August 2011 Newsletter

Blue Star Equiculture
August 2011
In This Issue
Spirit Song
Donate Today!
Upcoming Events
DAPNET and Animal Powered Field Days
Horsehair Jewelry
Join the Herd!
Photo of the Month
Boston Globe Article
News from the Herd!
Equine Wellness Expo
Hello, Goodbye!
Driving Draft Horses Workshop
Earl Needs HELP!!!
Horse Quotation of the Month
Spirit Song:
The Herd Gets Turned Out
If you love horses, you must watch this video
If you love horses, you must watch this video

Feel the joy!



Join the Herd!

Your support helps horses in need!

Blue Star Equiculture cares for up to 30 rescued and retired horses at one time.  Our horses, many of whom have special needs and to whom Blue Star has made a commitment for the duration of their lives, require feed, hay and regular veterinary and farrier care.  

If you would like to donate to Blue Star Equiculture to support our mission to help horses, humans and Mother Earth, a $ amount and click on the donate button below.


Or, text "HORSES{space}[your donation]" to 27138to donate over the phone using Mobile Give.  (msg/data rates may apply)

Blue Star Equiculture is a 501(c)3 charity. 


Upcoming Events
(was 8/27-8/28)

To Be Rescheduled


Friday 9/16
Eastern States Exposition Grounds,
West Springfield


Saturday 9/17
1:00 - 4:00
Blue Star Equiculture
More info

Saturday 9/24
10:00 - 4:30
UMass - Hadley Farm
More info


Saturday 10/1
Hampshire County Riding Club, Goshen, MA
More info



with Bill Darnley and Justin Morace, Saturday and Sunday 10/15 - 10/16
10am - 4pm both days
UMass - Hadley Farm
Sign up here

Blue Star Equiculture is proud to be a member of the Draft Animal Power Network (DAPNET).  

DAPNET, like Blue Star,  is dedicated to working draft animals in enterprises that support sustainabilities of local communities and vital land-based economies.

Please visit DAPNET's website for more information.


Blue Star Equiculture:
Your Horses, Your History, Your Future

Show it off!

In addition to our awesome t-shirts, we now have horsehair jewelry made by Karen Keirstead.  Check out the Blue Star Store for more!



"Going Green takes REAL horsepower."


"It's time to put the HORSE back in HORSEPOWER."




Where else can you get amazing equine educational workshops and hands-on horse experience with gentle giants, all while helping support the rescue or retirement of working horses? 


Where else can you answer the question "Have you hugged a draft horse today?" with a resounding "YES!"?


Why send money off to some huge or distant organization whose direct works you may never see, when you could be helping horses right here at home in your community, and whose activities are publicized constantly on facebook, the internet, and the press?


Blue Star Equiculture welcomes everyone to be a part of the life of the Herd.


Blue Star Equiculture is calling upon ALL of our supporters to "Join the Herd" and become a Blue Star Equiculture Herd Member for as little $10 / month.


Blue Star Equiculture is now offering Herd Membership at six different levels, starting at just $10 / month.  Sign up for a level of support that works for you.


For more information or to JOIN THE HERD,

visit our website

Blue Star Believes
Blue Star Equiculture Credo

We believe that the draft horse is a national treasure.  
We believe that horses and humans fundamentally belong together.

We believe that all horses deserve loving homes where their physical and social needs will be met.

We believe that "work" should not have a pejorative connotation.

We believe that in these troubled economic and environmental times, working horses offer a sustainable means of equine husbandry.  

We believe that every working horse deserves to have his needs taken care of for the duration of his natural life.

Great Homes!

Jetta is waiting for a forever home.

Are you looking for a new member of the family?  (Or two?)  Let us know what kind of horse you're looking for and we'll see if we can play matchmaker and find the perfect home for one of our horses (or one of the many horses on our waiting list).  

When you adopt from a rescue, you help save two horses - the horse you adopted and the horse for whom there is now room at Blue Star.

Contact us or stop by the farm to begin the adoption application process.

Going Green with Viridian to help REAL Horsepower!

Switch to Viridiantoday to start helping horses with your electric bill.  (Currently available in PA, NJ, NY, and CT - COMING SOON TO MASSACHUSETTS!)

Quick Links

Join Our Mailing List
The bond between horses and humans is undeniable.  Horses have been our partners in almost everything we have done together.

Still, we humans have a fascination with horses that goes beyond just their being our most useful friends and close companions.  Writers and thinkers and theorists have philosophized about why we are so drawn to horses.  Is it their beauty?  Their power?   Their unpredictability?  Many a writer has concluded that the magnetism and charisma of the noble horse stems from the horse's intrinsic connection with nature.


