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DEC. 2015
In This Issue
Did You Know?
Our website is rapidly becoming the Equine Research Center of choice. There is much more to peruse than one might expect: Ask Meredith with answers to a wide variety of management and training questions, Video on Demand for those of you who miss having our weekly training and Jasper shows on RFD-TV, a library of video Training Tips, over 200 of my Mule Crossing articles, Equine Welfare News for updates and action alerts and a free Classified Ads section for our fans to buy, sell and exchange equines, tack, and equipment. 
Jasper The Mule 

Have a Muley Christmas with our
Jasper Christmas Sale!

Put Jasper: A Christmas Caper under the tree!   Jasper and Moxie are at it again as they learn about family and trust, and save the big Christmas parade!  

Get 10% off all individual books and DVDs and free shipping on all Jasper Collections.

Order yours today!


Tour Season Reopens
on January 4, 2016

There is something for everyone at Lucky Three Ranch with four different tour options. Explore the beautiful grounds of Lucky Three Ranch on a guided tour with world-renowned equestrian, Meredith Hodges. Meet the wold-famous equines—from a pair of miniature donkeys to an 18-hand draft mule! We have a special tour for the kids and an intensive learning experience for equestrians. 

Click here to schedule your visit today!



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Featured Products

It's the Holiday Training Sale!


Right now you can treat yourself and your equine to training from Meredith Hodges at 15% off regular prices for all individual books and DVDs.  

And don't forget, Lucky Three Ranch
training packages come in four different levels and have FREE SHIPPING!


Longears Limelight

Ovidio Osorio, owner and founder of Criadero Villa Luz in Colombia

My friend, Ovidio Osorio, owner and founder of
Criadero Villa Luz in Colombia received a prestigious Commendation Award this year for his contribution to Colombian history and his dedication to the production and promotion of quality mules. Criadero Villa Luz has produced some of the finest Paso Fino mules in the world and have expanded their program to include breeding miniature mules, hinnies and exploration into equine embryo transplant into molly mules and hinnies. He is truly an amazing international ambassador for our amazing hybrids!

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Video On Demand!
Watch anytime, with video on demand.
Get started training your horse,mule or donkey with Training Mules & Donkeys.

Snuggle down with the kids
and watch all six of the
Jasper the Mule animated movies!

Build the ultimate partnership with Give Your Equine the Athletic Edge.

Watch the equine documentary series Those Magnificent Mules.

Click here to see all the available episodes and rent them whenever you want!


 Admission Opens January 18 

TMD Equine University will oficially open admissions for the 2016-2017 year beginning January 18.

Contact us by email or call 800-816-7566 for information about next year and get a jump on preparing for admissions.

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Meredith Hodges

Dear Friends,

This year has been pretty testy on all fronts and seems to have flown by so incredibly quickly. I cannot believe that we are already approaching the holiday season. Despite the trials and tribulations presented throughout the year, I always try to find the time to congregate with my longeared companions for moral support through any of these trying times. I find there is something quite remarkable about equines, and particularly about longears, that soothes the soul!

Equines are used for therapeutic riding programs because of their unique ability to connect with humans and to heal what hurts. I am so proud of the Hearts and Horses therapeutic riding program, which I have sponsored for over 17 years now. They began as a small entity, with BIG hearts but very limited acreage, and have since grown into a national role model for therapeutic riding and more! In addition to the program for physically disabled riders, we have added programs for at-risk kids, autistic individuals, and aged seniors, as well as the Horses for Heroes program, which addresses the needs of military veterans—particularly those with PTSD. We have a summer groundwork camp for kids and even a vaulting program to further enhance proprioception and balance in our equines and riders. In October, we had yet another fundraiser that was attended by 650 people and yielded the most we have ever raised to date! It’s the program that keeps on giving and thus, keeps on growing! I couldn’t be more pleased!

We are accumulating a lot more Facebook fans and now have over 200,000! I am so glad that my research and the continued improvement of my management and training program is finally reaching those who would benefit from it the most. Children cannot be expected to learn everything they need to know to enter society as a responsible adult in just 60 to 90 days—it takes 12 years of small steps and concentrated effort at school to achieve such goals. It is no different with equines. We should not expect to just teach them how to do things without regard for their true ability to comply. Equines have as diverse personalities as we do, and as many different learning styles. Like us, they also need the correct regimen of exercises to develop their strength and endurance in a logical and healthy manner. This is why it is so important to consider the whole equine (mentally, emotionally and physically) and your own issues and abilities when executing your management and training activities. Management and training should be fun, exciting and safe for both you and your equine, but it cannot be that way when things are rushed. So, don’t be afraid to take things at yours and your equine’s own pace one step at a time! My program has added 5 to 10 years to the lives of my equines…all the more time for fun and enjoyment together! This holiday season, don’t forget to share with those who are truly a blessing to us all…our beloved equines…whether mule, donkey, horse, pony, zebra or even any equine hybrids! And, how about sharing the love of the season with ALL of our animal companions who give so much and ask so little!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!



