May 2011 Newsletter

Blue Star Equiculture
May 2011
In This Issue
Upcoming Events
Join the Herd!
Photo of the Month
Beautiful Palmer
News from the Herd!
Hello, Goodbye!
Alumni Updates
New York City
Summer Workshops at UMass
Memorial Day
Horse Quotation of the Month
If You Love Horses, You MUST Watch This Video
If you love horses, you must watch this video
If you love horses, you must watch this video

100,000 horses from the United States are slaughtered for human consumption every year, and they're NOT working horses.  Find out how you can help end the slaughter and draft a better future for horses.


It's called "teamwork."

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
"BEAUTIFUL HORSE" Rally Saturday, 6/4/11
9 am - 6 pm
Grand Army Plaza, Central Park, New York City


"The Horse Comes First" Workshop
Nutrition Clinic with McKenzie Fitzpatrick from Village Grain, Saturday, 6/4/11, 11 AM
Blue Star Equiculture, Palmer, MA


"The Horse Comes First" Workshop Saddle Fitting with Dr. Beth Bowman, Saturday, 6/11/11, 11 AM
Blue Star Equiculture,
Palmer, MA


Saturday, 6/18/11,
11 AM
Blue Star Equiculture,
Palmer, MA


EQUINE INSPIRED COACHING "Turn Your Dreams into Reality" with Nicole Birkholzer, Saturday 6/25/11
UMass - Hadley Farm

Register online.


EQUINE INSPIRED COACHING "Do you run your life or is your life running you?" with Nicole Birkholzer, Saturday and Sunday 7/9/11 -7/10/11
UMass - Hadley Farm

Register online.


6 week course, Tuesdays and Thursdays 3-6 pm,
begins 7/12/11
UMass-Hadley Farm

Register online.


Summer is here and with it, great weather!  Have you been wanting to help the horses directly?  Join our herd of volunteers!.

Contact us or visit our Volunteer page to get started.

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

Show it off!

Blue Star Equiculture has THREE new t-shirt designs available at the very affordable price of just $12!  Available in S/M/L/XL


"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.

Quick Links

Join Our Mailing List
Dear Blue Star Equiculture supporter,


It seems as if we are always talking about beauty at Blue Star Equiculture - and finding ways to "walk in beauty" everyday. 

This past weekend (May 28), Blue Star's horses and volunteers traveled to downtown Palmer to help with a "Beautiful Palmer" project.  With plants and flowers and labor we left our town a bit more beautiful.

On May 1, Blue Star went to New York City as part of our "Beautiful Horse" campaign.  With signs and smiles and cheers, inspired by the beautiful carriage horses and their beautiful people, we helped remind people in the city how horses make our lives more beautiful.

And "beautiful" is not just a superficial aesthetic quality.  Beauty is sublime. It runs deep. 

Today, Memorial Day, we remember the horses (Maddie, Tom, Mike, Tony B., and Clapton) who have passed away while at Blue Star Equiculture.  We remember them not for their ailments or physical faults, but for the beautiful beings they were.

At Blue Star Equiculture, we remember that horses, humans and Mother Earth are all beautiful.  It seems like sometimes, in the rescue world, some rescue groups fixate on the ugly - where horses' identities are built upon a litany of abuses suffered and where humans are viewed as inherently horrible.  We take a different view - that all life is beautiful - all horses are beautiful.  And the partnership between horses and humans is exquisitely beautiful and worth preserving and protecting. 

Thank you all for joining Blue Star Equiculture on our journey to "walk in beauty" in right relationship with horses and with the Earth.


Conor with the Herd.  Photo by Cheryl Lenville.
Today I will walk out, today everything evil will leave me,
I will be as I was before, I will have a cool breeze over my body.
I will have a light body, I will be happy forever,
nothing will hinder me.
I walk with beauty before me. I walk with beauty behind me.
I walk with beauty below me. I walk with beauty above me.
I walk with beauty around me. My words will be beautiful.

In beauty all day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons, may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With dew about my feet, may I walk.

With beauty before me may I walk.
With beauty behind me may I walk.
With beauty below me may I walk.
With beauty above me may I walk.
With beauty all around me may I walk.

In old age wandering on a trail of beauty,
lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty,
living again, may I walk.
My words will be beautiful.
(Navajo prayer.)

