There is possibly no one who has done more to further the interests of all equestrian sports during the last century than Alexander Mackay-Smith. Author, scholar, horseman, and visionary leader, Mackay-Smith left no stone unturned when it came to promoting those causes that were dearest to him.
Growing up in New York City, Mackay-Smith had limited exposure to horses, but somehow managed to ride in Central Park under the tutelage of Count Baretto da Sousa of Portugal. He left New York to attend Harvard College and Harvard Law School in Boston, Massachusetts. Newly graduated, he researched and wrote a report for Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt on New York State's rights in the waters of the St. Lawrence River. When Roosevelt became president, the young Mackay-Smith moved to Washington to serve with the new administration. In 1932, he paid a visit to a cousin in Virginia who took him to his first foxhunt. Two years later, Mackay-Smith became a farmer, horse breeder, and foxhunter, ultimately serving as the Master of Foxhounds of the Blue Ridge Hunt for 16 years.
While serving as editor of The Chronicle of the Horse from 1952 to 1976, he ensured the growth of horse sports by founding or co-founding many organizations. In 1954, along with Col. Howard Fair and Mr. and Mrs. Dean Bedford, he began the USPC. Believing that not enough was being done to promote combined training and foster the grassroots section of the sport, he wrote to more than 100 combined training enthusiasts asking them to attend a meeting during the 1959 Pan American Games in Chicago. It was at that meeting that the idea for the USCTA was born, with Philip Hofmann serving as the Association’s first president and Mackay-Smith as secretary. His continued support and supervision of the organization earned him the title of "Father of the USCTA.”
Numerous other equestrian associations owe their existence to him, including the Museum of Foxhounds in Leesburg, Virginia, The National Sporting Library in Middleburg, Virginia, and the American Academy of Equine Art.
As Mackay-Smith's son Matthew said in The Chronicle of the Horse at the time of his father's passing, "He really thought horses and people belonged together." Few have done as much to ensure that possibility.