Training Question: 


I am writing to you this morning to thank you for words of wisdom from our last email exchange earlier this month: “We do what we can with the help of others around the world.” So true. I found this to be the case while working on behalf of the homeless dogs in Baja California, Mexico, from 2005 to 2008.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I did not get very far with calls into the head offices of PBS in Arlington, VA, to express my concern over one short segment of the Haiti program in which a very heavy-set, U.S.-based chef is being carried up a hillside on a scrawny donkey—whose knees were angled out laterally in mid-stride. One gentleman, who monitors the ethical/integrity content of programs before they are televised, said, “I don’t see what the problem is.” I responded, “It looked inhumane.” But later that day, I received a return call from the Oklahoma PBS network president who, with greater compassion, noted, and this is a paraphrase: “It could have been the context—this is the way the people in Haiti do it, so the film crew followed their local custom.” He did watch the program again, he said, and I certainly thanked him for that.


Not to keep banging the pavement with a spoon, I just thought to write to say that your manuals teaching better treatment of equines are so necessary for many parts of the world. I did find, just by surprise, a donkey sanctuary in Bonaire, a small island off the coast of Venezuela, taking wonderful care of them there.


Thank you again.





Thank you for the update! I would expect that there are not very many people that see this as a problem, however, The Donkey Sanctuary (you can Google them) in the United Kingdom and various colleges throughout the United States have been sponsoring educational programs in third world countries to teach better equine management practices. Veterinarian Amy McClean took my foreign-translated training manuals to several foreign countries while she was on her mission educating people about donkey care and I believe (if I am not mistaken) that she went to Venezuela! The donkeys they use are critical to their economies, as is true in many third world countries, and keeping them healthy is to the benefit of the owners. So, I would say, we are doing what we can and appreciating anything that people can do to bring attention to this issue. Every little phone call helps, even if you don’t get the response that you expect!

The Donkey Sanctuary in Bonaire was one of the British Donkey Sanctuary’s international projects, and they are hard at work with similar projects across the globe, including places like Cyprus, Egypt and India. This is a vast world and we are but a drop in the bucket, but we are making some progress…if you look back and see how far we have come! All we can do is keep doing what we are doing…one small step at a time!

Video Training Tip

LTR Training Tip: Leading for Ideal Muscle Development

Conducting your leading training on flat ground first is the best way to build strength in good equine posture for symmetrical muscle development.


For more information, check out TMD Episode 2, "The Mule Foal.” or learn more from this episode’s by downloading the Training Tip Tutorial.

Subscribe to the Training Tips!

From Our Readers


Well, I am so happy to report that your suggestions for handling Peanut's behavior are working so beautifully and almost immediately. If you recall, I was concerned about giving her oats rewards as she was so crazy, grab-mouthy and unpredictable. I did want to keep my fingers, after all.
But I have been very strict about the fact that she must do specifically what I ask and be calm before she is rewarded when I am working with her, and her general behavior has changed as well. She is not so worried if one of the others is getting attention now. She is an enthusiastic baby after all, but she is really trying and seems to be realizing that she need not be aggressive to get attention. I guess the withholding of the food reward really made her feel more needy and left out. She is a good girl and also follows without halter and lead when I ask her to. Another example of just how smart those donkeys and mules are. Thank you again for your suggestions. I just love how much donkeys really do want to please, if they are just shown how.
–C. E.

Thank you so much for all the information in your response email regarding the matter of weight-bearing guidelines for horses and donkeys and mules.

I will be taking a good deal of time to really read it through and absorb as much as I can. It's amazing.
This information is so thorough and nourishes my heart and soul! I have been an animal lover—I feel I relate most to horses and dogs (but am in awe of so many deer, buffalo, birds of all stripes, cows, lions, elephants, it goes on)—since age 7 or 8 (I am 52 as of this writing).
In my 30s and 40s I began asking myself many questions regarding animal welfare—on as many levels as I could think of: questions relating to proper diet, many aspects of medical care both conventional and holistic, as well as communication that happens through training and development of their physical and mental health. I believe in learning about providing structure that is rooted in love and respect for the animal.


