September 2011 Newsletter


Blue Star Equiculture
  September 2011
In This Issue
Upcoming Events
DAPNET and Animal Powered Field Days
Join the Herd!
Photo of the Month
MA Horse Benefit Show
News from the Herd!
Horsemanship 101
Equine Wellness Expo
Hello, Goodbye!
Driving Draft Horses Workshop
Historic Horse-Drawn Vehicles
Horsepower! Girl Power!
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.


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

Upcoming Events
Saturday 10/1
Hampshire County Riding Club Show Grounds
Goshen, MA
More info


Saturday 10/8
10 am - 1 pm
UMass Hadley Farm
Amherst, MA
More info


Saturday and Sunday 10/15- 10/16
10 am - 4 pm
Blue Star Equiculture
 More info


Saturday 10/29
1 pm - dusk
Blue Star Equiculture
More info


Saturday 11/5
10 am - 3 pm
Blue Star Equiculture
More info
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
"Truth, to be retained, must be given the same mythic significance that we have given our lies." ~James Loewen

Those of us who get to work with draft horses - or even just spend time with them - know a fundamental truth - that horses and humans were meant to be together.  


Some days it seems like this truth is under attack - that our connection with horses is being assaulted from all sides by an unforgiving and ruthless economy, by the horrors of slaughter, and by those who think that humans should have no contact with our animal brethren, as we are capable of so much harm.   


But then life in the real world, right here on the farm at Blue Star, intervenes, and beautiful people and beautiful animals like this pair walk into our lives and remind us of the often indescribable, utterly inexplicable bond that can be forged between two members of different species.  This is Lightning the Goose and her person.  Her family came to our tag sale.  The leash only makes visible the bond of friendship - the bond of knowing - the bond of affection.  It is a BOND... it is not bondage.   


Lightning and friend.  (Photo by Karen Keirstead.) 


Other times, we encounter people who have been touched by what we do with our horses and what we write on our website.  At the DAPNET meeting, we met a gentleman who had read our history blog post about pit ponies and mining with horses and mules.  The blog had reminded him of his grandfather, who had mined with mules.  He told us the story of how the miners had gone on strike to improve their working conditions.  The mining company eventually had brought in scabs to replace the striking miners and break the strike.  There was just one problem, though.  The mules refused to listen to their new drivers, and they held the picket lines.   


The truth attains mythic significance.  Through our work it will be retained.  


And the truth is, we all belong together, and working together, we can draft a better future for horses, humans, Mother Earth and all Creation.   


Carter and Spike the barn cat. (Photo by Josie Desroches.) 


Photo of the Month

Girl power!  Chyna and Duchess (lead) and Kelly and Daisy (wheel) pull the Blue Star hitch wagon in the Massachusetts Day Parade at the Big E, September 22, 2011. See more photos from Massachusetts Day here
Massachusetts Horse Benefit Horse Show
THIS SATURDAY, October 1, in Goshen

The 7th Annual Massachusetts Horse Benefit Horse Show is here!  This Saturday, October 1, at the Hampshire County Riding Club show grounds in Goshen, horses from all over the area will wrap up the Western Massachusetts Horse Show Series with an open all-breed horse show to benefit Blue Star Equiculture.  Special thanks to Massachusetts Horse editor, Stephanie Sanders-Ferris and horse show headlining sponsors, Smartpak and Absorbine!  There are dozens of classes - something for everyone!  Spectators are most welcome, as well.  There will be a silent auction to benefit Blue Star in addition to entry fees.  Last year's horse show raised $5400 for Blue Star's horses!

If you're thinking of showing, entries are accepted the day of, if you haven't already registered.  This is a FABULOUS horse show, with some of the best prizes around!  Visit the show website for class lists and entry forms.    

Volunteers are needed on Saturday to help - if you haven't already told us you'd like to help, please let us know!  We're really looking forward to seeing our our friends, both old and new!  We know that many Blue Star alumni horses are planning on attending the show with their adoptive families.

