PERSONAL PONIES LTD

Personal Ponies Ltd provides small UK Shetland ponies to children that are differently able. There is no charge for our services and not one of of our volunteers are paid a penny. As we head into our 27th year, there about 1800 ponies in our program scattered around the country with volunteers in almost every state sharing ponies with children that need a special friend. There is a special magic that happens when a small pony is paired with a small child that is indescribable.
Feb 17, 2017

Baluga Bear

Baluga Bear with wings
Baluga Bear with wings

Hello,
My name is Baluga Bear. I know, kind of a funny name but a great one. There was a eulogy written about a very special dog with the name Baluga Bear and the name has now come to me because I am a very special pony.
I am a very small pony, about 20 inches tall. I have Disabilities. My front feet face outward instead of being straight. My bones did not grow the right way. BUT I have a huge heart and so much love that I just can’t stand it………
I was born fine. I ran, jumped, played and harassed my mom every day just like all the other kids. My friends would come to visit and sit with me. I loved sitting in their laps. So warm and loving. When I was about 5 months old my front feet starting turning to the side more and the farrier came many times to see what he could do. They even had a Dr. look at them and do what they call x-rays. It turned out that there was nothing that they could do for my feet it was just the way the bones were. It was a few months after that I stopped growing physically. I remember hearing someone say that I should be put to sleep because I was “different”. That really scared me, but my friend said that was NOT an option. And I am so glad for that…..

I know that I am different, once you look at my feet. But it is not my feet that really make me the pony that I really am. I can still think, see, hear and feel just like everyone else. I love food and eat just like everyone else. And in the summer I am out on lovely grass and can run all I want. The winters with the snow are a little harder for me and I like to stay inside out of the snow and ice. But that is ok because my barn is open and I can see what everyone is doing and still talk to them all. I have a really good friend, named Rennie, that lives with me and sometimes he can play rough. But, you know even with bad feet I can still hold my own and he knows when to stay away.


There are a lot of people that come here to see all of us. Sometimes, I feel bad because they seem to want to stay with me. I have heard a couple of them ask to take me home with them and I cringe until I hear “no, he cannot go from here”. That makes me feel a lot better. I love my home, my friends and my life. See, I know that just because I am different physically that my heart and soul are bigger for it. I have come to realize that being different isn’t a bad thing and no one should be penalized for it. It just makes us SPECIAL. It means we just have to try a little harder and love a little more. We have to make others see that we are what we are. We do what we can, when we can and how we can. That does not make it wrong or sad or the need to have us put away somewhere. It just means we try a little harder and love a whole lot more. All we need to know is that we are loved. The others used to pick on me and kind of make fun of me but they don’t do that anymore because they have gotten to know me and see that inside I am just like them. They just don’t know that deep down I am really stronger than they are.
.

And that’s what I am here for. That is my purpose in life. To show others that have disabilities that it is OK to be different and we CAN live, laugh and love just like you or anyone else. And boy do I!!!! When kids come here they love on me and I love on them. I do show off a little too but it really is just to prove to them that they can be just like me and they CAN DO IT……………………I have been taught and I believe with all my big heart that it really is all about LOVE. The love that you have inside of you and the love that you can share. And it all starts with just a little smile like I am doing in my picture. Give it a try. And the next time you see a little one like me, that is a little different, smile and say hi. You will be amazed at how big your heart will feel.
If you ever feel like you need a little pick me up just give me a holler. I will be happy to chat with you. I love to talk and whisper sweet nothings in the ears. I am the Pony with Wings and I can do anything……….

Baluga Bear
Baluga Bear
Nov 23, 2016

Dreams Do Come True

HH Mr. Simms
HH Mr. Simms

 

 

My Nana used to sing about them, all the Pretty Horses. When I was a small child, I would dream of them. Because I could only be near them when I slumbered, I would never fuss at bedtime or nap time. I would send up my wish to visit the Faraway Horses & drift softly to sleep.

Night after night they came. Thundering, frolicking-whinnying to me. My favorite was the Dapple Grey. An enormous fellow, he would lower his great head so I could reach his silky mane. He would kneel so I could climb upon his broad back for a ride across a moonlit meadow. Laughing and playing, all too soon the night's dream magic was done and I would wake with a wistful smile and an aching heart.

