What's New: LTR Blog

MULE CROSSING: Letter from “Jasper” the Mule

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By Meredith Hodges

Hi, Meredith!

My name is Jasper. I am a three-year-old, 15HH, bay Quarter Horse mule. I suppose, by people standards, I’m really nothing special, but I’m still me! I heard my owners talking about you the other day. They said that if anyone could help set me straight, it would be you. I didn’t know there was a problem! I always try to do what they want me to, but sometimes that can be hard to figure out! When I was just a foal, people used to come out to see me and my mother.

We were pastured on a couple of acres that surrounded an old shed where we used to get in out of the weather. My mother was content to graze and doze day after day – she wasn’t much on excitement. I used to love it when the people came and carried on about how cute I was. Then they would scratch and massage my fuzzy little body. They even got a little playful when I followed them around, romping, playing, and bumping them with my nose. “Oh, look how cute and friendly he is,” they’d say.

One day, when I was about six months old, the people came to play. I was feeling especially good that day and was glad to see some playmates coming to my pasture. Mom doesn’t really like to play much. I let them scratch and pet me for about 10 minutes, but then they started to leave! I didn’t want them to go, so I ran quickly behind one of the older men, nipped him on the butt playfully, and looped my forelegs over his shoulders. Wham! My whole head ached with the sting from that blow and I heard: “Get out of here, you brat!”  I didn’t understand. They’d always liked to play before. “I guess we’ll have to start halter breaking this mule and teach him some manners!”

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MULE CROSSING: Donkey Talk

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By Meredith Hodges

Donkeys are indigenous to desert areas that are often extremely hot or extremely cold. They are tough, surefooted due to the unique shape of their hooves, resistant to parasites, and disease and can withstand wide variations in climate. They require very little to survive and actually prefer the wide variety of brush and weeds that occur naturally in the desert with one of their favorite foods being dandelions.

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MULE CROSSING: Jumping Mules

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By Meredith Hodges

In 1986, when I first began using my mules in Dressage, you would never have convinced me that I would follow it up with jumping. I was fearful of jumping because of a few bad experiences I had with horses. However, once I took the time to learn to ride and train properly with Dressage and experienced the overall stability of a mule, my fear disappeared.

Nowadays, when people find out that I jump my mules, the response is often, “I didn’t know mules could jump!” Not only can mules jump, they are quite good at it. However, if a mule or any other equine is to have the strength and coordination they need for jumping, their training must be approached in a specific, practical and healthy way. Then they can learn to maintain good rhythm in all gaits between jumps, to jump only as high as needed to clear fences, and to adjust their strides to and away from jumps. Proper jumping training takes time and patience because there is much more to jumping than just making it over the fences.

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MULE CROSSING: My Favorite Christmas Tradition

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By Meredith Hodges

My favorite holiday of the year has always been Christmas! The sights, sounds and smells of Christmas transport me to a magical place for the whole month of December, and the excitement and joy of yesterday still ring true today. I cannot think of a more deserving holiday than one that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ and promotes so much hope and serenity throughout the world, if only for a day. Christmas reminds us all that the spirit of sharing and giving is timeless and takes only a willing attitude and a little bit of creativity.

While I was growing up, Christmas in my family was filled with numerous traditions. When we were twelve days out from Christmas, we watched a 1955 film called On The Twelfth Day of Christmas. As you might guess, it was based on the old English song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” Every year, the film
brought wild bursts of laughter, as we watched a proper Edwardian lady’s townhouse in England become filled to overflowing with gifts from her suitor. Not only did she get the gift designated for each day, but also the same gifts from prior days plus the new one. By Christmas, her little townhouse was filled with 12 partridges in pear trees, 22 turtle doves, 30 French hens, 36 calling birds, 25 gold rings,  30 geese a laying, 28 swans a swimming, 32 maids a milking, 27 ladies dancing, 30 Lords a leaping, 22 Pipers piping and 12 drummers drumming! Laughter filled our house daily from that day forward, all the way up to Christmas. Of course, as children, we were also reminded of the “naughty and nice” list.

 

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MULE CROSSING: Looking Objectively at Your Equine

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By Meredith Hodges

Before most of us learn anything about horses, mules and donkeys, we tend to initially perceive them as large, strong and durable animals that can safely carry us anywhere we want to go and can participate in any number of equine events. This is essentially true. However, there can be a number of pitfalls along the way if you do not educate yourself and practice good maintenance, feeding and training practices.

Equines, like people, are comprised of living tissue, bones, muscles and tendons that can often experience improper growth and development, which can compromise their performance. This is why it is important to feed your equine’s living tissue, bones, muscles and tendons a healthy diet and exercise him in a way that builds these elements using natural and non-stressful techniques that will help your equine to strengthen properly in the right frame, or posture.

 

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Help Bring the 20 Mule Team to Washington!

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America’s iconic 20 Mule Team consists of three giant wagons, pulled by a long line of 20 mules, driven by a single man using only voice commands and a jerk line.

This 20 Mule Team will represent the American pioneering spirit in the 2017 National Independence Day Parade in Washington, DC, and will mark the 100th anniversary of the Team being in the 1917 Presidential Inauguration Parade!

But we need your help in getting the team from Death Valley, California, to Centreville, Maryland, where they will be hosted at the Grove Creek Mule Farm.

Schedule of events

Friday, June 30: Sponsor Party at 6:30 PM

Sunday, July 2: Meet the Mules and Muleskinners Public Event from 12 noon to 4 PM at the QAC 4H Park

Tuesday, July 4: National Independence Day Parade, Washington, DC: 12 noon

Become a sponsor and be a part of history! Contact Donna Stutzman at 410-707-1406.

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Sybil Ludington: The Female Paul Revere

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This article is a repost of Valerie DeBenedette‘s article at Mental Floss.  

“… the midnight ride of Paul Revere, On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five: Hardly a man is now alive …”

Yes, the famed Paul Revere set out on horseback on this day in 1775 to raise the alarm that British troops were on their way from Boston to Lexington.

Revere rode about 20 miles through what is now Somerville, Medford, and Arlington, Massachusetts, knocking on doors to raise people to defend Lexington. Another rider, William Dawes, was sent by another route to do the same thing. A third, Samuel Prescott, was also pressed into service. Only Prescott completed the night’s work and reached Concord; Revere was captured and Dawes was thrown from his horse while evading British soldiers, forcing him to walk back to Lexington.

It was a good ride for Revere, and it was good for the revolution. But a little over two years later, a 16-year-old girl did the midnight riders one better. Sybil Ludington rode twice as far as Revere did, by herself, over bad roads, and in an area roamed by outlaws, to raise Patriot troops to fight in the Battle of Danbury and the Battle of Ridgefield in Connecticut. And did we mention it was raining?

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LTR Presents: Because We Can

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Who says dressage is just for horses? We know better! Watch some amazing mules and riders show what they can do, including Lucky Three Sundowner and Buckeye!

Little Big Shots!

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Miniature mules Franklin and Francis and miniature horse Mirage show that good things come in small packages. Miniature equines need special handling, especially when they know they are “Little Big Shots” Enjoy the latest video with three of our miniatures of the Lucky Three Ranch!

Compassionate Training – A Historical Example

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HAPPY NEW YEAR 2017! Let’s go forward loving and learning together with our equine companions! When kindness is used in training, greatness can happen. That is the story of Beautiful Jim Key. The sickly colt was adopted by “Dr” William Key, a freed slave and self-taught veterinarian. Using his veterinary skills and training with no force, the colt grew into a healthy adult with some special abilities – he could read, write, spell, do math, tell time, sort mail, cite Bible passages, use a telephone and cash register. Together, they were seen by an estimated 10 million Americans and hailed as the “Marvel of the Twentieth Century”. Dr Key died at the age of 76, being universally praised for his service to humanity and Beautiful Jim followed three years later at the age of 23. As TIME magazine declared, “This wonderful horse has upset all theories that animals have only instinct, and do not think and reason.”

The Borax Wagon Replicas are on the Move!

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Congratulations to the team who built the Borax Wagon replicas that are on their way to the Rose Parade. I am honored to have sponsored the creation of these phenomenal wagons. Click the photo below to see the news story from KTVQ and watch a video of the wagons!

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The following is an excerpt of a story about the painstaking process of the creation of these magnificent wagons from Last Best News by Ed Kemmick:

JOLIET — Dave Engel has been making and restoring wagons, coaches and other horse-drawn conveyances for almost 40 years, but the commissioned project he’s working on now is likely to be seen by far more people than anything else he’s done.