Some of the ribbons up for grabs at last year's show. (Photo by Laura Koblara Konstantin)
At the DAPNET Annual Gathering

Blue Star went to the annual DAPNET meeting in Vermont.  Justin and Zoe went earlier in the day to watch some of the demonstrations (performed by a handsome pair of Suffolk Punches).  That evening at the annual meeting, Blue Star Equiculture Executive Director, Pamela Rickenbach was elected to the DAPNET Board of Directors.  Blue Star Equiculture is really excited to have his opportunity to work together with all the great like-minded horse people who farm and log with real horsepower.  See more photos of the gathering here

Horses on a treadmill operating a thresher, DAPNET annual gathering, September 17, 2011.
News from the Herd:



Tom Too has a scare, returns to Blue Star to recuperate Tom Too came down with a 103 degree fever while over at UMass.  He dropped a lot of weight and even stoppedeating.  We brought him back to Palmer, where he could have his own stall and get the antibiotics and care he needed.  Within a couple of days, Tom Too's fever had broken and he began eating again.  He is definitely on the mend!  Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers for Tom Too's speedy recovery.  We think he'll stay at Blue Star rather than going back to UMass - he seemed stressed over there, while other horses have done just fine.   


Driver's Ed for Peggy and Gracie Peggy has been battling a bit of a sinus infection (it seems like it's always something!) but she has also found time to practice driving with Sally, which she adores.  Sally has also been working with baby Gracie.  They have begun ground driving, which Gracie picked up very quickly.  Meanwhile, Sarah tells us that Gracie's mother, Hope, an Equiculture alum, is also learning to drive!     


Peggy getting dressed for a drive.



Postponed Tag Sale a Success! Despite its being delayed a couple of weeks due to Hurricane Irene, the end of summer tack and tag sale was a big success.  Our hard-working and much-appreciated volunteers raised $690 for the horses!  We can't do any of this without our volunteers - THANK YOU!


Draft power around the farm Driving horses on a regular basis around the farm has become nearly a daily sighting.  There's always hay to be moved!  


Rocky and Kelly going to get hay.

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!
Introducing Horsemanship 101

This past month, Blue Star Equiculture a new public program, Horsemanship 101.  This approximately 2 hour workshop held on Saturdays at the farm introduces participants to the basics of horse care and handling.  Horsemanship 101 participants learned about equine body language, how to groom a horse, and how to lead a horse.  These basic building blocks are the foundation of developing relationships with horses.  Horsemanship 101 is offered intermittently, staff schedule permitting, so please visit our website for more information and to sign up. Donations requested to support the horses.  Adults $10, children 12 and under, $5.  Herd Members can attend for FREE.

Learn how to become a Herd Member and support the Herd! 

A Horsemanship 101 participant learns how to curry a horse. Rosie is happy to teach.

First "Equine Wellness Expo" held Saturday, September 24th

Dr. Beth Bowman demonstrates stretching techniques during a chiropractic workshop
The first annual "Equine Wellness Expo" was a success. So far, we've received a lot of positive feedback from our exhibitors.  Be sure to check outall of our pictures here and stay tuned for next year!  If you have any comments or suggestions, please be sure to contact us.

Nicole Lombardo does a hands-on workshop on equine dentistry
Hello, Goodbye!  On to forever homes, hello again to some old friends.


Goodbye Goliath and Dawson!    Goliath and Dawson have each found homes with new owners, who happen to board at the same equestrian facility in Spencer!  Maggie B. from North Brookfield has adopted Goliath and Millie T. of Southbridge has adopted Dawson and renamed her Penelope.  Both Dawson and Goliath have settled in to their new home magnificently, and both girls have been riding them on trails and having a lot of fun.  Maggie's mom runs the 4-H group at Camp Marshall in Spencer.




Lucy with her UMass co-workers, shown second from right. Support the working horses of the UMass Mounted Police.

An adoption pending for Duke!  Duke will be joining three other Blue Star alumni with Keith Ouelette and family in Ludlow!  Duke will be joining Sadie, Pepper and Sampson to round out two teams of Belgians for Keith's herd.  Sampson and Pepper, you'll remember, began doing work over in the community in Ludlow, delivering Toys for Tots to the Salvation Army last Christmas.  We're glad that Blue Star's adopted horses are out representing working horses - and showing that horses having jobs can help sustain horse ownership.  Check out their webpage  


Retirement for Officer Lucy!  Blue Star Equiculture has helped facilitate the retirement of one of UMass's Mounted Police horses.  Lucy will be going home from campus to Jim G. of Hampden very soon, where she will keep another quarter horse, Jackson, company and go trail riding.   


