March 2011 Newsletter

Blue Star Equiculture
March 2011
In This Issue
Donate Today!
Upcoming Events
Shop for Blue Star!
Photo of the Month
Join the Herd! Memberships
BIG Things at BSE!
Hello, Hello!
Goodbye, Percy Fuller
Wanted: Fosters
Free Ways to Help
OSV Sleigh Rally
Easter Egg Hunt
BSE Film Series
Horse History
Horse Quotation of the Month
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 27138 to donate over the phone using Mobile Give.  (msg/data rates may apply)

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


Upcoming Events

Friday, 3/11/11, 7PM
Parish Hall,
St Paul's Unitarian-Universalist Church,
Palmer, MA


Saturday 3/12/11
11 AM, Blue Star Equiculture

Learn about the preparations you should make for foaling and signs to look for in your mare.  Blue Star Equiculture is holding this workshop in conjunction with having a pregnant mare on site, Fanny.

$5 / person or FREE for Herd Members


Saturday 3/19/11
11 AM, Blue Star Equiculture

Sally will give a workshop introducing you to Blue Star Equiculture's Volunteer Program and Proceedures


BSE SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE FILM SERIES: The Farmer and the Horse Friday, 3/25/11, 7PM
Parish Hall,
St Paul's Unitarian-Universalist Church,
Palmer, MA

"THE HORSE COMES FIRST": Body Language with Sally
Saturday 3/26/11
11 AM

Want to know what your horse is saying?  We'll help our volunteers and anyone else interested interpret the many ways horses "speak" to us without words.

$5 / person or FREE for Herd Members


BSE SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE FILM SERIES: Vanishing of the Bees Friday, 4/1/11, 7PM
Parish Hall,
St Paul's Unitarian-Universalist Church,
Palmer, MA


"THE HORSE COMES FIRST": Equine Stretches with Dr. Beth Bowman
Saturday, 4/2/11
Blue Star Equiculture barn

This workshop will introduce horse owners to simple and effective stretches that will give significant orthopedic relief to your horse. 

Workshop donation: $20


Saturday, 4/16/2011
UMass Hadley Farm
8:30 - 5:00


Saturday, 4/23/2011
Blue Star Equiculture
$5 / egg hunter


PLEASE NOTE:  The  DRAFT HORSE DERBY has been ***POSTPONED*** until May 5, 2012!
Blue Star Equiculture:
Your Horses, Your History

Show it off!

The Blue Star Store is now open on the web!

Proceeds from the sale of Blue Star Equiculture merchandise supports the Herd and our mission! FREE shipping on most items!

"Share the Road: Horses Paved the Way." Bumper Stickers: $5

"Hope for Horses" 3x5 Decals: $5

"Human history is written in hoof prints" t-shirts: $15 (S/M/L/XL)

World Peace and Prayer Day t-shirts: $15 (S/M/L/XL)

Blue Star Equiculture Sports Bottle: $5

An Article about Horse Slaughter You Can't Miss

Dark Horse
For many horses that have served humans faithfully, an undignified end awaits.

From Orion magazine, July/August 2010
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.

Quick Links

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Dear Christina,


Horse hair is blowing around as the herd begins to shed out their fluffy winter coats, which means that spring is in the air!


This past weekend, the Blue Star volunteers got together with Sally to give the herd a good shedding out.  The itchy horses enjoyed the good groomings and massages.  There's still lots of shedding to do, so anyone who wants to come continue to shed the horses out, please help the herd get ready for the warmer months ahead!


Spring is on the way, and with it, new partnerships and new programs.  Blue Star Equiculture is building an exciting relationship with the Stockbridge School of the University of Massachusetts - Amherst.  We're launching a sustainable farming film series.  And we're developing an official retirement program for the New York City carriage horses when they get older.

Dawson (right) meets Snowman, 2/19/11
Spring is in the air - and soon the snow will melt.  It will be time to resume driving lessons and riding lessons.  The sleighs will get put away and Peggy's new training cart will arrive. It's time to plant seeds for the future - and we're even selling some from Fedco as a fundraiser.

We'll continue to add herd members - won't you join the herd? - and welcome volunteers and interns.

We have several new equine herd members who have arrived or returned and are looking for homes.

We've also got some exciting and informative workshops coming up - starting with next Saturday, March 12, with a workshop on foaling, giving by expert horseman Bill Darnley.

What a beautiful spring this is shaping up to be!

