How we got started...

Elizabeth Dickerson on her first pony, Poppy

It's not everyday that you decide to start a horse rescue. But, when the call came in that there were six Thoroughbreds in a kill pen waiting to be taken up to the slaughterhouses in Canada, I knew I had do something. I'm Elizabeth Dickerson, and I'm the Executive Director of Northstar Horse Rescue Inc, formerly in Rockland, Maine and now located in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

Through social media, friends and family, hundreds of dollars were raised, and lifelong, coast to coast friendships forged. The six horses in New York were rehomed, and one filly went down to Virginia to the farm of Harry Delayer. If you don't know the story of Snowman, the eighty dollar slaughter-bound former plow horse who went on to be a champion show jumper, check it out here!

You'll also want to read Elizabeth Lett's excellent book, "The Eighty Dollar Champion", which is a wonderful history of Snowman and Harry and family, and also a valuable historic glimpse into the plight of horses before, during, and after the transition to internal combustion engines.

Once the "New York Six" were safe, I stayed connected with new friends in the racing and rescue industry. I work as a high school teacher and computer techie, but I never really got over a decision to get out of horses as a college student: a decision made because I didn't feel comfortable with the relationships I saw between many people and their horses. Working as a groom and a stable hand for a college equestrian team, I began to realize that the horses liked to hang out with me better than their owners. We spent early mornings with classical music on the radio and the smell of sweet feed, hay, and New England morning frost heavy in the barn. But when the team showed up for practice, or students for their lessons, I noticed that the horses developed a definite change in attitude. Coupled with a growing disillusion concerning the reality of slaughter being the end of the line for many horses, I decided that I wasn't meant to be part of the professional equestrian scene. 

But when you are born with horse in the blood, you can't get it out. And now, here I am today. Once we got the "New York Six" safe, we kept on helping horses through Facebook and through our new rescue friends. Big Boy was another horse that the fledgling Northstar Horse Rescue helped- severe health issues just about took this guy's life, but thanks to Jan Santini in Pennsylvania, who wouldn't give up on him, and lots of people who loved him, he recovered. He is one of the lucky ones who didn't get lost in the kill buyer's auctions. 170,000 horses ship to slaughter in Canada and Mexico every year. 

About three months after Big Boy, a friend of mine was telling me about a situation down in Pennsylvania, at a place called Star Barn, in which around 20 weanlings about starved, and two had to be euthanized. Many of the weanlings had ended up at a local animal shelter, but there were still a few that were missing here and there. Well, lo and behold, we found them. I met Deb Barry of Grassharp Farm, thanks to an introduction through the rescue network. And then it turned out that Deb had two horses at her farm with the same names as my kids! 

That first "official" filly that went home to Anson, before coming down to Rockland: the notorious Squidgy, whose facebook antics keep readers clicking that "Like" button.

Nancy Mannett, has helped us, too. She boards her Quarter Horse mare, Penny, at Grass Harp Farm. 

And our rescue is also complimented by my mom, Michele Jones, a lifelong horse enthusiast and constant cheerleader.

Squidgy and her sisters were lucky- they'd been given to a family that did a lot better by them than the owners of Star Barn! We were very fortunate to have help from our friends and family once again, and we are now training up those three fillies, and two of them are up for adoption. 

New board members Lisa Dickson, Rodger Strickland, and Jeannine Smith joined us during 2013-14, bringing fundraising and event planning experience and love of the horses.

We have been around for three years now, have had help from nearly a dozen volunteers, and had one steady apprentice type volunteer over the summer of 2014. 

We recently rehomed two ponies under our contract so that they are safe forever, as of Sept. 1 2014, and in the winter of 2013-14 rehomed the Thoroughbred ex-racehorse Hutney, finding him his forever home. Currently we are working with the Thoroughbred ex-racehorse Satchel, brushing up his training as a saddle horse, thanks to a generous donation from Gulfstream/TAA, as well as caring for our residents Squidgy, Kit, Dot, and My Graduate.

We've also helped network several other horses as courtesy listings for trainers or owners through our equine.com website listings.

Our horses are the lucky ones. There's so many more who are not lucky. With your help, we can continue to provide for the ones we can help, and keep working to change our attitudes about the human-horse relationship. 

Thanks for stopping by.