Matthew Horace Hayes, veterinarian and horse expert, was the son of Horace Townsend Hayes and his wife Elizabeth. He joined the British military and was sent to India from 1863 to 1866 as a lieutenant in the Royal Artillery. Late in 1867 he left for India again, returning in 1876 to study veterinary science at the New Veterinary College in Edinburgh. From 1875 he wrote numerous books on horses - their breaking, training, racing, riding, management and care. He qualified as a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (MRCVS) in 1883, and later was admitted as a Fellow (FRCVS). He lived mainly in India until he came to South Africa in 1892 as a horse-riding showman.
During 1892-1893 Hayes and his wife presented very successful classes in scientific horse-breaking in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Kimberley and Johannesburg. During the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) he was in South Africa again, serving as a civil veterinary surgeon to the (British) Army Veterinary Department. Some of his books were: Among men and horses (1894); Among horses in South Africa (1900), a revised and enlarged edition of the previous work, in which his political and general information about South Africa is regarded as inaccurate; Among horses in Russia (1900); Horses on board ship; a guide to their management (1902); Points of the horse: a treatise on the conformation, movements, breeds and evolution of the horse (3rd ed., 1904); Veterinary notes for horse owners (1903); Training and horse management in India (1905); and an English translation of F. Friedberger's text on veterinary pathology (1908).
Hayes was married to Caroline Cardow, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1886. He then married Alice Maria Pyett, with whom he had a son.