<<First Name>>, your Lucky Three Ranch news for June 2021 has arrived!
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Dear Friends,

Welcome to spring and all the challenges that go with it! Summer will be here soon and there is a lot to do to make sure that equipment and everything else is ready for our summer jobs. The hayfields are beginning to grow and that means fertilizing and spraying for weeds to make sure we get a weed-free, healthy stand of brome/orchard grass hay for our equines and those at the Hearts and Horses Therapeutic Riding Stable. We will hold back enough for this year and one extra year in case we have a deficient crop like we did in 2015. We then sell any excess hay. Good land management is very important to the success of any farm or ranch business.

We make sure they are happy by keeping them in their social groups in certain areas. This can get tricky, but we even use the alleyway between the runs off the barns and will open the door into the indoor arena for shelter, should the weather change quickly...which it CAN in Colorado! When we use this alleyway, it is only for a small number of mules like Jubilee and Brandy.

Making sure they all get to be out of the more restricted areas, like their stalls and runs, is important for exercise and health, so we make sure they get out everyday. They are only kept in if the weather is really bad. The animals can put up with a bit of rain or snow as long as they have access to shelter. Minis are pretty easy since they do not need as much room to play as the larger mules. We use the Dressage arena, with its sand base and pea gravel road around it, for the South Barn mules. The mini donkeys, Spuds and Augie, have their own large pen bedded with four inches of pea gravel, so we just allow Billy Bad Ass, their old friend, to join them.

Mini mule, Francis, and mini horse friend, Mirage, have a small turnout pen next to the Large Standard donkey turnout pen. Both are bedded with four inches of pea gravel. This is plenty of room for them to play and exercise during the spring. They are returned to their stalls and runs for the evening, through the night and for morning feedings. Everyone is checked over regularly and safe overnight. The pea gravel base has really good drainage and doesn’t get the animals muddy. The surface is hard enough to promote good hoof health and soft enough for them to lie down comfortably. We add pea gravel every two years and more often as needed in certain areas.


Exercise is limited to good weather days with flatwork leading, obstacles, lunging and stretching. If it dries out enough, we can even do pleasure rides around the hayfield and check fences on the property. We never ride out into the hayfields. We want to keep the ground nice and flat for the hay equipment to do its best job. Through the summer, we will rotate the animals through several grassy turnout areas to make sure the grass continues to grow and is not overgrazed. Good land management keeps the animals and their environment healthy all year long!

                     Best wishes and Happy Trails,


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LTR Training Tip #124

Practical & Therapeutic Grooming

Grooming is an important facet of your equine's management. How you take care of his hair coat will greatly affect his health. How often you groom and what tools you use can positively affect your equine's behavior and comfort.

View many more training tips on our YouTube channel.


Question: My mule has large bald spots in a couple of places on her body. They did not appear until just recently and I don’t think it is from lice or anything like that. I can’t find anything in her hair coat that might cause this and the skin is not red. What could this be from? It seems to happen every year about the same time and always when she still has her winter hair. My donkey occasionally gets patches like this, too.

And, what is the best tool to use for shedding?


Just before your equine begins to shed, the hair starts to get loose from the skin. Many of the bald patches you see are simply from rubbing. The hair will rub off and leave bald spots on certain parts of their bodies which are often unsightly. Also, if they have had an injury of some sort that left a scar, that will also be hairless. There is really no reason to worry unless the skin is obviously red with sores. When they begin to shed, they often get very itchy and will rub and cause bald spots in a lot of places: on their hips and legs from getting up and down, on their chests from rubbing on the fence and on their faces.

I have discovered that weekly grooming makes their hair coats much healthier in the winter, and bald spots in the spring are not as numerous. I also discovered that using a shedding blade will often break off the hair shafts and make for a more rugged looking coat. A human, multi-bristled plastic hairbrush will do a much better job. I only use the shedding blade to remove caked-on mud, then go over their whole body with the hair brush after doing their manes and tails with Johnson’s Baby oil. The baby oil that is left on the brush (I do not add more) adds just enough oil to regenerate the skin and keeps them from getting dry skin and dandruff flakes. The Johnson’s Baby oil in the manes and tails prevents tangles and discourages them from chewing on each others’ manes and tails.


 Wiping out their ears, eyes and nostrils weekly not only keeps things clean, but will help to prevent serious upper respiratory infections in the spring and fall. When this is done often, grooming doesn’t take as long and hair coats look healthy all year whether the hair is short or long. I never body clip except for show and never clip the insides of the ears. Their natural hair coats insulate them from the heat and cold, and will protect them from insect invasions. When grooming is done weekly, any sores can be identified early and treated with Neosporin.

You can buy my books and videos in the STORE and I would be happy to send you a lot more detailed information if you email me at


“Meredith Hodges is the best kept secret in our international equine community.  Her incredible desire to share her equestrian knowledge through her educational books, articles, and films put her at the top around the world!” Quote from Richard Shrake, internationally known Hall of Fame Horseman from Sunriver, Oregon USA.


“Enjoyed your message of how you built and re-built your facility. Lot's of hard work I know as I have lived on a farm with equines my entire life and I will be 83 in a couple of months. But, don't you just love them and always know that they are worthy of the effort.”


“So you have been my Mule and Donkey idol for years and even called and talked to you on the phone before. For me whatever it takes for my animals to do something I asked works for me!”


Longears Limelight


Kit the mule was an Eventing celebrity in the '80s, Eventing up to Preliminary Level with Cathy Wieschhoff. Photo courtesy of the USEA. 

Throwback Thursday: Long Ears And A Big Heart 
By: Lindsay Berreth
Feb 6, 2014 - 1:58 AM

She was admired by Eventing legends like Neil Ayer, Col. Paul Wimert and General Jack Burton. Olympic gold medalist, Tad Coffin,  even took a spin on her. She was featured on the cover of the Wall Street Journal and was known throughout the country for her cross-country prowess. So, who was this famous Eventer?

Kit the mule!

When a cover photo of the August 1983 magazine of the U.S. Combined Training Association (now the U.S. Eventing Association) featuring Kit and top rider Cathy Wieschhoff was featured on Eventing Nation recently, the Chronicle decided to get the full story for this week’s edition of Throwback Thursday.

Wieschhoff laughed when she’d heard that Kit’s story had “been resurrected,” and she recalled that the hearty mare caused quite a stir in her day. “It was just a special time in my life,” she said. “I think it was mostly kind of funny. I know that people did not like getting beat by the mule.”

Kit, who was out of a Thoroughbred mare, was born and bred in the mountains of Kentucky in the late 1970s.

Edith Conyers, former executive director of the Rolex Kentucky CCI from 1976 to 1985 and well-known producer of hunt horses, bought Kit from a horse dealer friend. A longtime member of the Iroquois Hunt (Ky.), Conyers jokingly denied that she wanted to “shake things up” at the traditional hunt, but she was ready for a change.

Conyers went to try Kit, then 4 years old and trained to ride and drive. There was nothing to jump at the farm, so she jumped her on and off a loading dock and decided she’d be a good match.

After some initial hunt training, Conyers took Kit out with Iroquois, but didn’t tell anyone she was bringing a mule.

“I did it secretly,” she said. “I didn’t ask. I just brought her out one day and as the hunt left, I unloaded the mule and got on and followed right behind. Nobody really had time to study her. I kind of rode up from the back and mingled. The field master turned around about an hour later and I was sort of standing off to the side. She said, ‘Oh my Edith, that horse has very large ears.’ I don’t think it clicked that they were too large, so I said, ‘Well, the better to hear hounds with.’”

After Kit had hunted successfully for a few seasons, Wieschhoff, who was working for Conyers at the time, brought up the idea of Eventing Kit. Conyers was all for it and the mare made her debut at the Mumford Farms Horse Trials in Indiana in 1983.

“At the time, Neil Ayer was there as a technical delegate and Col. Wimert was a judge and Nigel Casserly was the announcer,” Wieschhoff recalled. “I pulled that mule out of the trailer and started warming up and they’re going through the rulebook going, ‘Cathy’s riding a mule! Where does it say you can ride a mule?’”

Several riders protested, but since there was no rule prohibiting a mule from competing, Wieschhoff was allowed to continue.

She admitted that her first priority was keeping Kit in the Dressage ring, but after that, the Jumping phases were smooth sailing. “People were just like, ‘Keep that thing away from me,’ or ‘Cathy, only you would do this!’” she said.

“Col. Wimert was just infatuated,” she continued. “Neil Ayer thought she was the greatest thing. I started competing her a bit more and they invited me up to Ledyard [Mass.]”

Conyers recalled that on the way to Ledyard, they stopped at Denny Emerson’s farm and Tad Coffin, who’d heard of the famous mule, hopped on Kit. “She got around!” she joked.

Kit placed second in a big Novice Division at Ledyard and Wieschhoff went on to compete her at that level for about two seasons. They completed one event at Preliminary while Wieschhoff was based with Torrance Watkins in Virginia before Conyers’ daughters Sarah and Elizabeth took over the ride. They competed her in Show Jumping and Eventing and went to several Pony Club national rallies with her.

According to Wieschhoff, the 16.1 hand Kit had a great jump, moved well and felt just like a horse when galloping across country.

“She didn’t really like lateral work and that was when the leg yields had just been introduced to the Preliminary tests, so she kind of wandered to the side,” she said. “You could never really see a long distance on her. If you thought she was going to go long, you better just wait because she’d always chip in, but she was a really clean jumper. You certainly knew she was listening to you, whether the ears were back or forward. You didn’t miss that!”

