Pamela Rickenbach, Executive Director:
I had the good fortune to spend a great deal of my life in the Bolivian Amazon, along with time in the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes. My life in South America with the people and the earth greatly shaped me into the person I am today. I care deeply about Mother Earth and my human family. I have come to understand Horses as ancient helpers to humankind. Their great sensitivity and adaptability make them perfect partners in self discovery and personal growth too.
The years I drove as carriage driver and tour guide in the National Park in Philadelphia are some of my happiest. Not only did I fall in love with this country through learning the details of the founding of our country, I fell more deeply in love with the horses and their role in helping humanity. Everywhere you go in early America, their hoof prints are right alongside us. Their stories are woven together with ours, creating a shared tapestry of hard work, inspiration and love.
My relationship with the horses in Philadelphia was life-changing. It was extraordinary to work day in and day out with an equine partner in one of the most historic cities in the world, a city built with horses. The stable I worked at, 76 Carriage Co, was home to an urban herd of happy, well adjusted, contented horses with something to do and someone to do it with.
One of the horses in the 76 Carriage Co. stable with whom many of us learned and loved so much developed a chronic health issue. That is when I felt inspired to create something useful for the retired and working horses in need of a place of their own. I approached a couple of friends with this idea and together we established Blue Star Equiculture. BSE has since grown into a wonderful and important mission making a real difference for working horses in need. It is truly a collective work of gratitude and love. Many have come and gone and offered what they could to the mission and the farm for the love of the horses living here, all left something special for BSE to build on.
My role is to facilitate an opportunity for folks to get to know the working horses better. Everyday our network and circle grows, connecting working horse people with people who have a sincere desire to understand and learn more about contributions that horses have made and can still make in our lives.
You can visit Pam's personal blog here:
Josie Desroches, Youth Teamster:
My name is Josie Desroches and I am 17 years old. When I was 9 years old I became very intrigued by horses which is where my journey with Blue Star began. I started off as a volunteer at a young age with zero horse experience and a strong will to learn everything I could about horses and the amazing creatures I knew they were. As time went on I learned that not only do I enjoy being in the presence of horses, but it is my passion to care for them especially those who need it most due to a rough past. While I thought I was saving them they were also saving me.
I have grown up at Blue Star caring for all types of horses and aiding in the finding new homes as well as struggling through the passing of many wonderful beings. Not a moment goes by when I am working with any horse where I don't learn something new. All they want to do is please you as long as you treat them with kindness. That's one thing I love most about horses. They are so giving even after they have been beaten down. The easiest way to lift them up is just by being yourself. In a world with so much destruction horses never fail to have their spirits high.
Over the past three years I have formed a close bond with the amazing Remix. He is the reason I am who I am today and we always work so well together. He never fails to inspire me and prove that even though he may get nervous sometimes, he has the heart to please. I'm not sure where I would be today without this goofy and loving horse. Then again, who knows where I would be if I hadn't met any of the horses that have blessed me with their presence even if it was only for a short period of time.
While driving horses is what I love and probably what I'm best at in life, simply caring for the basic needs of horses is what I thrive for. There's no better feeling than putting in hard work in order to ensure that at the end of the day the horses are happy, comfortable and safe. Blue Star Equiculture and all of the amazing opportunities that have been given to me has made me who I am today. The horses have a home in my heart and they always will. I plan on continuing to care for horses for the rest of my life and allow them to teach me and expose me to their incredible spirits.
Judy Cockerton, Founder and Chair of Birdsong Farm
Birdsong Farm was launched in 2010 by nationally recognized social entrepreneur, Judy Cockerton. Judy is not your average visionary. She is also the founder of the Treehouse Foundation and Sibling Connections. In addition, she is leading a Re-Envisioning of Foster Care in America.
Birdsong Farm is a proud member of the Re-Envisioning Foster Care in America (REFCA) Movement - a collaborative social change initiative that is designed to:
- Dissolve the foster care pipeline to the next generation of poor & homeless Americans.
- Ensure that all children & youth in foster care are rooted in family and community.
- Inspire widespread investment in foster care innovation to better serve our children & youth in foster care.
- Invite Americans to stand under the Banner of Shared Responsibility & support our child welfare system’s success.
- Leverage people, dollar & idea resources in exciting new ways to improve life outcomes for youngsters in foster care.
- Reduce the number of young Americans “aging out” of foster care alone.
Judy is a former teacher, business woman and award winning child advocate as well as a parent by birth and by foster care adoption. Since 2002, she has been engaging, leading, inspiring and mobilizing Americans of all ages and backgrounds to become resources to children and youth placed in foster care.
Her mother, Barbara Cockerton, was a horse woman who taught Judy the value of the human animal connection. Judy also learned the importance of using farm settings as experiential learning environments and places of healing - a lesson she grew to understand more fully when she was a classroom teacher.
Birdsong Farm has partnered with Blue Star Equiculture, UMass Amherst, the Treehouse Foundation, the MA. Department of Children & Family Services and others to bring this valuable approach to children and youth in western Massachusetts.