Blue Star in the News!

Since it’s inception almost a decade ago, Blue Star Equiculture has been making headlines in New England for its unique mission and operational model. There’s no place quite like it.

Several of our most recent feature stories!

Blue Star Equiculture – West Brookfield, Massachusetts

“All horses everywhere have immeasurable gifts to share with humanity…”

Blue Star Equiculture was founded on five basic beliefs: that horses and humans fundamentally belong together, that all horses deserve loving homes where their physical and social needs will be met, that “work” should not have a pejorative connotation, that in these troubled economic and environmental times, working horses offer a sustainable means of equine husbandry, and that all horses everywhere have immeasurable gifts to share with humanity. Since 2009, these beliefs have led Blue Star Equiculture to help over 500 horses, through retirement, sanctuary and adoption.  “Over the years, we have retired over 300 NYC and urban carriage horses, farm horses, logging horses and police horses,” says Pamela Rickenbach.

Blue Star recognizes that horses, like humans, are individuals and each and every one is different. All horses are initially evaluated by the vet and begun on a proper feeding schedule with medical care if necessary. “We get to know the horses by allowing them to relax. We begin to figure out to help each one by allowing them to show us who they are,” says Pamela. The environment at Blue Star is calm and quiet, giving the horses plenty of space to go find equine companionship or solitude in the pastures and tree groves.

Training rarely happens at Blue Star, as these horses have spent the majority of their lives in harnesses doing their job. Many of the horses continue to work in the community as ambassadors for their breeds by teaching people about the jobs that they perform. They participate in parades, history tours, wagon rides, reenactments and farm work. “These horses are essentially ambassadors for themselves and their kind; the retired, disabled and homeless horses who do not have a family or fund set up for them,” says Pamela.

Blue Star works in a variety of ways to educate and bring awareness to the lives of these animals. This includes their Pasture Management Project coordinated with UMass and MEPA, The Draft Compost Project, and college internships through the UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture. “We support and help share the diverse and amazing global working horse culture of the past with those carrying it into the future,” says Pamela.

Blue Star strives to open a conversation among those that visit them. They hope others will take a look at the equine practices that do not work and cause suffering. They hope they will become a part of the solution, to help design and create better ways of making sure we take better care of these horses.

“We seek to have the draft horses – which built our roads, harvested our crops, supplied our railroads, fought our wars, and carried us to our graves – be recognized as a national treasure, an indispensable part of our heritage and our common history,” said Pamela. Use the information below to see how you can donate, sponsor or adopt from Blue Star. Also learn about their various projects and learn about all these horses have done to create the world around you.

Blue Star Equiculture

West Brookfield, Massachussets

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NYC Carriage Horse Finds New Home in Western Massachusetts

NYC Carriage Horse recently spooked by umbrella moving to Massachusetts



Rescued Draft Horses Help Inner-City Youth On Friday, November 17, 10am–12pm, four majestic draft horses rescued by Blue Star Equiculture (BSE) will visit teens in the Vocational & Link Program at Springfield High School of Science & Technology (SciTech). This marks the launch of an equine therapy program for inner-city youth with special needs and at-risk teens enrolled in Springfield Public Schools. grass-roots initiative was created through a partnership between BSE president and co-founder Pam Rickenbach and SciTech Fresh Start Program Coordinator/Educator Stefan Davis. The program is being funded by I Found Light Against All Odds, a Springfield-based nonprofit, founded by Davis in 2016.

SciTech teens will learn how to harness and take turns ground-driving two adult draft horses (each weighing in at 2000+ pounds) while two very sociable baby Clydesdales will be on hand to help students relax and get comfortable with being in the company of huge horses.
“Horses have a profound effect on humans,” states BSE president and co-founder Pam Rickenbach. “Equine therapy programs in the United States and in the United Kingdom have realized tremendous success with inner-city adolescents – whether they have a social, mental, physical or an emotional handicap. We’re confident we can achieve the same success right here in Western Massachusetts.”

“At equine therapy programs like Compton Jr. Posse in Los Angeles,” writes NY Times contributor Charles Siebert, “inner-city adolescents find a refuge from drugs and street-gang culture by developing equestrian skills and learning to regard the knowing gazes of 1,000-plus-pound horses and guide their beguiling power.” Compton Jr. Posse founder Mayisha Akbar adds, “When you’re around a horse, the energy is so powerful that it tunes the body up.”

“It has been established that the tactile element alone in Animal therapy releases endorphins, so called feel-good hormones that counteract the trauma hormones of adrenaline and cortisol,” writes Siebert. “But Neuroscience is also revealing the ways in which the brain’s neural networks can be both experientially marred and therapeutically mended.”

In the UK, Operation Centaur deploys endangered Shire horses as co-therapists in equine-assisted psychotherapy and learning. Dr Andreas Liefooghe, a leading exponent of the discipline, has taken on wildly different cases, including Junior, an 11 year old with autism, Charlene, an alcoholic, Billy, a disturbed pupil who has been expelled from school for bullying, and Suzanne, who has been convicted of GBH (grievous bodily harm).

Prince Charles, a strong proponent of equine therapy states: “Words cannot do justice to what people experience when they find themselves face to face with a huge horse that weighs over a ton…teaching that strength lies in collaboration, while leadership potential resides in us all.”

Blue Star Equiculture is a nonprofit (501c3) draft horse sanctuary established in 2009 on a leased property in Palmer, Massachusetts. Over the years, BSE has rescued over 500 retired, disabled and homeless urban, farming, logging, pack and police horses.

I Found Light Against All Odds is a nonprofit (501c3) that provides high risk youth and families with tools and opportunities to break the cycle of poverty, desperation and dependence that dominates their lives, enabling them to become contributing members of our community by using the magic of television, telling their stories about finding light.

PRESS CONTACTS: Pam Rickenbach, Blue Star Equiculture | (413) 813-2000 |
Stephan Davis, SciTech | (413) 505-4629 |
Carol de Carlo, CamelotHot Communications | (413) 265-0891 |

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