Blue Star Equiculture™ of Palmer, MA is a non-profit draft horse rescue and sanctuary that cares for the community’s retired, disabled, and homeless working horses, with the mission of helping working horses live out their days in comfort and dignity. I visited Blue Star Equiculture and met Pamela Rickenbach-Moshimer, the co-founder and executive director of the rescue. With 32 horses on site at any given moment, that’s a big job! She explained the exciting work that goes on at the farm every day, introduced me to the diverse herd, and shared some great insights on how the new rescue horse owner can best care for his or her special animal.
Pam helped me create a list of the “Top 5 Tips for Caring for Your New Rescue Horse”. She walked me through the steps she takes for each new rescue horse and told me the vital steps to getting your new rescue happy and healthy.
- Make sure it’s the right match. When finding a new home for these beautiful animals, Blue Star Equiculture takes special care in picking the right owner. “We make sure the soon-to-be owners have a suitable home as well as a good understanding of the breed and what it takes to care for such a big animal,” Pam explains. “We like to have the potential owners come back and revisit the horse many times before deciding if he or she is the right fit. We want to be absolutely sure that the horse likes the new owner and will have a good transition into the new home.”
- Get recommendations from your veterinarian. When getting any new rescue horse, the first action is getting your horse checked out to make sure he or she is sound and healthy. Pam explains what’s on the top of her list: “Have your vet come out to develop a proper diet and physical therapy to get the horse back in shape and healthy again. Diet is a fundamental part of every horse’s life; they should be given a properly formed diet based on their age, body weight, and exercise level. We then have our farrier out to check their hooves and do any necessary shoeing. This is an essential part to recovery and beginning work. You should also have an equine dentist check your new rescue. Horses’ teeth constantly grow so it is important they stay in proper shape, allowing the horse to be comfortable and gain weight easier.”
- Introduce the rescue horse to his new herd mates slowly. Introducing a horse into a herd should be done slowly and with close attention. There are different ways you can go about this; Pam told me a little about their method. “At Blue Star Equiculture, we introduce our new horses by putting them in their own pen, within the herd’s fencing,” says Pam “We try and buddy new horses up with another horse who they are likely to get along with and keep them together. This gives the new horse a chance to interact with the herd until they appear comfortable. Usually, within a month you will be able to fully introduce the new horse into the herd.”
- Build up strength and stamina with exercise. Making sure your horse is given proper work is very important. “A working horse’s large build doesn’t allow him to fully develop his muscles if he is only working under saddle. He needs to have a job in harness in order for muscles to fully develop,” Pam explains. “On top of regular exercise, you don’t want your horse to be standing in one place all day. Having a good turnout system is ideal to encourage your horse to move around.” Providing a good conditioning supplement is a great way to help rescue horses build strength as they get in shape too; we recommend Absorbine Maximize™ as helpful training support.
- Show your rescue horse how much you love him. Above all, love your rescue horse unconditionally, and make sure he knows he has found his forever home every day. Taking the time to give thorough grooming sessions, feeding treats as rewards, and frequent hugs are essential. You’ll see the gratitude in his eyes, and gain a best friend in return.
Blue Star Equiculture believes that every horse deserves a home that will meet their needs, whether their work is pulling a plow, being a riding horse, or simply being someone’s companion. Getting the chance to talk to Pamela at Blue Star Equiculture was an amazing opportunity to learn what goes in to rescuing a draft or “working” horse. Before doing it yourself, be sure you can provide proper care, nutrition, rehabilitation, training, and most of all love for your new horse.