently a sophomore at Sacred Heart University (my best friend went there!), and she said she has an “unhealthy addiction to Talenti and horses.” She is studying marketing with a double minor in fashion merchandising and digital marketing.
Lauren started riding when she was four. Surprisingly, she didn’t like it.
“My dad started me with lessons at Stonyhill, a show barn on Long Island that was 5 minutes from our house,” she said. “I actually hated it for the first year or so, then sometime around when I was 6 I come home and asked for a second lesson a week. I think that’s when my dad realized having a daughter who rode might not have been the smartest financial decision.”
Lauren is known for doing the jumpers, though she did do the equitation for some time. However, she “absolutely hated doing the eq in the pony division.” She said she “always” wanted to do the jumpers.
“Even when i had my large pony, I used to have to beg my trainer to let me do the jumper classes at the end of the day on my pony!” Lauren said. “She would always let me if my pony was up for it and as long as I got the points I needed in the morning for whatever pony division we were chasing. It [was] the best part of my day, getting to do the 3[‘] jumpers on my fancy large pony.”
So why did (and does) Lauren like the jumpers so much when most girls her age were doing equitation or hunters?
“The whole, get it done type of mentality was always more inviting to me than the perfection and stress of the equitation or hunters. I loved jumping big too, even when [I] was little I would beg my trainer to put the jumps up,” she explained. “Jumping in the … big classes [has] always been my dream ever since I was little. I used to watch my old trainer, James Benedetto, school his jumpers at home before heading of[f] to Spruce or Wellington[,] and it was mesmerizing watching him jump around 1.60[m] courses with such grace.”
Lauren said she was hooked, and that jumping in big classes has been a “dream” ever since she was a little girl.
Lauren has also had the luck of importing her last three horses. So, what were they?
Her first import was Vancouver DH. She imported him when she was 12, and he was 5.
“He was a great learning experience and got me into the 1.10[m],” she said of Vancouver DH.
Then comes the ever famous Armani. She imported him after taking a year off of riding. She had Armani for 3 years. He took her from 1.10m to 1.45m.
He basically taught me everything I know and I don’t think I could have gotten any luckier. Truly he was everything you ever wanted in an athlete,” she said of Armani.
And, if any of you follow Lauren on Twitter or Instagram, or know her well, you know she still speaks very fondly of him.
“He is actually doing fantastic! His new owner loves him dearly, and he is at an absolutely beautiful barn with the best staff,” Lauren said. “I really couldn’t have asked for a better home to sell him to. Last [I] checked she was doing the adults with him, but might move up soon.”
Recently, Lauren imported Zander, also known as Bon Bon.
“He’s a 7 year old Zangersheide out of Level Z and has honestly been the biggest challenge I’ve faced yet in my riding career. When I went over on this trip I knew I wanted a horse to get into bigger classes with, but we didn’t have the budget to get a typical 1.50[m] horse,” she said. “So in order to do the impossible, find an inexpensive Prix horse, I had to go with something that really isn’t for everyone. He’s been hard to figure out and he was actually gelded not long before I bought him.”
Bon Bon passed all the stallion testings in Belgium; however, his owners decided to geld him as a 7 year old.
“…[I]t’s hard working with him sometimes but I really think it will all pay off in the end,” she said.
Lauren has some goals for Bon Bon this year, such as stepping up to the big classes.
“He did one 1.50[m] class last summer at Princeton with my trainer[,] but it was on the smaller side. He settled into himself truly by the last couple of lines, so if he could begin with that same mentality and also finish with it, that’s the goal,” she said.
Lauren seems to know her new horse relatively very well.
“He’s a young horse with a little bit of a stallion brain, so it’s like working with the most stubborn person you know!” She explained. “He really does like his job though, and he’s made leaps and bounds of progress since he’s gotten over here so I’m just going to take it day by day with him.”
As for Lauren, she wants to feel confident again in the 1.35m classes and 1.40m classes, maybe. However, this is all dependent on Bon Bon.
“…[L]ike I said it’s been hard to figure him out and we’re just working on the details now but as we all know, sometimes its the little things that are the most important.”
Lauren also had a tragedy hit her family last year that affected her riding and her progress with Bon Bon. She wanted to share this with The Legal Equestrian readers. Lauren’s half-sister passed away last July.
“Not many people know, but this summer my sister Briana passed away suddenly by something that truly was just a freak accident. She actually passed away on July 5th; my 19th birthday. It not only swayed my riding, but it also stopped my world. Briana and I grew up together until [I] was finishing middle school, then she moved to Florida to live with her father.”
Briana, 26, had three little boys under the age of 5.
“The reason I’m talking about this is not only because it was a large reason why my riding didn’t get as serious as it should have this summer but also to make people realize that there’s always so much more going on than what you see.”
