Obituary - Frank Haydon
25 June 2005

Frank Haydon's death at the age of 88 as the Royal Windsor Horse Show came to a close this year reverberated through the equestrian world and for many Hackney enthusiasts truly marked the end of an era.

His involvement with this now listed Rare Breed was long and fruitful and it is no exaggeration to say that he shaped its future into the 21st century. Besides being a top breeder and exhibitor, he was on the Council of the Hackney Horse Society for over 60 years, was both a past president and a notable judge. Frank's was introduced into the world of Hackneys at a young age through his father who kept these horses as a hobby.

As a young man, Frank was destined to go into the family business ? butchers of long standing. His father died prematurely in a road accident at which time Frank took his family's Hackneys to professional producer Robert Black. It was to change the shape of his life, for he would marry Black's daughter, Cynthia. When Cynthia and Frank married in 1939, Frank was managing a chain of butchers? shops. He went into the army, saw service in Ceylon and ended his army career with the rank of Lt. Col when peace arrived.

Now living in Sussex, the Haydons set up the Hurstwood Stud and became professional producers and breeders of Hackney horses and ponies. On the box seat, Cynthia stood at the head of every showing line-up in the country, with Frank always the immaculate ?groom?, ready to be sure the animals were showing at their best. Cynthia is the first to admit that he was her ?eyes on the ground? ? always with the ability to see where something was not quite right or the performance had to be moved up a gear. In addition, Frank had an eye for the conformation of a horse and an encyclopaedic knowledge of bloodlines. This enabled him to breed Hackneys that would catch the eyes of the world and the Haydons had many overseas clients, in particular from USA and Canada. For more than 20 years, they would regularly fly backwards and forwards across the Atlantic, showing and driving horses at all the major shows in North America as well as here.

Frank was always the ?business brains? ? Cynthia the hands on the reins. Whilst Hackneys were the mainstay of the Haydons equestrian interest and business, their knowledge and involvement in horses extended way beyond it. Frank's eye took him into Thoroughbred breeding where he also had notable success. Interested as they were in all aspects of equestrianism, their imagination was caught by the barrel racing classes at horse shows in the US. They bought the idea back to the UK where it has evolved into the scurry competition that thrills crowds today. Many horse driving trial enthusiasts may be unaware of Frank's pivotal role in this sport too.

Before it began in this country, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh asked Col Sir Mike Ansell to investigate the sport ? then in its infancy ? in Europe. Frank accompanied Sir Mike as his ?eyes? and also as the driving expert. Together they visited events in Germany, Belgium and Switzerland before going to the first World Championships in Hungary. They brought back with them the existing German rules, which Frank's secretary, Anne Weber translated into English. Frank and Col Sir Mike worked on these to produce the first rule book in this country.

Frank went on to the newly formed Driving Committee of the FEI, a position he held for eight years. He was also an early chairman of the Horse Driving Trials Committee, then a part of the British Horse Society and, with a team of mostly home-bred Hackneys, Cynthia was a member of Great Britain's gold medal winning team in the European Four-in-hand championships in Germany in 1972. Frank remained a driving trial judge for more than 30 years, was a British Driving Society judge and an Honorary Member of the Coaching Club together with Cynthia.

Although his name will live on, Frank Haydon is a great loss to the driving world. Our sympathies to Cynthia, son Michael and his family ? wife Sue, and daughters Cynthia and Victoria.

Sally Taylor