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Frequently Asked Questions


Patty D and Young Boy

How is Personal Ponies Ltd. organized?
We are structured similarly to most nonprofits in that we have a Board of Directors/President/CEO/ National Director/Director of Finance & Records/Regional Directors/State Coordinators/Community Coordinators/Volunteer Breeders/Volunteer Foster Homes and Volunteer Trainers. Where we are different is that all of these offices or positions are filled by folks who serve as volunteers. No salaries are or have ever been paid for any of these positions.

What can Personal Ponies Ltd. offer my community?
Our ponies are “roving ambassadors” and are taken wherever children or adults can benefit from interacting with them. They can brighten the day for seniors in convalescent homes, light up an entire roomful of cancer patients, provide comfort to emotionally disturbed children, and be the “best friend” of any child with special needs. Our ponies go to parades, fairs, day care centers, therapeutic centers and hospitals— think of any place where smiles are needed and our ponies can be there.

Questions about Donating

Is Personal Ponies Ltd. a nonprofit organization? Yes! We are incorporated in the state of New York and are a 501-C-3 organization registered with the Internal Revenue Service. All contributions are tax deductible according to the limits of the law. Fundraising under the Personal Ponies umbrella can be done ONLY in the States that are registered. Otherwise, contributions have to be made to our National Office who will then allocate the donations accordingly.

How is Personal Ponies Ltd. funded?
We rely on contributions from individuals, organizations, grants, endowments and corporate sponsorships. Because we are nonprofit, all donations are deductible to the extent allowed by law. Tax receipts can be provided for your tax submission. Fundraising to support our operations is a never ending challenge.

How are the funds you receive used?
Because we are 100 percent volunteer organization ( no one is paid a penny for their services), contributors can rest assured that almost 100% of their contributions are used to support our breeding, training and operations involved in raising and preparing these ponies for their jobs. We do pay for professional services such as bookkeeping, accountants and website admin. Local contributions or fundraising to specific programs or organizations in a community are used to support that organization to deliver their programs and services in their local community.

Can I tell Personal Ponies Ltd how I would like my contribution used?
Absolutely! Funds can be allocated to the Mary Flinn Memorial Breeding Fund (supports our breeding operations and costs) ,  Dandelion Fund (in memory of our founder-Marianne Alexander) or to the General Fund. We also accept donations in loved ones names and are  happy to acknowledge and recognize the contribution. You can donate using PayPal as well as checks sent directly to our national office. See our tab on Contributing

I would like my contribution to help a therapy center or program in my community. Can I do this?
YES!  If the state is registered to raise funds (IRS requirement), the check should go directly to the state coordinator. If the state is not registered, the check should be made out to Personal Ponies and mailed to the PPL National Office (address on the website under National Director ) with a note specifying how you would like it to be used. Then a check will be made out and mailed to the center or individual you specify.

Can I donate tack and other equipment?
Certainly! Just like any other donation, it needs to be properly documented. Either your State Coordinator, Regional Director or our National Office will issue a proper tax receipt once it is accepted and the necessary info is provided to the national office.

Do you accept donated ponies into the program?
There are rare occasions that we have accepted a pony into our program, but overall, we breed our own. If you'd like to discuss this, contact your Regional Director listed under the contact page.

Questions about Volunteering/Promoting Personal Ponies Ltd

Marcia and Champ

I am interested in the program. What do I do now?
Contact your State Coordinator or Regional Director. Spend time with local volunteers and with our ponies. Contact names can be located on our website contact tab. It is up to you to decide in what way you wish to be involved. We have people promoting our program and/or providing help that do not have ponies. Some of our volunteers foster ponies for us, train, transport, fundraise or just groom and handle our ponies.  Let us know in what way you would like to be part of the smiles and pony magic.

Is there official material I can use for handouts? A video?
Yes, there are sample brochures and other information to handout available in our “Forms and Policies” section of this website. We are currently working on updating and adding additional handouts.

I would like to be a volunteer breeder for my community. Is that possible?
While most of our breeding has been consolidated into larger national breeding centers, there is occasionally a need to have a smaller "satellite" breeding center in a particular part of the country. So yes- we do want to talk with individuals about interest they may have in breeding for us.  If accepted as a satellite breeder,  the breeding stock will be chosen and assigned to you under a "free" lease contract. You would be responsible for all expenses related to keeping the ponies and you may deduct it as a tax donation with proper report submission and receipts. You would be under the supervision of the national breeding program in taking direction that supports our national breeding goals. Some breeding experience is required as is some experience or willingness to learn to handle young ponies. You must also have appropriate facilities. Speak to your Regional Director or Cindy Pullen, who is our National Director. Breeding is vital to the growth of our program and we are always excited to uncover new volunteer breeders.

Questions about Our Ponies

Kara and Maggie

Where do the ponies come from that are placed in the program?
We, for the most part breed our own ponies. Some of our breeding stock were donated or purchased here in the US and some were imported from the UK with the funds received from interested persons.

