Robert Mauvy’s teachings and his disciples

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on August 5th, 2009 in Algeria, Arabia, France, Tunisia

My friends Jean-Claude Rajot and Louis Bauduin have been breeding Arabian horses for a long time. They are the students and friends of the late Robert Mauvy. Robert Mauvy is, simply put, the Westerner who came the closest to understanding the Arabian horse and to breeding it as its original custodians, the Bedouins of Arabia, bred it. Forget Carl Raswan, forget Abd al-Qadir al-Jazairi of Algeria, forget Prince Mohammed Ali Tewfik of Egypt. Only Anne Blunt, in the later years of her life, equalled Mauvy’s ‘art of breeding’.

While Mauvy is little-known outside of France and North Africa– despite his longtime connections with some of the fathers of the Asil Club movement in Europe, such as Foppe Klynstra, I am certain that his fame will skyrocket when an English translation of his small yet gigantic book “Le Cheval Arabe” will become available. This masterpiece was my Arabian Horse Bible, from age 10 until today.

One of the key teachings of Mauvy, as laid out in his book, is that the Arabian horse, like all things living (plants, animals, and even humans) is the outcome of the environment in which it is bred. If you take it out of its original environment, it will live certainly live and it may even prosper, but it will soon loose the specific characteristics that make it an Arabian horse. This seemingly simple and straight-forward notion has some important consequences; it means that Arabians bred outside of their original environment — the steppes of Arabia — can no longer be considered to be true Arabians. The remedy Mauvy proposes to Westerners who want to breed Arabian horses that retain their original desert characteristics is three folds: 

1) First, these breeders need to breed their horses on dry terrain, the nature of which is as close to the limestone terrain of the Arabian desert;

2) Second, they need to select their stallions the same way Bedouins used to select theirs: since ghazus and desert warfare is no longer an option, a good proxy is endurance racing (as opposed to halter shows). Mauvy and his supporters have eloborated a series of tough guidelines for such endurance races; some of these involve competitions where horses are supposed to gallop non-stop for more than 10 miles. Any horse that reverts to trot is immediately disqualified. The horses that successfully complete competition like this one and others can be used as stallions.

3) Third, they need to go back to the desert every 3 generations to infuse the blood of desert-bred Arabians into their horses. If a horse-buying expedition to Arabia Deserta is not possible, then a less desirable, but still acceptable recourse is the importation of Arabian horses bred in North Africa, the climate and terrain of some parts of which closely resemble Desert Arabia.

Since they started breeding Arabians, Jean-Claude Rajot, Louis Bauduin and their friends have been turning the teachings of Mauvy into practice — at least the first and the second ones, above. As far as the third axiom — breeding back to desert-bred stallions each three generations — was concerned, Rajot and Bauduin were using the stallions Ourki (Ourour x Oureah by Ghalbane)  and Jazour (Saadi x Izarra), as well as other sons of the stallion Saadi, Ourki’s older full brother: Cherif (Saadi x Zarifa) and Shawani (Saadi x Zarifa). Saadi, Ourki and Jazour were the sons of mares bred in North Africa (Oureah in Algeria and Irarra in Tunisia), and hence were “second-generation desert”, Oureah aslo being the daughter of the great Hamdani Simri stallion Ghalbane imported from Syria/Lebanon in 1945. By the time the daughters of these stallions came of age, Rajot and Bauduin were faced with the need to “go east” and look for desert-bred stallions to breed them. The next blog entry tells the story of the outcome of their search…

8 Responses to “Robert Mauvy’s teachings and his disciples”

  1. Edouard,

    This is fascinating and you have made it more so by ending on a cliff-hanger! When you post the next chapter (tomorrow, yes???) please be kind and say whether or not your good friends have available horses in France.

    I am devouring all of the posts and comments and articles and photos and certainly learning a great deal, though have not made much progress on the bookcases I am supposed to be building. I’m so glad I found this blog! Thank you.

  2. Of course they do. I am sure they would like you to visit, too.

  3. Hi Edouard,

    Do you by chance have an e mail address for them? I Googled but came up with no web site. I have Tkts to fly to Paris on 21 august. Had planned to visit Flamboyant CF and Regalia CF, but the visit had to be cancelled. Perhaps instead I could go and visit your friends.

    Thanks very much. And am anxiously awaiting the second half of your story.

  4. Thanks for the story on the late Robert Mauvy and his friends. This was a fascinating post and the principles and philosophy you describe really strike a cord with me. Can’t wait for the next chapter.
    Wish my French was adequate to read his book.

  5. Bonjour
    Félicitation pour ce blog
    Serait il possible d’avoir les coordonnées
    de Mrs Bauduin et rajot,ou de leur association? Je cherche à en savoir plus sur le travail et la doctrine de Mr R.Mauvy,malheureusement je n’ai guère de succès dans la recherche de ses ouvrages qui ,semble t il, sont épuisés.
    merci pour votre réponse et l’ensemble de votre travail

  6. Elena,
    Très touché par l’intérêt que vous portez à notre cause. Nous serions très herueux de faire votre connaissance et sommes prêts à vous recevoir lors de votre voyage en France.
    Mes hommages les plus respectueux.
    Louis Bauduin

  7. François,
    Très touché par votre sollicitation, ci joint adresse secrétariat URSCAR :
    Les Frondeaux
    45210 La Selle Sur le Bied
    Siège Social de l’USCAR (M. J.C Rajot) :
    71700 Tournus
    Vis président :
    M.Louis Bauduin
    Les quatre chemins – Les Fourneaux
    45210 Griselles.
    Nous éditons la Doctrine d’Elévage de M. Robert Mauvy qui sera mise à disposition du public à compter d’Octobre 2009.
    A vous lire,
    Salutations distinguées.
    Louis Bauduin

  8. I beg to differ a little with Mauvy, breeding outside of the desert will have the Arabians soon loose the specific characteristics that make it an “Arabian horse”. It will just make it a diffrent Arabian Horse, suited for the area it lives in. If that is the case then the arabians in America are not arabians…they should be a diffrent breed. Unlike any other breed the Arabian has a diffrent anatomy that sets it apart from any other horse…!

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