Ninety-year-old Marian Lusby has only just hung up her boots as the In Hand Welsh Section Convenor for the Cambridge A & P Show. For more than two decades, Marian organised the pure and part bred classes for Welsh ponies.
Latterly that included arranging sponsorship and prize money for the classes. “It was never just me, I always had a good team of fellow Welsh breeders helping on show day,” says Marian.
As a child during the 1930s, Marian’s only real horse contact was riding the five miles to school from the family farm in Waihi.
In July 1948, Marian married the late Roy Lusby, and the couple were dairy farmers in Waihi, Galatea and then Karapiro. They established the Treeways Jersey Stud and the interest in showing cows began.
Roy “wasn’t keen on having horses mucking up his dairy pasture”, but in 1962 Marian wanted to buy a pony for their two children, Wayne and Judy. The family went out to buy two Shetland ponies, and came home with five – one a stallion.
Marian loved these small horses and bred them for some years, until Welsh ponies caught her eye at the NZ Agricultural Show in Canterbury. She acquired her first stallion, Chawton Cherub, in 1968. While searching for a suitable purebred mare, Marian realised her husband was well and truly on board with the ponies.
“When we couldn’t find a suitable mare in NZ, he suggested we imported one from overseas.
“Within a short time I was on a plane to the UK to meet a Mrs Hambleton in Wales, who bred Welsh ponies.”
As a result of the trip, an in-foal mare, Stoatley Minx Again, was flown home to NZ. The first purebred colt for the Lusby’s newly-established Ascot Stud, was Ascot Jolly.
He went on to sire many lovely Section A ponies for the stud. Marian and Roy had considerable success breeding Section A Welsh ponies.
“My husband asked me one day how many we had, and let’s say – it was rather a lot!”
Mrs Hambleton became a lifelong friend, and was the first judge for the Welsh section when it started at the 1972 Cambridge A & P Show.
The long-running Cambridge show has classes for Section A, B, C and Cob Welsh ponies and there’s wide interest in the breed. The Welsh Pony and Cob Society was established more than 50 years ago, and there are now many Welsh Pony studs throughout NZ.
Marian still owns two of her stud mares, Ascot Primrose, 21, and Ascot Precocious, 32, spending time with them most days, close to her Cambridge home.