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July 2015
In This Issue
Jasper The Mule 

Hooray for the Red, White and Mule!
Join Jasper the Mule and all his friends in a summertime celebration! As his family prepares their Fourth of July barbecue, Jasper makes his own attempt at freedom—and things get a little messy.
Grab Jasper: A Fabulous Fourth in book or DVD form.

Order yours today!

“Jasper the Mule was a HUGE hit in my home!”
Rural Mama Sandbox

“Five Stars. Our grandkids
love it!”
Kim B.



Explore the beautiful grounds of Lucky Three Ranch on a guided tour with world-renowned equestrian, Meredith Hodges. Meet her champion mules and other equines on site—from a pair of miniature donkeys to an 18-hand draft mule! Specialty tours include visits to the sculpture park, detailed training information and the Jasper the Mule house for kids.

Click here to schedule your visit today using our new
easy online booking system!



Lucky Three Ranch is also now partnered with Trip Advisor, and we encourage past visitors to leave a review on our page!


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Longears Limelight
Click on photo to see full image.
Congratulations to “Pepper” and Jan Pollema, Director of the Hearts and Horses therapeutic riding stable, on the birth of her new horse filly, Dixie! Jan and her equines are having tremendous success with our logical and sequential athletic training techniques, both at home and at work!

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Those Magnificent Mules


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Meredith HodgesDear Friends,
Well, here it is summer already and I am still waiting for a break in the rain so we can finally cut our hay! It has been an incredibly wet winter and spring. This spring has also posed many challenges in taking care of my older equines, since many of them are now well over 30 years old.
Unfortunately, on May 5, we did lose one of our champions,
31-year-old Arabian mule Lucky Three Firestorm, to a benign tumor that had encircled her intestine and finally clamped it closed. I am sorry to say that I was not able to attend Bishop Mule Days this year and see a lot of the friends I do each year. I opted to stay home so I could be available for any emergencies with the older guys that might arise. Those who went to Bishop told me the weather wasn’t really cooperating there either, so what I missed was a lot of cold and wet weather with arena flooding!

I am happy to say that although Mae Bea C.T. was in dire straits as her hocks began to fuse this winter, she has finally gotten better. For three months we had her on pain medication, took regular x-rays and three to four of us would have to help her back up every time she lay down! It was the fusing process that was causing severe pain, but now that they are finally fused, she is able to get up and down by herself most of the time, though she still needs pain medication and regular passive exercise. We need to keep support wraps on her to stabilize her joints, but she doesn’t seem to mind them at all. The equine knee wraps did not work well, but I did find that using Ace Bandages for humans worked just great. She looks like she is ready to go roller blading!
Another major issue we had was turnout. We have generally adequate turnout space for our various groups of equines. In order to keep the county from flooding the way it did last year, this year they opened the gates to the irrigation networks early and sent the excess water down the irrigation ditches. Our turnout pens ordinarily stay dry because we are on the top of a knoll, but this year that was just enough to flood them. And just to keep things interesting, we had a very exciting hailstorm on Memorial Day! I am glad we opted to line the indoor arena with steel so the equines could not chew on the wooden framing, as we used the indoor arena for turnout and just monitored their turnout time. It worked very well, but they did eventually get bored with the same old scenery.
Finally we have had a break in the weather, but only a day at a time with showers in the afternoons. The animals are all much happier now because they are beginning to get limited time on the grass pastures. The turnout areas are finally dried up (at least for now) so they can get outside more and eat grass. We are still waiting for the opening to cut hay, but that might not happen until as late as mid-July. It is not ideal, but we have had to cut the hay that late once before. When you work with animals and in agriculture, you learn to be flexible and negotiate with Mother Nature—one really has no other choice! Wishing you all a safe and happy summer! 