Photo of the Month

Blue Star Equiculture executive director, Pamela Rickenbach, watering Tom Too at the Trust for Public Land event at Crimson and Clover farm in Northampton on May 22.  There's something primeval in the ancient act of watering horses - something fundamental in a millennia-old ancient partnership. (Below, horses stopping at the watering trough, 6th Avenue and 59th St., Central Park, New York, May 1, 2011.)

Beautiful Palmer with Beautiful Horses - May 28, 2011

On Saturday, May 28, Blue Star Equiculture's Mark and Tom Too pulled our hay wagon, full of plants, flowers, gardening implements, water, and our wonderful volunteers down 181 to downtown Palmer.  We helped Jeannie Bonsall of Turley Publications plant and beautify some of Palmer's municipal plantings as part of her "Beautiful Palmer" initiative. 

It was great to have the horses down in Depot Village.  Historically, Palmer is the "Town of the Seven Railroads" and at the railroad's heyday, they were all served and supplied with fuel by hundreds of horses.  More photos...

We loved getting to share the horses with the community and reminding people of the usefulness they still can have, working alongside us.  Just the first of what we hope will be many projects involving horses in the communities of western Massachusetts!  (If you're looking for some real horsepower in your town, on your farm, or in your garden, contact us!)
News from the Herd:

Jesse on Summer Vacation Jesse is on summer vacation with Nicole Birkholzer, who has ample pasture for Jesse's needs.  He's thoroughly enjoying his vacation home - Nicole says that Jesse, true to form, demands his 1 PM lunch like clockwork, despite enjoying tons of clover forage - Jesse never misses a meal!


Six-Horse-Hitch Justin and Bill Darnley have been working with Duchess, Chyna, Kelly, Daisy, Mark and Tom Too as our 6 horse hitch of Blue Star Belgians.  The 6-Horse-Hitch made their debut on May 14th in the Springfield 375th Anniversary Parade.  More photos...

Duke Duke has been struggling some with his shivers and stringhalt.  He has received veterinary care and acupuncture and massage therapy.  After a bad bout, probably exacerbated by our 2-month change-over period from one grain supplier to another, Duke is coming around and hopefully will be able to get some concerted exercise soon, to help manage his symptoms.  Thank you to all those who were concerned about him!


Tandem work Mark and Kelly have been working in tandem with Justin.  A "tandem" hitch is one where one horse is hitched in front of the other.  Tandem hitches were popular in the 19th century especially with British fox-hunters who would drive their hunting horse in front of the harness horse who would pull the cart with hounds, groom and tack.  Mark enjoys being the showy horse out in front, but don't expect to see him coursing over fields and jumping over hedges anytime soon!


Northampton Pride Parade Carter and Charlie D. got their rainbow on for the Northampton Pride Parade on May 7.  Angie drove with her partner Lee, and Jo Bunny and her partner Lise headed up the boys in the parade.  A wonderful event full of love for everyone!  More photos...

Charlie D. and Carter at the Northampton Pride Parade, May 7.
Carter and Charlie D. at UMass, April 29th

Events everywhere! Blue Star Equiculture has been busy with lots of events! From several jobs at UMass, to the Springfield 375th Parade, to the Westfield Pub Crawl and Restaurant Tour (April 30th), to Royal Wedding Horses on MassAppeal, to a Trust for Public Land event in Northampton, and more - the Blue Star working horses have gotten around western Massachusetts, reminding everyone of the roles horses can play in our lives.


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 horse today!
Hello, Goodbye! -- Clapton gone forever, Jack and Goliath on to new homes, Sebastian the new kid on the block, and Pete and Dakota on deck

Goodbye, Clapton!Clapton (~1976 - 2011) passed away unexpectedly on May 8th after dinner.  Clapton, a one-time thoroughbred racehorse, spent many years as a favorite school horse, before ending his long lesson career at Muddy Brook Farm last fall and coming to Blue Star Equiculture in November for his much deserved retirement.

Clapton in Memoriam, 1976 - May 8, 2011

Hello and Goodbye, Jack and Goliath! Jack the quarterhorse and Goliath the Shire arrived from Easthampton, yet more casualties of the economy.  Jack has been adopted by a family looking for another riding horse to go with their two mares (one of whom is quite elderly and retired).  Jack has settled right in with his new herd.  Goliath, a 14-year-old riding Shire, has gone to UMass on a 30-day trial with the UMass Mounted Police Department.  With the help of trainer Peter Whitmore of Orange, MA, Goliath will be working with his officer partner-to-be to develop the relationship they need to act as a law enforcement team.