Each morning, I would beg my parents for a pony of my own. Although they were sympathetic my Dad would remind me that we lived in the town and ponies were not allowed. Not even if there was a roomy backyard and a garage for him to sleep in. Pony rides at the fair & riding lessons did nothing to ease my desire for a pony of my very own. "When I grow up, I'll have a farm filled with ponies where all the Dream-Children can come ",I said. If you believe it, all your pony dreams will come true," said my Dad. And in that moment, the seed of a very special dream took root in my childish heart.

As the years passed, I studied special education & then nursing. I wasn't certain why, but I felt drawn to both fields & wondered if there might be a very special way I could enjoy both. When I graduated from nursing school we bought our daughters a pony & myself a horse, and so it began... We got involved with rescue & with therapeutic riding.

One evening I was researching activities online for my special needs riders & I happened across a unique website. I couldn't help but click & it was then that I found Personal Ponies and Marianne Alexander. Or they found me. I was mesmerized by the stories & fascinated by the idea of a small pony for a small child with special needs. The horses at the stable where I taught were great. Part-time therapy horses, they were tolerant and kind, but they hadn't given up their day jobs as hunters and jumpers. Page by page as I devoured the website, a dream was taking shape. The tiny seed my Dad had planted so many years ago began to sprout & unfurl the tenderest of leaves.

Enchanted by the fuzzy faces, big gentle eyes and all the smiles, I began to type with shaking hands. A simple inquiry introducing myself & asking for more information. The reply when it came was welcoming and kind & dashed my hopes entirely when Marianne said there was a long waiting list for these special little troll-ponies, but welcomed me into the PPL family anyway. Marianne & I began emailing frequently. I loved hearing all the stories about ponies and their children. Without magical ponies of my own, it would have been easy for that little dream seedling to sprout up, wither & die, but gently, tenderly, Marianne nurtured the tiny seedling by encouraging me to use the time to develop ideas for a program long before there were ponies.

Six months later, the email began "I have ponies. BUT" But indeed. They were young, babies really, mostly untouchable. Very frightened little Shetlands rejected by their breeder. "It will be quite a project, not for the faint of heart, are you up for a challenge?" She inquired. These were not our typical PPL ponies, lovingly hand-raised and trained. These were 2 wildings that M's neighbor had rescued from an auction thinking to rehabilitate and donate them into the program. Anne had become ill before she could carry out her plan & so there were two little Shetlands in need of love & guidance. They were far, far from the sweet, gentle ponies I dreamed of, but M. could see their great hearts in spite of their fear. Every statement seemed discouraging, but in M's typical way she was issuing a challenge. "What kind of stuff are you made of?" "Where does your heart truly lie?"

I couldn't help myself. I clicked on the photo and there they were.a lovely 2 year old bay filly & a tiny, crooked legged shadow of a dapple gray gelding, peeping out from underneath a shaggy forelock. I was dumbfounded. Here, after so many years was my sweet dapple gray ,come to life, shrunk down to child-size. My very own version of the Velveteen Rabbit...he became REAL. Oh, how i laughed. And cried. And typed.. "I'll do it!" And M's reply: "I knew you would".

And so, on a beautiful fall day in 2001, we truly began our journey with Personal Ponies. Fueled by childhood dreams and hopeful hearts, we were off to meet HollyHock Katrina-"Katey" & H.H. Mr. Simms-"Sammy"! My first glimpse of the two took my breath away. I was charmed, but doubts clouded my vision as they ran to the spot in the barn furthest away from scary people & my little seedling-dream began to wither. With the help of four people, we eventually tricked them into loading onto our trailer to begin the 8 hour journey home. By the light of the moon, we unloaded Katey first & walked her into the paddock. She had been worked with at one point, but was so frightened, she trembled violently. I snapped a rope onto the little grey gelding's halter, hoping he would follow Katey- and he did-at breakneck speed with me barely keeping up. I hung onto that rope for dear life, knowing if I let him go, we'd never be able to catch him. Once inside the paddock, I bent to unsnap the rope & the movement startled Sammy. He wheeled, and lashing out with tiny sharp hooves he kicked me right on the knee. What on earth had I agreed to?? The tears streamed down my cheeks & joined the smile I couldn't stop smiling in spite of myself. Welcome home little ones, I smiled through my tears.