Photo of the Month

Iceman and Charlie

Iceman (right) getting to know some of his long-term herd mates, like Charlie-Daniel, in his post-Tony-B world.  Iceman's teammate and best friend, Tony B., passed on February 1, and Iceman has been getting used to life without Tony by his side.
Herd membership for as little as $10 / month.
A Herd Member a day, keeps the horses in hay!

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 just $10 / month.  This kind of small, repeated effort on the part of the Blue Star community will help assure the routine care of the horses, so that Blue Star Equiculture will be able to rescue and rehome more horses, expand our educational and outreach programs into the community and do even more to further our efforts to use real horsepower to draft a better future for horses, humans and Mother Earth!

Please consider joining the herd!  Herd membership easily pays for itself in the form of free or reduced admission to Blue Star Equiculture events.  And it certainly pays for itself in the warm, fuzzy feeling you get, knowing that you helped care for and feed a horse in need!

We currently have approximately 130 active Herd Members.  If we had 500 Herd Members, we would pay for our monthly hay needs.  If we had 800 Herd Members, hay and feed would be covered.  1000 Herd Members, and we're well on our way to having our community's homeless horses cared for by the community as a whole.

For more information or to JOIN THE HERD, visit our website here
The Belgian Bloc at the Hay Bale
Your Herd Membership helps our horses stay fit and healthy with good quality hay. Iceman (right) has joined the herd - why not you?
BIG Things Happening At Blue Star!

BSE-UMass Partnership

Blue Star Equiculture is thrilled to have initiated a partnership with the Stockbridge School of the University of Massachusetts - Amherst.  As a result of the economic situation, UMass has had to cut way back on its breeding and riding programs (as evidenced by their "downsizing" of Fanny and Dawson.  However, UMass believes that teaching responsible horsemanship means learning about horse rescue and about knowing how to manage a farm, and that sustainable agriculture must have a place for draft horses on the farm.  To this end, Blue Star Equiculture is going to be a site for UMass interns to learn about herd management, rehabilitating rescued or geriatric horses, and working with horses in harness.


Blue Star is also going to initiate a film and lecture series at UMass on sustainable agriculture and organic land care.  We hope to eventually expand our equine activities to the UMass Hadley farm, as we bring the draft horse and its proud New England heritage back to the next generation of UMass-trained farmers.


Blue Star Equiculture will kick off its involvement with UMass with the 76th Annual Livestock Classic, to be held on April 16th at the Hadley farm.  We will be giving wagon rides and demonstrating some of the ways you can use real horsepower on the farm.


News from the Herd:

IcemanIceman is in love with Chyna! Iceman has found his way through his grief at losing Tony B. and has learned how to integrate into his herd.  He follows teammate Mark around most of the day, but he has also taken a fancy to one of the lovely Belgian ladies, Chyna.  Iceman is going to be alright.


Bud recovering from seizure episode Bud, who suffered a series of cluster seizures several weeks ago continues to convalesce.  His meds are keeping his epilepsy in control, and the swelling from his having banged his head on the stall walls has almost completely gone away.  Thank you, Jo Bunny, for giving Bud some great massages during his recuperation, and thank you to all Bud's fans for keeping him in your thoughts!  Thanks as well to the many volunteers who groom Bud and love him so very much!  Bud has been keeping Fanny company in the New Jersey paddock as her due date approaches.


Fanny is getting bigger and bigger Fanny is "filling out" to put it mildly as her pregnancy advances.  Fanny, 23, is in foal to Homeward Middlebury and is due sometime in April.  She is good friends with Duke, who grooms her over the fence.  Our volunteers have been very helpful lunging Fanny lightly at the walk to keep her in shape in preparation for the arrival of her baby.


Bud and Fanny - eating for four?

Duke and Tom Too - An Excellent Match Duke has been settling in to life at Blue Star Equiculture, having proven himself to be a nice match for Tom Too.  Tom was thrilled to finally be able to go out to work after almost a year and a half lay-up due to a severely foundered foot.  Duke, who was at first hard to catch, is now quite friendly, and sometimes even eager to meet people at the gate.


Peggy's cart is on the way! Sally has ordered Peggy a custom built cart so that she can begin serious training in harness, now that Peggy is almost three years old.  Peggy needs lots of exercise to help her straighten out the way she carries herself in the front end.  Lots of driving will help build her muscles and help her balance.  Can you believe that Peggy is almost 16.2 hh at the rump?  Which, despite her many obstacles, makes her just as tall or taller than either of her parents.

