What’s New

  • Mule Crossing: Contemporary Mules


    By Meredith Hodges

    Artillery Pack Mule, 1940_CCMules played an important role in our country during the Reconstruction Period: they patiently worked the fields, packed necessary artillery for the army, and served as a durable riding and driving animal in the westward movement. With the coming of the industrial age, their uses were minimized and they were faced with the possibility of extinction in the march of progress. Today, through the persistent determination of mule enthusiasts, mules are once again emerging as a conceivable asset to our economy and a unique form of athletic achievement and entertainment.

    With new and improved training techniques, the mules of today are known for their beauty and outstanding athletic ability, their durability and their intelligence. Their uses are limited only to the imaginations of their owners. It is now commonly known that with proper training, a mule can perform better than the horse it was bred from. Subsequently, mules are not only competing in mule shows, but horse shows as well—in events from cutting to dressage. Cattle ranchers have discovered the mule to be an important asset in their business.. He can go all day without tiring and can cover terrain that might discourage a horse, not to mention that the ride is much more comfortable. Hunters caught in the heavy snows of the Rocky Mountains praise their mules for carrying out heavy game and blazing trails through treacherous snowy ground, leading them and their horses to safety. Sales persons are grateful to both mules and donkeys for their humorous contributions in advertising and children appreciate the companionship and affection that mules can offer. Even the army has conceded that mules could make their contribution to the economy through their use in mountain light infantry divisions. The only problem that arises is educating people on mule psychology so that they can train them properly.

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  • The Difference Between a Whinny and a Bray-Neigh



    By Meredith Hodges


    A horse can be dominated by man,

    A mule can be dominated by none.

    A horse succumbs to aggression,

    A mule succumbs to affection.

    A horse is indifferent to man,

    A mule is inquisitive to man.

    A horse moves, then thinks,

    A mule thinks, then moves.

    A horse looks at you,

    A mule looks into you.

    A horse is trained by short punishment and small rewards,

    A mule is trained by long patience and great logic.

    To ride a horse well, one must be proud,

    To ride a mule well, one must be humble.

    The more one understands people, the more one loves animals,

    The more one understands animals, the more one loves mules!

    To learn more about Meredith Hodges and her comprehensive all-breed equine training program, visit LuckyThreeRanch.com or call 1-800-816-7566. Check out her new accredited equine university at TMDEquineUniversity.com and her children’s website at JasperTheMule.com. Also, find Meredith on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

    © 1985 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

  • Mule Crossing: Jack Copp and Joker


    By Meredith Hodges

    Bonnie's_Jack&Joker005-5Jack Copp was a very special man with a very special mule. Jack was born in Fairfax, Oklahoma, about 45 miles south of the Kansas border. His father worked with mules in the oil fields acquired from the Osage Indians by the U.S. Government years before. Although his father was familiar with mules, Jack was enamored with horses and particularly with team roping. Jack, a congenial and responsible man, worked at his job for 27 years and roped steers in his spare time.

    Then came the accident that changed his life. Jack was run over by a forklift that left him partially crippled for the rest of his life. He could no longer do the things he loved the most. In the midst of his depression, he met an old man who suggested that he get a Bonnie's_Jack&Joker007-7couple of mules to mess with. “They’ll git you on your feet,” he said. Jack took the man’s advice and bought Joker, a sorrel yearling mule colt and his sister, Sissy, a weanling molly mule in November of 1978. By May of 1979, Jack had taught Joker enough tricks to entertain the audience at Bishop Mule Days in California.

    This was where I first saw them. In six short months Jack had Joker (only two years old) stretching, sitting, laying down, carrying his feed bucket, rolling a barrel with his front legs, and walking on his hind legs. What he had done with that handsome young mule was remarkable, but what Joker had done for Jack was even more amazing. Jack’s life was given new meaning and his faith restored by this long-eared, little red mule. Sissy, Joker’s sister, was sold and put into training with famed mule trainer Pat Parelli of California, while Jack and Joker became the very best of friends.


