We are always interested in hearing about smart ways of helping horses and the people that care for them. We’ve been working with organizations like A Home For Every Horse, a venture that connects horses in rescues with potential new owners using a centralized database. When rescues join A Home For Every Horse, they also get help in caring for their horses via Absorbine® and other sponsors from the horse world.
Absorbine® conducted an interview with Pamela Rickenbach. She’s from a really interesting horse rescue that is also a part of A Home For Every Horse – Blue Star Equiculture. Blue Star Equiculture is an innovative, community-driven draft horse rescue right in our own backyard in western Massachusetts. Read on, then tell us the special ways your organization is helping horses in your backyard!
Absorbine: Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your horse background and your staff.
Pamela: Greetings! My name is Pamela Rickenbach. I am the Director of Blue Star Equiculture (BSE), a working horse rescue and sanctuary committed to helping horses, humans and Mother Earth. In concert with the community, we help working horses live out their days in comfort and dignity… and help humans connect with, care for and be better partners to horses and Mother Earth.
BSE was founded by a group of people looking to bring creative solutions to the current homeless equine, economic and environmental crisis currently happening in our country. We specialize with work horses and serve as advocates helping to bring more understanding about horses’ contribution in our past, present and into the future.
Absorbine: What is Blue Star Equiculture?
Pamela: We originally modeled our organization after a group in France that works to find jobs for horses in urban areas. We combined “equi” and “culture” to represent a possible alternative way at looking at our current relationship with horses as pleasure companions and offering more opportunities to be part of our communities’ green and sustainability initiatives, thereby reminding people of the role horses have held alongside us for millennia.
Absorbine: How many horses do you have on the property right now, and what is the capacity?
Pamela: At any given time we have 32 horses on the farm. We have retired, disabled and homeless work horses and some riding horses (they too are work horses after all). We also have a group of resident horses that work for BSE in the community in all kinds of ways. Our horses can farm, do parades, weddings, special events, historical re-enactments, provide equine therapy, eco tours, etc. We also teach draft horse husbandry and driving at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Stockbridge School of Agriculture.
Absorbine: How did it all start?
Pamela: Blue Star Equiculture was co-founded in January 2009 by myself, Christina Hansen and Justin Morace. Christina and Justin have moved on to build their own lives with their horses and I remain with my family and a devoted group of volunteers who oversee the operations of the farm and outreach. We believe that the draft horse is a national treasure. We seek to have the draft horse – which built our roads, harvested our crops, supplied our railroads, fought our wars, and carried us to our graves – recognized as an indispensable part of our heritage and common history.
Absorbine: What relations or projects do you have going on right now with the local community and how does BSE fit in with the local culture?
Pamela: We are in our second year of growing food on our farm which we offer to the community in farm-shares and at local farmers markets. We have also been invited to teach in the four-year Sustainable Agriculture Program at the UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture. We hold equine wellness workshops and driving levels 1 and 2 on our farm regularly. We are regularly invited to take part in parades and historical re-enactments with historical vehicles pulled by our horses.
Absorbine: What would you say to someone just starting a horse rescue?
Pamela: Be creative and inclusive! There are countless people who dream of having a relationship with a horse and would love to help! Design a program that includes your community and allows them to be part of the solution. Think outside the box about the contribution that horses can make in your community. Horses have been alongside mankind for well over 6,000 years as our helpers. That is a role that has been mutually beneficial. We need to think of ways to keep them alongside us. We believe mankind is better off with horses than without them.
Absorbine: How can we learn more about working alongside horses?
Pamela: You are welcome to come to our farm at any time to meet the many horses here. You can attend any of our events or workshops to get started. You can begin volunteering on the farm to get experience in handling horses cooperatively and compassionately. You can also take part in our Fun Day. This is one day a month set aside to play games with our horses and share food with the community on our beautiful farm! There are countless ways to get involved with our organization.
Absorbine: Where do you see your organization in ten years? How will it evolve and what are your goals?
Pamela: We hope to be firmly rooted in our community on a farm of our own, developing and expanding the many programs we have started and helping many more horses and humans, while always doing our best to care for Mother Earth by teaching best practices for the soil.
It is our goal to be self-sustaining by the end of the year 2013 with 1,000 supporters or “herd members” at $10 a month. Click here : “Join the Herd” and be a part of the creative and loving community solution for equines in need, while also addressing our environmental and economic challenges!
Absorbine: Tell us about a recent success story with one of your horses.
Pamela: We have had several miraculous recoveries on our farm with the horses. We have a former pulling horse whose coffin bone nearly came thru the sole of his hoof. He is totally recovered, with only mild arthritis. We have had horses with serious muscle wasting disease recover with a proper diet, acupuncture and other alternative treatment. We have had several horses fully recover from serious neglect and trauma that have gone on to have rich and fulfilling lives in their forever homes. We have found over 150 forever homes for our horses thus far!
If you are with a 501 c3 horse rescue, click here to learn more about advertising of your herd to potential forever homes for free!