The Lluest Horse and Pony Trust was the brainchild of Ginny Hajdukiewicz, who had moved from Gloucestershire to Trefenter near Aberystwyth in 1980 to open a small riding centre. Ginny was so distressed by the appalling condition and handling of wild hill ponies and foals in local sales, that she decided to found a charity for Welsh equines to offer them a refuge and safe haven.
Subsequently, the Lluest Horse and Pony Trust came into being. Ginny’s friends Barbara and Brian Metcalfe and Stella Crewe were enlisted to help and became the original Trustees. In May 1985 the Lluest Horse and Pony Trust became a reality and the four ponies Ginny had acquired by then, Smokey, Jaws, Dancer1 and Phoenix were officially taken on by the Trust.
In November 1986 the whole ensemble moved to their new home near Llangadog. Although set in beautifully rolling countryside, the farm was far from being a paradise. Every field needed fencing properly, one of the old barns had been used for cattle and had 4ft of deep-litter cow manure! The fields and yard were strewn with muck and rubbish including old tyres and rusting barbed wire. However, one high spot of that long, cold, backbreaking winter, was the presentation of a cheque from Horse and Pony Magazine for £7,227.86.
In 1989 Lluest became a member of the National Equine Welfare Council, which involves going to half yearly meetings with other equine charities, ensuring the latest information about the needs of horses and ponies nationwide is shared.
Lluest was growing by leaps and bounds but throughout much of 1992 Ginny had been unwell, having developed breast cancer. In the autumn of that year she had a mastectomy but her indomitable spirit fought back and it was no surprise, that although not able to attend as many sales as usual, within weeks of coming out of hospital she went to Llandovery sale and bought a 2-month-old foal – Doris.
Two years later, in March 1994 Ginny’s health deteriorated and it was confirmed that the cancer had spread and that she needed further treatment. Fighting her illness with great courage and tenacity there were frequent visits to hospital. However, by the Lluest August Open Day, Ginny was very ill indeed but just well enough to enjoy a surprise reunion with 22 of the ponies she had rescued over the years, all of them happy, fit and thriving in their loan homes. Each one spontaneously nuzzled her hand, in touching private homage and it meant a great deal to her to see them all again. It was a justification and a celebration of her life’s work.
Ginny died peacefully at her home on the 13th September 1994 following a stroke; she was 38. The extraordinary bravery and determination she brought to everything she did, particularly her efforts for Lluest, shone through to the end. On the 22nd September, her last wishes were carried out and she was buried in a beautifully sheltered place on the farm, overlooking the mountains she loved. It was a simple, private occasion for family and friends, her coffin was escorted by her two very special ponies, Prince and Gwilym.
Ginny has changed the lives of all who knew her, she waged a relentless war against all who made the lives of horses and ponies a daily horror. Her methods were tough and blunt and, at times, she was physically attacked but her great tenacity, compassion and unswerving conviction that horses – all horses – deserved humane treatment, inspired others and she brought about significant change. Ginny rescued 77 horses during her 10 years at Lluest and helped many more. Her legacy and work continues at Lluest to this day.