WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF PONY SMILES and MAGIC!…..the world of small United Kingdom Shetland ponies and the people with whom they bring a smile and a Personal connection.
The original mission of our founder in 1986 was to provide small ponies to families with special needs children who were not old enough to participate in therapeutic center activities.
There are riding centers and organizations dedicated to assisting children to learn to ride or drive a pony in harness, but nothing had been done prior to the founding of the Personal Ponies program for a small child to be able to interact with a pony of small stature. Personal Ponies Ltd is the only organization of its kind in the world.
Over the following years, our model evolved into placing our ponies with therapeutic centers where our ponies can reach more families, children, seniors, veterans- anyone, who can benefit from an "eye level" Personal connection with a special pony.
Despite the national scope of the Personal Ponies program and the many people who help, no one is paid a single penny. PPL is a 100% volunteer organization. Every penny raised goes to our breeding programs and support programs that produce these special ponies. Our administrative costs are only a tiny fraction of our annual budget and virtually all contributions go to the real work of expanding the breeding program and preparing our young ponies for their jobs in therapeutic centers.
Our volunteers make the Personal Ponies organization possible. Without them there is no organization. Volunteers help in everyway from caring for our ponies to transporting our ponies to helping manage this website and managing all of our national accounting. The list is endless. Personal Ponies began with the dream of our founder Marianne Alexander and became a reality in 1986. From the humble beginning of just two Shetland ponies the program has become an organization involving many people in all states.
We depend on the hearts and hands of many – those who serve as breeders, trainers, foster homes and transporters as well as those who help fund our program. We thank each and every one!
“Never doubt that it is a small group of committed people that can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”
THE MANY USES OF OUR SPECIAL PONIES
Personal Ponies wants to reach out to anyone who may be “differently able” no matter what the condition or situation. Our ponies are roving ambassadors and are taken wherever people can benefit from interacting with them. We say our ponies started out as ponies for children with special needs but the truth is we all have special needs and there is a child inside us all.
A Day in the Life of a Personal Pony!
Our pony's lives are very diverse. The way they serve is determined by the therapeutic centers' programs. On any given day, they are involved in a variety of activities. Some of these are described below:
These are unique reading programs where students get to select and share a book with their pony reading buddies. Each child then gets the opportunity to engage in one-on-one reading time with their special UK Shetland pony setting the foundation for a life-long love of reading. This is when the magic begins! This program pairs well with the Walter Farley Reading program that actually provides books. Check them out!
Ponies for Heroes
“Ponies for Heroes” serves Veterans of our Armed Forces & their families by providing a group or one-on-one interactive farm experience, along with pony visits to VA hospitals and retirement homes located in many areas in and around the country. Our ponies will also visit the various air force, army or navy bases to make pony visits to kids whose parents are deployed. It is our privilege to provide this service through the generosity of local military organizations, corporations and private individuals. – “Serving those who have served us!”
Ponies for the Young at Heart
Many of our ponies visit nursing homes or adult day care centers. Our ponies love to bring happiness to the “young at heart” and offer pony kisses. Our ponies provide joy to the residents who sometimes have great difficulty expressing themselves. And what a wonderful surprise for the grandchildren when they visit Grandma or Grandpa to find ponies! The center employees enjoy the ponies almost as much as the residents.
A kind touch and a pat are well received by our ponies that are very caring and understanding. Many of the social workers at various adult centers have commented that our ponies are a wonderful way for the elderly to give and receive affection, something that really is universal, regardless of age but is often taken for granted!
Ponies visit hospitals, cancer centers, school programs, homeless shelters, foster homes, bereavement programs, foster care centers and a child’s own home if needed. Our ponies can go where they are needed and the list is endless where they can go. We rely on the therapeutic centers and individuals who lease our ponies to determine how their life of service will be fulfilled...
Ponies on Parade, at Events, Sharing a Smile!
As we said above, our ponies are often roving ambassadors and can be found out and about at many events or in a parade or just sharing a smile out collecting for a Toys for Tots program. Our ponies are active in some of the better-known programs around the country such as Special Olympics, Easter Seals, Autism Speaks, Relay for Life, Make a wish, etc. It is very common to see our ponies at local street fairs, parades and other community events.