Blessing of the Animals 2019
Trinity United Methodist Church is holding its 12th annual Blessing of the Animals service May 4 at 4:00 p.m., on the front lawn, with music, prayer and presentations by two equine organizations, each of whom will have two of their horses here. The event is free and open to the public.
Everyone is invited to bring their pets for a special blessing. It doesn't matter what your pet may be, he or she is welcome to come for a blessing. In addition to a large assortment of dogs of all sizes, we've had a rabbit, a cat, a snake, and even a rat in the past. If you want your pet to receive a blessing, you and it are welcome.
We are showcasing two different equine organizations this year. Read on to learn more about their contributions to the community.
Blue Star Equiculture
This working horse sanctuary in West Brookfield, Mass., offers retired, disabled and homeless draft horses a safe, loving home, many of whom might otherwise end up facing poor living conditions or even slaughter. Draft horses are bred for their large size and strength to do heavy work, and their ancestors played a major role in building civilization.
Some horses remain at Blue Star for the rest of their lives, while others who are suitable for adoption are placed in good homes. Healthy draft horses physically need to work, so these animals are given jobs in nearby communities, such as farming, logging, carriage work and competitive pulling events.
Blue Star Equiculture will be bringing two Shires – Foxy and Merlin. Shires can weigh up to 2,000 pounds! Foxy and Merlin are among 27 horses presently living at this equine sanctuary.
It costs from $150,000-155,000 annually to care for the sanctuary’s horses. Another major expense is a large barn, designed especially for draft horses, presently under construction. It is all a labor of love for executive director Pamela Rickenbach and her team of volunteers, but meeting the expenses is difficult.
Whispering Horse uses equine-assisted therapy to help children and adults who have physical or mental challenges, such as autism, cerebral palsy, ADHD, stroke, brain injury and many other conditions. Patricia Bean, founded this organization back in 2002, and since then, she, her horses, equine therapists and volunteers have helped dozens of clients. Her unique programs and services are designed to help clients achieve cognitive, physical, emotional, educational, social or behavioral goals.
Horses are natural born healers. The movement of a horse can help normalize muscle tone, postural stability, balance and strength for clients with variety of physical disorders. A horse’s body can help with a variety of sensory integration issues by establishing rhythm or providing stimulation. Educational activities can help clients with cognitive challenges. Participating in equine activities with others can help develop social skills, and bonding with horses can help overcome anxiety and build confidence.
Whispering Horse will be bringing Jake, the equine star of the Boar’s Head Festival, and as Pat explains, “whoever else is willing to get in the trailer that day!” (If you have ever tried to convince a reluctant horse to get in a trailer, you will know what she means!)
It costs about $50,000 a year to care for seven horses who provide so many beneficial services. Donations are always needed and Whispering Horse is always looking for volunteers.
How You Can Help
The cost of caring for horses is high and unpredictable. Horses need hay, grain, farrier service (hoof care), routine dental care, and veterinary care – plus shavings for bedding and miscellaneous supplies and equipment. A health problem requiring the care of a veterinarian can run into hundreds and even thousands of dollars, and if an injury or illness can’t be treated onsite, it may require trailering a horse to a large animal hospital, like Tufts Equine Center in North Grafton, Mass.
If you would like to make a donation to help these organizations, you may do so at the Blessing of the Animals service or if you can’t attend, you may send a check to them at the following addresses:
Blue Star Equiculture
62 Birch Hill Road
West Brookfield, MA 01585-2829
253 Hampden Road
East Longmeadow MA 01028-3013
(If you’d like to volunteer, visit https://whisperinghorse.org/giving.htmland download an application.)
Our photo gallery includes pictures of horses from the featured organizations as well as pets who were blessed last year.