I write this as those of us all along the east coast are faced with the raw power of Mother Nature - in this case, in the form of a huge hurricane.  We are powerless to do anything to stop Hurricane Irene, so all we can do is batten down the hatches and protect ourselves and our horses to the best of our abilities.


There is, of course, another deadly storm threatening America's horses - the "perfect storm" of a large horse population, an "instant gratification / disposable commodity" attitude and a poor economy.  This "storm" is threatening horses with neglect, homelessness and export for slaughter.


Although the problem of horse slaughter and 100,000 "unwanted" horses every year can seem like a daunting problem too huge to be able to do anything about, this "perfect storm" is a problem that we CAN do something about.  We CAN make a difference.  We have more options than just hunkering down and hoping the slaughter "passes over" or fleeing the surge and boarding up our barns and abandoning our connection - our responsibility - towards our equine companions.


We can change course.  We can do better for horses.  We can not only stop overbreeding horses, but we can do more to train horses for productive partnerships with people.  We can create more demand for horses by educating the public, fostering horsemanship in young people, and finding or creating more jobs for horses in our community.


Confronted with the challenges facing our community's homeless horses, there is no reason to drown in despair.  The sun is coming out.  And, with your help, the future will be brighter for horses, humans and Mother Earth.


Stay safe this weekend as the hurricane passes by.  Don't forget the horses at Blue Star who depend on your support.

Sally and Justin working on training Bob, who has an unpredictable response as they help him with his trust issues
Photo of the Month

18hh Shire gelding, Cash, arriving on a ferry from Elizabeth Island, MA.
Blue Star in the Boston Globe

Blue Star Equiculture was the subject of a feature story by Tom Mashberg in the Boston Globe.  The article appeared on July 23.  Thank you, Tom, for a wonderful article that captures what Blue Star is about and what we're doing!  Click here to read the whole article.

They also need work to stay happy. After thousands of years of breeding, draft horses are born to haul.


"These horses thrive on having a job to do,'' Rickenbach says. "Horses who were frankly depressed from being left in a paddock have positively lit up in anticipation of going out to work again.''

A Great Weekend at NEAPFD and NOFA

Blue Star had a great weekend at the Draft Animal Power Network's (DAPNET'S)North East Animal Powered Field Days, held in conjunction with the Northeast Organic Farming Association's Summer Conference held at UMass - Amherst August 12-14.  Click here for more pictures.

DAPNET member horses baling hay on UMass's Deerfield farm.

News from the Herd:

Blue Star's 3rd appearance at Palmer Nostalgia Day Justin, Anna, the Blue Star 4-H Buddies and Bob Too and Carter went to downtown Palmer on Saturday, August 20th, for the annual Palmer Nostalgia Day Celebration.  Blue Star was proud to again offer historic carriage tours of the depot village and Main St. area.


Fancy Dan gets weaned! Fancy Dan is growing up.  Dan has been weaned from his mother, Fanny, at a little more than 4 months of age.  As you can see, he's getting to be quite a big boy.  He eats lots of hay and solid food on his own.  His nursing on Fanny, however, was taking a toll on Fanny's health - it takes lots of energy to produce milk, and Fanny, at age 23, was having a hard time keeping her weight up.  Now that Dan is weaned, Fanny can go back to keeping her calories for herself!  Dan is a handsome and bright weanling - he's been learning his ground manners, though he still acts like the colt he is!  (This fall or spring will mean an appointment with the vet to get gelded.) Fancy Dan is being introduced to herd members slowly to get socialized with other horses, which is an opportunity he did not have before being weaned, since Fanny has always been an overprotective mother when it comes to other horses coming near her baby.


Fancy Dan enjoying a roll

Read to Feed Horses in Need Finale! Wednesday, August 17th, was the big finale of the Belchertown Clapp Memorial Library's summer reading program, "Read to Feed Horses in Need."  Many of the program participants came out to the farm for fun games and hay rides, and to say hi to their new horse friends they met while reading to them on the farm, or to meet the horses for whom they had been reading all summer.  Participants in the program read over 3,400 hours this summer, and in so doing raised money that the Friends of the Belchertown Library will be donating to the farm to help with our constant hay costs.  There was a great write up of the event in the Belchertown Sentinel this week on page 12.  Click here to read!

Draft power around the farm In part because of Earl's incapacitation, but mostly because of our inspirational time at NOFA and a tour of Natural Roots Farm, Blue Star's horses have been doing more work around the farm.  Cupcake has been helping hauling weeds away from the permaculture garden.  Kelly, Chyna and Rocky got together recently to move round bales.  Anna wrote a great blog about this new even-more-horsepowered trend on the farm.

