Over 1.8 million nonprofits and charities for donors, volunteers and funders

Blue Star Equiculture

Rating: 4.92 stars   96 reviews 1,517


PO Box 7 Bondsville MA 01009 USA


Our mission is to provide retired working horses a sanctuary and homeless working horses the opportunity to be useful and positively improve their lives, while bringing education, equine awareness, skills and healing to the community and the environment.


Blue Star Equiculture rescues horses, especially draft horses, from kill auctions, neglect situations, and homelessness resulting from their owner's economic or health situation.  Horses are evaluated, rehabbed, retrained and rehomed.  (Horses that are unadoptable enter our sanctuary retirement program.)

2013 Top-Rated Nonprofit
Write a Review
Invite Reviews Share This Nonprofit

More Info


Reviews for Blue Star Equiculture

Rating: 5 stars  

If you would like to visit a place where hope shines bright and loving kindness is shared by humans, horses and all living creatures, come to Blue Star Equiculture. The young people, staff and volunteers of this organization are caring and considerate, and the horses provide healing to everyone that connects with them. Despite a devastating personal loss and difficult time last year, the Executive Director has united a dedicated and talented Board of Directors and continues to assure that the horses receive the very best care and attention, while also providing service and activities that support the community. I am proud to support Blue Star Equiculture and these magnificent horses, and all of the other wonderful volunteers who make this place so special and magical. After reading all the other 95 reviews here, I would like to note that there are only two negative ones - really it's the same review posted twice. Having witnessed the immediate aftermath of the tragedy that occurred last year and the incredible support and love expressed by hundreds of people, including especially many young volunteers and students in their teens and 20's, I find it hard to fathom why someone would be so petty and cruel to attack Pam after what happened. Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. This person has his. I have mine. And over 90 other people appear to agree with me. I will say no more.

Flag review
Review from Guidestar
Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

This group of people truly care about the health and wellbeing of their animals. They are striving for a world where we can live in harmony with horses not just put them away and pretend it's someone else's problem.

Flag review
Rating: 1 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

On May 31st - 2013 I wrote a lengthy "5" Star Review for Blue Star Equiculture.
It remained to this day, but after the dialogue's, the recent actions, and the steadfast denial to be completely open, I have changed my review... My opinion. Though I will save the original wording & review in a secondary Note for reference, for all to compare. For folks who may want to understand how long I stood up for this organization over years of being a volunteer to them.

Part of the review, I said this:
"One of the most important facts is this. Any and All monies raised, or received by way of donations, goes 100 percent to the care and upkeep of the horses. There are no administrative fees taken from these monies. There are no paid staff onsite. Feed, being hay, grain, supplements is the major cost of the sanctuary. I would say medical / Veterinarian care, then Farrier & Equine Dentistry becomes second in cost. ( my opinion there ).
I know of no other rescue / sanctuary that is more open or genuinely respected such as Blue Star Equiculture."

... and I find this not to be the case anymore.
In 2013, three people are registered as directors.
Pam as President / director.
Paul as Vice President / director
Dr. Purdy as a director.

The Office Expenses for 2013 are listed:

$14,050 dollars
Conferences, Conventions & Meetings listed:

$9,513 dollars
Occupancy Expense listed:

$33,864 dollars

So, the statement of are there any Administrative Fees being taken from donations has to be asked.
The payment of the lease of the farm / land is provided for by the Walsh Foundation to my understanding.

In the Statement of Program Service Accomplishments:
"Providing food, shelter, and veterinary services for homeless horses",
the expense is listed:

$164,628 dollars

With a Revenue of:

$223,968 dollars.

Leaving a balance per say of

$59,340 dollars

Not being an Accountant nor professional monetary wizard by any means, I do have some very serious questions as to how monies
( Contributions / Donations ) are actually spent.
The Pie Charts need to go.
A comprehensive "Itemized List of Expenditures", Line Item accrual of where the monies go, needs to be shared.
Statements from the PayPal account, of where the card / account was used and for what each transaction was for...
A good portion of the above budgets caught my attention.

