On our September-October 2019 issue cover is a portrait by Olya Tutova of 42beats, of Michelle Lando and her home-bred Arabian Riding Pony foal, Kasskade WA (a.k.a. Max).
Now rising two and destined to be Michelle’s daughter Elouise’s next saddle horse, Max is out of her own purebred Arabian mare Jullissah WA and by the palomino Arabian Riding Pony stallion Keira Park Cascade.
Together with her husband Dominic, Michelle set up Landohle Park 23 years ago, a boutique training centre where Michelle has bred and trained multiple award winning Arabian purebreds and derivatives.
Michelle fell in love with the majestic breed in her teens when she purchased her first purebred Arabian stallion Bluegrass Reflection and went on to win the Victorian Arabian Classic.
“That was back when the heats were huge, and before I met my husband and set up the property” she says. “I love the Arabian’s beauty and strength, their versatility. And their love… until you’ve owned an Arabian you don’t understand how much they give back,” she says.
The couple moved to the picturesque Victorian town of Glenburn and built the facilities and family home from scratch. “We set up our own training centre where I was professionally halter training horses for about 15 years. I only gave it up about five years ago, but I am still an AHSA panel judge and do quite a bit of judging around Australia.”
For a large part of that time, Michelle has run Lando Park with the help of her daughter Elouise who shares her love for Arabians and has recently moved to Qatar, to train and ride professionally for the beautiful Al Waab Farm.
“She has been there for a few months and they have asked her to stay because they can see the halter horses looking so much better from the work she’s doing,” says Michelle. “It’s exciting to see your daughter living her dream.”
Michelle’s contribution is not limited to breeding, training and judging. About six years ago she set up a home-based business LP Designs, specialising in quality show attire – custom jackets, vests and stocks. Her special ability to match colours and styles to horse and rider is being put to great use and allowing her to to stay involved in the showing world whilst winding back on the training.
“I’m still doing what I love, it keeps me in the horse business but instead of getting dragged around by horses and preparing them, I get to dress the people,” she says.
Michelle says the secret to a show-stopping jacket is definitely in the cut, but beyond that, it’s about being able to do what the customer wants and thinking outside the box. “I’m always looking for new and exciting fabrics and leathers for the trims, always trying to come up with something new. I can tell just from a photo what colours will suit horse and rider, but after that it comes to the design and the customer’s personal preference.”
With almost 30 years in the Australian horse industry, I asked Michelle what changes she has seen in her time. “The numbers have dwindled without a doubt,” she says. “Twenty years ago we were getting three and four heats in our classes. The costs have gone up but it’s not in the actual entry fees. Those haven’t really changed much.
“When I was growing up we had one hobby – horses – but now, kids have multiple hobbies and they are all expensive ones. And unfortunately,” she adds, “I don’t think social media has been a good thing for the horse industry. Many people feel they get judged too much these days, and they don’t bother showing. I definitely think that has something to do with the changes.”
Yet despite lower numbers, Michelle says Australia has a lot to be proud of, especially for breeding quality horses that are incredibly versatile. “They are a lot more versatile compared to other countries,” says Michelle. “Most of the purebred Arabians we’ve bred might start as halter champions, then turn into saddle horses. Some then become great endurance horses too.”
And it’s not just a love of Arabian horses that keeps Michelle investing her time, energy and passion; “it’s the good friends that you make along the way, the second family,” she says. “We go to shows and I enjoy catching up with everybody, it really is our second family”.