Jon Michael

Born August 24, 1939 in Binghamton, NY to parents raised on northern PA farms, Jon spent many happy days as a youngster on numerous family and friends’ farms, almost invariably on horseback. At home, the family had three or four horses around most of the time, although none of them was an Arabian. At seventeen, just out of high school where he was captain of the Swim Team and earned top scholastic honors with a 4.97 GP average, Jon cut the apron strings and headed west to Albuquerque, NM, to earn his Bachelor’s Degree at the University of New Mexico, turning down a New York State Regent’s Scholarship to any university in the State of New York to do so. Somehow a career in Nuclear Physics at Cornell paled in comparison to the lure of the old west.

Jon Michael and HHA Manabi

Jon Michael and HHA Manabi

Although he would rather have pursued a vocation in biological research or veterinary medicine, Jon succumbed to the financial lure of big business and went to work for Sears in 1964. Sears sent Jon around the world twenty-eight times in various capacities and moved him from Los Angeles to Chicago to New York City and back to Chicago. He enjoyed a distinguished career at Sears for over thirty years. His final position took him to Hong Kong for seven years as Managing Director of Sears Overseas Buying Operations.

In Chicago during the 1980s, Jon purchased about 900 acres of farm and timber land in central Kentucky and began slowly to develop it while still gainfully employed at Sears. Upon retirement in 1995, Jon moved back to his farm in Kentucky, built a new house and a new barn with paddocks and an outdoor arena, installed twenty miles of fence and turned a herd of American bison loose on the knobby pastureland. Then he noticed he needed a good horse, not necessarily to chase the bison around the pastures as much as to get back to his roots on horseback.

Robin Albertson of Casper, WY opened the door to the marvelous world of the Desert Arabian horse to Jon and the rest is history. ERA Wahara, an exquisite, liver chestnut, mare was his first horse, and she arrived in foal to El Serrou, a charismatic, black bay, Straight Babson stallion. That foal, HHA Manabi, is pictured at right and is attached to Jon at the hip, figuratively if not literally. Today, Jon and his partner, Charlie Ip, have more than a dozen horses and several foals on the way.

Jon’s association with preservation efforts began when he attended his first Al Khamsa Convention in Lexington, KY in 1997, a month after Manabi was born. He accepted a position on the Al Khamsa Board of Directors in 2000; he authored the adoring article in the Al Khamsa publication in the July 2001 issue of Arabian Horse World; his prowess as advertising manager provided the funds to publish the 2003 Al Khamsa Directory as well as three years of the Khamsat and he served as Vice-President of Al Khamsa from 2001–2004.

As a founding member and Treasurer of The Institute for the Desert Arabian Horse, Jon is noted for his vision, his organizational skills, his marketing ability and his perseverance in accomplishing tasks. Ask anyone in the Desert Arabian conservation movement, and they will tell you that Jon is best known for his unique, inordinate, all-consuming passion for these marvelous and magical desert horses and his personal devotion and dedication to ensuring their future. They are truly his heart and his soul.