Change your partner, do-si-do Bob Too's arrival has seen Charlie D. back at the farm, hanging out with his beloved Daisy, who, since the Big Boys have been living at UMass, has been doing wagon rides on the farm with Iceman.  Kelly, her sister now paired with Iceman, has been doing some work with newcomer Rocky.  Cash, the Shire, took a turn with Mark at NOFA, since Tom Too threw a shoe and was out of action for the weekend.

Sponsor a horse Do you want to be a part of a horse's life at Blue Star?  Help us care for the horses on the farm who are here for long-term care, as permanent sanctuary horses, or in retirement!  Sponsor a horsetoday!
Don't Miss the First "Equine Wellness Expo" in Western Massachusetts!  Saturday, September 24th, 10:00 - 4:30, UMass Hadley Equine Center

First 'Equine Wellness Expo' in Western Mass

in support of Blue Star Equiculture - Working Horse Rescue

Sample a variety of hands-on Equine Wellness practices
Saturday, September 24th, 2011 - 10 am - 4:30pm

At the Equine Center at UMass in Hadley, MA

Sample a variety of hands-on Equine Wellness practices.




Spend the day and explore a variety of equine wellness practices that can benefit your horse. If you're considering a career in the equine industry, this Expo provides great exposure to learn more about the field of your interest. Meet all exhibitors at their tables and register for sample workshops (60-90 minutes) to gain deeper understanding of the field of your interest


Exhibitors may include, but are not limited to:

  • Chiropractic
  • Reiki
  • Conditioning
  • Riding/Driving
  • Barefoot trimming
  • Diet/Herbal supplements
  • Animal communication

Meet all exhibitors at their tables and register for sample workshops (60-90 minutes)to gain deeper understanding of the field of your interest.

$10 in advance, $20 at the door - Purchase advance $10 tickets via Paypal
Hello, Goodbye!  Some Non-Draft-Horses Get Rescued


Hello, Willy! Willy is an 8 year old American Spotted Draft gelding.  He has been adopted by volunteer Anna, and is being boarded at Blue Star along with Henny Penny.

Willy.  (Photo by Franco - available for sale!)  
Cash at NOFA

Hello, Cash and Bob! Blue Star unexpectedly became the home of two new horses, Cash and Bob, on August 8th.  Both of these horses came to Blue Star by owners who no longer could take care of them or work with them, who read about our UMass and other educational programs in the article in the Boston Globe.

Cash arrived via ferry from Elizabeth Island.  He is about 12 years old and is an 18hh Shire.

Bob is a Percheron gelding in his early teens as well.  Since we already have a Bob (with his brother Billy), this gray Bob is already sometimes known as Bob Too.

Both Bob Too and Cash jumped right into their Blue Star duties - they paired up with Carter and with Mark at NOFA to give wagon rides and earn money for their care and the care of the other horses at the farm.  We anticipate they will be a great addition to our Draft Horse Driving program at UMass this fall.


Bob with new friends Carter and (left to right) Anna, Maddie, Josie, Jaci and Justin at Palmer Nostalgia Day. Photo by Cheryl Lenville


Rocky at work on the farm with Kelly and Chyna

Hello again, Rocky! Rocky has returned from his foster home.  Rocky came to the farm earlier this summer for a very brief time before leaving for a foster home.  Things didn't work out at that home, and now Rocky is back!  He's settling in great with the Herd (we think he was sort of lonely at his foster home) and has been working with Kelly and Chyna around the farm.


Goodbye, Lady! Home again at last


There are some stories that are almost too incredible and have wonderful happily ever after stories.  You may remember that Blue Star took in three underweight horses from a property last month.  Lady, an aged Arabian mare, was in the worst condition, having been cast and having some

Lady back at home with Kristen in Connecticut

sores from that experience at her old home.


Blue Star posted Lady, Buford and Manny's story on our website, and BSE fans recognized her as having onetime belonged to Kristen in Connecticut.  Kristen had free-leased Lady to someone in Springfield, and, despite her best efforts, had lost contact with that person, when they moved Lady from where she had been staying.  Kristen had no idea what had happened to her horse, and when she saw the pictures of what had become of her, she contacted us.  We were more than happy for Lady, having regained strength at Blue Star, to go home again at last to Kristen.  Kristen wrote to us, "I want to thank you all for rescuing Lady.  It broke my heart to see her with open sores and so skinny.  Her former herdmates Amie and Bubba were thrilled to see her and Amie hasn't left her side.  She's doing great now on unlimited hay, grass pasture and high quality grain. [...] She is perking up again now...and looking very happy.  Never again will she leave our property, nor will any horse.  A sad lesson learned at poor Lady's expense.  With 30 acres of pasture...she'll never be hungry again!  I thank God for you guys at the rescue, and my friends that recognized her on your site.  She will finish her life spoiled and fat."  Congratulations, Lady and Kristen, on a happy ending!