Duke acting as welcoming committee to a contingent from UMass. (Rosie and Clapton are grooming each other in the background.)


Alumni Updates:


Cocoa, Katie and the Goats We got some photos recently updating us on Cocoa and Katie, the pinto miniature horse sisters, and Bullet and Blaze, two nubian goats that we adopted out this past fall.  Enjoy!  The little gals and guys are thoroughly enjoying their new homes!



BSE Alum Lava to audition for reality series We got this update from Mary Fusco, who adopted Red Lava from us in July 2009.  Together, they are auditioning for "America's Favorite Trail Horse."  Stay tuned, and we'll let you know when to vote for Lava!

Lava and MaryRed Lava and I are auditioning April 17 for a new reality TV series called "America's Favorite Trail Horse", to be aired on "national TV" (show date and station will be announced - see Our objectives are to call attention to the wonderful work being done by equine (and other species) rescues around the country - notably Blue Star Equiculture in Palmer, MA, which has contributed immeasurably to the community and is the rescue where I adopted Lava. It's not just the animals that the rescues save; it's also our humanity. These selfless beings ask nothing more of us than to be cared for, loved, and understood. In return, they provide us with companionship and the opportunity to be our best selves. We also wish to promote humane horsemanship practices. Winners of this competition will be based on the number of votes they accrue during their televised segment - so stay tuned and visit us often!


Welcome aboard the Board!


Dr. Stephen PurdyBlue Star is pleased to welcome Dr. Stephen Purdy, DVM, to the Blue Star Board of Directors.  Dr. Purdy brings his love of draft horses and extensive veterinary knowledge to the project. He received his DVM degree in 1981 from the New York State College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University.  He practiced large animal veterinary medicine in Virginia, Vermont, and still does in Massachusetts.  He was involved in farm animal welfare issues and operated a large animal rescue in Vermont in the past.  He has also worked with local school districts to operate a program for special education students involving working with horses, donkeys, sheep, and goats.  .Steve is Associate Professor of Veterinary Education and Director of Camelid Studies in the Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, and Director of Animal Management, Center for Agriculture, University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is also the director of the Camelid Reproduction Center at UMass.  Steve is very interested in the preventive medicine aspect of the management of livestock. His special interests include reproduction, neonatal care, and infectious diseases. He emphasizes a hands on, practical approach to caring for animals, while keeping their environment as stress free and natural as possible.  Steve is committed to teaching practical large animal subjects to undergraduate and graduate students, and to helping undergraduate students gain admittance to veterinary school for a career as a large animal vet.  He speaks nationally and internationally to alpaca owner and veterinary groups.  He is involved in practical research and educational projects which promote improvement of camelid health.  He is President of Nunoa Project Peru,, a non profit organization providing humanitarian, medical, and veterinary aid to the people of the Peruvian altiplano.  He is a new board member for Blue Star Equiculture and is very happy to be involved in draft horse rescue, organic farming, and continuing to learn from, and teach, people of all ages and backgrounds.

Hello, Hello, Hello, Hello! New residents at Blue Star, including some looking for homes!

Jetta and DukeHello, Dexter and Jetta! As many of you know, Dexter (aka Duke) was rescued from the Camelot auction kill pen in early September 2010.  He was adopted out to a lovely young family in November 2010, as a "husband horse" and companion for Jetta, a black OTTB.  Unfortunately, sudden unemployment and financial difficulties meant that Dexter had to be returned to Blue Star, and Jetta came with him, too.  These two horses are casualties of the difficult economic environment and are looking for another forever home.

Dexter is a very laid back Belgian draft cross.  He is about 11-12 years old.  When he came to Blue Star, he had serious dental problems, which have been corrected through floating.  He is green broke to ride - he needs miles and experience, but is a very good boy.  He does not know how to drive. 

Jetta's registered name is Baja Babe.  She is a 10 year old black Thoroughbred by Mud Route out of Dictates.  She was rescued out in California and shipped east.  She is still green broke to ride off the track - she does better in a western saddle than english, as english makes her antsy, but she only direct reins and does not neck rein.  Jetta is the great-grand-daughter of three Kentucky Derby Winners: Sunny's Halo, Seattle Slew, and Secretariat.

