Time sure flies here on the farm and sometimes it seems impossible to retrace my steps to an event or moment gone by, yet some stories need and want to be told, no matter when we tell them.
I wanted to write about Billy the moment I met him. Billy is a rare beauty inside and out and while I love beautiful horses as much as any I felt I needed to know who Billy is to determine just how “beautiful” he really is.
His former owner loved him and was almost tearful telling me of Billy’s life and how not even an offer of over $5000 mattered to him as much as finding Billy the life he would love and deserve. Of course we knew we could help, we knew that Billy would easily find something because thanks to social media we are all so much better connected. Billy is not only beautiful, he has perfect health, a quiet good manner and is friendly and easy going…even in a herd of not so friendly friends. Billy quickly and easily fit in here and as we handled him day to day we realized that whoever gets Billy will be so lucky, he really is all that his human Dad said he is…a really good boy. Billy is sound, strong, only 15yr, never been sick, willing, responsive and alert and while he has worked in NYC for a lot of his life, he likes farms better, his owner is sure of it.
We are making the change we want to see in the world for horses in need.
For seven years now Blue Star Equiculture has existed to provide a sanctuary for retired, disabled and homeless horses. Horses have valuable gifts to share with humanity and any community they are found in regardless of their breed, size, age, ability or health issue is a lucky community when they are provided space for and allowed to meet their community by way of visiting, volunteering for and learning from.
What happens to unwanted horses today when there is no safe place for them to land?
The horses abandonment, disregard, marginalization in modern culture, objectification and disposability and general disrespect stems from a profound disconnect from nature and each other that has worsened in the industrial age that the horses helped usher in. We see it in the way we treat each other and other life, a great disconnect from the essential spirit that binds us all together. The age old proverb “Show me your horse and I will tell you who you are..” stands true still today when we look at that epic numbers of unwanted, abandoned, neglected and suffering horses and people for that matter.
Regardless of what you believe about slaughter and the eating of the horses meat, the unnecessary and extreme suffering needs to end and we believe with consciousness and effort we can collectively make this happen, but the reality must be faced and not ignored or forgotten. Every five minutes an American horse is slaughtered in sometimes brutal circumstances. Our noble and ancient friends deserve a much more honorable treatment, that protects and comforts them from suffering. Temple Gradin has already made great advances in how to make this possible.
What we can do more of? Keep Your Culture!
By learning about the contribution horses have made to mankind and specifically America we can appreciate how much we still need them with us. Support Working Horses and their Humans, you are indeed saving many lives in the process.
Horse culture survives, in pockets all over the planet, especially here in America. There are people loving and caring for their horses in extraordinary and environmentally sensible ways. There are those that are breeding consciously for the future and protecting their horses from oblivion. There are families and communities and farms still depending on their horses and there are also great advances in communication thanks to all the gifted “whisperers” out in the world assisting others in communicating more clearly, compassionately, patiently with horses.
There is a a great network of draft animal powered folks ready, willing and able to help others “remember” and improve an animal powered way of life at Draft Animal Power Network, with whom we work closely with.
There are our European friends seeking more and more ways to include the horses back into our urban and rural lives
. L’Energie Cheval: (French society of working equines) is a new website sharing the many ways that draft power is making a return in France and beyond! Great information on the versatility and productivity and countless examples of the many ways communities all over the world are using horse power!
There is also the great Lynn Miller prolific writer, farmer, painter and social commentator whose handbook for draft driving we use at our class at the Stockbridge School of Ag. at UMass.
Therapeutically horses are now recognized as undisputed miracle workers at helping humans build confidence, find connection, learn tolerance, flexibility and build natural and healthy leadership skills. There are more and more studies revealing just how exceptionally gifted they are sensory wise and much more. On the farm, over 80% of the people working on it are under thirty. Energetic, bold, self motivated young people wanting to be the change they want to see in the world, with natural abilities honed alongside the horses they work with each day.
The infinite field of possibilities for us all, Horses and Humans.
Happily horses know the way home to where our spirits soars, they know the way back to the great fields of possibilities in our imaginations, where new and better ideas are born. They know the way and all you have to do is show up to meet them where they are at. Any horse can help you reach that receptive and connected place inside where words are no longer necessary, just the understanding that we are all connected in a beautiful loving intelligent and abundant universe of potential where there is no way to be outside of the sacred, honoring the sacred, honoring life.
This season please give generously to the horses that live on our farm. Help us do this work that brings so much good to so many and most especially the horses.