Hello and Goodbye, Rock! Rock is a big Belgian gelding who came from the same place as Duke.  Rock wasn't cut out to be a competitive pulling horse, and he was sold to an Amish farmer who did not treat Rock well at all.  Completely stressed out and losing weight, Rock was bought back by his family, but because of his inability to pull competitively, he needed a new home.  Rock is currently being fostered with Gary, who has the experience, skill and time to give Rock the one-on-one attention he needs to decompress and learn to trust again.  Hopefully, Rock and Gary will bond and it will turn into a forever home!

Conor with new friend, Henny.

Hello, Conor! Conor is a 9-year-old Gypsy Drum horse imported from Ireland.  He has some slight ringbone that has limited his riding (hence his New York state owner decided she could not keep a horse that she couldn't ride).  We are working with Dr. Purdy to ascertain the extent of his limitations and to explore whether corrective shoeing would help ease his discomfort.  Conor has wonderful ground manners, and we believe that he might be an excellent driving prospect as an alternative to riding with his ringbone.


Hello, Sebastian! Sebastian is a 12-year-old Trakhener gelding who arrived on the farm on .  Sebastian has been trained in dressage, but has some chronic lameness in his hind end that prevents him from competing.  So his former owner surrendered him to Blue Star.  Blue Star Equiculture is working with Sebastian to see if his slight issues can be improved upon.  He is extraordinarily well-broke and the perfect gentleman.


Adoptions pending for Pete and Dakota! Pete and Dakota have adoption applications filed on them.  Dakota, sweet Dakota, will be moving in July once the adoption is finalized; his new home would be with a reenactor who loves challenging horses.  Dakota really wants to be a one-person horse.  Pete has a potential home with a woman who is looking for a great trail horse as a guide in a state park - one of Pete's favorite things in the whole world is trail riding!  We'll keep you all updated on them both!


Pam meeting Blue in April.

Blue is on the way! Blue is a 14-year-old blue roan Brabant Belgian gelding who has been a carriage horse in NYC for about 2 months.  His driver, Emre, thinks that Blue would be better suited for work on a farm and so Blue will be on his way to Blue Star on June 4!  We got to meet Blue in April when we visited Chateau Stables - he's a real love!


Finding forever homes for horses is one of the most fulfilling things that we do at Blue Star.  It's always bittersweet, as we know we're going to miss every horse that has ever spent any time at Blue Star.  But the happiness these horses find with their adoptive families is ultimately what it's all about.  Horses finding homes also means that Blue Star has more room to take in other horses in need.  Who will we be saying "hello" to next month?


Are you interested in providing a forever home to a horse (or two)?  Blue Star Equiculture has several horses looking for adoptive homes, especially our younger residents, such as Dawson, Sebastian and Jetta.  Contact us to find out more, and we'll help match you with a horse to suit your situation.

Equiculture Alumni Updates

Here are some updates from the Equiculture Alumni:
Ginger and Lacey

Pepper and Sampson, both Equiculture alumni living with Sadie (Kelly and Daisy's sister) at their home with the Ouellette family in Ludlow, are doing Blue Star proud!  They are pulling a wagon in a Memorial Day parade this weekend!


Ginger and Lacey are thoroughly enjoying their new home.


George (formerly Dexter/Duke), a chestnut draft, has settled in nicely in his home with Percheron friend, Prince.

George (formerly known as Dexter)

George, adopted by Lisa, is now on stall rest following surgery to remove what was believed to be a bone chip on his scapula, the source of his recurring abscesses.  "Noodles for George" a fundraiser put on by adopter Lisa Rousseau, was a great success - ticket sales to friends of George, raffles, and wagon rides provided by Blue Star Equiculture raised enough money for George's surgery and extensive aftercare.  Good luck, George!  Get well soon!

George getting prepped for surgery. Photo by Lisa Rousseau.