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  • Mule Crossing: A Miracle For Excalibur


    By Meredith Hodges

    It was the first week in December. The trees had long since lost their brilliant fall colors, the grass had turned to brown, and the air held the chill of winter. The mules, donkeys, and horses of the Lucky Three breeding farm basked in the peaceful morning sun, awaiting their morning feeding. We made the rounds, checking each animal and were surprised to come upon our jack, Lucky Three Excalibur, otherwise known as “Zee,” in a very depressed state. This was not normal for him and caused us some concern. Zee was a very special Mammoth donkey jack. His grandsire, Little Jack Horner had been famous for the production of refined, attractive and horse-like saddle mules. For years, we searched for just the right jennets to begin producing Mammoth jackstock that would carry on this tradition. However, Little Jack Horner kept producing daughters from the jennets. Finally, we bred L.J.’s three daughters to another fine jack, Blue Zebulon from the Bitterroot Mule Company and each of them had a jack colt. Lucky Three Excalibur was the finest of the three jack colts. He was tall, refined, black, and beautiful! He was the successful culmination of years of breeding research and implementation of the knowledge we gained.

    zeephotosrobin10-22-130013_ccNo other was as loving, affectionate, and willing as Zee! His ground training went smoothly and he was trained to breed in hand with no difficulties. Clients were exceptionally pleased with his offspring and he went on to become a star. Zee was actually broke to ride while shooting the donkey training videos for the Training Mules and Donkeys video series. Zee’s career soared when the videos were revised for television and he obtained a starring role in the making of the Discovery Channel’s “The Ultimate Horse.” If he was born handsome, he grew to be even more magnificent. In adulthood, he matured to 15.2 hands sporting the shiniest black coat and incredibly good conformation for a Mammoth donkey.zeephotosrobin2-10-22-130001

    When I saw him standing so depressed, I thought about the years that went into his making and hoped this wouldn’t be more than a mild colic. We called our vet who came out and did a complete checkup. He said he wasn’t really sure what was going on with him, but it wasn’t colic and after a week with no change, he suggested that we take him to Colorado State Veterinary Teaching Hospital for further examination. Trooper that he was, Zee loaded easily, but it was evident that he was in distress.

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  • Little Big Shots!


    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!

  • Mule Crossing: Leverage Versus Abuse


    By Meredith Hodges

    “Leverage” equipment refers to any restraining device or substance that is used to get an equine’s attention and obtain compliance, but many leverage practices often have the reverse effect and have the potential to cause distress and pain. This includes harsh bits, chain leads, twitches, hobbles, stocks and even medications. There are times when our equines can really be a handful, so having a little leverage when needed can be a good thing. However, deciding which equipment to use and learning how to use leverage without it becoming abusive can be a bit daunting. There are so many different types of tack, equipment and restraints that it becomes difficult to determine which would be best to use on your equine to correct a particular problem, or if you really need to use anything at all. It may only be a case of needing to be clearer in your approach, in which case, leverage equipment may not be needed. It is important to make an informed decision when using any leverage equipment to be sure that what you are using is helpful and not abusive.

    leadshankemdt8-1_cc_pr-sm_ccOne very common behavioral problem that seems to identify the need for more leverage is the mule that bolts and runs when on the lead rope. This seems like an obvious disobedience to the handler, and the first thing that comes to mind is to use a lead shank with a chain to gain control of the mule. Normal use for a lead shank is during a showmanship class at a show and it should rarely be used in training unless the equine will be shown at halter and/or showmanship. And then, training in the lead shank should be done only after the animal is following well through all required movements while in his halter and on a lead rope.

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  • Compassionate Training – A Historical Example


    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.”

  • What’s New? Roll


    December 2, 2016 

    Roll’s bout with White Line Disease began on December 31, 2015 and did not look very promising considering we were dealing with a 3000 lb. animal with two-thirds of his hoof wall detached and full of fungus.

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  • The Borax Wagon Replicas are on the Move!


    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!



    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.


    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


  • Mule Crossing: Longears Loving Impact



    “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee:

       he is just and having salvation; lowly

         and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt

           the foal of an ass” Zechariah 9:9

    3-donkeysThese words have been an inspiration to all who have heard them since the time they were written—to those of us who love Longears, the words carry the message of a lifetime and the secrets of a dream. Not only did the Lord Jesus ride into Jerusalem on the back of an ass, but remembrances of that ride are clearly marked on the backs of many asses since in the form of a cross. One can really only guess at why asses received this unique blessing, but as the Lord blessed the asses, so they have in return endeavored to bless us with their righteous ways.

    It would seem that the asses were chosen because they represent more fully the characteristics in all of us that are just and good. The most evident inspiring characteristic of the ass is his undying affection for humans and the patience he exhibits when dealing with them; an excellent portrayal of this affection and patience is found in Marguerite Henry’s story of “Brighty of the Grand Canyon.” In addition, asses are not possessive creatures: they do not seek to impress, nor do they have inflated ideas of importance; they are humble, not greedy or selfish, and are content to give freely all that they have to give. There is no limit to their endurance and no end to their trust. Unpleasant moments are undoubtedly remembered, yet forgiven when requested and owners are inspired to be more constructive in their methods. Within asses, there is a hidden hope of happiness, contentment, peace and brotherhood. The inspiration of these noble characteristics does not go unnoticed as asses ennoble those around them.