We are embarking on a bold campaign for this Year End Giving Season so as to establish the security the farm needs in order to carry on into the future. Help us get the herd members we need and from there the sky is the limit in terms of the longstanding opportunity the farm offers to those that need and want to have horses in their lives, even if only to admire quietly and be among them in a shared space of mutual respect and love.
Look for us out in the streets with our Blue Star Hitch wagon, (on loan from Conkey Lumber) along with Tommy, Ben, Mario and Punch and the people that care for the horses at Blue Star.
Hitch wagons were the distribution vehicles of their time, carrying important loads from one place to another. Every great company had a hitch wagon with a teams of horses of the breeds of their choice and they went out and did their job moving loads on city streets and beyond and built company recognition with their company names painted boldly on the sides.
Our young Shires and Percheron’s are going to be going out and representing the working class horses and humans still among us in America, whose wisdom, skill and power we need now and will need more so going into the future. Our hitch of horses are also representing their dying breeds, the Shires, the Clydes and the Suffolks. They are also going out representing all the working horses in cities all over the world that carry the tradition and customs and stories for their cities history.
The Blue Star horses are going out representing our horse power culture. America is rooted in REAL Horse Power!
And most important of all they are going out representing the ones that are left behind, forgotten, thrown away, given up on, discarded, unfortunate and alone, unloved, sick and injured and scared to death ones too. They are representing their farm here in Palmer and all we stand for.
Blue Star is a prophecy shared by many native peoples around the world, a time of new beginnings. New beginnings in the circle of life, where there is no beginning or end.
Best holiday gift you can give to the horses here and most importantly for yourself. Try it you’ll see, there is an amazing amount of magic that happens when you reach out to share with a mystical and ancient creature like the Horse and the universe never fails to reward you in infinite ways, maybe even more in the season of giving. It will make you feel good and that in itself is a powerful medicine enough.
Brian Jerome has been planning for the Truckfest at McCray’s Farm in South Hadley for a whole year. Last year after attending the event he approached the owners of the farm and asked if he could bring the Blue Star horses with him for the next year and could they be there to represent REAL horsepower. As soon as he got the ok he called me to say that he couldn’t wait for it. Trucks aren’t my thing or just about anything else motorized, but I know what it all means to Brian, so I was very happy for him.
South Hadley is Brian’s hometown and McCray’s Farm has done what all great farms do for the youth that live near them, they give them jobs. Brian and many of his friends have worked or still do work for McCray’s, it is a very special place for them. It is also home to a couple of events that are local “hits”, their super scary Halloween Fright Night (http://www.fearonthefarm.com) a “crazy idea” gone wild on a tractor through the fields of the farm and the annual TruckFest (http://mccrays-farm.com/truck-fest/) where local folks, mostly younger, gather to compete with their monster trucks and ATV’s. Brian is a diesel mechanic and many of his friends are mechanic’s too or what I like to call them “motor heads”. They are all hardworking, although Brian may be the most, they are smart and capable and love motorized vehicles as much as you can. When Brian first starting learning at BSE we wondered if he could adjust to the slower pace of the work horses. Needless to say he has and I think if he had to choose cars, trucks, motorcycles over the horses he would choose the horses. Brian is a life long animal lover and horses, especially the work horses, are some of his newer four legged friends but like the motors he can work on, he excels at everything to do with a horsepower way of life.
When we first started talking to Brian about driving horses we encouraged him, like we do all of our students we have, to take a look at the horse powered world. We encourage them to look at the great american horse powered loggers and farmers and teamsters in America and in Europe, see what they do, how they do it, how they make it their way of life. Brian could easily see a horse powered way of life for himself right from the beginning but it has taken serious perseverance, focus, courage, strength of all kinds, dedication like no other in order for him to have reached the place where he is able to bring the horses to the heart of what he loves in his community, among his family and friends.
This week-end we had different jobs in different places but Brian and the young Shires Tommy and Ben “showed off” at the annual TruckFest. A dream come true for him and a real blessing to the community he calls home. They had the gift of being reminded about something that is just as true for them as it is for anyone with early American roots, these horses are your long lost relatives and friends. They share the path of building America and they were solid partners to the working class people that created a distribution and commercial industry boom ever seen anywhere in the world before. Horses were integral in productivity and distribution for over a hundred and fifty years of our less than 250 years existing as a country. Of course our relationship is much older but how it helped America is profoundly important to how we see ourselves today.