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Working out of Engel’s Coach Shop on Joliet’s Main Street, just off Highway 212, Engel and one employee have been laboring since last February to build replicas of two of the wagons once used to haul borax in California’s Death Valley.

The massive wagons, made entirely of iron and wood, will be hauled by 20-mule teams in the Rose Parade preceding the Rose Bowl game—among the best-known games in college football—in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 2. The parade is televised around the world and watched by millions.

And on Jan. 20, the mule train and wagons will be California’s official entry in the Presidential Inaugural Parade in Washington, D.C., which will proceed from the Capitol to the White House after the swearing-in of the nation’s 45th president—whose name, in case you hadn’t heard, is Donald J. Trump.

The Death Valley Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that works to promote and support Death Valley National Park, commissioned Engel to build the wagons. The last time one of the famous wagons and 20-mule teams took part in an inaugural parade was 100 years ago, in 1917, when Woodrow Wilson was sworn in for his second term in the Oval Office.

Engel’s wife, Diane, said the conservancy originally wanted Engel to build the two borax wagons and the water wagon that traditionally brought up the rear, but the third piece will have to wait.

“He’s only building two,” she said. “They only gave him 10 months. He’s been working double time.”

Click Here To Read The Full Story

 

A Very LTR Christmas!

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We feel pretty blessed here at Lucky Three Ranch and want to share our good wishes for safe and happy holidays with you and your family. Merry Christmas!

Mules and Donkeys in the Bible

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When I posted this on Facebook about mules in the Bible…

Origins: The mule is mentioned in mankind’s earliest records. Consider this passage from the Bible: “And Absolom met the servants of David. And Absolom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the Heavens and the earth, and the mule that was under him went away.” (II Samuel 18:9). If you choose to ride a mule, you will need a good sense of humor!!!

…we were asked about mules really being in the Bible.  We sent an email to a Rabbi inquiring about the translation of the ancient Hebrew word for “mule” or “pered.” Here is the reply:

“Solomon rode on a mule (1Ki 1:38) because his father David told Zadok, Nathan, and Benaiah to “cause Solomon my son to ride upon mine own mule” (v 33). This is the word for a “she-mule” (BDB, TWOT). Its three Old Testament uses are all in this passage (see v 44), referring to one mule, David’s. Solomon’s riding on David’s mule in company with David’s advisors gave a clear message: he was the successor David had chosen. Years later in secular history, female mules became preferable for riding and males for bearing burdens. That may have been a factor in David’s having this special mule. Second, an observation. David’s sons all rode on (male) mules (2Sa 13:29) and Absalom rode a mule at the end of his life (2Sa 18:9). Since a mule is crossbred between a mare and a male donkey, and since crossbreeding was prohibited in Israel (Lev 19:19), mules were likely imported (TWOT), and were thus more valued. They (along with horses, silver, and gold, etc.) symbolized the wealth that other kings brought to Solomon annually (1Ki 10:25). Third, a suggestion. The greatest reason for David’s choice of a mule rather than a horse may have been God’s prohibition for kings (Deu 17:16): they were not to multiply horses to themselves. David was careful in this. Solomon, to his own destruction, was not (1Ki 10:26, 28).”

Dressage Mule Slate Helps Spread Awareness of Working Equines

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This is a repost from Brooke USA.

Lexington, Ky.  – November 15, 2016 – Grand Prix dressage rider and trainer Vicky Busch and her mule “Slate” continue to spread awareness of the plight of working equines in the developing world and the work of Brooke USA. Most recently Slate and his young rider, Busch’s student Isabella Rodwig won their Training Level Test 3 class at the dressage schooling show at Amen Corner Farm in Folsom, LA.

Isabella Rodwig and Slate Compete at the Amen Corner Farm Schooling Show

The pair did so in style and with a nod to Brooke USA, with a large Brooke USA heart painted on the mule’s rump. Busch uses Slate’s engaging personality and the novelty of seeing him at a dressage show to educate the crowds he draws about the mission of Brooke USA. She hopes that Slate and his young rider will continue to compete in more dressage shows this year with the goal of qualifying for the USDF Region 9 Championships sponsored by the Houston Dressage Society.