In Memoriam

Lucky Three Sundowner, (“Sunny”)
June 2, 1980 – October 27, 2015

Foaled June 2, 1980, Lucky Three Sundowner was the last mule born at my mother’s Windy Valley Ranch and at two weeks old, the first mule to become part of my own Lucky Three Ranch. He showed successfully at Halter, English and Western Pleasure, and became the 1984 World Champion Reining Mule at Bishop Mule Days. However, his greatest accomplishment was to make it to Fourth Level Dressage after introducing Dressage to our Bishop Mule Days show, and after winning the World Championship at Third Level Dressage in Bishop in 1992 and 1993 (they did not offer Fourth Level). He never really liked the Full Bridle and did all this in a Snaffle Bridle. Mules were not allowed to compete in the A.H.S.A.-sanctioned shows with horses during that time, so we were limited to schooling shows with horses to measure our progress. However, with his help, and with the help of other Dressage enthusiasts like Carole Sweet and Audrey Goldsmith, we laid a foundation with goals that were finally realized eighteen years later when mules were finally officially accepted into the Dressage Division of the United States Equestrian Federation. To date, “Sunny” is the only mule in history (that I am aware of) to be schooled at Fourth Level Dressage. He was working on Piaffe, Passage and Flying Lead Changes every two strides when he was retired at twenty-three years old...truly a remarkable friend and ambassador for his breed! This week, he finally crossed over the “Rainbow Bridge” due to a tumor that eventually prevented his ability to chew. He will be profoundly missed!

What's New?

The Peanuts Movie Premiere

This may not be about equines, but it might be of interest to my friends and fans! On November 1, I joined my brothers and sisters in honor of our father, Charles M. Schulz, at the premier of The Peanuts Movie. We do not have the opportunity to get together like this very often, but here we are: Jill Transki, Craig Schulz (who wrote the script for the movie), me, Monte Schulz and Amy Johnson. It was a fabulous movie and I hope that you will all have the opportunity to see it! The movie has been released to theaters as of November 6. The day after the premiere, Snoopy was given an official star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame right next to his creator! For a sneak peak, click on this link: The Peanuts Movie Premiere

Guest Writer: Jan Pollema, Hearts & Horses

Thanks to the generosity of the northern Colorado community, Hearts and Horses’ dream of a remodeled facility will soon become a reality. Hearts and Horses offers an array of equine assisted programs that are designed to empower participants, promote self-sufficiency and encourage growth, both inside and outside of the riding arena. Over the last 15 years, Hearts and Horses has expanded their programs to include services for veterans, youth at risk and individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia. With the number of riders with disabilities quadrupling since 2000, the demand on the current facility has grown exponentially, creating safety, accommodation and logistical concerns for staff and riders.


Thanks to community support, construction to remodel the existing Kroh arena began in 2014 with an initial donation of $175,000. Over the last year, Hearts and Horses was able to leverage this seed money to a staggering $850,000 in grants and in-kind services. From donated steel, electrical, flooring and doors, to deep discounts on other services, the newly remodeled Kroh arena now includes 3000 square feet of office space, a welcome center for participants, families and volunteers, and a heated observation area. One very exciting addition, thanks to Meredith Hodges and the Lucky Three Ranch, is a Sure Hands Lift designed to help individuals in wheelchairs get on and off the horse safely. This lift will allow Hearts and Horses to serve individuals with greater needs, while assuring the safety for our staff, riders, volunteers and equines!


The construction will be complete by January 1, 2016, allowing the center to begin the New Year in its newly refurbished home. The following photos depict the transformation that has occurred at Hearts and Horses over the last year. The arena facelift and new welcome center will allow the program to continue its mission of transforming lives each and every day. Once again, thank you northern Colorado for your support!

Hearts and Horses Executive Director, Jan Pollema, takes the first ride in the Sure Hands Lift. The excitement was so great, the stabilization arms didn’t even get unwrapped!

Before the 3000 SF addition.

After the 3000 SF addition.

Transformation of the south east corner of the Hearts 

and Horses Kroh arena.

Before and after the 3000 SF addition.  Stay tuned for the addition of the Legacy Garden at the entrance of the new building.

Jan P0llema
Veteran’s Program Coordinator  - Hearts and Horses, Inc.
Hearts & Horses Therapeutic Riding Center
Loveland, Colorado

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Bonnie's Bit:Bonnie Shields, the Tennessee Mule Artist

Summer was long and very hot and extremely dry in North Idaho this year. Even if you had a chance to saddle up and ride, you just didn't want to—and neither did your mule. Pasture played out about July. Hay is sketchy and hard to find and very expensive. We bought what we could and have "scrounged" for what else we could find. Old hay from last year, mostly. Not the best, but it keeps everyone going. Expect we will run flat out about February and then it will hafta be cubes or whatever we can find. Understand, we have been feeding hay daily since July!

