<<First Name>>, your Lucky Three Ranch news for December 2016 has arrived!
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Message From Meredith Hodges

Dear Friends,
It seems like each year goes by faster and faster! When managing livestock and crops it is vital to pay attention to the lessons from Mother Nature and act accordingly. Weather is probably the most important consideration. We had some really hot days during the summer and fall this year and since most of my equines are now over 21 and a lot of them over 30, the heat was harder than usual for them to tolerate. We noticed they were staying out of our steel sheds and soon discovered why. It was hotter under those than it was outside, so we opted to install fans in the roofs of the steel sheds and that made a huge difference.
We had three turnout areas with grass that did not have any sheds or shade in them which were never an issue until it got inordinately hot. We opted to vary the times of turnout to the cooler part of the day, but I always bring them in at night to their respective stalls/runs or dirt pens for feeding management. Long ago, I used to turn out at night in the summer until someone came in and cut off the tail hair of three of my horses (I guess they couldn’t catch the mules!). We decided to build a new loafing shed in these grassy turnout areas and designed them for maximum air flow, but allow for blockage from the gale-like winds that we get from the north and west. We built these sheds from steel and left over rails we had of the vinyl fencing. We also opted to put mats on the ground inside the sheds and secured them with angled metal because in the spring, we will often have pretty heavy rainstorms that could turn the floors to MUD! This would afford the equines a dry space to stand during these random rainstorms that can come at any time of the day.
Having a MULE and DONKEY farm certainly teaches one a lot about maintaining equines in general. They taught me a long time ago to be sure any new construction is done with STEEL as they will chew on everything! I do have solutions in my books and DVDs for those that find steel cost-prohibitive because we certainly did not start out this way. It did take 36 years to completely convert my farm to an all-steel facility, but it has been well worth the initial cost and efforts because it has greatly lowered general maintenance costs and has paid back the initial investment already. So, I thought I would share with you what my mules and donkeys have taught me! They are without a doubt, my dearest blessing! Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Best wishes and Happy Trails,

Meredith Hodges

WALKING OVER THE POLES Retaining Wall Repair Meredith Hodges and Bonnie Shields at Bishop Mule Days
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Question: What about donkeys. I need to get the fat pads off this donkey so I can start riding him. Mine gets no grain and a timothy and grass hay mix. He is not in work but needs to be and would be if I could get the bulging fat pockets off his upper back and sides. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. With Twilight gone, I want to get this fatso boy into the work program.

Answer:  What your animal is eating can have a direct impact on his response to training. Many feeds can cause hypertension in Longears (and horses, too!) and an inability to focus for any length of time.  Mules and donkeys require a lot less feed than horses because they are half donkey and donkeys are desert animals. Too much feed or the wrong kind of feed and you run the risk of colic, or founder. We feed an oats mix to our average sized mules of 1-2 cups of crimped oats, 1 oz. of Sho Glo vitamins (by Manna Pro) and 1 oz. Mazola corn oil (for hooves, coat and digestive tract regularity). The oats must be broken open in some way (crimped, steamed, rolled, etc.) as equines cannot digest whole oats. We feed this once a day in the evenings, grass hay twice a day and we monitor weight gain with the hay and pasture intake. Young mules like human teenagers can eat a lot when growing and can have as much grass hay at each feeding as they will clean up. Miniatures get one fourth as much of the oats mix and grass hay, and draft animals will need twice as much. Do not alter or modify this with other products in any way for the best results. Also, make sure they have access to a trace mineral salt block for their salt and mineral needs. We worm our equines with Ivermectin paste wormer in January, March, May, July and September and then break the cycle with Strongid in November. We vaccinate in the spring and fall. Consult your veterinarian for the types of vaccines you will need for your area. You should never feed Longears (donkeys, or mules) any pre-mixed sweet feeds, or products high in alfalfa. Equines in general should never be turned out in a pasture with Fescue grass. Our pastures are seeded with brome and orchard grass and they seem to do best on that mix.

