A driving force in equine education and sport horse evaluation.

Prof R. H. Graham Suggett OBE, the joint founder of the National Equine Forum and pioneer of equine academia, died on 7 November 2023 following a long illness. He was 87.

Prof R. H. Graham Suggett OBE with HRH The Princess Royal (Photo: Craig Payne Photography)

Graham founded the National Equine Forum – the annual gathering of influential figures from across the equestrian industry - with the late Prof Sir Colin Spedding OBE and the late Mr Arthur George MBE.  

The three met in 1991 at the Royal Show to talk about how to assist the horse and pony industry, and the following year discussions were held to identify ways in which it could “speak with one voice.”  

The inaugural National Equine Forum took place in 1993, with Graham holding the post of convenor from 1998 to 2008. He retired from the organising committee in 2009 and became an Honorary Fellow of the Forum in 2015.  

Today, the National Equine Forum is organised by a committee reflecting various sectors of the equestrian industry and has as its President HRH The Princess Royal.

‘The father of horse courses’

Graham was the driving force behind the development of education for those who wanted a career with horses.  

As Principal of Warwickshire College (Moreton Morrell), he had the foresight to launch the first dedicated full-time Further Education course in equine management in the mid-1970s, subsequently developing the first UK equine degree.  

Many colleges and universities now offer mainstream equine courses, and Graham became known as the ‘father of horse courses.’ 

He impacted many students’ lives for the better, both at Warwickshire College and through the other institutions who followed by establishing their own equine courses.  

Two members of the current National Equine Forum organising committee, Dr Georgina Crossman and Beth Maloney, are his alumni.

Sport horse pioneer

Following his retirement from Warwickshire College, Graham held the role of Director of Equine Development & Breeding at the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) pioneering the BEF Young Horse Evaluations for four-, five- and six-year-old potential sport horses. 

This led to the advent of the Futurity, which is still running 18 years later. 

As Chairman of the National Equine Database, Graham’s foresight helped pave the way for the combining of pedigree, evaluation and performance data in the UK.  

Both roles proved pivotal in advancing data collection and analysis in the horse world and built on his involvement with the National Equine Forum and Warwickshire College, further leading to the development of the BEF Researching Equines Database (BEFRED) which contains the abstracts of over 3,000 undergraduate theses.

Graham was a tireless driver for many positive developments within the equine sector and will be sorely missed.  

He is survived by his wife Inger, and sons David, Iain and Arne and their families.

Graham’s funeral will be held at 11:30 on Tuesday 5 December 2023, at St. Peter’s Church, Church Street, Wellesbourne, CV35 9LS. As parking is limited, mourners will need to find a space in the village and walk to the church.  His wake will follow, from 13:00 to 17:00 at Walton Hall, Wellesbourne, Stratford Upon Avon, CV35 9HG (use the Kineton Road Entrance).  

His family have requested no flowers to the church, instead please visit the Funeral director’s page to make a donation. Here you can also read more about Graham’s remarkable life.