The Harwood Arabian Stud Founded in 1896 by Mary
Miss May Lyon on her foundation
mare Howa in 1896. Howa was bred at Crabbet Park, by Azrek out of
The Harwood Arabian Stud was founded in 1896, when
Colonel Lyon of Harwood House in Horsham bought the mare Howa from
the 8th of the biennial Sales at Crabbet Park. Her sire was the
lovely Azrek, and on her dam's side she was a descendant of Hagar,
the original desert import who was famed for her ability to gallop
long distances. As Lady Anne Lytton said in her 1972 article on
the Stud, Howa was no beauty, despite her fine breeding, and although
she was stated to be a Kehailat Ajuz, Lady Anne felt that she was
more a Managhi type. She was bought for riding, and the photo shows
Colonel Lyon's daughter Miss May Lyon elegant on this mare as an
attractive young lady. May Lyon never married although when young
she made a definite impression with her cloud of red hair and vivid
colouring. It was decided to breed from Howa, and she became the
foundation mare of the stud which continued until May's death aged
86 in the 1962. On the death of her brother she had inherited an
Irish property, Rostrevor which was set in a stunning location on
the shores of Carlingford Bay at the foot of the Mourne Mountains,
and for a while she had horses there as well as in Horsham.
May Lyon shortly before her death with
Georgie Calvert and Flying Storm.
May Lyon was a friend of Lady Wentworths, and was able to use the
Crabbet stallions when she wished. Although she used some excellent
Crabbet bloodlines in her stud, and bred some good horses, she was
hampered in her efforts by her truly deplorable stud management,
which grew worse as she grew older. As Lady Anne Lytton so graphically
described Miss Lyon 'hated cows' and declined all advice on pasture
management, and as a consequence the pastures were extremely horse
sick, the horses were riddled with worms and often looked half starved.
Fancy Shadow ridden by
Georgie Calvert and his son Cranleigh Red Shadow ridden by Marlyn
Pollard. They won many pairs classes together.
Both studs continued to grow, and matters
had reached a low ebb indeed by the time Miss Lyon died, but most
fortunately the stud was inherited by Robbie and Monica Calvert.
By then it consisted of 48 horses, and included two stallions, Fancy
Shadow, by Bright Shadow out of Yavroum who was at Harwood, and
Magnet by Dargee out of Rosalina who was at Rostrevor.
After a hesitant start, the Calverts became
fully committed to their new role as guardians of what at that time
was arguably the oldest Arab Stud in England. Now, 40 odd years
later, the title is undisputed, and Monica Calvert can look back
with great satisfaction and pride at what has been achieved.
Immediately they took charge, the Calverts
set about selecting which horses to keep, getting the worms under
control, and ensuring that the health of the horses was what it
ought to be. The Irish horses were moved to Horsham, and in 1963
they moved the entire stud to the newly purchased Hop Oast Farm,
which was fresh ground for horses, and with excellent pastures,
and good management, the horses began to be as good as their pedigrees.
The Harwood name was retained to keep the continuity.
Zeus II shown by Mrs Nicholson
Not all was easy initially and there were disasters
and ill luck in the early years, including the loss of three promising
stallions in quick succession. Zeus II, bred at Crabbet and bought
in Ireland from Mrs Nicholson, described by Lady Anne as ' just
the right type for Harwood' was killed by a car. Kedowa, a young
homebred stallion by Magnet died in a riding accident. Finally,
and most grievously of all, the handsome
young Crabbet-bred stallion Indian Flame II became savage and was
put down at only 6 years old, although not before leaving some good
However, nothing daunted, the
Calverts persisted, initially using their homebred stallions Magnet,
Fancy Shadow and Harwood Asif and later Kasadi and Taqah. The mare
lines remain those of Miss Lyon to this day, with the addition of
Blue Sophonisba by Blue Domino in 1968, and much later, Pharitz
Maneon, a mare with a Russian tail female line bought to race with.
As Monica said 'There was a geat deal to learn about running a stud,
and we had many disasters and made mistakes, but we also had successes
and joys, and never regretted the decision to keep the horses and
change our life' !
The stud has continued exactly along the lines prophesied
by Lady Anne Lytton, who stated in her 1972 article that the aims
were for Harwood 'to breed the riding type of Arab, ie to concentrate
on the good shoulder and first class legs which are very much a
feature of their Arabs'. Any objective observer would have to say
that the stud has not deviated from that goal. Monica put it slightly
differently when she said 'We are really interested in the performance
horse, but like them to be beautiful - our aim is to produce beautiful
riding horses', but the effect has been as Lady Anne predicted nearly
30 years ago.
Modern Harwood horses include many superb
ridden Arabians, and racing has always been something that the stud
has actively pursued from the very first meetings in 1978. Colts
have always been gelded where not absolutely top class, long before
this became accepted as the normal practice, and some fantastic
geldings have gone on to make their names including the excellent
ridden Champions Shannaz and Vikta.
Vikta shown by Christine Bayman.
The horses still have good shoulders
and good legs. Today they are no longer wholly English, but all
their good qualities have persisted through the generations, and
I feel sure that Lady Anne Lytton would not have been disappointed
if she had returned for the Stud's Centenary in 1997.
So, the Harwood Arabian Stud depended on the efforts of two ladies – May Lyon, a Council Member in her day, and then in 1962, Mrs Monica Calvert, a past President of the Arab Horse Society, a very long standing Council Member, and later a Governor of the Society. There are very few studs in the world which are more that 100 years old, and Harwood has only survived this long due to the fortunate chance that Monica and Robbie Calvert were able to become Arab Breeders when the need arose, even though they had no previous interest in the breed, and that Monica developed into one of our most talented and enthusiastic exponents of the art of Arab Horse breeding. Following Monica’s death in February 2007 the stud passed to her daughter Georgie Moore and her husband John. They relocated to Dorset and have retained a small number of these special horses.