As for the use of the brand new FORD F350 truck (named A.J.), which was obtained through the
FORD Good Works Program.
This truck was hard fought for, and donated for the use of the sanctuary, for the needs of the horses within and the effort of rescuing horses within the proximity of same. It is not, nor ever intended to be for personal use.
That being the understanding, I also question the past use now of the new truck called "AJ".

AJ went on approximately a two week Honeymoon trip to NYC, then to Philadelphia in the beginning of the year. Pam & Paul did visit with horse related friends in both cities, yet it was more of a pleasure trip than a functional trip of the sanctuary. Some of this trip was shared on FaceBook.

Then, after Paul's demise, Pam took it with three of the volunteers out west to World Peace & Prayer day.

That, the fact that AJ was driven out West, was never told upon the Blue Star page, never shared.
The trip was shared, but not once AJ's involvement.
AJ also traveled further to take these folks to other personal friends.
Pamela - Executive Director, had stated the trip was necessary for grief & healing. For time away. And I have not one problem with the "need" to go, if that be the personal desire to do such. But, to remove the work truck from the farm / sanctuary for this trip is not this trucks business.
That is unfathomable usage, it was improper and also according to the term: Inurement.
Inurement is a fancy IRS word for insiders unfairly benefiting from the assets, resources, or activities of the nonprofit they serve.

Accumulation of over 4,000 miles upon the new farm truck on this 2nd trip alone.

And also in question, is who paid for the fuel, the lodging, and all related expenses to which the four people involved incurred?

Before the trip, I know of two people who strongly disagreed with Pam's insistence of taking the truck. And I have spoken personally with both these folks. And I agree, the truck never should have been driven out west.
Be the Native Americans friends of Blue Star Equiculture, that is not nor should be the question.
Be the question of going for grief and for consoling or counseling neither a disagreement, if done by a personal means.
But the taking of AJ is nothing but done by pure raw power of the individual "In Charge", the Executive Director herself.
The sole reason for having AJ, was to replace the older FORD "Earl" and to serve the needs of the sanctuary, haul the large gooseneck trailer, get supplies and feed.
It was never meant, nor should it ever be, a limousine for personal needs.
And the question arises, who paid for the fuel, the lodging, the food and the expenses throughout the trip?

The demise of Paul, the need for Pam to cleanse herself and visit her friends I can understand...
But, as stated above, Pam was told that it needed to be done without Blue Star Equiculture's property.
And that argument caused the dismissal of Shelley Olson. And also of my final friendship and volunteerism to Blue Star Equiculture.
Read below.

Without Paul, Pam had become the sole decision maker.
An informal meeting taken place within the farm's kitchen, shortly before her western trip is also a factor in my decisions now. For it was not a Board meeting, it was a vengeful, one sided meeting with young volunteers and one Poet of elder age, raking over the coals two fine individuals who disagreed with Pam.
It was NO place for the young volunteers to be, nor take part in.

Nor was I there.... But again, I spoke personally with both of the individuals that were drawn and quartered per say, chastised in front of the volunteers, and heard all the details.

In my opinion, and with the years I spent and the thousands of hours volunteered to, I believe I have the right to offer it:
Blue Star Equiculture is in some very serious need of a Board of Directors who know the meaning and are capable of saying "No" to any future Director of Blue Star Equiculture. And that any Director has to seek approval for unusual spending or anything which may break into the grey area per say.
Chain of Command both ways... and not a One Person Show.
They must adhere to all guidelines to which 501(c)(3) non Profits are set up under.

Understand all applicable laws pertaining to this organization.

Operate without prejudice nor favoritism. Record complaints and also solutions.
I would also suggest drug screening and CORI background checks for all, to include the Boards members themselves.
A Log Book, to contain all mileage / usage of the FORD F350 Crew Cab should have and Needs to be maintained, with a description for the mileage accumulated upon it. The dates it travels and to where it goes, and for what reason(s).