Hello, again, Sabra! Our pony friend, Sabra, has returned to Blue Star.  Sabra was adopted by the Sullivan family from the Camelot Auction feed lot in January 2010, at the same time that Sarah Hull adopted Hope (Gracie's mom).   Sabra's family is no longer able to afford her board.  She is only 4 years old, and is very green - her family could not afford training either.  A couple of Blue Star's interns from Smith are working with Sabra on her skills.  Sabra has a whole life ahead of her as someone's faithful pony mount; we're sure that with some time and training, Sabra will find the perfect match!   


Contact us for more information if you're interested in adopting Sabra or any of our other horses, and let us know what you're looking for and we'll help match you with a horse that suits your needs and theirs.   

Only THREE spots left!  2-Day Workshop "Driving Draft Horse Teams"
October 15th and 16th at Blue Star Equiculture

Tom Too and Mark with workshop students
The 2-Day Driving Draft Horses Workshop will be held again this fall, Saturday and Sunday, October 15th and 16th at Blue Star Equiculture in Palmer.

Here's what some of our workshop students have said about our 2-Day "Driving Draft Horse Teams" workshop:

"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) 


Driving Draft Horse Teams (2-Day Workshop) 


With Bill Darnley and Justin Morace

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


Register online here. 


Living history is written in hoof prints.
Blue Star Equiculture and historic vehicles.
 Blue Star Equiculture has been fortunate to have the opportunity to pull several historic horse-drawn vehicles recently, and we're glad to have had the chance to share them with the community.
Mark and Paul with High Lawn Farms' historic milk wagon in the Tub Parade.
Blue Star Equiculture was invited to pull a restored historic milk wagon in the Colonial Carriage and Driving Society's 20th Annual Tub Parade on September 10th.  Blue Star had three entries in the parade: Justin drove Carter and Bob on our 1890's vis-a-vis carriage, Pam drove Cash on UMass's meadowbrook, and Paul drove Mark on Harvey Waller's milk wagon.  We were honored to represent the important role draft horses and other working horses have played in the history of humans' and horses' shared role in building civilization.  Check out more photos here

Blue Star Equiculture was again called upon to pull another historic vehicle.  The Belchertown Historical Association asked Charlie-D. and Carter to pull their very rare, original Concord Coach in the Belchertown Fair Parade on September 24th, as part of Belchertown's 250th anniversary celebration.  Concord coaches are so called because they were built in Concord, New Hampshire.  These stage coaches were vital in providing overland transportation before the age of railroads.  This particular coach belonged to the Massasoit Stables, founded in 1805 by C. E. Prouty in Barre, MA.  The Belchertown Historical Association purchased the coach in 1929.   The Belchertown Historical Assocation's stagecoach entry won the Judge's Award.  Blue Star Equiculture's four-horse hitch of Belgian mares, Duchess, Chyna, Kelly and Daisy, joined the Budweiser Clydesdales, the Belchertown Chapter of the Granby Regional Horse Council and a paso fino group in representing horsepower throughout the parade.

Charlie D. and Carter, retired carriage horses, pulling the Concord coach in the Belchertown Fair Parade.

Horsepower and Girl Power
Films to spread Blue Star's message and our mission


Blue Star Equiculture is proud to announce a forthcoming project with World Harmony Unlimited, a documentary called Horsepower!  This documentary will not only document the work Blue Star is doing, but also will trace our history with horses, and highlight those dedicated horsemen and horsewomen, both urban and rural, who are part of the growing movement to reincorporate working horses into our lives, whether on the farm, in logging, in the city, collecting recycling, or stringing fiber optic cable.  These are not the last generation of horsepeople, but rather the next generation.  

Check out our trailer and if you are interested in supporting World Harmony Unlimited's documentary, please contact us for a packet with more details about the project.

Blue Star Equiculture 
HORSEPOWER - A documentary from World Harmony Unlimited 
Speaking of the next generation of horsepeople, our amazing Smith intern, Anna Burke, took some time to capture on film a little bit about our cadre of young teamsters, Maddie, Jaci, and Josie.  This mini-documentary is a great look at the powerful bond between horse and human, between girls and the ground.  In working with horses on the land, we all become more grounded, more rooted in who we are and who we are becoming. 
Girl + Horse + Power 
Girl + Horse + Power
We believe that right now, even in this time of terrible crisis for horses across the country, real horsepeople are doing amazing things.  It really is what is true, and it's epic.  At Blue Star, we're working to give that truth the mythic significance it deserves and which will preserve the sacred bond between horses, humans and the earth.


Horse Quotation of the Month


Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of others...for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day, I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received. ~Albert Einstein



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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