Draft Horse Rescue closed after online harassment

Blue Star Closing

What can you say when animal rights activists, the people who claim to have the best interests of rescue horses at heart, close down a successful rescue by eliminating their major source of fund raising? Congratulations? Seriously, 28 draft horses, many of them retired New York City carriage horses (that PETA likes to say should be retired to green fields) are being booted out of their rescue home because the activists don’t like how the farm is run.

You see, Blue Star Farm in West Brookfield, Mass, didn’t just let the horses “run free” (in the early years of the rescue, activists went to the farm at night and freed the horses. Like that was a great idea!) Instead, Blue Star gave them jobs. Light work, like delivering Christmas presents or pulling a sleigh. Obviously, most of the activists have never been near a real horse in their lives and they don’t understand that many horses enjoy working with their humans.

Instead, animal rights groups slammed the farm on Facebook and managed to convince the social media gient to remove the farm’s Facebook page — which is how the rescue raises money. On “Giving Tuesday” instead of raising $15,000 as in previous years, the rescue raised just $1,200. Without funding, Pamela Rickenbach made the difficult choice to close her rescue. As those of us who own horses know, feeding horses and keeping them healthy is expensive. And no, you can’t just set them loose to fend for themselves. Again, congratulations! That’s what y’all wanted, right? No more rescues taking care of horses in need?

As many of us involved with horses have observed, Facebook has changed it’s regulations about selling animals. There used to be places where people offered horses for sale. Now, only the kill buyers and the pseudo auctions seem to have visibility. You know, the ones that have horses “ready to ship” and which “fund raise” for the same animals over and over again. Again, congratulations! You’ve kept the scumbags and gotten rid of the small rescues that are actually trying to save animals instead of slaughter them.

Please watch this video then read this letter from Pamela Rickenbach, who ran Blue Star Farm. Maybe this will help educate people who like the idea of saving horse about how it’s actually done and help take some of the heat off of legitimate rescues from the idealists who haven’t a clue. But first, take a look at those poor abused draft horses on the Blue Star website. Then, every animal right activist needs to open their hearts and their pocketbooks and find these horses homes, because otherwise they have condemned them to certain and unpleasant deaths. Congratulations.