As listed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:
The Officers and Directors of the Corporation: BLUE STAR EQUICULTURE, INC.
Title -----------Individual Name -------Address -------------------------------------------------Term expires

The Annual Reports of Blue Star Equiculture - for Public viewing can be found through the
Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts web site.
The Board is of a select few and not of a group to which the Executive Director works underneath and for...

Though Dr. Purdy has been spoken of, as a member of the Board, he is not listed on the Commonwealths filing.
And has been listed upon some Federal Tax forms though.
Though, on what IRS filings to which can be viewed, no more than three people are listed as directors in total, for this organization.
There is absolutely no justification for a three membership / directorship, where basically one person is rarely to be found upon the grounds, and the other two are actually a couple.
And by title, only one person hold all categories...
That being President, Treasure, and Clerk, as well as Director. Thus also holds the ultimate responsibility for any and all actions, that have been taken.
And no true Board of Directors oversees the operation or the dispersal of funds.
But even that being the case, records of annual meetings, minutes of such, votes taken, officers removed and newly appointed...
Where are those records?

And now since Paul is gone. There is only "One" true member of the Board...
Nothing has been done, except a promise to have new Board members seated and a new Web Site created...
... and it's now been months.

Just to be understood in my actions and thought..
It may have been Pam's dream in the beginning. But when you raise approximately one quarter of a million dollars of public donations, you have to account for not only the money... but your actions and reputation. For it is a public organization and not Pam's farm.

AND, I have not one fault with the young volunteers. They have worked their hearts out for the "Herd". That is a plain and simple fact. I offer, that the Leadership to which they are under, has much to answer for. And what is or may become, will be because of the simple fact... The rules ignored and the whims and desire of the Executive Director took over.

And there should be a process to which, Any Volunteer may seek advice or to be heard by the Board, if they think they are being unjustly accused or unfairly treated by any person... to include the Director, and receive an impartial ear. There has never been a Board, to which anyone could turn to.. that's a fact.

This is where my research has taken me.. And I am not one to cast away everything I volunteered for, nor am I watching approximately $230,000 in annual budget go unguarded. I fought intensely over the past years for "Likes" for the Blue Star FaceBook page, to which I was banished as an Administrator. And I have seen far too many good heart'd and gifted people shown the door...
And the time has come to have a full review, on everything both past - present- future. And all due to one person, one individual personality.
In my observations, the research I have done, and best opinion, that is what has happened, plain & simple.

There is much more to say and share. I have kept every piece of written conversation. I have photos of many of the happenings and events, some of which now bring even more questions of a serious nature to my mind. And a few folks may have seen the one and only time, since I was banished from Blue Star Equiculture's FaceBook page where I asked in all fairness the Question of whom were and who is now... The Board of Directors.
That post became deleted, along with a very confrontational verbal assault hurled in my direction by an extremely close friend of the Executive Director.

This was not the Blue Star that brought me to volunteer everything I could possibly do for them for numerous years. Or at least, what I was led to believe they were. But my resolve for truth and complete transparency will continue. For there are far more rescues with not even close to the funding by annual budget which deserve my respect. That is becoming more evident each day.
... and just "What boundaries have I ever crossed", as the individual commentator had stated?

Now add to the fact the following:
Blue Star Equiculture is engaged in Politics...
August 29th, 2015 BSE updates their Cover Photo upon FaceBook with the following caption:
"Who wouldn't want a Mayor that Supports Working Horses!!! We love Anythony Soto for everything he stands for and most of all his commitment to hard working horses and humans. He is a great friend to us and to our farm and every horse on it. VOTE for Anthony Soto FOR MAYOR of HOLYOKE, MA!!"
Political Campaign Intervention:
"Public charities are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) a candidate for public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violation of this prohibition may result in revocation of tax-exempt status and/or imposition of certain excise taxes. Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, the conduct of certain voter education activities (including the presentation of public forums and the publication of voter education guides) in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. Other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not constitute prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner. On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that would favor one candidate over another, oppose a candidate in some manner, or have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute campaign intervention."

