Louise E. Hollyday II, founder of Ponies for Children, which taught how to care for the animals, dies

Louise E. Hollyday II, an accomplished horsewoman who was the founder of Ponies for Children, which taught how to care for the animals, died May 10 from multiple melanoma at SpiriTrust Lutheran at the Village of Shrewsbury in Shrewsbury, Pa.

The former Hampstead resident was 92.

Louis Este Hollyday II, who used ‘”II” at the end of her name to honor a relative she was named after, was the daughter of Guy Tilghman Orme Hollyday, president of Title Guarantee and Trust Co. and head of the Federal Housing Authority under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and his wife, Louise Este Fisher Hollyday, a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised in Towson and later on the family farm in Sparks.

Miss Hollyday attended Roland Park Country School and later transferred to the Warrenton Country School in Warrenton, Va., where she spent her senior year and from which she graduated in 1946.

“Riding was part of the regular curriculum for a year,” said her friend of more than 40 years, Betsy S. Wilgis of Towson. “The riding instructor could not cope with the young students and Louise was asked to take over for the balance of the year and found she loved teaching the young ones.”

After graduating from Warrenton Country School, Miss Hollyday traveled to Somerset, England, where she studied riding and management of horses for several months.

She returned to Baltimore and worked alongside two veterinarians while exercising thoroughbreds at area racetracks on winter mornings.

In 1957, Miss Hollyday established Ponies for Children Inc., which taught boys and girls the proper way to ride and care for ponies.

“Cutting corners was not allowed,” Mrs. Wilgis wrote in a biographical profile of her friend.”Everything was geared to how to treat the animals and how to be a better human as well as how to treat others.”

Sharon Louise Fleming, formerly of Hampstead, was 7 years old when she began taking riding lessons with Miss Hollyday nearly 50 years ago at her Sparks farm.

“She was very strict and took no nonsense and made sure you were doing everything the correct way. She loved her students and what she did,” said Ms. Fleming, who now lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “After a lesson, we’d stay on her farm and help with chores, and we would go to horse shows with her.”

Pam Fleming, who is Miss Hollyday’s sister-in-law, is a resident of Hampden’s Stone Hill neighborhood.

“She was a very friendly and outgoing person and her students were very important to her,” Ms. Fleming said. “She developed close relationships with them. They still would visit and write to her. They stayed in touch with her.”

While Miss Hollyday exuded a welcoming demeanor, she also maintained an independent spirit.

“She was a very, very independent person, and I think that started when she was quite young,” Ms. Fleming said. “Her life was working with horses, and she liked being free of anyone else’s ideas or restrictions. She liked doing things her way.”

Ms. Fleming said while her sister-in-law dressed like a tomboy when working, she “liked getting dressed up and had quite the feminine touch.”

“She was a true force who lived a very independent life with her beloved ponies and a dog always by her side, together with a number of young children in tow teaching them about how to be good riders, how to take care of ponies, and lessons about life,” Mrs. Wilgis wrote.

“She had a great sense of humor and a keen mind that strived to perpetuate the goodness in people but with a dose of reality,” she wrote.

In 1991, she moved from the family farm to one on Beckleysville Road in Hampstead, where she continued her teaching and breeding Welsh ponies.

Miss Hollyday was a member of the Welsh Pony and Cob Society of America and was a founder of the Maryland Pony Breeder’s Association of America.

In 2005, she was named Maryland Horse Person of the Year by the Maryland Horse Council in a ceremony held at Laurel Park in recognition for her having spent 59 years teaching children basic horsemanship.

“She was a legendary lady in the large local horse world,” Mrs. Wilgis said.

Miss Hollyday retired from teaching in 2010 and moved the next year to the assisted-living facility in Shrewsbury.

She enjoyed traveling and visiting Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. She was also a railroad fan and liked to ride steam-powered trains, Ms. Fleming said.

A memorial service for Miss Hollyday will be held at 2 p.m. June 14 at St. George’s Episcopal Church, 2434 Cape Horn Road, Hampstead.

In addition to her sister-in-law, she is survived by her brother, Guy Tilghman Hollyday of Hampden; and many nieces and nephews.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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