In This Issue
In this issue Leah Patton from the ADMS offers some sound advice on sprucing up for spring and putting your equipment in good order for summer fun with your mules and donkeys. As we head out to the trail, the roundpen or the arena, it's also important to keep in mind all components of sound athletic conditioning to ensure that our animals stay healthy and happy through the summer months and all year round.
Mules and donkeys of all ages benefit from a conditioning program comprised of exercise, stretching and diet. Like any athlete, equines need "workouts" designed to prepare them for "competition." You wouldn't send a football player out on the field without first sending him to the gym, to properly build the muscles he needs to play the game. When you pace your training to fully develop muscles, tendons and ligaments over an aligned frame, your mule will feel good all over and be more willing to comply.
Stretching is also important for the conditioned athlete-young or old. Your mule's muscles should be warm before you stretch. Stretching after a short warm-up and before exercises will help tone the muscles, give joints a wider range of motion and help prevent injury. Stretching again after exercise will help muscles lengthen and relax, helping to avoid soreness.
Of course diet comes into play as well. Opinions about the ideal diet for longears vary, but there are a few points on which most agree: Mules eat less than horses, and the wrong kind of diet can severely affect performance.
For average-size mules I recommend:
- 1 lb crimped oats
- 1 oz of a vitamin concentrate such as Sho Glo
- 1 oz Mazola corn oil (for hooves, coat and digestion)
Feed this once a day in the evenings and grass hay twice a day. Miniatures get half as much grain mix and draft animals twice as much. Avoid pre-mixed sweet feeds and alfalfa products and monitor weight gain by adjusting hay and pasture intake.
Before they were domesticated, equines took care of their own conditioning, exercising as necessary, stretching through motion, eating what was available. But today we run the show. We demand amazing feats of strength and endurance from our equines, restrict their space and subject them to unnatural environments. These animals are our responsibility now and when we provide adequate nutrition, exercise and care, they respond by doing their very best for us.
So be sure to evaluate your conditioning program and enjoy the summer with your long-eared friends.
Bishop was a blast!
Bishop Mule Days was a bit chilly this year but great fun nonetheless. Announcers Bob Tallman, Bob Feist and Steve Kenyon were in fine form keeping the show rolling and the crowds entertained. And of course famed rodeo clowns Jim Bob Feller and Dale Woodward kept everybody in stitches. From the Packers Scramble and Musical Tires to Dressage and Show Jumping, Bishop Mule Days offers an amazing array of events and classes. Hundreds of exhibitors brought their mules and donkeys to show off their stuff. Competition was tough, but as is always the case at Bishop, everyone cheered each other on.
Hello to all from the ADMS!
Summer is right around the corner, as we can all tell by the changes in weather. Rain, no rain, swings in temperature, all of these can throw both people and animals off schedule. For animals, it may be that they don't shed their winter coats at the right time. Owners can help by making sure that a proper diet and daily groomings are given. Grooming your animal is also a great way to get to know them, not only in a physical sense (as in hey, I don't remember this scar behind her ear...) but in a mental one. Does your mule or donkey like a soft-bristle brush on their face, or just a rub-rag? Will they tolerate your pulling their mane for no more than a tug or two, or do they not care a bit? How do they interact with you in their personal space?
Mules Join USDF Awards Program
American Mule Association Board Member Audrey Goldsmith led a successful effort to include mules in the United States Dressage Federation All-Breed Awards Program. With the help of a generous contribution from Meredith, Audrey was able to commit the AMA to participation in the program for three years.
Every year thousands of owners and riders compete for USDF awards. Most USDF awards are based on the quality of the equine and rider's performance determined by scores earned during the competition year. The awards are used to recognize consistently good scores regardless of where equine and rider place in a class.
Mules have been allowed into sanctioned dressage competition since 2004. Now they can also qualify for the awards and earn the recognition they deserve. Way to go Audrey and the AMA!
If you'd like more information about this new development, go to www.usdf.org
Question: My mule is hard to catch and will not leave his pasture mates easily. When we try to ride off, he wants to turn and go back to the barn. What do I do?
Many people think their animals are "herd bound" when really they just enjoy the company of their "friends" as anyone would. Your task is to become as good a friend to your mule as his equine friends. The first step is to allow him to have his equine friends. Don't separate him unless he is a new animal who needs to get acquainted with the others "over the fence" before you actually turn them in together.