In her heyday, Kit was featured on the cover of the Wall Street Journal, published in the Smithsonian magazine and was featured on the nightly news with Dan Rather.

When Conyers’ daughters outgrew her, Kit was sold to a man in Missouri who competed her in mule classes. Then she was sold to a ranger station in Cave Creek, Ariz., where she was used to help carry supplies into the mountains and inspect trails.

Both Wieschhoff and Conyers kept tabs on Kit’s whereabouts, and the last Conyers has heard, she was retired to Jennifer Miller DVM’s farm in Cave Creek.

Wieschhoff didn’t hesitate to say yes when asked if she would Event another mule. “I was second at the Atlanta Cup CCI*** [Ga.] in 1995, the year before the Olympics. I’m at a press conference and in the back, some guy said, ‘Didn’t you used to ride a mule?’ I’ve jumped around Burghley and Badminton a few times, but the guy asked me about riding this mule! It was a lot of fun.”

Conyers currently hunts another mule, but she remembered Kit fondly. “She had quite a diverse life and just did a little bit of everything very well,” she said. “I enjoyed her and my kids enjoyed her.”

Mules currently aren’t allowed to compete in U.S. Eventing Association-recognized events, but a rule was passed in 2004 that allows them to compete in U.S. Equestrian Federation dressage shows. 


Build your own binder of our VIDEO TRAINING TIPS 
with the printable TRAINING TIP TUTORIAL 
notes offered in our STORE.

There are a total of 124 video TRAINING TIPS with downloadable  TUTORIALS.
 Start your collection today!

 The video TRAINING TIPS are offered for FREE under TRAINING on the website at and we are now offering a 50% discount on the TRAINING TIP TUTORIALS so you will have notes about my management and training videos at your fingertips. 

There are a total of 124 video TRAINING TIPS with TUTORIALS,
so start your collection today!
Keep checking back on our new and improved website for regular is constantly being updated with new and interesting information! 
It is the place to visit for all things equine!
-LTR BLOG has Longears stories from around the world and mirrors our Social Media posts.
-ABOUT LTR tells all about Meredith and the Lucky Three Ranch
-TRAINING has many sections:   Podcasts/RadioAsk Meredith with commonly asked Q & A’s; Mule FactsVideoTraining TipsVideo On Demand (RFD-TV Shows, Jasper, LTR Documentaries); Mule Crossing articlesLongears Music VideosLTR Misc. Music VideosWhat's New With Roll? (Story of the Rescue Draft Mules, ROCK & ROLL); Another Augie & Spuds Adventure (Training miniature donkeys); Wrangler's Donkey Diary (Management & training of our new donkey gelding); Chasity’s Challenges (training the donkey for core strength & balance). 
TOURS: Check out our personalized clinics RESOURCES/NEWS (Keep up with the latest developments in the equine industry)Longears Calendar of Events, Classifieds, Longears Clubs, Therapeutic Riding, Equine Rescues, Equine Welfare in the News, Wild Mustangs/Burros Campaign and Horse Slaughter Facts & FAQ's
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EQUUS REVISITED Manuals/DVDTo ensure good health and the best possible relationship with your equine, learn to care, manage and training them with good posture and core strength in mind. This four-part series identifies crucial issues and in-depth solutions! It is a MUST HAVE for your equine library!
This Manual is offered in French/German/Spanish so you can watch the DVD and read along in your own language. The manual contains additional information that is not in the DVD. We recommend purchasing both the Manual and DVD for the most comprehensive experience.


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Bonnie’s Bit
I am STILL packing the pick-up as we speak here!  Yes, it is Bishop Mule Days time again--at last!!  Now, I don't know what to expect from the situations we hafta deal with this year (masks all the time~!) or what size the crowd will attain.  I do know most of us mule-freaks are SO looking forward to being together again and enjoying the mules and donkeys.  The reason I am STILL packing is that I cannot take my precious Chevy Astro--that can accomodate everything I need and I can see out, not like this huge pick-up of my husband's.  Had to buy a canopy for the thing.  EXPENSIVE and that tiny bed STILL can't hold what the van does.  I will hafta just do without some of the display panels for my booth.

Had to re-make the trailer hitch/lights for the camper trailer.  The cab inside looks like the command panel for the super jet and I can't figure any of it out--BUT I do have the super radio.  Also have a new partner as Debi has to stay home and work.  I know Pat Holt from the North Idaho Saddle Mule Club and she is ready to GO!!  (I have carefully refrained from telling her how much physical WORK is awaiting for her when we get there. (Don't tell her!)

My next problem is, I must travel through the Oregon Desert and Oregon isn't really "open” like Idaho, and I am sweating the motel situation on the road in Oregon. 