Best wishes and Happy Trails,


Training Question: 

QuestionI have a friend who rescued two donkeys several years ago. He has recently moved near me and wants to help one of the donkeys overcome fear of having his hooves trimmed.
These are rescues and the one who is foundered has to be sedated to be trimmed. Otherwise he is okay with being brushed. I have been under the guidance of a Natural Horsemanship trainer since 2000 and I love helping horses overcome fears and I love the tedious little details that need to be addressed and I understand making clear what you are asking them to do. My friend wants to get this one donkey (named "7") over his fear of having his legs handled. I know how to approach this with a horse, approach and retreat is the easiest way I can explain it here.

I would just brush the brush down his leg and go back to the shoulder in one sweeping motion then build into that, by holding the brush on his leg a few seconds, until he was able to allow me to brush on his legs. With horses, we do not try to pick up their legs, we simply hold our hand on their leg until they move weight off that leg, then release, ,then build into that. I hope this makes sense. This little guy is maybe 400 lbs or smaller, and he has struck the owner, though that was several years ago. The owner tied him in the hall, cleaned the stall, put him back in the stall and as he walked by the stall door to close it, the donkey struck him in the thigh. Previously 7 did flip out some even under sedation when being trimmed. Today he was given what the vet said was a small dose and did fine. Maybe over time he has learned that he is not going to be hurt or mistreated when being trimmed? I just want to do the right thing and I do not want to get hurt and I definitely do not want to do something that will cause emotional trauma. I think I know better than that though. I read through your web page. Thanks for your time. I hope this makes sense. I am willing to read about donkeys’ nature too. 

J. D.

Answer: As you have probably already discovered, longears do not respond well to horse training techniques. All they are to an intelligent animal like mules or donkeys are games. If you want to have success with longears, you should be patient and willing to take the time to take the training slowly and in a logical and sequential order that makes sense (like you would raise a child). We cover handling of the legs right from the beginning with "imprint" training" and continue it throughout their lives. It is a way that we learn how they like to be touched and with what kind of pressure. Donkeys are not fond of trims and can easily out-muscle anyone who tries to force the issue. I don't like to sedate them because that does not improve behaviors and longears can easily be overdosed because of their ability to overcome normal equine sedation doses. There is always an easier route with these animals and sometimes it is so simple, it's crazy. I have discovered that when a donkey is not cooperative during trims, you just need to distract them with a bucket of oats while they are being worked on. When the farrier steps away, you just pull the bucket away and give it back when he returns. This is true whether you are trimming one donkey or ten. If there are multiple donkeys, just tie them all up in a line and do them as a group. The only one that gets the bucket is the one who is being trimmed.

TMD Equine University is a one-year, certified course that—

  • instructs you in how to manage, care for and understand ALL breeds of equine, with a special emphasis on mules, donkeys and hybrids.
  • allows you to take the course even if you don’t own your own equine.
  • can help prepare you for a career in equine management.
  • includes aspects of the “whole” equine and its development.
  • educates you in every stage of an equine’s life, from preparing for a foal to specialized senior care, and every stage in between.
  • presents you with a certificate, approved by the Colorado Division of Private Occupational Schools, at the completion of the course.
  • offers an exciting Graduation Clinic at the end of the course, held at Meredith’s own Lucky Three Ranch! 

ENROLL NOW!  Applications due July 15.

Video Training Tip


LTR Training Tip: Walking Straight Lines 
In order for your equine’s body to be properly balanced, it’s important to fine-tune all movements and make them as steady, balanced, and coordinated as possible.

From Our Readers

TMD Equine University
“Meredith Hodges' comprehensive curriculum of DVDs and textbooks are a beautiful example of teaching the Equid with a fair minded, patient, direct approach. Her methods bring the mule, donkey, or horse together with the owner to establish a very safe, rewarding, but most of all, fun and enjoyable relationship.” 
“Thank you and your staff for the most wonderful tour I have ever had. Your tour fulfilled a dream that I have had since the first time I saw you on RFD-TV. Your ranch and wonderful mules are a reflection of you. I learned so much and was blessed by the time I spent with you today. Thank you for everything you do for mules and donkeys and the Hearts and Horses therapeutic riding program. You are changing and enriching lives. Words that describe Meredith Hodges: commitment, passion, excellence and giving.”
“There might be others who call themselves a mule or horse whisperer but you are the greatest of them all! Your contributions to the equine world are tremendous. You have earned the respect and accolades of your peers. A person who is interested in becoming a better mule owner or horseman needs education, no matter what their level of expertise. Your library of videos and books are as good as it gets! Thank you for being so generous with your time and resources.”