I know you are a busy lady! But, I wanted to really thank you for sharing all your information. I record all your RFD-TV shows and enjoy them so much! I just read your web-site and saw that you used to ride Arabs. I, too, have owned Arabs for years. I always thought Mules and Donkeys looked funny and were kind of dumb. I have been a vet tech for 19 years; I work at a mixed practice. Someone gave me a Mini Jennet. My husband and I had always wanted one-they looked cute. (He is a Mule fan). Oh my gosh!!! I got hooked!!! It's so cool, now I have 3 more Mini Donks and 1 in foal! Now I want a Mule or Mammoth Jack someday. You helped to show me how great they are. I haven't ever shown and want to start with some halter classes.
You are such an inspiration!!! It gave me confidence when I heard your TV show [about] Bishop [Mule] Days saying you taught yourself a lot in the beginning. We live in a remote area, not a lot of trainers around. You are an amazing lady. Can't thank you enough!!!!!
Carol Lee Kjelland
As seen on the popular RFD-TV program Training Mules and Donkeys with Meredith Hodges, Meredith's correspondence equine training series is available on DVD and VHS.
Ideal for beginning through advanced students, mule and donkey fans and horse fanciers, competitors and pleasure riders, this one-of-a-kind series offers safe, resistance-free techniques delivered in a logical, step-by-step sequence.
Detailed explanation, accompanied by easy-to-follow demonstrations, simplifies the training process, and if a question does come up, Meredith is available to you by e-mail or phone. It's like having your own private coach!
Purchase videos 1-8 on DVD and receive the 200+-page spiral bound manual Training Without Resistance: From Foal to Advanced Levels, a $19.95 value.
Purchase videos 1-10 on DVD and receive two spiral-bound manuals, Training Without Resistance: From Foal to Advanced Levels and Equine Management and Donkey Training, a $39.90 value.
Training Mules and Donkeys is also available in VHS format. Videotapes are 50% off while supplies last.
For more information or to order please visit our store at www.luckythree ranch.com or call 800-816-7566.
Introducing RFD HD
Many of the programs in the Training Mules and Donkeys series will now be available in High Definition. RFD-TV is proud to announce the launch of RFD HD, the company's new 24-hour television channel. Meredith's programs will air on both RFD-TV and RFD HD, and many including several in her documentary series Those Magnificent Mules will appear in high-definition format on your screen.
For your convenience, here is the June-August program schedule for Training Mules & Donkeys with Meredith Hodges on RFD-TV.
The Countdown has begun! Meredith and her production team are hard at work creating four new animated Jasper the Mule programs, and the first will be available a few short months from now. Jasper: A Christmas Caper, based on the second book in the Jasper series, will be available on DVD in time for Christmas 2008. Then, coming in 2009, Jasper: A Precious Valentine, Jasper: A Fabulous Fourth and Jasper: A Turkey Tale will each be available prior to their corresponding holidays. Collect the whole set, beginning with Jasper: The Story of a Mule, adapted from the original book in the series and available now. Visit www.jasperthe mule.com or call 800-816-7566 for more information.
We'd love to see pictures of your favorite mules and donkeys. Send us a picture of your long-eared friend and if we select yours to print, you'll win a copy of music CD Jasper and His Friends Present featuring music by Western band Riders In The Sky and country western vocalist Mindy Ellis. Enter today!
Please send your non-returnable 300dpi jpeg file to newsl firstname.lastname@example.org.
News? OK. I have designed and carved 6 "Jasper"-related Christmas ornaments and will have them ready for sale at the Cowboy Christmas show in Las Vegas in early December. Soon I will have a small bronze of a mule foal ready for sale, and I am currently carving on another bronze prospect of a work mule head. Gotta keep busy.
Meredith and I have been involved in critiquing the storyboard for the DVD of Jasper: A Christmas Caper, and it is going to be sooo fun and pretty and entertaining. We can hardy wait to see the results of all the work of the talented people engaged in this project. It will be a Christmas Treat for everyone, that's for sure.
Packing and preparing for Bishop has been front and center at my place. We will surely be sharing some of our Bishop adventures with the RFD-TV folks. Hope you can tune in and check things out. In the meantime, Keep Your Traces Tight. Bonnie
Don't forget, Jasper: A Turkey Tale is now on sale! Visit www.jasperthemule.com.