For those animals who are older and haven't the teeth to chew their feed, we add grass hay cubes Timothy hay pellets to their crimped oats mix. We mix the oats, vitamin concentrate and corn oil in a blender and add this to a bucket of hay cubes (amount will vary from animal to animal) that have been soaked in water. For minis, they would get roughly 3-4 cups of hay cubes in the mix. This produces a mix that is not too soupy nor too dry, so they have no problems eating it. They can have this mixture two, or three times a day in the morning, sometimes midday, and evening, depending on the needs of the individual animal.

Your equine should be kept in a smaller area for evening feedings, overnight and for morning feedings. This has several benefits: 1) Each animal can be checked every day for any injuries or anomalies, 2) He will not have to fight for his food, he can sleep uninterrupted and be more calm and fresh each day, 3) You will then be able to turn him out at specific times for grazing during the day and bring him back in each night. This way you can monitor his grazing intake so he will not be able to overgraze and colic, or founder, 4) the smaller area affords you a confined space for beginning training so there is no need to chase him, or be interrupted by other animals (It is best to begin groundwork training as described in DVD #1 and DVD #2 without working in a more confined space), and 5) having this definite routine lets your animal know what to expect and lessens adverse behaviors. You should always begin with DVD #1 and #8 (feeding, maintenance and advanced showmanship training) and take the training in sequence. When you feed the oats mix in the evenings, it makes it easier to call them back from shortened pasture time in the spring (they have to work into this slowly over several weeks) and they will be more apt to come to you easily after their morning feeding of grass hay only when they know you have fanny pack full of oats for them. If you do things out of order, the results will not be the same.

Just a quick note to thank you for the special tour of the Lucky Three Ranch. What a great organization you have and exciting work you all are doing there.  Joe and I found the tour very interesting and learned a lot about mules that we did not know.  Logan enjoyed the tour too.  Her favorite part was, of course, the animals and feeding the donkeys.  She was a bit intimidated by the larger animals and that is probably a healthy sense of respect at her age and size. She is a unique 5 year old.... rather serious minded and shy.  But I think parts of the information were over her head.  I asked her if she understood what you were talking about and she responded, "Most of it."  She will quietly listen even if she does not get it...... many kids would get restless. Thank you again and good luck with your dreams!

This was our June Day Trip for 56 people in our group. When we arrived at the location, we were greeted by very professional ladies, showing us where to park our charter bus and assuring us that they were anticipating our arrival. The host of our tour was Meredith Hodges, world-recognized authority on training donkeys and mules to championship status. The tour was 2-1/2 hours in duration, including a 40-minute video of things to be covered in the tour. The stalls for her animals were immaculately maintained with clean sawdust and plenty of water and chemical-free nutritious feed. Throughout the tour, she would show and explain the many bronze statuary located throughout the ranch. Our people really enjoyed the tour and were very vocal about things they did not know about mules and their forebears.

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.
Barbara Livingston
Two-time Eclipse Award winner Barbara Livingston  captures the cuteness of a Thoroughbred and donkey. Photo by Sandy Zaconick

Watch Anytime, With Video On Demand.
Did you know you can watch Meredith's award-winning training anytime, on all your devices? Watch all the episodes of  Training Mules and Donkeys plus Give Your Equine the Athletic Edge”.

More in the mood for some entertainment? Catch Those Magnificent Mules or let the kids go on an adventure with Jasper and his friends. All six Jasper the Mule
specials are available with special features.

Three day rentals and all videos have closed captions!
    Jan Pollema

At Hearts & Horses we are always striving to develop relationships with professionals to best care for our four-legged therapists who are the backbone of our therapeutic riding program.  Twice a year, Hearts & Horses welcomes Curacore Integrative Medicine and Education Center out to Hearts & Horses for their Medical Acupuncture for Veterinarians course.  The course is open to licensed Veterinarians and 4th Yr. Veterinary Students to gain expertise and certification in Medical Acupuncture.  