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Laura Hermanson & “Behold the Desert” to Compete in USDF Finals

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While dressage has long-been regarded as a horse and Pony Club sport, Meredith Hodges opened the doors to mules in dressage in the United States Dressage Federation Schooling Shows in 1986. With the help of Carole Sweet and Leah Patton of the American Donkey and Mule Society in Lewisville, Texas, they were formally accepted by the United States Equestrian Federation at their convention in Los Angeles in 2004. Laura Hermanson has since taken full advantage of this amazing opportunity. In 2015, she qualified for the United States Dressage Federation Finals with her own mule, “Heart B Dyna”, that is to be the subject of an upcoming documentary. The film is titled ”Dyna Does Dressage,” and is produced by Sarah Crowe and Amy Enser, who describe it as an “Underdog story [that] follows Dyna and her owner/rider, Laura, as they defy the odds to find their place among this elite world of horse riding.” Laura Hermanson is breaking through the stigma that dressage is only for horses and ponies as was previously defined by the USEF Rulebook. Much like Meredith Hodges herself, what began as a love of horses evolved into the championing of the noble MULE, an equine ambassador that truly deserves our respect. This year, Laura is competing Behold the Desert (aka Beasley) owned by Troy and Carol Delfino of Bakersfield, California and bred by Candace Shauger of Genesis Farms in Bremen, Ohio, in the upcoming U.S. Dressage Federation (USDF) Finals in Lexington, Kentucky, November 10-13. Let’s all give our support to this amazing team!

Breeding Letter from George Washington

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A letter from George Washington, written in 1786, was recently put up for auction by bookseller William Reese. The letter is in regards to a donkey sent to Washington’s Mount Vernon ranch for the purpose of breeding. Washington is well-known for his agricultural brilliance and for breeding the first American mule. The correspondence was written a during a breif period of retirement and a few years before Washington became president. washington-letter

Washington writes: “Dear Sir, When your favor of the first inst., accompanying the she ass, came to this place, I was from home – both however arrived safe; but Doct. Bowie informs me that the bitch puppy was not brought to his house. Nor have I heard any thing more of the asses at Marlbro’, nor of the grass seeds committed to the care of Mr. Digges. I feel myself obliged by your polite offer of the first fruit of your jenny. Though in appearance quite unequal to the match, yet, like a true female, she was not to be terrified at the disproportional size of her paramour; and having renewed the conflict twice or thrice it is to be hoped the issue will be favourable. My best respects attend [Mrs. Sprigg] & the rest of your family. With great esteem & regard, I am Dr. Sir Yr. most ob. serv. Go. Washington.”

Happy Mule Appreciation Day!

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To celebrate Mule Appreciation Day, we invite you to learn the history of the American mule and the amazing contributions they have made to the building of our great country.

All Turnouts Must End

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The Lucky Three mules willingly come off the grass pasture at any time of the day that they are beckoned. This is the result of routine management, humane training practices and an ample reward system. Not one equine here is herd-bound as we have become as good friends with them as their equine buddies!

URGENT ACTION ALERT: Stop the Mass Killing of 45,000 Wild Horses & Burros

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Update: The Bureau of Land Management responded to public outcry on Wednesday, saying that the department has no current plans to kill the horses and will continue caring for any horses that are not sold at auction. The department has not yet formally replied to the advisory board’s proposal, but will do so at its next meeting, Reuters reported.

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Please take the time to make your voice heard and stop this tragic decision. The American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign has information to contact your Senators and Representatives.

On September 9, the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board voted to recommend the killing of as many as 45,000 captured wild horses and burros in government holding pens as an “emergency” measure. The agency wants to clear the holding pens so that it can round up 40,000 more wild horses and burros from their homes on the range.

The danger is imminent, but can only become reality if Congress and the Administration authorize this mass killing.

Take a Stand Today! Tell Congress and the Administration NO killing or sterilization of America’s mustangs and burros.

Our innocent and iconic wild horses and burros should not pay the ultimate price for the BLM’s continued mismanagement. Please send your emails today!

Take Action!

 

The History of the Missouri Mule

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The Missouri mule is a well-known symbol of American strength and perseverance, thanks to its significant contributions both within the state and throughout the country. Today, the mule still serves as Missouri’s official state animal, so the connection remains strong. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has put together a great photo slideshow about the history of these iconic equines and their role in the Show-Me State—click here to see the full slideshow!

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