Important Quote: Robert Mauvy on breeding Arabians outside of Arabia

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on June 5th, 2010 in France

Yesterday, I received one of the first 50 copies of the late French “Master-Breeder” Robert Mauvy’s “Doctrine d’Elevage” (his ‘Approach to Breeding’), which has just been published by the “Union pour la Sauvegarde du Cheval Arabe – USCAR”, at long last. USCAR is one of France’s preservationist organizations, which Mauvy helped found. I want to thank Louis Bauduin and Jean-Claude Rajot for sending me a copy of this precious document, which outlines and explicates Mauvy’s approach to breeding Arabian horses outside of their native homeland. Here’s a quote:

“Toute selection ou amelioration chevaline doit se faire du Sud vers le Nord mais jamais a l’inverse”

In English:

“Every attempt at improvement or selection must take place from the South to the North, not visa versa”

Further explanation may be needed: in Mauvy’s parlance, the South is the cradle of the breed, Arabia Deserta, and, to a lesser extent, Egypt and North Africa, the latter being a French dominated region where the climate and the soil are very similar to the horse-breeding areas of Arabia. The North is Europe (which on a map, lies to the North of Arabia, Egypt and North Africa). What Mauvy meant is that Arabian horse-breeding in Europe (and the West in general) ought to be ‘refreshed’ by the constant importation of stallions from Arabia Deserta, which would infuse much need sturdiness and dryness into older European breeding; on the other hand, one should not attempt to improve the desert-breds with Western-bred Arabians.

Now that I have Mauvy’s newly published booklet in hand, I will be quoting him more frequently. On another line, the booklet includes the first photo I have ever seen of the other Ibn  Fayda (Ibn Rabdan x Fayda by Jamil Blunt), the one that was gifted by Egyptian Prince Kemal al-Din Husayn to the Tunisian government.

13 Responses to “Important Quote: Robert Mauvy on breeding Arabians outside of Arabia

  1. Yes Arabian horse breeding in Europe and the West in general ought to be refreshed by the constant importation of Stallions from Arabia Deserta!! The sorrow and the pity so to speak is that it was done so few times- I.E. when Raswan and Zeitarski imported Kuhaylan Haifi and Kuhaylan Zaid, when the Russians used Aswan and the Germans Hadban Enzahi. The results have more or less been good, or at least a visible improvement compared to what the Europeans had before. You would think that seeing the better results they would beat a path to the middle east and buy- lease or whatever some Asil stallions.
    In a related item is anyone able to hazard a guess as to what the percentage is of non Asil blood in the polish horses, or the English and German and Spanish horses, or for that matter U.S. general list horses. Is there an amount that is able to calculated?
    Best wishes
    Bruce Peek

  2. There is an ongoing effort by Al Khamsa to trace the Al Khamsa percentage of all registered Arabians in the USA. This means that you should be able to trace non-Al Khamsa percentage, too. This in turn should be a proxy for non-asil blood, because today in 2010, very few asil horses in the USA are left out of the Al Khamsa Roster. I can only think of five or six such asil lines that are still not included in the Al Khamsa Roster, and an effort will probably take place to submit these for inclusion over the next several years.

  3. It is interesting to me that both of you, Edouard and Bruce, can show so much enthusisasm for outcrossing to fresh desert importations and yet also be on record with your great admiration for Charles Craver’s horses and breeding program. The Craver Farms program was the very opposite of the standard Arabian horse breeding philosophy of outcross, outcross, outcross.

    Also, if it is necessary to bring in a fresh desert cross, doesn’t that mean that the breeding program has failed?

    Here is part of the text of a Craver Farms ad from Nov. 1980: “We read one place and another about how the Arabian horse has been changed by being raised away from the desert: bigger, stronger, coarser. That may be true of some bloodlines, but it has not been a problem with ours. We have Davenport Arabians… No doubt they are fatter than their desert-raised ancestors. Apart from that, measurement shows them to be the same size (about 14.2), pictures show them to be similar in shape and appearance, skeletal comparisons with remains of the old horses show them to have similar bone structure. Furthermore, our present Davenports still have the basic characteristics without which no horse truly represents classic desert Arabian type: moderate size, athletic conformation and inclination, harmonious body proportions, fine skin, and the typical Arabian head with large eyes, long forehead, width between the jaws, slanting nostrils, and large cranial box. When moving, tail carriage is elevated. In addition, the Davenports retain the friendly disposition which is an essential part of the desert heritage.”