DawsonDawson arrived on February 19th at Blue Star.  Dawson is a 13 year old Clydesdale/Thoroughbred cross.  She was a lesson horse at UMass-Amherst's Hadley farm until repeated lameness issues cropped up.  She has a slight injury in her hock that needs a little more time to heal, but Dawson has been trained for hunter/jumper and eventing.  We think she would make an excellent driving horse, and will begin training her for that when the weather improves.  She is very personable and has great ground manners.  Dawson is enjoying being out with the herd; in her former life, her turnout was limited out of fear of her "overdoing" it.

Henny PennyHenny Penny is our most recent arrival at Blue Star.  She is an 8-10 year old Clydesdale mare in need of retraining / desensitization.  Her owner had to give her up for financial reasons, coupled with Henny's aversion to being ridden under tack.  She was sold to her former owner as a "husband horse" but it was quickly clear that Henny was barely even green broke.  She has been professionally trained under saddle, but she exhibits a spookiness regarding her tack that has been a continual challenge.  Blue Star theorizes from her "14" freezebrand that she was a PMU mare, which may explain some of her fear issues when being ridden.  We will be evaluating Henny further, although we must say that on the ground, Henny is a complete love bug!  Anna Burke, one of our interns from Smith College, is going to be working with Henny Penny as a university project, with a goal of adopting Henny post-graduation.

Goodbye to a Great Horseman - Percy Fuller, in memoriam

Percy Fuller"It is perhaps one of the great ironies of Fuller's life that one of the Valley's best riding teachers never once took a riding lesson. Growing up on his parents' dairy farm in Granby, he began working with his father's draft horses from an early age and taught himself to ride." Daily Hampshire Gazette


WESTHAMPTON - Percy W. Fuller of Westhampton died Tuesday, March 1, 2011, at Linda Manor.


Mr. Fuller was born Oct. 28, 1922, in Westhampton, the son of Percy W. and Clara (Ball) Fuller. He was born in Westhampton and moved with his family to the Fuller homestead in Granby around age 7. He graduated from Ludlow High School and attended courses at Cornell University specializing in breeding cattle. He began his career working in the cattle business but eventually became a well-known horse trainer in the Pioneer Valley. He started working with horses at age 12, from where his special love and talent with horses became legendary. He trained and showed horses throughout his lifetime in all capacities, including gymkhanas. He especially loved showing at the various different Morgan Horse Shows, where he instilled the desire in his children to be involved. He was a licensed riding instructor and an equine show judge. In his early 20s he was a Morgan Horse trainer at the U.S Government Morgan Horse Farm in Weybridge, Vt. A few years later he returned to Westhampton to the home where he was born, where he operated a dairy farm and horse farm, which became known as Fuller's Horse Farm.


He was a long-standing member of the Hampshire County Riding Club and the Mass. Morgan Horse Club and was a 4-H leader for several years. Mr. Fuller was the operations manager of the Massachusetts Morgan Horse Show during the 1980s. He outfitted many new horse owners with horses over the years, ran a trail-riding business and gave hay and sleigh rides. He specialized in carriage rides for weddings, funerals and such special events as carrying dignitaries in parades. With his first wife, Marilyn, he started Fuller's Country Horse Camp for girls in 1963, which ran for 30 years. He also ran the horse program for Camp Sandybrook Girl Scout Camp in Huntington, and Camp Howe 4-H Camp in Goshen. Mr. Fuller was a member of the Westhampton Congregational United Church of Christ for 57 years.

Mr. Fuller's first wife, Marilyn (Mascho), passed away in 1980.


He is survived by his wife, Barbara (Devine) Fuller; two sons, Alan Fuller of Florida and Robert Fuller of North Carolina; three daughters, Cheryl Fuller-Malinowski of Westhampton, Susan Fuller of Chesterfield and Carolyn Fuller-Coggins of Westhampton, four stepchildren, William Vaznis of New York, Stephen Vaznis of Chesterfield, Timothy Vaznis of Westhampton and Cindra Vaznis of Alaska; nine grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.


A funeral service will be held in the Spring at the Westhampton Congregational Church followed by burial in Westhampton Center Cemetery.


Memorial donation in Mr. Fuller's memory may be made to Blue Star Equiculture, P.O. Box 7, Bondsville, MA 01009, or at


Read more about Percy Fuller from the Daily Hampshire Gazette here.


WANTED: Foster Homes

As you know, Blue Star Equiculture is limited to about 30 horses on our farm. We have a number of horses that are permanent, retired residents due to health issues (like Bud), but also horses who we would gladly adopt out to the right homes. To help us expand our ability to help horses, we are seeking foster homes for horses in need. If you would like to foster a horse on their way to finding a forever home, please contact us! Fostering is a great way to help horses, and also can be first step towards adoption.