The boundaries that are being crossed, are being done so blatantly and without regard for governing rules.
All done by one individual, and this last campaign / election endorsement is the latest Fact to which is so apparent.

It's not the content of the campaign... It is the fact this organization of Non-Profit / Charitable Status.
"501(c)(3) organizations must avoid any issue advocacy that functions as political campaign intervention."

This is not an action of a Board, but of One Individual with all the power.

Too many good people have left. Too many rules broken.
No oversight by a Board of Directors.
Approximately $230,000 dollars all under control of a single person., to which No line item flow chart of expenses is offered.
The apparent use of the brand new FORD truck for personal use, several times.
And I am only providing for "Truth & Transparency" here. I have always been that, and will not change for anyone.

My entire review is upon FaceBook:

Flag review
Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 5 stars  

Since Pamela is my niece, I have known her for many years, and she has had a heart full of love and concern for all animals since she was a very little girl .
Today if she always wore a favorite shawl/blanket, if need be she would take it off her back and put it on a cold horse In a minute !
I don't know another person who is as qualified as Pamela is to be responsible for the horses on her farm... She has committed her entire self and her talents to provide a safe space for the creatures she loves !

Flag review
Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

Blue Star is a shining place both in our world and in my village. I grew up in Palmer, live right down the street from the farm and have the unique opportunity to donate not only financially but by helping feed, clean stalls, care for the horses and pitch in with office work. Daily I see firsthand how not a penny is wasted in the effort to provide a home for 32 homeless and/or disabled working horses, and to find permanent homes for those able to move on. Blue Star founder Pamela Rickenbach is a force of nature with heart and smarts the size of the century-old dairy barn where you can find her working away each and every day to better the lives of horses who, without Blue Star, might have no other place to go. While too many directors of charities make only occasional visits to the actual work being done, or spend your hard-earned and well-intentioned donations on fancy dinners and a fleet of late-model sedans, Pam is living just steps away from the center of her work and world, takes no salary, owns no auto at all, puts every penny that arrives toward the care, feeding and wellbeing of the herd. And she does it with pure joy. Stop by and meet someone I consider a patron saint of these equines and for the message of what they have done for and continue to do for humans. Say hello to her equally dazzling helpers, including Zoe, Brian, Melissa, Mithra and Brandon. And, of course, get ready to fall in love with a barn full of horses and this powerful place of help and healing.

Flag review
Review from Guidestar
Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

I have been following Blue Star Equiculture and Pam Rickenback Moshimer since my first visit more than 3 years ago. I also am a herd member ... My one regret is that I don't live close enough to visit often and be an active part of this wonderful draft horse rescue. The draft horses are magnificent, well cared for and friendly, the volunteers i have talked with are knowledgeable of their work and benefit to the community ... Pam is one of the most caring, compassionate and dedicated women I have ever met, she has devoted her life to the rescue, rehabilitation and placement of retired, injured and abused horses and to Mother Earth.

Flag review
Review from Guidestar
Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

having followed their work from Jon Katz reviews, I am grateful that they work so HARD to keep these horses alive and vital for the important work that it is. I help care for an old retired horse myself. It's the right thing to do.

Flag review
Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

I love all that Blue Star stands for! I have visited the facility, love it!!

Flag review
Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

Blue Star does more than restore our faith in the kindness of strangers (although that alone is enough!), they restore our hope for the future. To see the kids and teens who go there to put in their time doing REAL, HONEST, HARD WORK and derive JOY from it is very refreshing. Beyond that, Blue Star provides a place for everyone in the community to reconnect with nature in a way that is unique to the relationship between humans and horses. And to top it all off, BSE is a resource for farmers and landscapers to keep their land healthy and productive naturally. I just can't say enough about how important this place is!

Flag review
Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

Blue Star Equiculture is an amazing for both the horses and the people involved in their care. I moved to Western Mass in 2009 and it was one of the first places that I saw when driving around my new neighborhood - beautiful horses getting the care and respect that all beings need.

Flag review