Yves Richardier, Godfather of French Endurance Horses
Thank you Persik for all you have done for us. We will always remember you
By Sophie Robert-Taymont
Who is Yves Richardier?
Everything started in the Cévennes National Parc when the body took on an equine technical consultant in 1972: The recruitment by competitive examination involved the hiring of Yves Richardier.
He initially had two main tasks: to form the proper cavalry for the park wardens, and to launch environmental projects to improve economic and societal life of National Park residents.
Working on these tasks, Richardier got the idea to create a breeding area for endurance horses. They would be tested and selected on a kind of french Tevis Cup: Florac was born!
The project included the creation of two entities: one to form a breeders labor union (foundation of Persikland), and a second to set up the Florac endurance race. The first presidents of these entities were respectively Michel Bordes (a rider and breeder from Nissoulogres) and Christiane Chazel (arabian breeder and one of the first international endurance riders).
Although the arabian horses were at this time mainly used for show or speed races, Yves wanted these horses to make justice to the original Bedouine horses by their physical, metabolic and mental qualities, they would have to carry heavy weight, far and fast.
Yves selected Persik who started covering mares in 1975 and won twice the Florac race (initally 130 km) in 1975 and 1976.
Having a look at statistics really proves Yves Richardier was right since 152 on his 328 descendants have been ranked on CEI2* or CEI3*.
Moreover, these genetic predispositions seem to be given by sons and daughters of Persik to their descendants. There was 37 stallions by Persik which were often performers (25 of them ranked on 2* or 3*) and they mostly produced performers in the same time (27 on these 37 have at least a top 3 descendant). No need to say that Persik hasn’t stole his title of « Best endurance Stallion of the World ».
Yves’ personal horse breeding, named Indian Arabians, was formed by only 2 or 3 mares at the time.
The breeder said he couldn’t afford more and chose to put forward quality rather than quantity. Money was the restricting factor of its development and it led Yves to regret to have sold some mares he believed in and which becamed mother of winners in other breeding places…
Yves Richardier considers that the best maternal bloodlines are those used to make the Persikland breeding, and also some australian, oriental and spanish ones.
He insists on the fact that selection for « making an endurance horse » has to be done by crossing performers.
His favorite stallions ever are Persik, Hadban Enzahi, Exelsjor, Forex, Baj, Zulus, Dormane, Indian Tawfik, Arzew, Piruet, Abul Beka, Indriss, … and his current picks are Persicko, Fadasir, Arques Perspex, Khadar, Djin Lotois, Tauqui El Masan, Ulm de Domenjoi, Tidjani and Sadepers.
France in Worldwide Endurance
Although the french team might not be the unbeatable team it used to be anymore, Yves insists on the fact that France still owns the leadership by the quality and the number of performers produced.
He’s quite confident on the fact that french horses will keep their ranking as France has a well-thought-out and structured endurance breeding.
Yves said that France has -and must keep having-very professional breeders and knowledgeable judges to spot interesting horses on breeding show and qualifying races (from 20 to 90 km).
Although, Yves believes that Spain has a lot to teach to France and that french riders should have training periods with spanish champions as Jaume Punti Dachs who wins with french (or french bloodlined) horses most of the time.
Wishes for a new endurance
Yves Richardier hopes that rules will progress as soon as possible, as Stéphane Chazel suggested this year.
He thinks that Bouthieb initiative is a very good thing for horses wellfare and is glad to see that event planners like Christele Derosch follow these actions.
Perfect endurance horse
When asking « how would you describe the perfect endurance horse ? », Yves gets nostalgic and lets his heart reply: « How would you expect me to reply to this question when you know I’ve been riding Persik until he turned 26 years old… ».
He can develop though and says that in his opinion the perfect endurance horse is arabian or mostly arabian, around 1,54 m.
Its hindquarters must be as longer as possible, no croup too level and no goose-rump, and reasonably wide. Its back should be as strung as possible to be efficient. « If hindquarters are as long or longer as back and loins, buy that horse with one’s eyes shut » (Bedouin quote). Its feet have to be strong, preferably not too flat neither built-in. Knees, hocks and fetlock joints must be dry and strong.
Yves explains that inevitably, as a horse has 4 legs, we shouldn’t expect all of them to be perfect and that we should consider their conformation according to the way it moves. So, if a slight deviation should be accepted, it would be a pigeon-toed as long as it starts under fetlocks.
And in any case, the most important thing is that all feet land flat.
Its shoulders have to be made in the aim to give amplitude to its gallop.
On a gloval view, Yves talks about the quiet strenght emanating from the horse, the economy and effcience of its motion, the thinness of its tissues, …
Even if Yves considers that extensive farming as breeders do on Cévennes limestone plateau, he thinks it’s important to pay attention to foals and yearlings by proper feeding and cares.
You just can’t make champions by chance!