  4. Point taken RJ. I haven’t resolved this contradiction yet.

    All I know is that by line-breeding to these Davenport Haifis, one gets pretty nice horses, and in my case, the type of horse I like.

    At the same time, you can really see the impact that the infusion of the Exochorda and the Turfa blood had on the old Babson lines: it just refreshed them.

  5. In my experience and of the many horses I saw or the few that I owned who traced to the Fadl x Turfa and or the Nasr x Exochorda cross, the introduction of Turfa and Exochorda in the long run seemed to assure the similar types of horses described in Charles Craver’s ad of 1980. Remember also that both Fadl and Nasr were more like the tribal types of horses, than many horses of Egyptian breeding today. In my own curiosity I also interviewed people who not only bred directly from the Fadl x Turfa and Nasr x Exochorda but also knew these horses in person. Their descriptions also seemed to relate them to the early stock such as Davenports. One other aspect of these horses that is not photographable, is their inherent vitality. Sirecho lived to age 30, my Sirecho daughter, Sirbana (out of an Ibn Fadl [x Turfa] daughter) passed just one week short of 30 and was in foal at age 27 for 9 months. Likewise also for many of the Fadl x Turfas that were well cared for. They tended to get in foal rather easily, the mares tended to be heavy milkers and were seldom ever sick, not to mention the longevity, all similar to many of Davenports and also similar to Bahraini stock. So, in addition to all the other wonderful features described in Charles’s ad, vitality was a feature of this breeding and certainly this would be especially important to the Bedouin.

  6. Where outcross is used within the asil, quality is not change. The sourse for quality is in the recorded and DNA
    now gifted as to understanding. What happens is to the genes as to the crosses being used. Personal results, when crossed as to something different, that is what I got.
    The question is what is so compelling to want change of type? Change just for the sake of change, or saving an almost lost blood line. Then the answer is the use of a Stallion of that rarity.

    Two breeders, Pritzlaff and Charles Craver did this to great value! ( As did others )

    Change just for the sake of change, gifts nothing!
    Al Khamsa is Asil horses, if not then those who have a question should be dropped. Are we better in understanding then the Bedouin who placed these horses in trust? Or the horses who hold this trust?

    What we received in trust must be gifted back as same.
    Otherwise, no reason! ( Out crossing is the value of Stallions to non asil. ) As to the gene pool of asil the extending of genes; only opens, the the pool larger, if asil the quality is not changed only type.

    Personally, I would think that a type worthy, should be
    summited as fixed, not changed. Realizing the need to express different, the difference should be in the individuals, not in the genes. There are many types in Al Khamsa, am grateful, that the trust of the past has been gifted as now. With care, the future will find the same.

    The seeds of now will offer the results for tomorrow.

    Jackson – Bedouin Arabians

  7. Jackson, I agree and each seed is precious more than is realized on the surface. I feel it is important for preservationists of the Asil horse in the context of what has been entrusted to us, that we need more possibilities not less. And we also need to cultivate the courage to create new possibilities, not the fear of rejection if choices are confined to popular breeding groups or combinations.

    By example Sharon and I saw this many years ago visiting Jackson when I took movies of the magnificent young stallion Faar Al Saqlawi (Radian Ibn Sudan x Maemie), bred by Jackson, who also bred his sire. The sire Radian Ibn Sudan was Egyptian, 1/4 Babson and 3/4 Priztlaff. The dam Maemie was unrelated to the sire being from the Davenport breeding group and a unique pedigree (Kamal Ibn Salan x Maefah).

