Joyce V. Richardson, a Baltimore County riding instructor who taught hundreds how to ride during her nearly six-decade career, died Nov. 30 of complications from a stroke at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. She was 77.
"She rode the day of her stroke, July 10. She had given several lessons," said Wendy Marchant, who began taking lessons with Miss Richardson in 1978 and later became her barn manager.
The daughter of a Bendix Frieze inventor and a homemaker, Joyce Vickers Richardson was born in Baltimore and raised on Normal Avenue in Northeast Baltimore.
Miss Richardson's infatuation with horses began when she was 3 and refused to get off her childhood rocking horse.
When she was 9, she went to the old Gwynn Oak Amusement Park with her family and refused to get off the pony ride, holding on for dear life, as her parents tried to remove her from the patiently standing pony.
"It's all my father's fault. It began with that pony ride, and he said, 'Give her some lessons, she'll get it out of her system.' Now I don't even have time to go to the grocery store," Miss Richardson told The Evening Sun in a 1981 interview.
Miss Richardson became a riding instructor at Paradise Stable in 1956. In 1965, she purchased 60 acres on Jarrettsville Pike in Phoenix, Baltimore County, where she established the Dayspring Riding School.
The Evening Sun article described Miss Richardson as "combining the life of a one-room school teacher with that of the cowboy, riding the range of an equestrian school. As a teacher, she is known to her students for a smiling, unassuming manner that hides a store of determination, willpower and patience."
As an equestrian, "she is known for a refined, smooth style and no-nonsense manner. She has a way of climbing aboard even the most unruly or disobedient animal and, with seemingly little effort, making him do what he's supposed to do," observed The Evening Sun.
Miss Richardson's method of riding instruction was what she called "balance seat," which could be adjusted for dressage or jumping. She also stressed in her teaching the benefits of learning how to ride, especially for children.
"It teaches them to respect animals, and also to be disciplined, independent, patient, a good sport, responsible and to work with other people," Miss Richardson said in the interview. "It's also a lot of fun."
"She loved her animals, and she taught riders to have both respect and manners for them," said Ms. Marchant, who lives at Dayspring Farm.
"Students needed to thank the horses they were riding and give them treats of sugar cubes or carrots," she said. "If the students were beginners and had people on the ground helping them, they had to thank them, too. Of course, everyone thanked Miss R for giving the lesson."
"The first reason I am here is to protect my horses. The second reason is to teach you how to ride," Miss Richardson said in a 1998 Baltimore Sun article.
Miss Richardson said in The Evening Sun article that there was no comparison between riding a bike and a horse.
"If you get on a bicycle, you don't have to think as much," she said. "But on a horse, you have to think. And when you and the horse think together, you have harmony. If there's a problem, you use both your mind and your body to solve it. The more you use your brain, the less you need to be physical."
Students and instructor eagerly looked forward to the first two Saturdays in June when riders — including Miss Richardson — would dress in their finest riding attire to ride in the annual gymkhana, which she established at Dayspring to showcase what her students had learned.
Gymkhana is a term for games and pattern racing with horses that call for precision riding and tight teamwork between rider and animal.
"Riders would ride different drill patterns to music," said Ms. Marchant. "There could be two horses up to 10 at the same time, and the riders would be judged."
Ms. Marchant said that in the heyday of Dayspring, Miss Richardson had 50 horses, half of which were hers, and the rest were boarders. In bad weather, students would ride in the barn.
"When the business grew to 150 students, she built an indoor ring," she said. "And when she retired her horses, she still kept them here and cared for them."
Miss Richardson never married, said Ms. Marchant.
"She was engaged once, and when her fiance demanded that she give up her horses as a condition of marriage, she gave him up instead," she said, laughing.
For years, Miss Richardson would take 20 carolers or so on horseback by van to Stella Maris in Timonium. After leaving the van, they would ride up the hill to the entrance of the main building, where they serenaded residents.
Miss Richardson enjoyed sailing and reading.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Epiphany Episcopal Church, 2216 Pot Spring Road, Timonium.
Miss Richardson is survived by two nieces, Elizabeth Long of Annapolis and Sheridan Lijoi of Cincinnati.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun