Blue Star Equiculture


Blue Star Equiculture

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Location: Palmer, MA

Year established: 2009

Staff/volunteers/foster homes: “There are three full time staff and around 30 part time volunteers who help with managing and handling the horses and the work around the farm,” says president Pamela Rickenbach.

Types of animals they work with: “We specialize in ‘work’ horses. We have many draft horses of all sizes, as well as smaller breeds.”

Fundraising targets: “Our primary fundraiser is a program called Herd Membership, or Join the Herd. Supporters can choose any amount they are comfortable with to give on a monthly basis. We also have an online store where we carry specialty goods like T-shirts, art, photos and other items. In addition, we have ten working horse ‘ambassadors’ that are young and strong and trained by us in harness to do all kinds of work on and off the farm. All the money raised through the work our horses do goes to their care – there are no paid staff. “We are also the official retirement facility for NYC carriage horses – they hold a benefit for us every year called ClipClopNYC.”

Favorite rescue story: “I would say the most important story would be of Bud, the horse that inspired our work. He was a carriage horse in Philadelphia at the 76 Carriage Co., and grew up, after being bought at an auction in New Holland, pulling a carriage around the most historic mile in America.

“Bud was beloved by everyone, including the Park Rangers in the Independence Park area. He was an amazing teacher to new drivers and he knew every single tour route through the city better than anyone, horse or human!

“What was most amazing about Bud was how much he loved his job. He couldn’t stand having days off, and when he went on his mandatory vacation for a couple of months, there would always be reports of him misbehaving and needing something to do.

“I met Bud when he was in his late teens and learned so much from him while I worked at the Carriage Co. One day, he foundered while on turnout vacation, and was sent back to the city to recover under the care of the vets who oversee the 76 Carriage horses. He had the best care and recovered slowly.

“He absolutely hated not working and we believe the stress of watching all the other horses go to work each day triggered his idiopathic epilepsy. He had one mild seizure and got diagnosed with the disorder. That diagnosis officially ended his career as a carriage horse.

“Everyone who loved Bud began trying to find him a home. He was going to need expensive medicine each month and a quiet place to retire. At first I thought there would be no problem finding a home for a horse as amazing as Bud, but when months passed I began to look more closely at the homeless horse crisis in America. I learned about the shipping of homeless horses to slaughter and all the other many ways they are suffering from neglect and hardship.

“Having learned about our shared history with horses while working with them in Philadelphia, and wanting to give them something in return out of gratitude for all they have shared, I created a retirement farm for working class horses.”

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