PonyUp! Kentucky Uses Fashion to Give Back
What is PonyUp!?
PonyUP! Kentucky makes unique, equestrian style handbags, handcrafted with pride in the USA. The shoulder straps, created by Amish leather crafters in rural Kentucky, are made from leather horse halters. Each one features a brass nametag, which can be engraved with your name, the name of your horse or farm, or just about anything you like. The beautiful, durable fabric handbags are made by a talented Kentucky seamstress. Once you have a PonyUP! Kentucky shoulder strap, the handbags are interchangeable—you can mix and match with just one strap!
Who started PonyUp! and why?
I (Rallie McAllister, M.D., MPH, MSEH) founded PonyUP! Kentucky in 2010. Although I love my career as a physician, I have always had a passion for horses. I grew up on a large breeding farm in Tennessee, and went on to train horses until I was 30, when I started medical school. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for unwanted animals, especially horses, and some of my biggest heroes are the men and women who work and volunteer their time at horse rescue operations. PonyUP! Kentucky was created in 2010 to help raise money for horses that might otherwise die from neglect, starvation, or slaughter. Over the years, I’ve learned that every dollar makes a difference!
Which bag is your most popular?
At PonyUP! Kentucky, we make only a limited number handbag from each fabric that we carefully choose. As you know, horse women travel in small circles, and we want each of our customers to have a beautiful, unique handbag that truly reflects her spirit and her style. Here are two popular PonyUP! Kentucky: Spanish Moss and Stable Safari (see images below).
We love seeing that you give 100% back to horses in need! How wonderful. Do you find it easy to sell the handbags?
We’ve been amazed at the warm and wonderful response we’ve gotten from the equestrian community, and even from women who’ve never even met a horse! Women love PonyUP! Kentucky handbags, and they love our policy of donating all of our profits to horses in need at horse rescue organizations. They love buying the handbags, because they love helping the horses. With the help of these wonderful women, we’ve donated nearly $13,000 to horse rescue organizations.
What drives you to give back to horses in need?
Like most horsewomen, I’ve derived enormous joy from the horses in my life. Horses have taught me some incredibly important life lessons. From my horses, I’ve learned about trust and respect, and I’ve gained self-confidence. Horses have taught me to work hard to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles, and they’ve taught me how to relax. They’ve taught me to be patient and persistent. I’m grateful for these lessons, and to the horses that have shared them with me, so I want to give back. I wish I could do more!
Favorite horse story from this year?
I live in Lexington, Kentucky, where thousands of Thoroughbreds are foaled each year. Many are destined for the racetrack, but if they don’t show potential as racehorses, they’re in danger of ending up going to slaughter. I’m delighted to see so many equestrians adopting off-the-track Thoroughbreds to retrain for careers as eventers, hunter/jumpers, dressage horses, and pleasure horses this year. There are a number of rescue organizations in Kentucky that take in unwanted racehorses from the track, retrain them, and offer them for adoption. Once they’ve had a chance to relax and unwind, these horses are wonderful to work with, and wonderful to own.
Plans for the future?
I’m so glad you asked! I’d like to add a match-maker feature to our website in the near future. It will feature horses for adoption, and match them with people who can give them loving, forever homes. Some women have always dreamed of having a relationship with a horse, and I’d like to help them discover the incredible joy of having horses in their lives. I also want to continue to support horse rescue organizations in Kentucky and across the U.S. in bigger and more meaningful ways, so that no horse suffers neglect, starvation, or slaughter. In the meantime, I want to keep on designing beautiful PonyUP! Kentucky handbags that reflect the unique beauty and spirit of every woman who carries one.
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