Our Guest Writer: Jan Pollema

Not every equine is cut out for the physically and mentally demanding work of therapeutic riding; in fact only about one out of every 10 considered for the job makes the cut, and those who do work in therapeutic riding for 2 to 3 years, on average.
Sadie, a mule out of a Missouri Fox Trotter, is not your average equine. Donated to Hearts & Horses by Meredith Hodges back in 2006, Sadie has been working here for almost nine years and shows no signs of slowing down! Sadie’s greatest strength in the therapeutic setting is her ability to adjust to her riders. She takes care of nervous beginners, but challenges our most advanced riders. Generally not shy about communicating what she wants, Sadie will bray when her friends leave for pasture before her and paw at her door for her lunch. The one thing that Sadie is shy about is her secret soft side. She loves when her riders show her affection and love, but is careful to keep a straight face. Her gaits are so smooth that riding her often feels like sitting on a cloud, a fact that allows some riders who struggle sitting bouncy gaits to excel and gain independence trotting on her. 

Our most senior rider here at Hearts & Horses, Estelvina, originally from Cuba, has certainly experienced the pull that Sadie has on many of our riders. Estelvina is a spunky, 87-year-young woman who is featured in our 2015 calendar for the month of April and made her cinematic debut in our Happy Music Video. Estelvina loves to go fast—which Sadie’s smooth gaits make especially fun. She’s always up for any challenge presented to her and does everything with a smile. She is a true inspiration for those around her! In January, Estelvina was injured in a trip and fall accident after the first week of our Winter session. The resulting broken hip (for the second time) left her unable to continue to ride this winter. Miraculously, just nine weeks after her accident, Estelvina was back in the saddle again! Her equine of choice: Sadie, of course! Sadie and Estelvina have a very special relationship. Both were excited to see each other again and Sadie was licking and chewing as Estelvina serenaded her in her native language, Spanish. Estelvina rode like no injury had ever occurred and had more zest for life than ever! Whether in Spanish, English or Spanglish, the pair communicated beautifully, seeming to reach a place together that transcended the words and skills typically needed to ride. Had there been no eyes watching, they surely would have galloped into the sunset together! 

Irene, who is Estelvina's daughter-in-law as well as one of our wonderful volunteers, had this to add: "Estelvina so enjoys her time at Hearts & Horses. She likes to brush her friend, Sadie, and give her kisses. I take video of Estelvina riding and play it back for her so she can see herself and remember the experience. Estelvina is always so happy to ride." All it takes is one look into Sadie’s big, dark eyes and you too may be hooked by one of the most intelligent equines on the Hearts & Horses ranch!

Warm Regards,  
Jan Pollema, Executive Director - Hearts and Horses, Inc.

Hearts & Horses Therapeutic Riding Center
Loveland, Colorado

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

It’s been a most busy spring for BS. Lots of miles chasing fame and fortune, and mules and donkeys.

As you may remember, I had my left knee replaced in January and so winter was mostly dedicated to getting back on my feet, literally. Not much going on in the studio until March when I started painting some new pieces to take to Columbia, TN, Mule Day the first of April. Yes, I’m still going back every third year—just to let them know I am not dead yet. Took my friend Cheryl Mundee along to help with the hard work and the driving and she had to bring her old cat, Leah, as she was then 19 yrs old and needed special care. That old cat was a wonder and traveled like a pro. Actually, we think she enjoyed herself.