Our real journey had yet to begin. It didn't take long before the pair began to understand they were safe & loved, regardless of how they felt about us. I was enchanted and at their beck and call. They would boldly whinny for their breakfast & meet me at the gate, only to run off in terror. I began to wonder if my little ones would ever be true PPL ponies, but I wasn't about to give up.

Time & Love. The two great healers and the two greatest gifts you can bestow on anyone. And that is what I did. I gave them time. I gave them love. I gave them space. I would take a lounge chair and just sit in the paddock. One warm summer afternoon, I awoke from a nap with Katey & Sammy staring down at me, sniffing my pockets for treats. I reached up & touched a silky mane. Katey snorted and wheeled away. Her time hadn't yet come, but Sammy...Sammy chose that moment togive me his heart...in return for a peppermint.

Slowly and carefully, we began training in preparation for work as a true Personal Pony. Once he learned to trust, from that moment on, Sammy knew I would not ever ask anything of him that he could not safely do. When he gave me his heart that first day, I promised I would never ever betray that trust. He blossomed & he became brave. He went inside houses,hospitals, schools & shopping malls. He walked across bridges and tarps. He marched in parades wearing costumes. He trotted alongside bagpipe & drum corps. He climbed up & down staircases. He stood quietly allowing children to pet him while a helicopter flew low overhead preparing to land. He stood while children finger-painted on him, while a child with special needs spoke his first words...and still he stands.. He stands while little children's sticky hands grope near his eyes or nostrils. He stands while an arthritic hand struggles to pet a silky mane, becoming in memory the pony of their youth. He stands while tears of joy stream down a face & wet his mane. He stands while grief-stricken people bury their face in his mane & sob their cares out. He Smiles. He poses for photos. He helps me train many other ponies, instilling in them his quiet confidence. He trains our volunteers. Together through the years, he & I have stood witness to great joy, to paralyzing grief and loss, to love. Through all these years, he has not spoken a word, and yet he speaks volumes. He tells his story. The heart has a language; an eloquence all it's own and he is a poet. He has become that enormous Dapple Grey dream horse of my childhood... perhaps not in body, but in great heart. Over the years, Sammy's dapples have faded into a lovely pure grey coat of silk. As pure and lovely as his heart.

Sometimes at night, I still dream of the Faraway Horses. I walk outside in the moonlight & softly, quietly, I give thanks because I no longer wait on the Faraway Horses...for they are already here.

Sammy did not begin life with the kindness & love we give our Personal Ponies foals, but he opened his heart to seek it & has brought so much joy and happiness. He is the epitome of the gentle & kind ponies Personal Ponies seeks to raise & train and share. They bring magic, hope and love wherever they go. If not for the vision of Marianne and the kindness of Anne in rescuing a little grey shadow, our corner of the world would not shine so bright. Thank you HH Mr. Simms. Sammy. I salute you, dear one. You have been a precious gift. You hold my heart in your tiny hoof.

Mr. Simms--Sammy
Mr. Simms--Sammy
Mr. Simms and new friend
Mr. Simms and new friend
Hollyhock Katrina and HH Mr. Simms
Hollyhock Katrina and HH Mr. Simms
Aug 29, 2016

The love of ponies

Rowan
Rowan

Two Shetland Ponies enjoying the wonderful summer.

We received Jasper in the summer of 2014 and we realized how lonely Jasper was so Personal Ponies blessed us once again with another pony in the summer of 2015.

Jasper is now 14 years old and Rowan is 7.

Rowan definately keeps Jasper young and provides him with the exercise he desperatley needs.  Over the winter, we realized that Jasper was stealing some of Rowan's hay so he gained some extra weight. They enjoy frolicking in the pasture together and chasing each other around the pen.

My seven year old daughter Anna has been riding Jasper for 2 years and this summer learned to ride Rowan as well.

My daughter, Charlotte, who was born with down syndrome, enjoys brushing the ponies and feeding them carrots and apples. Charlotte began taking riding lessons at a therapy riding stable and is now comfortable with riding our ponies.

My daughter Anna enjoys riding the ponies with her friends. As a family, we are learning everyday how to care for the ponies and provide the best life in their new home.

We thank Personal Ponies for the two wonderful additions to our family.

Jasper
Jasper
 
   

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