|ASK MEREDITH A QUESTION|
|Have a question for Meredith or want to give us feedback? |
|LTR Training Tip #23|
No matter what kind of equine you have, the halter is one of your most basic—and most important tools.
Question: I don’t want to hurt my mule’s mouth by putting a bit in it. How do you feel about bitless bridles, or riding in hackamores and halters?
Answer: It is not difficult to teach your equine to respond without a bit as you ride him and many people are now riding with “bitless bridles,” hackamores and halters. However impressive, this cannot address good equine posture since one is not born with good posture; it is something that must be taught with the proper equipment. The symmetrical development of core strength in good posture supports joints so they operate as they should and allows for the optimum function of internal organs. The mild Eggbutt snaffle bit with direct rein action, (pull right...go right; pull left...go left) promotes clear communication between you and your equine as he learns to take contact with the bit (without pinching the tongue) during training and he will become very light in the bridle as you learn to ride from your seat and develop light hands. I rarely have use for curb bits with my equines, only in shows where they are required and with green riders on a trail ride for a bit more leverage. For more about training in a logical and sequential way that helps to build core strength in good posture and promotes the ultimate in communication between you and your equine, please visit my website at www.luckythreeranch.com and look under TRAINING.
“THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS to successful training with your horse, donkey or mule. Time. Patience. Clear direction. And trust. They make it happen. Thank you, Meredith Hodges, for another well thought out piece of guidance.”
“Thanks Meredith! I have followed you for years in The Brayer and the Canadian Donkey & Mule News. We have all your tapes and most of your books. You are a hero in my eyes because you always stand up for Longears.”
“I hardly know where to begin. It was the most fascinating, educational and informative experience that went far beyond our expectations! We spent 4 hours with Meredith, her staff and of course her 'Longears'. Beyond belief how her philosophy, and love regarding the care, treatment and training of these wonderful animals has made champions of them. After meeting Meredith's Longears, and learning about their remarkable abilities - I can no longer think of mules as dumb or stubborn but rather as amazing. This is a MUST for anyone in or near the Loveland area. You simply cannot afford to miss this opportunity! Meredith, thank you for allowing us into your life and that of your precious Longears. What an unforgettable experience. I wish you continued success.”
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The mule artist has just spent three weeks painting horses. Draft horses. Maybe I have mentioned this before, but we in Sandpoint, Idaho have an antique carousel in our midst that we are trying to restore and eventually set-up in one of our local parks for the public to enjoy. Just getting started, but the horses themselves were basically in pretty good shape as was--is--the mechanics. But, there is still much work in several areas that are being totally re-done. This is true of the 16 paintings attached to the center column and I am hoping to have this painting become one of those new images.
The call was for scenes pertaining to this area (northern Idaho) and I chose to portray a team of drafters pulling a log out of the woods. Not that much logging is done up here these days with the big horses, but logging is still a main-stay of our economy. Our trees are still impressive and it took big horses to get the job done back "in the day". They called out to local artists to come up with 16 images and they will all come together the first of December to be picked--or not. I had to paint it on a 24x34 canvass with acrylics and it turned out to be a physical challenge, as well as, an artistic one. I am used to working on paper and a tilted, hard surface- -sitting down. Having to reach up so much on this piece while it sits on an easel got to my old, arthritic shoulder pretty hard and I am greatly glad it is DONE. Took three weeks.
In the meantime, winter is establishing itself up here and the ground is totally frozen. Just a bit of snow, but frozen wet ground means MUD in March. When I first moved here in 1980, "spring break~up" was famous for "eating" jeeps, cars and big trucks. I'll have to say, the county has so improved our rural roads these days. You no longer get “eaten" by them, but you better not fall off them either.
My two remaining mollies are fuzzy again and looking to be fed. Actually, all was evolving just fine with my girls, until my hubby put our 25ft sail boat up on it's trailer and PARKED it right in front of their water tank!!! Bug-eyed pandemonium!!!! For DAYS!!! Good to know their eye-sight is still fine, isn't it? Well, they are finally used to it being there, but I think they are blaming it on ME as they won't let me get near them now. Working with treats, patience and their good feed. They haven't lost any weight, so I guess they are ahead of me still. But, the winters are L-0-N-G up here and I hope they will get tired of being crazy and doing without pets and conversation.
Can't believe it is Holiday time. I'm already pooped.
Hope your Holidays are Blessed and Happy.
Visit our Lucky Three Ranch
to purchase new art from
Tennessee Mule Artist
And don’t forget to visit her website
to find out more
about the Wild and Wonderful World of Bonnie Shields,
Tennessee Mule Artist, Cowboy Cartoonist and True Artist!
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Ever need that brain break, even though you know you can't do the long weekend and leave the animals? Just HAVE to have a little "down" time? DO IT. It's not only good for you, it's good for those around you - two-legged and four legged.
Equines are sensitive to the moods of their humans, donkeys and mules more than horses. If you are tired, or jittery, or in pain, they will react to it. Be aware that they WILL react to it, often in unexpected ways.
If you are short tempered, they will sense it, even before you get to the stall or pasture. They might not want to come up for their feed. They might play coy and dash away just as they get to the corral gate. They might buck and crowhop and even kick a bit - even if that is not their usual behaviour. If you are overly tired, or in pain, donkeys especially will crowd you and "hug" you with their heads.
Sometimes their company is great for a quiet sit in the woods and a good cry- sometimes it's not. If you feel the need to lash out for any reason, muck stalls. Throw manure. Chop weeds, chop wood. Scrub floors. Clean tack. Don't take it out on the animals, ever - they will remember.
Feed everyone up good. Give them a little extra hay, a pat, a carrot, and take yourself to a movie (even if it is movie night at home in your pjs). A day away is good, and for the most part, being away from the farm a couple of extra hours doesn't do any harm. Take a "one tank" day trip - somewhere two or three hours. You'll be surprised how much just a short change in routine for you can do for your blood pressure, your attitude, and your outlook on life.
This year has been pretty hard for many, and we're reminded over and over again just how fragile this tightrope is that we walk. Fires, floods, storms, wrecks, broken limbs, disease, and other disasters, no matter how small, impact our health and well-being. Life can pound you down - if you let it! Take that day and wander a forest (preferably with a donkey or mule!), see the show (scientific, sci-fi, historical or otherwise) you've been meaning to catch up on. Throw out things (or donate) that don't work, are broken, or no longer have a place in your functionality. Declutter your house, your barn, your mind.
Take a deep breath. Appreciate that you love longears and can be a part of their lives. Breathe. Relax. Now go on, git.
Leah Patton, office manager, ADMS
The Am. Donkey & Mule Soc.
PO Box 1210,
Lewisville TX 75067
Newsletter: the BRAYER magazine 76+ 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 http://www.lovelongears.com/main.htm