Beautiful Horses in New York City

Blue Star's Beautiful Horse Rally, May 1, 2011


Blue Star Equiculture traveled as a group to New York City on Sunday, May 1st, to hold an all day "Beautiful Horse" rally.  We were there to counteract the protesters from "Win Animal Rights" (WAR) who come out every Sunday afternoon to hurl insults, profanity and slander (warning: strong language from the WAR protesters) at carriage drivers and passersby.  Blue Star Equiculture, in response to WARs radical liberationist chants of "1-2-3-4 Open up the stall doors! 5-6-7-8 Smash the locks and liberate! 9-10-11-12 Carriage drivers, go to hell!" started our own chant of "Support working horses!  Take a carriage ride!"


We met old friends and new on the hack line and were glad to do a little bit to turn the weekly abuse from WAR into a much more positive and happy experience.


We especially enjoyed meeting Anna, who stops by the carriage stand nearly every day to feed the horses carrots.  She has testified in favor of the carriage horses in City Council.  She BEGGED us to come back and stand up for the horses that she - and so many others - love so much.  See more photos here and here.




Join us on June 4th!

Blue Star Equiculture will be in New York City again on Saturday, June 4th, all day at Grand Army Plaza, 59th St. and 5th Avenue, as we continue to celebrate the beautiful working horses of Central Park and as we speak out against the slander and libel that has been spread for years without challenge about the care and treatment of the carriage horses by their owners and drivers.  If you'd like to ride down from Palmer with us, sign up here.

We will also be protesting the introduction into the New York State Legislature of State Senate Bill 5013 by Tony Avella.  This bill would ban carriage horses in New York City and further prevent the current carriage horses from ever working in harness again.  Both of these would be tragic for the happy horses of NYC and for working horses everywhere. 

If you would like to join us, you can meet us at Grand Army Plaza (59th and 5th Avenue) ANYTIME between 9 AM and 5 PM.  The best time to be there will be around 12 noon, when the Coalition to Ban Horse Drawn Carriages and Tony Avella will be holding a press conference to congratulate themselves on introducing a bill that is HARMFUL TO HORSES.  Horse-lovers everywhere need to stand in support of the well-cared-for, well-regulated carriage horses of New York.  The radical animal rights activists have an agenda that extends far beyond the City - June 4th is their "International Horses Without Carriages Day." 

If you can't be in New York on Saturday, we encourage you to drive your horses or ride in a carriage wherever you are!  Tell someone who is driving a horse in harness that they have a Beautiful Horse! Let those who completely misunderstand our ancient connection with horses know that we will not sit by and watch that sacred bond be broken by those who choose to remain willfully ignorant of horses, their capabilities, and their relationship with us.

To find out more about the New York City carriage horses and what's at stake (i.e. just about everything in the horse-human relationship), read our position statement here.
Summer Workshops and Courses with BSE Horses at UMass-Hadley Farm

Work Horse Certification I

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3 - 6 pm

July 12 - August 18, 2011

Have you ever wanted to drive draft horses?

This program teaches students the basics of draft horse husbandry before moving on to teach them skills in working with horses in harness, both on the road and on the farm, working with rescued horses, draft horse training, practical problem solving, and farming with horses.

This Level I certification will prepare the student to care for draft horses, properly fit harness and hitch a horse or a team to a vehicle, and safely drive the horse or horses both on the road and on the farm.

In this 6-week program you will learn about:

  • Draft Horse Care
  • Draft Horse Diseases
  • Harness Parts
  • Harness Care
  • Proper Harnessing of the Draft Horse
  • Safe Hitching
  • Driving Singles and Teams

This course will meet twice a week for 3 hours with a limited enrollment of 8 students.   $1500 for 6 weeks of intensive hands-on work with draft horses.

Click here to register!


Equine Inspired Life Coaching with Nicole Birkholzer


Blue Star Equiculture's horses that will be living at UMass this summer and fall have a "job"!  They're helping Nicole Birkholzer teach life skills through equine-inspired coaching.  A portion of the fees for these workshops goes to support the Herd.


1 Day Workshop - Turn your dreams into reality


Saturday June 25th, 2011 9:30am-4:30pm at UMass Hadley Farm, Hadley, MA

$475 per person −  Open to 4 participants

This Equine Inspired Workshop is an invitation to connect with horses. The connection encourages you to see and be yourself. Horses are beautiful teachers of awareness. As a prey animal in the wild their senses are the key to their survival. Humans often forget to use all of their senses in order to live a fulfilled life. The connection with the horse will allow us to tap into those forgotten feelings and senses, which can enrich and deepen our experience in this world and turn your dreams into reality.