Tell you what--JUST PRAY FOR ME!!!!!  I feel like the fella up in the tree with the mountain lion--just shoot amongst us!!  One of us has to have relief! 

                                                             Hug your asses!!!

Visit our Lucky Three Ranch WEB STORE to view and purchase. 

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!


April was Child Abuse Awareness Month-- and in honor of that, we wanted to share Hannah's story with you. Please note, Hannah's name has been changed to protect her anonymity. 

They say neglect is one of the worst offenders. After a difficult start to life, Hannah landed in the loving arms of her grandmother, a saving grace. When she arrived, she was described as being shut down, she would not look people in the eye, and would never talk to people. Her grandmother said she struggled to trust and form healthy friendships. 

Over time, grandma found different resources in our community to help Hannah navigate life and landed upon the Namaqua Center’s grand family program. The Namaqua Center recommended Hannah get started with the Changing Leads program at Hearts & Horses. That was 11 years ago, and thanks to generous scholarship support from Realities for Children and community donors, Hannah has ridden every week for the last 11 years. 

Hannah is a testament to the impact that building healthy relationships can have, they can be a protective factor. Research shows these relationships can help children to become more resilient despite facing overwhelming challenges. That certainly is the case with Hannah. 

When Hannah first started at Hearts & Horses, she would only answer a question in a barely audible whisper. When presented with challenges, such as weaving through cones at a trot, or dealing with a stubborn horse, she wouldn’t accept feedback, nor ask for help, and would ultimately shut down. As she continued to ride weekly and worked with her instructors and volunteers, she became willing to accept instruction. She became more independent, confident, and even started advocating for herself. 

As Hannah grew more in her horsemanship abilities, she began to blossom into a leader -- not just with her horse, but with the people around her. She is now an eloquent young lady, who is eager to share the hope she found on the back of her equine companions with others in need of a little hope. 

Hannah’s relationships with her equine-companions are deep and steady. She has also built lasting relationships with her volunteer partners, riding instructors, and program leadership. The types of relationships her grandmother once feared she would never be able to build.

Her difficult beginning in life set her on a path that led her towards animals. They offered her a life line when no one else could, and what’s more, she found the courage to take it. We are honored to have played a part in this journey towards healing. Hannah is set to graduate from high school this year- and is ready to face her future head on. 

To help support our programming, and riders like Hannah, please donate. None of our riders is ever turned away due to an inability to pay. Thank you.


Summer Alameel, Development & Communications Manager
Hearts & Horses - 163 N. CR 29 - Loveland, CO  80537
Phone: (970) 663-4200 x 307   COVID-19 Updates  
Hearts & Horses is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and we are proud to be a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center

Give the Gift of Joy and Healing
Through an incredible depth and breadth of programming, Hearts & Horses impacts every life we touch. Support the wonderful effects of therapeutic riding for individuals by supporting Hearts & Horses today!


Rain rain... please go away. 

If you live in the South as I do (well, I'm in Texas, and that's South for many), you have had rain this past month.  Lots of rain.  More rain than the pastures, creeks, lakes and ground can deal with.  The ground is so sloppy one (one being a goat) can push it right over with a hoof. There is standing water completely covering the pasture - more than two inches worth.  My guineas are going to get webbed feet.  So is my poor short little dog.  As for mosquitos... I shudder.  They are already here.  

It's so wet outside I'm wearing waders just to go feed the dog.  My watercolor paintings won't dry, which is a problem since I'm working on book four of the Elvis the Pony series!  (Did you know that the third book in the Elvis the Pony series is about A MULE??) 

If you have swampy land, it's a good idea to have a spot on a hill (create one if need be) for the animals to stand for a while.  Just as too-dry isn't good for their hooves, too-wet is bad as well.  All sorts of over-grown hoof problems, thrush, infection, bacteria... not to mention other things that too much moisture can lead to. 

A nice concrete pad, a sandy wallow, these are great things to help with drying out hooves.  Also, it's a good time to make sure your vaccinations for your animals are up to date - and if it isn't part of your usual rotation, think about clostridium vaccine.  We lost good heifer calves three years ago in these too-wet conditions.  

Nature throws us curve balls, but humans are resilient, we keep finding fixes and ways to survive.  We make sure that can happen for our animals too.  It just takes some time and maintenance to do so.  Check for loose nails and screws. Pour up some concrete stepping stones.  Do some extra hoof trims. 

Take some time to enjoy life in all the hustle.  Sometimes you just have to say "enough" and take a day off.  Don't feel guilty about it.  If you have animals relying on you, they need you happy, safe and sane (well, as sane as we animal owners can be, right?). 

Stay dry and enjoy Longears! 

                                    Leah Patton, office manager, ADMS 
The Am. Donkey & Mule Soc. | PO Box 1210, Lewisville TX 75067 | (972) 219-0781. | 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
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