Lisa kissing George
Blue Star adopter Lisa with her adopted horse, George. Do you have a foster horse in your future, or a forever home for a horse?

Let us know if fostering a horse is something you'd like to do!

FREE ways to help the Blue Star Herd!
Short on cash but want to help us?  Here's how!

How can you earn $$$ for Blue Star when you have no money to spare? Here are some easy ways!

Donate an item you already have but don't use to help the horses!  Join our eBay Fundraising Campaign!

Blue Star Equiculture will photograph and list your item on eBay and when it sells, that money goes to help the horses!  Or, if you already sell on eBay, through eBay Giving Works, you can donate all or a portion of your sales to go to the horses at Blue Star.  Find out more about our eBay campaign here:

Do all your internet searching and shopping through and designate Blue Star Equiculture as your charity of choice.

Blue Star gets $0.01 for every search (which uses Yahoo's search engine capabilities). There are participating internet retailers (such as Amazon) that give 2-5% donations on your total purchase price - so have some of that "Back-to-School" shopping come back to the horses! Find out more here:

If you have a pet, join the Friends of Dave program at Dave's Soda and Pet City and designate Blue Star Equiculture as your animal charity of choice!

Dave's will donate 5% of the money you spend when you show your Blue Star Equiculture Friends of Dave card. Your dogs and cats have to eat - why not have some of the cost of their food help pay for the Herd's food?

Contact us to get a Friends of Dave card and start shopping - four locations in Hadley, Agawam, Springfield, Northampton, with a fifth opening soon in Ware... there's a Dave's Soda and Pet City near you!

Old Sturbridge Village Sleigh Rally - Justin & Kelly

We'll leave y'all with one last winter report to close out a very snowy sleighing season.


Justin and Kelly the "cute little farm horse" competed in the Old Sturbridge Village Sleigh Rally on February 5th.  They made Blue Star proud; Kelly won High Point Draft, Currier and Ives Draft and Crowd Favorite.

Sturbridge Village Sleigh Rally
Justin and Kelly in the Parade of Sleighs

Easter Egg Hunt - Saturday, April 23

Blue Star Sustainable Agriculture Film Series

Horse History, right before your very eyes!

The Morgan horse is native to western Massachusetts - and has an odd intersection with optical history.


Southbridge, Massachusetts is home to the American Optical Company; many of the buildings on its industrial campus date from the late 19th century and are still there today.  The American Optical Company was founded in 1833 and in the 1880s, revolutionized the making of eyeglasses in the United States by being the first to mass produce lenses, becoming the Eyeglass Capital of the World.  The AOC also revolutionized the look of glasses altogether with a radical engineering change.


Early eyeglasses were either hand-held or pince-nez glasses with no temples (or "arms").  Once they began to be worn, the temples were just straight arms that sat on top of the ears, which meant that glasses fell off or were knocked off easily during physical activity.  At that time, though, glasses were really only worn when reading or doing close detailed work.  During the Civil War, those visually impaired soldiers that wore spectacles had to lace the ends of the temples around the back of their heads for use in battle, but no one came up with a real solution to the problem of glasses being knocked off and trampled upon.


Following the war, right here in western Massachusetts, an employee of the American Optical Company was having difficulties keeping his own glasses on his head as he rode and trained his Morgan horses in his spare time.  He approached a designer at work with his problem; the designer used spring steel, recently invented by Bessemer, to make curved temples that hooked over the ears.  American Optical patented the glasses, with their "riding temples" in 1885.


1902 Sears, Roebuck catalog advertisement for riding temple glasses

The riding temple design remained popular through WWII (where again, soldiers found glasses that stay put useful), but the rise of the automobile in the 1920s had already cut into demand for "riding temple glasses" somewhat.  In the 1940s the sliding temple design that we use today was developed. To this day, however, eye glasses still retain the curve over the top of the ear that is a reminder of when we rode horses and wanted to see where we were going.


(I have been unable to locate the name of the AOC employee who trained the horses.  If any of our readers knows who he is, please let us know).

Horse Quotation of the Month

Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.

~President John Adams

(Old Whitey, Benjamin Harrison's horse and a veteran of the Civil War.  Old Whitey lived to the ripe old age of 29.  Find out more about other Presidential Ponies on Blue Star's facebook page, here.)

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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