Open Letter to NYCLASS, STEVE NISLICK, PETA and the many other Animal Rights groups who have plagued my life for over a decade.
I figured I would address this letter to you all and say what I have to say all at once, I doubt I will be doing it again but I figured some may want to know, so I’ll take the opportunity since it appears as though you are already publicly commenting on our closing and your desire to help re home our horses, particularly our NYC carriage horses.
I have tried to find the good common sense in your purpose for a long time now and I have been a target of your countless supporters in some way or another, that has never once been heartwarming, friendly, loving or compassionate experience. It has always been scary, weird, authoritarian, demeaning and demonizing, in other words it generally feels awful every single time. I have been called an exploiter, abuser, stupid hippie hoarder, cruel and selfish abuser of beautiful horses that should be set free, among much much more. I am also called a horse killer, not a sanctuary and a drama queen..lol…(which I kind of find funny because it can be true…sometimes). Members of ALF (Animal Liberation Front) suggested I should be harnessed and bloodily beaten to death naked on a street in front of everyone so that I learn my lesson, they offered to come and teach me the lesson.
Come on, I don’t have the biggest self esteem but even I can’t take all of that seriously, the problem is many of your supporters do, they covet a growing hate for people like me that they would be hard pressed to explain but have no problem exercising. I am constantly reported on, complained about, have terrible rumors spread about and generally they all serve to devalue me, this work I do, the folks that try to help me do it, to the point where we are less and less effective with anything we do.
When I opened over 11yrs ago I thought it made perfect sense to have former carriage drivers running a non profit, fully open to the public farm with working horses in need, since we are the ones that live and work and love them so much… we spend all of our lives with them. We don’t mind doing what it takes to get up every day, clean stalls, care for elderly or sick or disabled horses or comfort the homeless and scared ones. We don’t mind living moment to moment worrying about their well being and hoping to create something better for them while we do whatever we can with whatever we have, after all, we feel a real respect, appreciation and gratitude for all they have given not only our own lives, but to our country too. America really is rooted in horsepower and all that entails and the horses (working or not) should have the best from us as they have already given us everything we ever needed help with to build and dream beyond our imaginations, back when this country was just a dream itself.
Our work and advocacy just seemed like a good idea. We also felt that there must be many many more like us based on how many supporters you all have that say they want something better for our horses in need. I now suspect (as many of my friends have all along) that what you want is NOT AT ALL their well being, since I can’t even find evidence of all the countless horses you could have helped with the millions you have raised. I had a fraction of that amount of money and we placed and cared for well over 500-600 horses. We found homes, shared with our community, were open to the community 24/7 for hands on opportunities to know them better, love them better, understand them better. We have always been transparent and fully out in the open.
Years ago I also believed that you might actually be able to help with some of the horses we met, horses who lost owners and had never been trained how to communicate with and be around humans safely…I wrote you all letters about a pair of Belgian draft horses, asking for help, so that they could also have some of that endless land and pasture you all talk so much about. NOT ONE SINGLE ANSWER…EVER…BY ANYONE IN YOUR GROUPS. I was heartbroken for a team I begged you to help with, Margaret and Joey, mother and son who only knew each other and whose owner was dying. it was winter and they had to be moved and I had no room. They were big and untrained and deserved to be safe and to live our their years ….fortunately I was able to meet a woman in Texas who took them and still has them. I get pictures of them romping happily with their herdies, shining brightly and stepping high on the pastures they deserve, with the love they deserve. If I had waited for your help, help that never came, I would have had to euthanize them. Later when I asked one of your people about it I was told that they would have been better off put down than being in the care of anyone like me.
I have become a pretty easy target now. I can’t put out a request for donations without getting reported or visited by the State or MSPCA. It got so bad last year that I was told that if I didn’t hide the older or thin horses they would be forced to take more dramatic steps. Even with all of our success in keeping our farm open year after year, helping hundreds of horses, teaching at universities and environmental schools, countless public outings sharing the nobility and power of the horses in our care, all of the adopted ones and retired beloved ones with us, even with all of that accomplishment, I am still targeted in just the same exact way a real hoarder who has no idea what they are doing is treated. I am treated so poorly and disrespectfully that I was told I have no business doing this since my husband (who was a firefighter..not a horse person) passed and so much more demeaning and pointless commentary from people I thought by now should know who I am.
My work is not backed by billionaires, or organizations that have real social power or even that many people all together. I have some herd members and donors and about 3 people that do volunteer farm work on the farm I am now leaving. I have tried everything to get the one famous person, Liam Neeson, brave enough to speak up for working horses, to help me say something to help me do this work, but he never answers. I have helped over a hundred of the NYC carriage horses find their place in their next chapter of life. Those horses have helped me too. They have helped calm and train and be friends with horses with no social experience who find themselves in a new world. The carriage horses, being some of the smartest well adjusted funniest and cleverest horses on the planet are and have always been the real helpers on this farm of so many and they are worth their weight in gold. At Blue Star we have never applied a monetary fee to any horse ever, how can one actually value something that is clearly so priceless, so exquisitely perfect with gifts beyond our simple institutionalized descriptions. Magical, otherworldly ancient friends who are not victims or dumb or unable to “know” for themselves. They are still beyond our full comprehension and here is the thing, I will never work with your kind of thinking or actions, because it is missing the one thing that matters most to horses when dealing with humans, COHERENCE, heart and head coherence, HEARTS AND HEADS THAT WORK TOGETHER. You do not love your own kind, human kind and maybe not yourselves either, you have no business telling others how to do it about anything never mind a kind so ancient they will always know more about this planet as they have been here far longer. You may love power and money and real estate and attention but you don’t need the horses to help you get that….or do you?
I am closing because I am finally following the wisdom of Cheyenne Elder Phillip Whiteman Jr. of Montana, who has also tried to share just how important learning about and caring for the horses really is in NYC and beyond and how hard it is when using only the left institutionalized brain that this culture is dominant with. Phillip told me a while back, “you can’t give what you don’t have…” in other words I am so beat up psychologically and physically tired, I walk around in a fog ( I can’t even feel three of my fingers anymore) and I live with with a new terrible disorder too…a kind of panic and anxiety disorder that I have never known and I grew up in the Amazon! It’s saying a lot that a person like me can be so worn down but I hung in there because I believed there would be more like me that wanted the horses well being and their care and to share them with the world in all the ways we do. Turns out though if you do it, you have to deal with and face the negative and powerful opposing forces summoned and created by your misleading propaganda and none of us are trained for that. I am not that powerful, I am a farmer, nothing more and nothing less and I am not trying to trick or fool or exploit anyone, especially about horses. I am trying to give them back a small fraction of what they have given me and that is far more than I could ever give them in return. The horses have given me joy, hope, love, self awareness, love, understanding of right use of power, authentic heartfelt relationship and a way to live in the world that keeps it real…..right sized….mindful and coherent. The horses will never need us as much as we need them.
Be well old, not such good friends, I hope you find your way to actually making a difference for horses, humans and mother earth. You can learn all you really need to do that well by jumping in and helping take care of them, cleaning stalls, tending to the sick and spending time just being with them, until then you are wasting everyone’s time and their money which could be much better spent actually creating the models for Americas horses in need and by the way the horses in need are not in the cities, they are in our neighborhoods and running free out west…. everywhere.
P.S. I will give you another opportunity to help though, you can always make a donation and you can bet it really will go to helping horses, humans and mother earth. If that is what really matters to you. equiculture.org/donate
Even though this chapter of our lives is closing we will always be there for the ones we love and owe so much too, the Horses.
Pamela Rickenbach Executive Director
Blue Star Equiculture
62 Birch Hill Rd West Brookfield, Ma
To learn more about how Blue Star was able to help horses

