Two years ago, Belgian show jumper Rik Hemeryck was hesitant to take on an unproven, 7-year-old Selle Français stallion into his program. But after just a month on trial, the rider and Ulyss Morinda (Utah Van Erpekom x Circee De L’erdre) had built a close, trusting relationship, and Hemeryck decided to keep the stallion in his yard. Fast forward to today, and Hemeryck’s partnership with the eye-catching piebald stallion, known as “Ulyss” around the yard, is climbing up the showjumping rankings—most recently breaking into the 1.50m level.
Bred from top French bloodlines, Ulyss began his career as a hunter in France. Although his flashy piebald coloring scored him well in the hunter ring, where he was crowned Championnat de France Hunter Elite, owner Thierry Ravel, knew he was meant to be in the show jumping ring. Instead of rushing his development through the CSIYH 5 and 6-year-old jumpers, Ravel decided to limit Ulyss’ jumping to the 1.20m level until he was old enough to compete in the CSIYH 7-year-olds.
Based in Belgium, Hemeryck and his partner, Anne-Sopie Hemeryck Godart, run Hemeryck Godard Stables. What is unique to Rik’s program in developing horses, is his approach in taking time and letting the horses simply be horses—the reason why Ravel sent Ulyss to his yard.
“The 7-year-olds are jumping 1.40m, which are big jumps,” Ravel explained. “But two months after Ulyss began training with Rik, he called me and said ‘I jumped 1.40m yesterday,’ and I said ‘and?’ and he said ‘it felt like he was just jumping 1.20m’.”
From that moment, Rik and Ulyss dominated the 7-year-olds, producing clear round after clear round—and eventually winning at Le Touquet CSIYH1* and Mâcon Chaintré CSIYH1*. He also was the winner of the 7-year-old Stallion Masters at Saint-Lo.
Not only is Ulyss becoming a standout in the jumper ring, but he also is an approved Selle Français stallion, which is no easy task. Depending on their age, Selle Français stallions go through a lengthy process and are assessed according to conformation, gaits and sports aptitudes—culminating in an approval by the Committee.
This year, the 9-year-old Ulyss has successfully bred with over thirty good mares and is competing in the CSI3* 1.50m level with Hemeryck. Most recently, Ulyss competed in his first CHIO5* in Rotterdam where he placed 14th in Sunday’s 1.50m class.
“He’s still a young horse and has only had two and a half years of serious work. He’s always well-behaved, but he’s full of blood.” says Ravel.
Although Ravel doesn’t have plans on selling the gorgeous stallion, for the right price and to the right home, she is not opposed to the fact. For only taking on the showjumping and breeding world two years ago, the eye-catching Ulyss Morinda is one you can’t miss.