First 2-Day Workshop "Driving Draft Horse Teams" a big success!  Second Workshop to be rescheduled due to Hurricane Irene.

Tom Too and Mark with workshop students
Blue Star Equiculture held its first Driving Draft Horse Teams workshop on August 6th and 7th.  Eight participants joined Justin, Bill Darnley, Carter and Charlie D., Tom Too and Mark, and the rest of the Blue Star staff at UMass's Hadley Farm.  Some of the feedback we received from our first session: 

"I am recommending this class and Blue Star Equiculture to all my friends interested in driving a practical team." (Anne Weber)

"It was a great experience, and I had never driven any horse and I've only been around horses since 12/10. I never felt uncomfortable with any of the hands on with the horses or. wagons. The horses taught me what needed to be done." (Karen Keirstead) 

Interested in an even more in-depth experience?  Blue Star is offering a 13-week (once a week) course on draft horse driving and draft horse care at UMass this fall!  Limited enrollment available for the general public.  Contact us for more info.

The 2-Day Driving Draft Horses Workshop will be held again this fall.  The second workshop had been scheduled for August 27-28, but has been postponed due to Hurricane Irene.  Stay tuned for new dates!  (Tentatively rescheduled for October 15th and 16th.)

Driving Draft Horse Teams (2-Day Workshop)

With Bill Darnley and Justin Morace


RESCHEDULED DATES TBD, Saturday and Sunday



Pre-registration required 1 week prior to workshop

The workshop is limited to 8 hands on participants to ensure plenty of hands on learning.




This workshop is for the beginner to intermediate driver. In this workshop, learn how harnessing and hitching works, and how to do it safely with Blue Star Equiculture's most professional draft horse teams. The students will get hands on experience with driving teams, and expert instruction from teamsters Bill Darnley and Justin Morace.


In this 2-day workshop you will learn about:

  • Work Harness/Harness Parts
  • New England D-Ring Harness
  • Vehicles/Vehicle Parts
  • Hitching a Team to a Vehicle Safely
  • How to Use Your Hands Effectively
  • Driving a Team

Cost: $199/person for the full 2 days


Tag Sale POSTPONED - Due to Hurricane Irene
Stay tuned for new dates.

Earl Needs Help!


Our dear Earl the Ford pickup truck is very sick - he needs a new transmission!  Thank you to everyone who has generously donated towards his cause, but we still need more funds to get Earl up and running again.  Without Earl, we don't have a truck to pick up or deliver horses, move horses to and from the farm and UMass, take horses and our carriage or wagon to special events and parades (events that earn money to support the Herd), and pick up hay and other supplies for the horses.


A timely example of why we need Earl to get fixed?  With the severe weather from Hurricane Irene on the way, we will be unable to evacuate horses or help deliver supplies to others in need...  We need the community's help to get Earl back up and running, with his mechanical horses helping real horses in need.


Click here for more info about how you can help! Join the Herd, Shop the Store, or Donate!



Horse Quotation of the Month

Machinery may work for efficiency and standarization of life, but horse love is a bond of freemasonry which unites the entire race... - William Fawcett

Thank you for your interest in Blue Star Equiculture.  We hope to see you soon at the farm at one of our events or workshops, or out on the road as we clip-clop by!  Until next time, remember that "going green takes real horsepower!"


Pamela Rickenbach and Christina Hansen
Blue Star Equiculture

About Us

Our mission is to provide retired working horses a sanctuary and homeless working horses the opportunity to be useful and positively improve their lives, while bringing education, equine awareness, skills and healing to the community and the environment.

Blue Star Equiculture is a vision born out of the hearts of like-minded individuals who feel the need to respond to the current, increasingly dire situation facing both the environment and homeless horses.

Blue Star Equiculture is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit organization. We rely on the donations of individuals and organizations in order to do our work.

We welcome contributions in time, materials, money, or knowledge. 

All of us, equine and human, are part of an interconnected web of life.
Blue Star Equiculture
PO Box 7
Bondsville, Massachusetts 01009
Blue Star Equiculture

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