Stayed with dear friend, Diane Presnell while there. We LOVE her grand log home way out in the woods. Missed having my Lizzie dog, though. I had to put her down in Feb. She was 17 years old and her body just gave out finally. Saw lots of dear friends at the show that made the effort to come see me. No way I could get to all of them. Sales were good and the hit of the show for me was my new piece called “The Dilemma.” It is a challenging packing situation you hafta see to (maybe) believe. I am making a print of it and you can access the image and information on my website

Visited what is left of my family in southern Indiana and made my car-freek brother ride with me in my van as it was making a strange noise in the rear. Thought maybe he could figure out if we were in trouble. He wasn’t sure what it was but thought we would be OK, so Cheryl, Leah and I crossed fingers and took off for Idaho. And, we just made it, it turned out. I took the dear Astro into the garage folks and they found out the differential was going out! How lucky? Well, it wasn’t over as it turned out. The morning I was to take the van to the garage, it stopped running in town and I had to get TOWED to the garage. Fuel Pump. More BIG bucks. Had to do it though as Bishop was coming up. They got everything fixed but the AC, but it turned out we didn’t really need AC as the weather to and from and at Bishop was AWFUL!

Yes, third year in a row for lousy, cold and wet at Bishop Mule Days. And when I say wet, I mean WET. Rained off and on almost every day but Saturday, for the parade, it was glorious. Then, about 2PM the skies opened up with a total toad-strangler that went on for hours. By show time that night, the arena was a pool. Sunday was beautiful.

So, the Astro rolled over 190,000 on the way home and did just fine, but I have a feeling it isn’t over yet. Guess I will just keep fixing it as there is nothing available—even if I could buy it—that will serve my situation like the Astro.
More good decisions from Govt Motors.

Now I am beginning to work on my art pieces for my presentation on my adventure in the Bob Marshall Wilderness last July. The “show” is scheduled for November 20 here in Sandpoint at the Arts Association gallery. Painting the inside of my dear cabin with a surprise “visitor” coming in the green door.

Also have two children’s books coming up to illustrate. One is by “my” cowboy author, Jay Haunkamp, and is such a good story I am anxious to get started on it. Will keep you posted.

All the mules on the Brass Ass are finally happy as they have grass. Donkey is bummed, though, as he has to spend his summers in the corral so he can’t get grass. Terry is building them a three-sided shed for their winter comfort. It faces the south to protect them from that north wind. They are already using it and it is only a roof and two walls. Shade.

So, pray for my Astro and support your local mule-artist.

Hugs and Grins, 

Greetings from the ADMS:
Leah Patton, office manager, ADMS

Greetings all from the Swamps of Texas!

It seems like burning down the barn after the mule is gone, but if you haven't got an emergency plan in place, take the time to do it NOW!

The lakes in Texas that had been at horrible-stage-drought are now at horrible-stage-flood-overfull. They are above flood stage, and there is only so much water the Army Corps of Engineers can release downstream without causing additional problems. We know people who are cut off from their routes to and from work. Some people can't even get out of their own driveways.

Whether it's fire, flood, hail, tornadoes, heat or ice storms, it pays to be prepared. Have copies of your animal records with your other important documents (house deed, mortgage info, bank account numbers, birth certificates, etc.). A waterproof safe off the ground level is a good start. Even better, photograph the info and put it on a flash drive that isn't in danger of being destroyed. We know ID theft is a HUGE issue (having had it done ourselves) but having easy access to documents later can be crucial in a disaster.

Watch for animals on the property that should not be there. A lot of wildlife is being displaced. Snakebites might be on the rise. Equines are curious creatures and most snakebites in horses/longears occur on the nose or face. Don't hesitate to call your vet in case of injury to your animal.

Hoping everyone stays relatively dry and things get back to a level of "normal" over the summer.

Leah Patton, office manager, ADMS

The Am. Donkey & Mule Soc. PO Box 1210, Lewisville TX 75067 (972) 219-0781. Newsletter: the BRAYER magazine, 100+ pgs 6X/yr, $27 US, $37 Canada, $50 overseas. We now accept Paypal, Visa/MC (+$1 courtesy fee appreciated). Reg info, forms, fees on our website at www.lovelongears.com.

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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