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R. S. Summerhays

R. S. Summerhays was a British expert and author in equine matters.



At the age of 32 in 1914, he was appointed by the British War Office as 'Civilian Remount Purchasing Officer', and as such bought horses for use in World War I. When commissioned he became part of the Army Service Corps. In the early 1920s he rode in the three Arab Horse Endurance Tests of 60 miles a day for five consecutive days. He then became Managing Director of one of the largest hunting, hacking and pony establishments in the country. later he became editor of Riding, retiring after thirteen years. It was then he published the first of his equine titles.[1]

Other Interests

For over 40 years he judged many thousands of Horses and Ponies. and he also served on the Councils and Committees of most Horse Societies. He was also president of the Arab Horse Society. His interests included Polo. He was the originator of the Horseman's Sunday and also of the Horse and Pony Breeding and Benefit Fund.[2]


The death at his home in Wimbledon of Reginald Sherriff Summerhays on October 25 1976 in his 96th year, signals the end of a great era of horsemen that included such illustrious names as Col V. D. S. ("Pudding") Williams, Major Faudel-Phillips and Sam Marsh, who all devoted in different ways the greater part of their lives to the good of the equestrian world

Reggie Summerhays's service was equally distinguished but was unique in its diversity. Educated at Westminster School, he was successfully engaged in his profession as a solicitor, but, after having started to ride at the age of five he became a lifelong dedicated horseman, with interests that covered many fields.

In World War 1 he was appointed Civilian Remount Officer by the War Office and bought hundreds of horses for the Army. He himself admitted that he had judged at over 500 shows covering virtually every breed and type of horse from Shetlands to shires, hacks to Hackneys. Being jockey size with sympathetic hands, all horses tended to go well for him, and his services were always in demand

In addition he hunted, played polo and, between the two world wars, was director of one of the biggest livery stables on the south coast.

He served on innumerable committees, was a past-President of the National Pony Society, and was closely associated with the British Show Pony Society, the Hackney Horse Society and the British Palomino Society, and with the mountain and moorland breeds.

His great love was the Arabian horse, and he was president of the Arab Horse Society from 1939 to 1945. His advice on the breed was sought by owners all over the world. But Reggie Summerhays was, above all, an innovator. with extraordinary vision and enthusiasm allied to practical efficiency. He started what must have been one of the earliest riding clubs In the country in Eastbourne in 1933. He inaugurated the Horse and Pony Breeding and Benefit Fund, which led to the huge gathering of Horseman's Sunday at Tattenham Corner every September. He was instrumental in founding the Donkey Breed Society, which leapt to spectacular success in record time, and he became its President. Above all, Reggie will always be remembered as the pioneer who looked after the interests of the ordinary rider-men, women. boys and girls who had no equestrian background but who wanted to ride a horse. No aspiring rider ever appealed for advice or help in vain. Today their various interests are looked after by the British Horse Society, but it was Reggie Summerhays who led the way.

In his 50s this extraordinary little man commenced another highly successful career,becoming the first editor of the then new magazine, Riding, a position he held for 13 years and he also started to write the first of his 13 books dealing with many facets of the equestrian world, which sold over a million copies.

"The Elements of Riding" and" The Problem Horse" have been translated Into various foreign languages, and the Summerhays Encyclopaedia for Horsemen, now in its sixth edition, has become a classic.

Though Reggie Summerhays was never one to suffer fools gladly, his courtesy and above all his kindness were unfailing. Time and trouble were given repeatedly to the beginner and inexperienced. His presence always brought a touch of humour and happiness to any gathering.

Reggle was unique, and fortunate indeed were those numbered among his friends. Sympathy at his passing goes to his family: his son, two daughters. grandchildren and great- grandchildren.


  • Here's Horse Sense
  • From Saddle to Fireside
  • Elements of Riding[3]
  • Elements of Hunting
  • Riding For All
  • Observer's Book of Horses and Ponies
  • The Problem Horse
  • It's A Good Life With Horses
  • Summerhays' Encyclopedia for Horsemen[4]
  • Our Horses Horses and Ponies
  • Riding on a Small Income
  • The Story of the International
  • The Young Rider's Guide to the Horse World
  • A Lifetime with Horse


  1. Taken from the dustwrapper of Elements of Riding, published by Country Life in 1962
  2. Details from dustwrapper of a reprint of the 1937 Elements of Riding published by Country Life
  3. Details of the list taken from the half title page of a 1937 Country Life copy of the book
  4. R. S. Summerhays (1952, revised edition 1962). Summerhays' Encyclopedia for Horsemen. Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd.. 


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