Acupuncture stimulates specific areas in the body to cause a therapeutic effect, by placement of fine needles at specially defined acupuncture points along the different meridians (channels of energy). It can be used on its own or in conjunction with veterinary clinical treatment. It is used to treat many problems, especially pain, and promotes general well-being.

Our equines benefit significantly during the course of their Equine Laboratory sessions.  

  • For many equines, it alleviated discomfort and muscle soreness, particularly of the back, associated with work with unbalanced weight that they undertake as Therapy horses.
  • It helped others as a secondary course of treatment, for Degenerative Joint Disease (particularly of the hocks and stifles), making them more comfortable and lengthening the period of time between other veterinary treatments.
  • For some it eased emotional stress and behavioral issues that arise from soreness and environmental challenges.

Our herd enjoys the treatments they receive. All found it relaxing and for many, there was a marked improvement in the movement of the equine after a treatment session. The attention of the veterinary staff is always detailed and thorough with the well-being and happiness of the equine at the forefront.

We are extremely grateful for these alternative treatments for herd so that they can continue to be supported as much as possible in order for them to carry out their important work as Therapy horses and mules! 

Bonnie’s Bit

It's that time AGAIN!!  Cripes.

The seasons have changed up here in north Idaho.  We had a stunning fall--untill the rains hit.  By the end of the month we had had 10 inches of rain here in Sandpoint area!!!  Now, translate that to manure and mud and mules coated in it and you have an idea how sweet that was for all involved.  Last summer ('15  I made my dear hubby build a loafing shed for Iris the Princess and Lucille, the Empress to get out of the north wind and the rain and it got a workout in October this year.  Occupation can be measured in the height of the pile in there and it is still there to admire.

As for me, September was a wild ride with two big mule shows to attend and work, Hells Canyon and the International here in Sandpoint.  Both were successful and fun and full of friends from all over, not to mention the mules.  I'd been too busy to even get a haircut and sometimes it was hard to recknise me!  I soon after got that haircut so I could see my drawing board and away I went on all my work that had been stacking up on me.

Right now, I am illustrating a poem by a young woman from my home state of Indiana who worked in the Colorado mountains as a packer/guide for a dude string.  She has a little boy and wants him and other young ones to know about such things so she has written some children's poems about packing and mules and has asked me to illustrate them.  "Barney the Lop-Sided Mule" is the first one and I am in the middle of it and having such FUN!!  We hope to have it out and for sale at Bishop this spring so watch for it at mine and Meredith's booth.

Also, I am doing the book cover for a grand lady author, Irene Bennett Brown from Oregon and the story involves a brave young woman and a whole PILE of mules.  "Miss Royal's Mules" is the title, I believe.  I'll keep ya posted on when it is out, too, though it will be a while for this one.

Mule to compete at USEF finals

More mules are getting into dressage after Carol Sweet’s, Leah Patton’s and my work over eighteen years of petitioning for the acceptance of mules into the United States Equestrian Federation! More dressage riders are taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity with their mules! In 2015, Laura Hermanson and “Heart B Dyna” qualified for the United States Dressage Finals. Although they did not win, it was a fabulous showing and Laura was back again this year with “Behold the Desert” (“Beasley”). We are so excited for Laura, “Beasley” and all of you that are taking advantage of the ”Mule Rule” in dressage, driving and endurance. Casie Fairbanks from the American Mule Association contacted me recently about extending the “Mule Rule” to allow mules in ALL non-breed competitions, so I submitted a proposal for that rule change to read:


All we can do now is keep our fingers crossed, pray for the best and provide any requested information to the United States Equestrian Federation. 
TMD Equine University
Admissions Open January 25

Get a jump start on a career with equines with our year-long program that gives you in-depth knowledge about the care, maintenance, business and training of all equines and hybrids. Earn your certified diploma at home while maintaining your current job! Call for more information 800-816-7566.
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