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The Danish breeding stallion Lando won a silvermedal in showjumping in Sydney

The best laid plans …. can go astray and still lead to a silver medal

In the highly controlled world of top class show jumping breeding, most successful stallions are much wanted foals that are carefully nurtured from birth to prepare them for a seamless career of top grading success and a full active life combining busy stud duties with an increasingly demanding programme of international competition. However, this was certainly not the case for the fully approved Danish Warmblood stallion Lando by Lancier who helped his Dutch rider Albert Voorn to win the individual silver medal at the Sydney Olympics. Why this was, and how Lando overcame the problems of a somewhat contentious start to his life make a fascinating story, and one that should inspire hope amongst breeders everywhere.

Albert Voorn of The Netherlands riding Lando, silver medal winner in the showjumping at the 2000 Olympic Games Lando. F: Lancier; M: Silvia; MF: Raimondo Photo: Ulrich Nedergaard

It was by no means inevitable that the fully approved Danish Warmblood stallion Lando was going to be a successful competition horse, let alone an Olympic winner as his arrival in the world was inauspicious to say the least. He was the unwitting by-product of a start-of-the art embryo transplant breeding scheme initiated by the umbrella organization for all horse breeds in Denmark “Landsudvalget for Hesteavl” and as such in his early years he was certainly not the apple of anyone’s eye.

‘That’s the wrong mare’

Chosen to lead this embryo transplant project was Professor Henning Staun from the Royal Veterinarian Academy in Copenhagen who was a horse breeder himself. He decided that his first step should be to buy an in-foal mare which he could then use as a donor mare once she had foaled and in order to buy the right one he asked the grand old man in Danish horse breeding, Anders Andersen of Ribe which one he should purchase. He was told to go to Stud Højris in Varde, Southern Jutland owned by Betty Rasmussen.’ She has two mares in foal’, the old man said, ‘a DH-mare and a DS-mare. Buy the DH mare!’ And so he did. He thought. He went to the stud and walked into the field with Betty Rasmussen and bought the mare. But when the mare arrived at his stables, he found out that he had got the wrong mare, the DS one, not the DH one.

Not surprisingly Professor Staun called then called Betty Rasmussen immediately and told her what had happened and that the wrong mare had been delivered, but she replied. ‘You have got the mare Silvia in foal to Lancier that you chose in my field’. There was no way in which the sale could be altered or the mares changed for one another. Neither Betty Rasmussen nor the Professor really wanted the mare, but the he was forced to keep it, and seller and buyer would not speak to each other for over a year. When the foal, later to be named Lando, was born the embryo transport experiments began but Silvia’s popularity dropped even lower when she was found to totally unsuitable as a donor, so after some normal breeding years at the professor’s stud she was sold on to a stallion owner and then to a private breeder for whom she is still producing foals to this day.

‘Sell him, sell him’

Despite this, Jørn Jensen still kept faith with his stallion, giving him time to mature quietly and gain competition experience in the hands of Johnny Hansen, a highly respected bereiter and test rider of warmblood horses. Johnny Hansen attended a clinic given by the Dutch rider Albert Voorn in 1988 and since then Albert Voorn has frequently held clinics in Denmark Johnny Hansen’s home, Skanderborg Riding Centre. These clinics also enabled him to advise Johnny Hansen on his work with Lando on a regular basis and during this time Johnny Hansen also competed Lando in a few Grand Prix classes with success. Eventually, deciding that his other commitments did not allow him to live the life of a top competition rider, Johnny Hansen suggested to Jørn Jensen that he hand Lando over to a rider capable of showing the full talents of the stallion and of course, Albert Voorn was the name he suggested not only because of his competition record but also because of his empathy wit the horse, but also because, like Johnny Hansen, he agrees with the basic principles of horse training taught by the American Monty Roberts and the British Michel Peace.

Ironically, although as a young approved stallion Lando had been offered to the best known Danish competition riders several years earlier, none of them had accepted the ride as they did not believe he had sufficient ability to become an international show jumper! Even so, when in 1999 the Dutch rider Albert Voorn started riding him, he was abel to comment that he found he had ‘a well trained horse, one that was not worn out and so from the very beginning we started to rise in the rankings all the time’.

Pure joy

The pair soon begin to win international competitions, but even in the spring of 2000 when Albert Voorn gave a clinic for 1500 Danish breeders and riders at the important stallion Show in Herning, few in the audience really believed in the stallion, although breeders from France, Holland and Germany had already begun to ask for frozen semen. Albert Voorn was at that time on the long list for the Dutch Olympic team, but even he was not too convinced that he and Lando would be selected to travel.’ It is difficult’ he said ‘to get on a national team for the Olympics on a horse that is bred in a foreign country, the more so because I am a man of my own opinions.’ However, as if to prove the doubters finally wrong, they then won the national championship in The Netherlands together. That was the ticket to Sydney that they needed, but it was still a long from nearly winning the showjumping competition at the Olympic Games, where the whole world is watching and all the best riders and horses in the world are making every effort to win. It was then that the man with his own special opinions and the stallion with the same kind of mind grabbed the attention of the whole world. Lando, ridden in an ordinary bit without any special equiment produced a masterly round for Albert Voorn whose elegant balanced riding with the always horse in front of him, was a pure joy to watch.

The British connection

Lando’s mother Silvia is by Anders Anderson’s Holstein stallion Raimondo by the world famous Ramiro Z, who goes back to Ramzes whilst her dam Sonita is by the Hannoverian stallion Marcellus and her dam’s dam is Sombrero. The tail female line in her pedigree is based on top quality Swedish Warmblood, Trakehner and East Prussian ancestors. With this background it is perhaps not surprising that Sonita is dam of the Norwegian dressage champion Ragant, who is therefore of course a full brother to Lando’s dam Silvia. Ragant won the Norwegian national championship in 1991, 1993 and 1994 ridden by Marit Delebekk and in 1996 he was on the German B-team for the Olympic Games in Atlanta ridden by the German rider Tanja Traupe. At that time he was also No. 9 on the German top-ten money list over the most winning dressage horses that year. This distinguished family are also now making their mark in the UK as the English rider Alexandra Kemp, who is trained by Joanna Jackson qualified for the National Championships this year on a 7-year-old gelding by Rubinstein out of Lando’s grand dam Sonita.

A final footnote

International recognition for Lando is now complete. Jørn Jensen sold Lando to Paul Schockemöhle before the Olympic Games and the silver medal round was the last ride together for Albert Voorn and Lando. Paul Schockemöhle has since sold 50% of the stallion to Otto Becker who is based at the Schockemohle yard in Muhlen and was the fourth-placed showjumping rider at Sydney. As a result, from now on Lando will cover mares at Paul Schockemöhle’s Performance Stud and take part in international competitions with Otto Becker in the saddle.

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