Teamsters, like mechanics today, were meticulous, calculating, creative and handy. Sensitive and open would be some of their other qualities as they would certainly grow to love the horses they worked with and learn to communicate clearly. I over heard Brian say one day that the horses challenge him to be a good communicatior and the technical parts of how harness and rigs work are very interesting to him. He sees similarly in how motors and “draft” power work, as he should, since mechanics have their roots in horse power too. Measurement of motor power is still measured in horse power.
For Brian to bring Tommy and Ben and share them with his community, share his path and life’s work with the community he cares the most about, made it a very important event in Brian’s life.
Brian works under a special contract with BSE for now, until he can have his own horse powered business. I believe Brian will always be with us in some way, we know how much he loves the horses we are here for, the retired, disabled and homeless ones. He also loves his partners Tommy, Ben, Piper, Remix and Punch and Mario. Together they do jobs. It is the only way that BSE can compensate him for the endless work he does in helping keep the farm running , equipment wise and horse powered wise. Brian and the horses are both the beneficiaries of any job and they are always available too! He is taking his time developing his web-site, information and more and hoping that that our farm gets strong and makes it so that he can continue to have the support he needs to build his self-styled way of life . He lives with far less than most but he knows he is headed in a direction that will not only bring him the ability to live and work with horses, it will also bring him the kind of happiness that comes from doing what you love and sharing it too. There is nothing Brian likes more than sharing the horses and their skills with all he knows. If you have job for Brian and his partner Jay don’t hesitate to call, they are always ready, willing and able and if they can’t do it, they know those that can who will help.
We are so grateful for Brian and all he does for the farm and we want the very best future for him, we know that little by little Brian will be a strong local community member, successful, like so many of his friends already are and it will be a very good thing for the future of our planet and most especially the great working horses of our time.
When you support the Blue Star Herd, you are supporting young people like Brian to find a way forward with their working partners. They are learning from those that live horse powered lives and dreaming of their own one day, where they can do good things for the planet with an ancient partner that also brings so much happiness and appreciation everywhere they go and who helps teach a few other things that help us live better by being better and better.
Those are not my words but those of Boyd Varty in South Africa. I admire Boyd and I get it too. He is lucky because he gets to be useful in some way to one of humanity’s greatest challenges, to wake up and remember that we are all connected. All of life is connected. We hear it over and over practically everywhere and in science now too. It is a known fact. There is no separation, there is no way to be outside of the sacred, even in the desecrated places. It is also true, especially for me that some of the world’s greatest thinkers and doers for the betterment of humanity, love animals. Not in an unnatural, misaligned and unstable extreme “left brain” way but in a responsible and grateful and compassionate way.
This past week-end with the help of a Cheyenne Elder we learned or you could also say “remembered” that not only are we connected in circle of life, we are also the very center from which all of our experience emanates. We are co-creators in a magnificent self regulating universe of potential. By using both sides of our brain we meet others in a new and more natural way. By being around horses we open ourselves to a different and rare opportunity to see our selves as we are seen by all of nature, in a holistic and circular way, what goes around comes around, what you sew, you reap. We get a chance to interact and walk in rhythm with it.
When I would talk to people that do not know about horses, nor do they care about their circumstances in our corporate culture, nor even their contribution to the development of most cultures around the world, I would find myself tensing up and getting ready to defend their right to be and live with us, as though it was my self appointed job. I think that reaction came from a particularly violent childhood that I could do nothing about, so in my childish thinking “defending” became a way of life.
Indifference from others about horses or the environment or culture unnerved me and scared me and put me in some kind of hyper vigilant state of no relief, thinking at any moment I too could be disposed of, shipped away, abandoned and given up on and generally an unnecessary space taker…which continuously played out for me in real life. It is only now, in these past weeks and days and even hours that I realize that all of that drama and self inflicted suffering is just that….self inflicted. But I think a lot of us are like this as we try to grow and wake up and be present and share and be a part of an interconnected world spun with love.
It is a good day when the story drops and you give yourself permission to just be who you are. Just one in the crowd with no message other than I want to be a good human being and I want to be useful in moving us forward, even if I don’t know the way, I know that not all that wander are lost. It is enough to get to be here in each moment.
This is another huge gift the horses have given me, one that cannot be bought or bartered for, one that is earned by falling off and getting back up to get back up again and again and again allowing humility to finally have it’s place as the adornment it was meant to be for us.
Another chapter has begun at Blue Star and it is a very very exciting one for me, my friends, colleagues and community and most especially our beloved equine friends as we practice “animated empathic action..” Thank you Boyd Varty for another wonderful way to talk about what is most natural and available to us at all times….”Grace!”