Through their very active social media outlets, Country Life and Merryland Farms have attracted thousands of appreciative fans – old and new – to Thoroughbred racing. Thanks largely to the tireless devotion of General Manager Christy Woodward Holden, followers are fascinated by live-streamed videos during foaling season. And on Saturday, March 22, viewers were treated to an unexpected arrival when stakes winning broodmare Blisstikus gave birth to a gorgeous Mosler colt out in the field on a stunning Spring afternoon. Christy, Ellen Pons and Alice Pons were on hand to share the blessed event.
“Multiply the many challenges of farm life by two, and you’ll understand why the central character in the daily story of both Country Life Farm and our sister farm at Merryland is our general manager Christy Holden.
Christy grew up as the tom-boy daughter of the commander of the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Department, where she spent hours watching her father run the show. Could there be a more perfect preparatory school for becoming a professional farm manager?
Both callings require the confidence to make quick decisions, sometimes life-and-death calls. Both professions involve managing a large and diverse work force. Both require the intelligence to learn from mistakes. Both summon your skills day or night.
Christy started work here at Country Life when she was 15 years old, already with experience riding hunters and jumpers. She was a ‘natural’ from Day One.
Christy’s talents were recognized in high school by Villa Julie College, who offered her scholarships to attend. We lost her to the outside world for a few years.
Christy returned to Country Life 15 years ago. I can only begin to enumerate her many duties at both our farms. She is the first line of communication for breeders patronizing our four stallions. She oversees the professional trainers and riders at our training barn at Merryland. She personally delivers each crop of Maryland-bred babies here at Country Life. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Maryland Horse Breeders Association. She heads the MHBA Stallion Committee.
She does all this and more with a positive attitude and a passion for the industry. I’ve watched Christy save the life of foals during difficult deliveries. I know what a hero in action looks like. Christy fits any definition imaginable for such recognition.”
– Josh Pons, Co-Owner of Country Life and Merryland Farms and dual Eclipse Award-winning author
“It’s hard to imagine Christy apart from her work with Thoroughbreds. Her joy welcoming another new foal to the world never gets old. I admire her dedication to an equine work-life despite her severe allergies to straw. She balances the delivery of a new foal along with the ups and downs of Mother Nature while sharing the learning experience with a global web community, teaching and promoting the industry’s highest standards of care. She loves her horses and never hesitates to plant a good kiss on them to let them know. Our community is better with Christy’s years of work bringing along each crop of foals into this world, never giving up when the odds are long and seeing them find fulfilling careers from racing to rehoming. I’m sure if all these ‘kids’ could talk, they would agree with her recognition as a SheHero.”
– Ellen Pons, Artist and Photographer
“Christy Holden ranks highly as a general manager for any Thoroughbred farm. Her management style and personality exudes confidence to personnel and clients as well. She is definitely a SheHero!”
– Bill Reightler, Bill Reightler Bloodstock
“Christy is one of the most amazing and hard working women I know. Not to mention, she will drop whatever she is doing to help you out no matter what time of day or night. This business we do of foaling and breeding some of Maryland’s best is a difficult and sometimes heartbreaking job in itself, and Christy does it with passion and grace. Her love for the horses and foals is so evident and endearing. She has a huge heart and always a smile. My life would not be the same without her in it, and I am truly thankful for our ‘chats’ about foaling stories and mares and the like. So glad to call her my friend and be able to work alongside such an amazing woman in this industry.”
– Faith Leatherman, Winding Creek Farm
“No one is a greater SheHero in the thoroughbred world than Christy Holden. She is a consummate horsewoman, knowledgeable, caring, dedicated, and indefatigable. She is thoroughly versed in all aspects of the industry– breeding, foaling, breaking, training and racing. She has nurtured preemie foals to health and strength, saved redbag babies, wrangled highstrung or obstreperous yearlings and turned them into well-behaved stars, and rehabbed injured horses others might have given up on. She really knows and loves all the horses in her care at Country Life and they love her for it. And with all that on her plate, she is unfailingly patient with Country Life partners and their myriad questions, concerns and complaints. In short, Christy is the best.”
– Lucy Howard, Longtime Country Life & Merryland Farms client and owner