The workshop will include group activities focused on awareness, as well as time for you to create a visual depiction of the dreams you are ready to manifest.

  • Explore some of your dreams and goals
  • Allow the horses create an environment that invites you to open your mind, heart and soul
  • Design an action plan
  • Identify your strengths and what is holding you back together with herd members from Blue Star Equiculture
  • Create a vision board of your goals

This is a very intimate workshop open to only 4 participants. Each participant will partner with a horse from The Blue Star Equiculture Herd.  Click here for more information and to register.

2 Day Workshop - Do you run your life or is your life running you?

July 9 and 10, 2011  9:30am-4:30pm  at UMass Hadley Farm, Hadley MA
$ 795 per person    ·   Open to 6 participants


This Equine Inspired Workshop is an invitation to connect with horses. The connection encourages you to see and be yourself. Horses are beautiful teachers of awareness. As a prey animal in the wild their senses are the key to their survival. Humans often forget to use all of their senses in order to live a fulfilled life. The connection with the horse will allow us to tap into those forgotten feelings and senses, which can enrich and deepen our experience in this world and turn your dreams into reality.


The workshop will include group activities focused on awareness as well as one-on-one time with the horses. During the individual work the group will be part of the process by holding the space for you and the horse.


This workshop combines the best of equine inspired coaching, vision work, and manifestation techniques. It supports participants in their efforts to crystallize their dreams and turn them into reality. Often clients share their stories of unfinished books, stalled business ideas and stagnant careers with me. Based on my personal experience and the experience of my clients, there is no need to stay stuck in this place when there are opportunities and ways to bring your visions to life.


Get clear, make a plan and start living your best life yet.  Click here for more information and to register.

Memorial Day
Remembering the Artillery Horses and Baggage Train Horses

When we are reminded of the horses who fought in war alongside us, there is a tendency to think first and foremost of the dashing cavalry horse, charging at the front lines, wheeling around under a sabre- or lance-wielding rider.

The truth is that most horses fought in wars alongside us in harness - just as most horses throughout human history have been our partners in harness, not under saddle.  

Horses were long important for moving supplies to feed, clothe and arm armies.  Supply lines were maintained through horsepower.  Even in the 20th century, horses were used extensively.  In World War II, hay and forage was much easier and cheaper to find than gasoline, so supply lines were often maintained with horses and mules (gasoline being restricted for the tanks only, in many cases).  In Korea, the celebrated mare, Reckless, was decorated for the valor she showed under fire, packing ammunition up and down steep hillsides to the marines who depended on her. 

In the great age of artillery in the 19th century, horses were vital for moving cannon.  How many a battle in the Civil War depended on the artillerymen's skill in quickly bringing up cannon into position?  None of these movements could be done without the skill of teamsters whose experience working with their horses back home on the farm ensured that the cannon got where it needed to be, when it needed to get there, and the horses unhitched and back to some semblance of safety, until it was time to move the cannon again... These great workhorses were celebrated for their bravery and ability to be hitched and maneuvered calmly in the heat of battle.  It took 110 horses just to get a battery of 6 light guns to the field of battle.

Good artillery horses, just like any good horses in any jobs, were very valuable, and soldiers took great care to tend to their horses, so as not to need to replace them (by WWI, so important was retaining horses, that the Veterinary Corps was established in the various armies, and many a horse who left the lines for a stay at the horse hospital was returned to service when they recuperated). 

General Sherman, on his famous march to the sea, instructed his men to care for their horses - artillery, cavalry, baggage train - "Every opportunity at a halt during a march should be taken advantage of to cut grass, wheat, or oats and extraordinary care be taken of the horses upon which everything depends."

Everything depends on the horses.  Human history is written in hoof prints.

Happy Memorial Day.
Daisy and Kelly, with Justin and Maddie, getting ready to limber up at the Civil War reenactment at Winchendon, October 2010.
Horse Quotation of the Month

What will it mean for the human race if children come of age in a world bereft of other living creatures? Their growing years will be immeasurably less vivid and vibrant. their connection with the earth will be severed, and part of their inborn potential for amazement will go uncultivated. It is not just that animals make the world more scenic or picturesque. The lives of animals are woven into our very being--closer than our own breathing--and our souls will suffer when they are gone.


~Gary Kowalski, Do Animals Have Souls?


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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