Do you use only UK Shetlands in your program?
For the most part, YES! The UK Shetland is the breed of choice for the work we do. You can read more about why that is so under “Why the UK Shetland” on our website.

What is the average size of your ponies?
UK Shetlands come in small, midi and standard sizes. For our program, we aim to breed for a height around 34”-36” tall or smaller. Some are indeed smaller than- as small as 24 inches- and some can be as tall as 42 inches.

What level of training can I expect our ponies to have?
All of our ponies are individuals. Although all of our ponies are quiet by nature, the level of experience can  vary based on the activities and training they received in previous placements.  Some have been trained to ride or lead, some drive, etc. But in general we consider our ponies "pocket ponies" to be used in general therapeutic interactions with children, seniors, veterans...whoever can benefit from smiles and pony magic. See a "Day in the life" of one of our ponies in another tab.

NOTE: As we further grow & develop our breeding centers and are raising ponies in that environment, those ponies will be ready the summer of their second year to be placed in a therapeutic environment to begin their jobs. They will also be prepared, if a center or individual should so desire,to be evaluated and registered with Pet Partners as safe and ready to work in a therapeutic environment.  Personal Ponies has negotiated discounts for our ponies to be evaluated and registered. The 2 year registration comes with $2 Million liability insurance coverage. To learn more about Pet Partners go to 

How long do ponies live?
With our recommended care, our ponies can live well into their 30s. We have volunteers around the country that care for our elderly ponies and provide them a very comfortable retirement. If you are interested in providing a retirement home as ponies move into this stage of their life, give us a call.

Questions about Receiving a Pair of Ponies vs just one
While we do occasionally have single ponies available, we prefer to place our ponies in bonded pairs. We have found over the years that having a familiar buddy is comforting and provides company and stability for our ponies. Since we  ask that they NOT be turned out with larger horses (their short little legs will just not get them out of the way fast enough on joyful herd romps) having a buddy gives them the company they need as a  herd animal.

What are the rules for qualifying to receive a pony from the program?
In our beginnings we placed ponies in individual homes with families. Many changes have occurred in our society since 1986 and we  have changed our model accordingly. To insure our ponies have the opportunity to spread  smiles and magic with the greatest number of children, seniors & veterans in a stable, safe environment, we now place our ponies in therapeutic centers or individuals who deliver service programs in their communities.  Community/ State Coordinators or Regional Directors are responsible for screening centers or organizations that apply for ponies to confirm that they understand good pony care and have adequate facilities to keep them safe and comfortable. There will be the rare exceptions where we consider placing ponies in a family situation, but these will be discussed and agreed upon at the Regional & National level. You can find an application under our Forms & Policies tab.

Speak to your State Coordinator or Regional Director to begin your application process. An application form is available on our website under "Forms and Policies."

Many questions can be answered by reading thru our application and Lease/Liability forms. They will cover your and PPL's responsibilities and costs. After that, we’d be happy to talk with you for additional questions. A $150.00 application fee must be sent with the application. If your application is not accepted, the check will be returned to you.

Is there a cost to lease the ponies? 
 Yes- we lease our ponies to centers and individuals  who provide therapeutic services & programs in their communities. We do have annual lease fees that fund our breeding program. It allows us to cover the expenses to breed and prepare our ponies for their jobs to serve. There may be rare situations where lease fees may be waived. Those will be discussed and agreed upon at the regional & national level. We will be happy to discuss fees with you..

How long will I have to wait for a pony?
Sometimes there can be a wait. It depends on where you are located and when a pair of ponies becomes available close to you. You will be responsible for any transport costs. You may also speed up the process if you are willing and able to transport ponies yourself. .

Questions about Caring for Ponies

Who pays for the care of the ponies?
Individuals, organizations and Centers who lease our ponies to use in their programs assume the cost of their care. Also Personal Ponies volunteers who breed, raise, train, foster and care for our ponies assume the cost of maintaining the ponies they are assigned. At the end of each year, we can issue you a tax receipt for many of the expenses incurred caring for the ponies, as long as proper reports & receipts are submitted.

Is it expensive to keep a pony?
Tiny ponies are far less expensive to feed compared to big horses! However, costs vary depending on the area, depending on how much pasture is available for the ponies, depending on age of the pony, etc. Hay costs can vary from $3.00 a bale to $22.00 a bale from one end of the country to another. The cost of transporting, routine medical, dental and hoof care must be considered. You must consider all of this in your decision. At the end of each year, we can issue you a tax receipt for many of the expenses incurred caring for the ponies, as long as proper reports & receipts are submitted.

Reporting requirements?
Annual health reports signed by a vet including pictures are required to be submitted by June 1 each year to Regional Directors that are forwarded to headquarters and entered into our database. You can download our Annual Health Report form under the Download Froms tab on our home page. Failure to turn in the annual health report can be grounds for our removing the ponies. We are serious about monitoring our ponies care and health. Annual Health reporting with pictures is the primary tool with which we do so.