6 thoughts on “Draft Horse Rescue closed after online harassment

  1. This breaks my heart. One of the women I ride with knows this rescue and it’s founder personally and can attest that it is one of the good ones. How truly terrible that a legitimate rescue can be driven to close by the actions of an ignorant, politically motivated horde, that hide behind computer screens and never actually get their hands dirty. ☹️

  2. While I do not personally know the founder, she is well known by people I trust who have attested to what a tremendous job she has done over the years on behalf of the horses.

  3. It is distressing when all it takes is one idiotic, bleeding heart like the one who shut down the draft horse rescue, one nitwit with no life and no knowledge, is still able to do it with absolutely no reason, cause or justification. Yet they allow puppy mills to exist…

    Several years ago a woman was trying to make a living with her Clydesdale gelding. She went through the entire permitting process of providing carriage rides in my hometown. I saw them several times. The horse was healthy, well fed, clean, had well cared for hooves, his shoes were the rubber? type that farriers provide when a horse is working on concrete. The horse was young and in the peak of health. His harness was clean and well fitted. The carriage he ‘pulled’ (horse PUSH against a horse collar, not pull, but you know what I mean) was well built, with springs, large tires (instead of wooden spoked wheels, which , while they look ‘classical’ are really lousy for transporting) and was small enough that it posed no burden on him. THe owner/driver had a shaded rest stop with plenty of fresh water, hay, and a shovel and a trash can for his poop. She had a mandatory fifteen minute break between carriage rides, a strict limit on the number of passengers, and if she thought it was too humid, or too hot, she stopped working. In fly season the horse wore a fly sheet, fly mask and you could smell the fly spray on him. In addition, she’d hired a kid to clean up the poop he may have dropped on the road. I watched the horse, he had a spring in his step and was clearly, CLEARLY enjoying his job. There were no hills at all, it was flat all through his fairly short circular route, with a breeze coming off the Sound to keep the flies off and the heat from being too bad. I say all this because some bleeding heart bimbo woman complained to the newspaper…because the animal shelter and the Humane Society found nothing wrong, she screamed to the paper about the poor horse being ‘beaten’, “Exhausted” “Quivering in fatigue”, “Sweating”. I swear, she copied “Black Beauty” word for word.
    I responded with a letter to the editor saying fairly much what I wrote above. I said I was a horseman, owned horses, had many many years of experience with them. I said I’d watched the driver and the horse working quite often. I said I saw NONE of the things the bleeding heart claimed, I never saw the horse being beaten, I never saw the horse in any distress whatsoever. The driver had a pretty white whip with a lash of, oh, five feet long? as part of her costume. The lash could not possibly have reached the horse from her seat in the carriage. The horse needed no incentive to move, no whipping…he LIKED his job. It was hard for her to keep him from breaking into a trot.
    I offered to invite all my horse friends to come and make their judgement, and have it printed in the newspaper but still…the bloody city council shut the horsewoman down.

    Don’t even ask me what happened to the woman in my area who had her self funded, wildlife animal rescue shut down because one girl-one 20 year old Americorp girl had been let go for not obeying the owner and decided on revenge by lying to the fish and wildlife people about how, in her expert opinion, it wasn’t being run ‘right’.
    All it takes is one know it all and a bunch of lily livered, spineless legislators or council members to ruin one’s best intentions.

  4. I am stunned to read about the closing of Blue Star Equine Rescue! Over the last few years (after I read about this rescue in YANKEE Magazine), I donated and learned about the individual horses and their stories. What a horrible, politically-correct country we now find ourselves living in. Honest, animal-loving, knowledgeable people trying to assist and to help these wonderful work horses, now find themselves under attack! By those who don’t have a clue of what it takes to provide a loving home to unwanted or neglected horses. Just heartbreaking, I am so sorry.

Leave a Reply