    When Jackson presented him to us Jackson was confident before it was born what he would get. It was the combining of unrelated ancestors of like type. This young stallion matured into one of the most impressive horses, and one of my favorites, yet he was born at a time when the compartmentalizing thinking about Arabian breeding was taking root. But Jackson had the courage to do such breedings, actually it seemed easy for him because he believed in the Bedouin as being thought of as the first basis. It was a good early lesson for Sharon and I and we have for many years applauded others who have bred Al Khamsa horses on the basis of this kind of courage.

    Do not misunderstand my point here. The great breeders of specific and focused breeding groups have produced valuable types as Jackson refers to. But the product of this is two fold. One is to reveal all that is possible within a small breeding group, and two, what is a great tool for other breeders to follow their OWN path.

    It is admirable to follow these long time breeders and try to replicate what they have done because of the impressive results but do not forget the many years of trail and error and sacrifice they have done to get to that point. Expect the same for yourself especially if you wish to replicate a long term breeding program. There are no short cuts. And do not forget that these horses of long term programs are also tools for the courageous to move into the future with new ideas, not to change the horses but to pay forward more possibilities, not dilemmas.

    The time has come to value horses like Faar Al Saqlawi equally as we would other famous heros of the various breeding groups such as Tripoli, Fadl, Taamri and Nazeer. The only way a great young horse of tomorrow will make a contribution is if enough people value it. There are many horses of the past that could have been among these heros but their obscurity is not because of the horse it is because of how we perceive the horse.

    I apologize for sounding so opinionated which is not usually my style but I continue to have contact with an increasing number of people who share my concerns (globally).

  8. correction I meant:

    “And we also need to cultivate the courage to create new possibilities, not the fear of rejection if choices are NOT confined to popular breeding groups or combinations.”

  9. Agreed, Joe! The stallion I bred (Dakhala Sabiq) that was a combination of bloodlines, I thought truly deserved to leave descendants in Al Khamsa. Perhaps he was just born too soon.

  10. yes Jeanne, Dakhala Sabiq was definitely one of those who was before his time. I remember seeing him, and he was also one of my favorites, so noble, such joyful energy and such a magnificent mover and his skin was as fine as expensive silk. He was beautiful and he was one of those rare sources of Huntington breeding. He also traced to Exochorda through two of her get, Sirecho and Sultan. He was the kind of horse we need to see today. The Drissula line of horses were very good.

  11. I’m glad you remember him so well. He lived out his life near here. He was much loved and used as a sire, but did not sire any Al Khamsa horses.

  12. Joe,

    The dam line and the breeding on from that cross is still
    alive and well. We had another colt last year from these continued crosses. Two mares now and a colt, we have, the only problem is, ‘they represent Al Khamsa at its best; but not the breedings of general interest. One mare is a carbon of the old mare Moniet, she also has other lines to Zahlya, and Turfa. Three of my favorites from the past, then there are the Davenports that you mentioned above.

    Over time, there were several crosses I did not tap into, but, helped to get registered with the aid of Douglas Marshall, and Tom McNair. Those horses were extreme as to my thinking and seeing. The registry was easy, the importer was not, I ended up paying the regristry fees. ( another story )

    My daughter Morika, is my partner as is another, maybe
    in time, who knows, these past crosses will dance for others. As to now I dance with them, and we lead each into the next.

    Joe it is kind of you to remember the past as you have, ever so much, a heart filled thanks.
    I wonder about the starting of more groups, when so many are being lost? I know as all others the groups are what separates, yet it was the Bedouin who began the separate
    lines, or perhaps groups. DNA says groups?

    Lines of the Bedouins, not a country, but, breedings of time. “Combinations of sources,” reflecting what? The time and lives of people and their horses. Shared lines of the Bedouin and breedings since. A raid into the past,
    seeking what, certainly not another group, the experience
    of what can or could be. AS for Faar he join a belief that quality remains, with Combinations of Sources. I shouted at his birth, “Far Out,” he stood dancing waiting for his mother to rise, she did. And I, I simply remembered a dance once gifted celebrating the beginning, his dance into life, yet waiting.

  13. Wow – Dakhala Sabiq and Faar Al Saqlawi were two of my all-time favorites! I thought Sabiq was the epitome of a ‘classic’ Arabian, and I had built a whole breeding program around Faar in my head…

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