“I can’t even begin to tell you [in] words how hard these past 6 or 7 months have been, and for those of you who may be reading this, who have also lost a loved one, I’m so sorry. This was a large reason why my plans with Zander didn’t progress as I had planned at the beginning of the summer. It was very hard for me to focus on something that seemed so trivial when three little boys very close to my heart had just lost their mother,” she said. “It honestly was very hard for me to focus on just about anything. Hopefully with this all said, this year things will start to come together for us as a team.”
Lauren said her head is in a better place, and her vision for Bon Bon is “clearer than ever.”
“I honestly don’t consider myself the same person as I was before this all happened. If anything good at all can possibly come out of this, it’s to learn to never take anything for granted,” she said.
The Legal Equestrian team wants to send our sincere condolences to Lauren. Losing a loved one is never easy, but this was especially hard for her because of how close she was to her sister. We also are honored that Lauren wanted to address this during her interview, as it is something she has kept quiet about on social media.
Lauren is a true equestrian fashionista, so we had to ask her about her favorite equestrian brands. We all know she loves Le Fash.
“[Their] clothes make my life easy honestly because if I have to go straight to class from the barn, I can just put a blouse in my car and some flats and thats my class outfit for after the barn with their breeches,” she said.
She also loves Equiline and EcoLicious Equestrian, for which she is an ambassador.
Lauren also adores Ecogold, which makes great, amazing pads. We asked her why she chooses Ecogold over the other ever popular Ogilvy. First, Lauren said she had used just about every “top” half pad on the market, partially inspired by Armani’s high withers.
“I came across Ecogold and honestly at first [I] was hesitant to try any products because they are so expensive, but after trying them there was no looking back,” she said. “Absolutely no slip, and they washed out beautifully. Then when they came out with the [F]lip [H]alf [P]ad, what could be better!? You get two half pads for the price of one, plus I love that they’re not as thick as other brands[;] they really went wit[h] the quality of their material versus the quantity of it. I felt that other brands really [m]ade my saddle sit too high off the back and I felt disconnected[.] [W]ith Ecogold there was none of that. I don’t think I’ll ever switch now!”
Lauren is a college student with a heavy load on her plate. After all, she has a major and a double minor. How does she balance school and riding?
“Honestly, it’s really hard. It leaves me with minimal time for anything else, especially anything social. To me it’s worth it though. My dreams have always included horses and I don’t see that changing anytime soon,” she said.
Lauren also rides on her University’s riding team, which she spoke to us about not too long ago.
“The girls on the team are all like one big family, and it’s nice to have people at your school & surrounding you that you all have a similar passion. It’s tough in the sense that the commitment is huge. It’s a D1 team as well as a[n] IHSA team so we do a lot to try and stay on top.”
‘A lot’ includes workouts, study hall hours, practices, tutors, meetings, and barn work.
Lauren is obviously a good rider and has accomplished a lot as just a sophomore in college. However, she does not plan on going professional with her riding.
“I’m majoring in Marketing so I would really like to take that and run with it,” she said.” I’m starting up an internship at LARC test[,] which is a new research and training technique in the equine world. Working with start up companies is really what I find myself loving so far. I’m not sure if I’m going to stay within the [e]quine field or not, but I really hope I can at least always do something on the side that is connected to this world because I find the people & athletes in it just down right amazing.”
Like most of us, Lauren is not immune to the internet haters. We asked her how she deals with those haters.
“Honestly I just ignore it. It takes a certain amount of maturity to be able to look at someone else’s life and realize that things are never how they seem to be. Some people just haven’t found that maturity yet and that’s ok[ay]. Hopefully some day they will and it won’t be because they find themselves the center of hate,” she said.
For those of you that are wondering, “how can I be like Lauren Mahoney?” (We know you’re out there…) Lauren had this to say:
“Ride, ride as much as possible. It’s never going to be easy but if this is truly what you love then put yourself out there and try to work for different barns. The more you experience, the better of you will be.”
Finally, we finished with some fun, non-horse-related questions. First, her guilty pleasures, which pretty much include foods like pizza, sushi, and Talenti (anything caramel related).
We also asked Lauren about her move last year. When Lauren decided to attend Sacred Heart, she and her dad moved from Long Island (her life-long home) to Connecticut. We asked her if she ever missed Long Island. Short answer: Not really.
“I never really loved it there honestly. I just found it congested and honestly it’s really hard to find good places and opportunities to ride on the island. There’s minimal show barns out there[,] and I was just lucky enough to live near a farm that had a great trainer, but even then that barn wasn’t a super high functioning show barn. They brought us to all the shows, but didn’t live on the circuit like a North Run or Heritage does. So I found it hard to get any opportunities unless I was traveling to horse shows.”
For those of you who are Long Islanders, Lauren said she misses Ralph’s and Little V’s Pizza.
Finally, will Lauren be at WEF this year?
“Yes!” She said. “I’ll be down to visit some friends and possibly catch ride. I just won’t be bringing any horses down.”