Had a scare from my donkey "Ike" back in late August as he was going downhill, was choked with edema and barely alive. Called my vet and he examined him and said, frankly, that the donkey was dying, but he drew blood and tested it and there was no infection or alarm bells, so, I called my hero, Meredith, and she set me in on a better feeding program. She assured me it wouldn't affect his abscess foot problems, so I started him on rolled oats and a supplement. About then, his edema manifested itself in a massive swelling in his genital area and he quit moving altogether. Vet put him on antibiotics and I "doctored him twice a day" with washing the area once it ruptured and began to drain, and poking pills down him. He felt so badly, he didn't fight anything I did. But, it all worked eventually and now I have a healthy old donkey who looks so forward to his oats and corn oil and supplements. He is even gaining weight, which he needed so very much, and is walking more freely than he has in years.
Lesson learned. Nutrition is the key to health—for all of us, even asses. Thank you, Meredith.
Had Hells Canyon Mule Days in early September and then the big draft horse/mule show here in Sandpoint the last of September. Both awsume and fun and full of friends, two-legged and four.
Now, I am in the final push to get my "act" together for my presentation on my Wilderness adventure of July 2014. It takes place November 20 here in Sandpoint, Idaho at the POAC gallery in town. Wish you all could come.
Not doing NFR anymore, so a local charity has eared me down to produce a special wreath for their auction for the Kinderhaven facility for children in need of a temporary home. Awsume facility and folks. Wonder what I'll come up with?
Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving and MERRY CHRISTMAS to all. Keep Your Traces Tight out there.


Leah's Corner:Bonnie Shields, the Tennessee Mule Artist

Welcome to a new edition of “the Rollercoaster of Life.” This year has been up and down for many people across the country. If you were down here in Texas and surrounding areas, you experienced, as we did, the cycle of drought/flood/drought/flood. They are saying we have the highest record rainfall for the year and the longest period of drought. What a combination! 

This left many people in some awkward situations. Foaling/calving times were off, as the females didn't want to have their young in the middle of some of the worst storms around. Or they had that one who ONLY foals in bad weather, and baby hit the ground swimming. Roads were closed, people were cut off in some areas. Lakes flooded, after being at record dried-up mud flat lows for years. Grass, hay and crops growing in the fields couldn't be cut. In some areas, the mold blooms were incredible. One of our members notes her saddles—indoors and on a saddle rack—sported a film of mold after only two days of non-use. Hay was rotting in the fields. Hooves weren't getting normal wear. 

What do you do when the weather and everything seems to be against you? Keep on chugging along is about all any of us can do, but what kind of plans do you have for a rainy day? Do you have evacuation plans? Do you have enough trailers to be able to get your livestock out in an emergency? Do you have a halter for all your equines? Could they all be caught and loaded? Do you have a store of feed, and hopefully some of last year's hay well sheltered?

As we get into colder weather (first freeze early this year for Texas) there are shorter daylight hours. We get up in the dark, feed stock, do chores, go to work. Some of those days are going to be too cold and rainy to do a lot. Those are great for doing a little additional organizing. Clean the tack and make sure it is good repair. Put a tag or label or even mark a name in Sharpie on halters for each animal. Those that fit no one but are still good, bundle together in an old pillow case and store them so they’re accessible but out of the way.

Make copies of your paperwork if you haven't already. This is always a problem we are faced with when people call the registry. Digital copies, paper copies, but have copies! This helps you, your buyers and the registry. (It never hurts to do cleanup software on your computer on a monthly basis—weekly if you use the 'net a lot—and to run a full backup of all records beforehand.) Swap out your storage drive—we use four different ones in rotation at the ADMS. We've had that crash before, and it's no fun.
Update your breeding records. Update your show records. Update your website. If you are selling stock, or standing a jack, a good clean website is useful! Software updates to websites (we're experiencing that now) can be a good thing or a terror... but the more updated the site the less you may have to do later. 

We hope everyone has a good winter with little stress and strife and we look forward to seeing all the lovely new additions in the spring—whether they are born on your farm or find a new adoptive forever home. 

Whichever holidays you celebrate, may they be happy ones!

Leah Patton, Office Manager, ADMS 

The statements, views, and opinions by contributors are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of Lucky Three Ranch and Meredith Hodges.

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