    Throughout our lifetimes, we are faced with challenges and choices, most of which are met by trial and error. Asses limit and simplify our choices, leaving us less room for trial and error and more chance for success. An example of this could be the man who could not make his donkey cross the bridge over a deep, wide canyon. Failing to cause the donkey to cross the bridge, the man spent much extra time walking his donkey down one side of the canyon and up the other. As they rested at the far side of the bridge, a horse and rider approached the same challenge; the horse balked, but the rider forced him onto the bridge. At about the middle of the bridge, the boards were rotted and horse and rider plunged to their death… a costly lesson. “He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe” (Proverbs). Stop, look, and listen with your heart as well as your ears–your donkey has much to teach you.

    croplj11-16-11-005Man has always sought to better himself and his environment. He seeks to set shining examples to all, however, he falls short due to negative aspects in his character. The ass, who has always been humbled, does not seek to set examples, he IS an example with his honest and faithful ways; he is quick to accept that which is good and tolerant of all else. This unique character coupled with his physical abilities makes him an excellent life partner.

    Perhaps, the most important and unselfish contribution the donkey has made in this world is his willingness to produce offspring not of his own species. We can fantasize the reasons for this–perhaps, he saw a chance to combine his incredible character with the physical beauty of the horse, again to try to please us humans and make him more attractive to us. But whatever the reasons, mules and donkeys are attracting more humans with each passing year. They instill in us a desire to support and promote their cause which in turn becomes our cause. What human can detest the cause of happiness, contentment, peace, and brotherhood?

    It is apparent, like never before, the impact that Longears are having on people all over the world. The shows and events including them have grown tremendously over the last 40 years, and the number of people affected by them has increased so much that we now see enough people in localized areas to put on their own events. In Colorado, for example, the only shows for Longears were incorporated into larger shows such as the Colorado State Fair and the National Western Stock Show. Today, counties are taking initiative to include mules and donkeys in the county fairs, and local riding clubs are inviting them to participate in annual All-Breed shows. Increased understanding and appreciation for the positive qualities of Longears brings more and more people together all the time. Their generous ways have positively influenced people toward a genuine pursuit of happiness. Why is this phenomenon occurring? Because… “We may not realize that everything we do affects not only our lives, but touches others too. For a little bit of thoughtfulness that shows someone you care creates a ray of sunshine for both of you to share — Yes, every time you offer someone a helping hand, every time you show a friend you care and understand, every time you have a kind and gentle word to give, you help someone find beauty in this precious life we live. For happiness brings happiness, and loving ways bring love; and giving is the treasure that contentment is made of” (Amanda Bradley).

    For more information about Meredith Hodges and her comprehensive correspondence training program, Training Mules and Donkeys, please visit www.LuckyThreeRanch.com or call 1-800-816-7566. Also, find Meredith Hodges and Lucky Three Ranch on Facebook and Twitter. And don’t forget to check out her children’s website at JasperTheMule.com.


    By Meredith Hodges © 1985, 2016 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.

  • A Very LTR Christmas!


    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!

  • Let’s Roll!


    When draft mule, Roll, arrived at Lucky Three Ranch, he needed some special attention and rehabilitation. Watch what happens when Meredith Hodges sets out to help the gentle giant.

  • What’s New with Roll? Everything!


    Roll continues to improve after a bout with White Line Disease that began in January 2016. The White Line Disease in his left hind foot is almost completely grown out now!


    He is maintaining conditioning pretty much on his own with turnout since I did not want to add any stress to his routine while the hoof was still badly compromised. I was pleased to see that all the lessons that Roll has had for the past six years are firmly engrained in his brain.


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  • Spuds & Augie Go Exploring!



    “It’s a beautiful Fall day, Augie! Where do you think we are we going this time?”


    “Maybe I shouldn’t have asked!”


    “It wasn’t really THAT bad, was it, Spuds?!”


    “Hey, Spuds, come look in here! It’s pretty cool!”

    “Has she finally lost her mind, Augie?! We can’t fit in there!”

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  • Mules and Donkeys in the Bible


    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).”

  • LTR Presents: Spuds & Augie in “Spa Days”



    Our miniature donkeys, Spuds & Augie, have a day in the “spa”. Watch the adorable music video compilation of their grooming sessions.

  • Dressage Mule Slate Helps Spread Awareness of Working Equines


    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


    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


    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!


    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.

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