John Mitchell grew up on his family farm in Tooma NSW, high in the Snowy Mountain country. Growing up in a small community and being an active young sportsman, John found himself involved in many of the local sporting events, including Pony Club, a place where he gained his foundation and love of riding. It wasn’t long, before horses became an everyday part of John’s life whether it was competing in the local Pony Club competition or mustering cattle and sheep on his family farm.
Like most young, keen boys, John’s passion didn’t stop with horses. He had a love for a variety of ball sports, Aussie Rules football in particular. John spent all of his youth chasing his dream of becoming a successful football player, a dream which led him to Brisbane to pursue a career on the sporting field.
His dream realised, John was soon able to return home when he cemented a paid position in the Ovens and Murray Football League with the Albury Tigers.
Ten years on, John remains a Tiger and continues to play with the club.
It was evident from an early age being second best was never an option for John. He knew that to be the best, he had to learn from the best and have the best horses under him. This lead him and his mate Morgan Webb up north to join Ben Halls contract mustering Team in 2012 and also where he would meet his now wife, Stacey. It was this move that paved Johns path into the team of horses he has today.
Breaking in horses was a part of the contract with Ben which would come a life changing moment for John as among the breakers was an eye catching Conman colt, Halls Chickenman. It only took one ride for John to know that he wanted him. “From day dot I knew he was something special”. John was able to purchase Chickenman off Ben and continue on with his education.
Steady mustering as a 3 yo was the next program and the following October John and Halls Chickenman had their first outing at the Battle on the Bidgee. This would normally be a big challenge for a young horse, but John declares that with Chickenmans calm mind and natural ability, he was always going to be ready to compete. The pair came home with the win and launched Chickenman’s name into the Challenge scene.
The Campdraft arena followed with a win in the Maiden at Holbrook the following April.
Chickenman has continued on to accumulate a serious list of Stockman Challenge wins including 3 back to back Man from Snowy River Titles, 2 Battles on the Bidgee titles, 5 saddles plus multiple runner up placings. All attributed to his great mind and natural ability.
Meanwhile his Campdraft performances are also gaining attention with his unique low travelling style which demonstrates his ability to run a cow and his great attitude as John continually rides him on a loose rein with no pressure. His runoff in the Novice at the ACA finals and his Runner Up Title in the Stallion Shootout at Landmark 2018 propelled him into the elite ranks and showed just how big his heart is.