<<First Name>>, your Lucky Three Ranch news for March 2021 has arrived!
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Dear Friends,
Welcome to spring! This time I would like to share with you how the Lucky Three Mule Ranch became the beautiful facility that it is today. Many people believe that I just had enough money to spend, but that really wasn’t the case. I started with a small 10-acre sheep farm, barely usable for equines. I had to start by digging manure from the 2-acre area where I wanted my barn to be. We did not have a tractor and it took two years doing it with a shovel (then my neighbor came and hauled away the pile). We replaced the hog & sheep panels, barbed wire and broken boards with new boards, wire fencing and a hot wire on top. Our equines still chewed the wood on the fences, shed and barns, so we had expensive maintenance costs. 

By the time I had saved enough to get a loan and build my 14-stall barn, I decided that although it was more expensive, I would invest in an all-steel Port-A-Stall barn. Off the stalls, we used steel panel runs and over the years, bought more land and replaced the wire fencing with vinyl fencing with hot wires run along the top rails. In some places, we needed to put hot wires midway down the fence as they did learn how to remove the boards.

Initially I did not put hotwires on the vinyl fencing and when we finished the first 2-acre pen, we left 13 mules in the pen overnight. When I came out the next morning, they had removed ALL the rails between the posts and left them laying on the ground! They did not go anywhere. They were all standing in a bunch in the middle of the pen. It must have taken them all night to do what they did, but they all seemed quite pleased with themselves and happy that I had provided them with the best “Tinker Toy” set ever!!! We put the fence back together again and then drilled holes in the top of the posts to run the hot wire through. 

We built a barn for the minis behind the garage with an overhang roof, lined with steel panels inside and coated the walls with corrugated metal sheeting. The panels in the runs were lined with steel grating to keep the minis in and the coyotes out! I also learned quickly that they can undo latches, so we put chains with carabiner snaps that they couldn’t get their teeth into on all the gates and put bars on the stall doors so they could not reach the latches inside the barn!

In the turnout areas, we installed steel Port-A Stall loafing sheds, but after a few years, we realized as the temperatures increased, that they got pretty warm inside, so we installed fans in the roofs. By this time, we had another 10-stall Port-A-Stall barn and installed fans overhead in the alleyways to keep the stalls cool in the hot summers. In the smaller turnout pens where we only turned out during the day, we built turnout sheds with frames of steel and used vinyl boards spaced slightly apart to allow for air-flow on the two sides where most of the weather came through and left the other two sides open. This made for a really cool place for the equines during the hot summer as well.

In the runs, we put four inches of pea gravel down that makes for good drainage, hoof health, doesn’t chip their feet and is soft enough to lay down. In the stalls, we drill a hole in the middle that is 4’ deep and 2’ wide, then fill it with 1 ½” rock. Over the top, we put four inches of pea gravel and rubber mats on top. We hold the pea gravel in the stalls with 2” X 6” boards trimmed with angle iron. We also keep the summer shed done the same way without the four-foot center hole, just pea gravel and mats held in with angle iron.

The initial investment for the first barn and the first 2 acres of vinyl fencing seemed costly, but we slowly built more and more from steel and vinyl and we now have a facility 41 years later that is practically maintenance free. No fencing replacements, rebuilding sheds, lining sheds with chicken wire, restringing hot wires and digging mud out of the sheds and stalls. We only need to replace a few vinyl boards during the course of a year. It's amazing how much money we have been able to save (and put the money toward more replacement of wood and wire with steel and vinyl!). We have finally reached the point of ALL METAL and NO MAINTENANCE!

I just thought I would share this with all of you as you endeavor to design and improve your facilities! There is much to consider, as I have learned over my many years with LONGEARS! They will certainly keep you on your toes!

Best wishes and Happy Trails,


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LTR Training Tip #110

Fitting the harness

A harness that does not fit will not pull efficiently and can cause distress to your equine, so make sure your harness fits!

View many more training tips on our YouTube channel.


Question: I am interested in training my mule to drive. I also have a donkey that I might like to drive. What all do I need to do to teach them to drive if I try to do it myself? Do I need to get a trainer or can I do this myself? Do I need to invest in harness right away? I just want to make sure that I do it right and that I do it safely.

Answer: DRIVING can be a potential hazard if you do not do enough prep work. It is important to do plenty of groundwork for a number of reasons. Leading training done in our HOURGLASS PATTERN in my postural "Elbow Pull” restraint begins to build the equine's body in good posture while strengthening the elements that support the skeletal frame. This assures balanced self-carriage and will minimize the occurrence of physical soreness later when performing. Once leading on the flat ground is established and the way of moving has been enhanced, it is imperative to lead over and through obstacles to add coordination to the equine's body. This will ensure that he stays erect and executes movement from his hind quarters, bending through the rib cage when turning his body (not leaning like a motorcycle!) while staying in an uphill balance. Lunging at all three gaits, halting and backing in a balanced frame and learning to turn on the haunches with this elevated frame will help to build the bulk muscle effectively. Ground driving will sensitize him to rein cues and cultivate an animal that is eager to perform and light in the bridle. This will greatly animate his gaits in harness and make the extended gaits easy for him. This can take quite a while, so be PATIENT! Learn to appreciate the "little victories" along the way! Human athletes take a lot of time to be ready for their performances, so you should afford your equine the same consideration. Typically, it can take a full two years for this prep work when done correctly: 3-6 mos. of leading on flat ground, 3-6 mos. of leading over obstacles, 3-6 mos. of lunging and 3-6 mos. of ground driving. 


When these exercises are completed you can safely move on to his athletic endeavors whether it be riding or driving. Whether riding or driving, this prep work is the same. The animal that is properly prepared will have far less issues with his physical mobility (less accidents and lower vet bills!). The steps to training your equine to drive are simple and there are some stages where it is advisable to use an assistant, but you can learn to do this yourself. I like to encourage people to do most of the training themselves because the equine bonds the deepest with the person who does the training. You can find all kinds of helpful information about preparing your equine with balance and core strength on my website at in the various sections under TRAINING, especially under TRAINING/TRAINING TIPS and TRAINING/VIDEO ON DEMAND. 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


“Oh! Thank you Meredith for this beautiful Christmas video!  It actually brought tears to my eyes watching these beautiful animals enjoying the snow! As my own little mini-mule Bella and standard donkey, Tessa are enjoying their evening meal in their cozy stalls I pray for the well being of all precious animals. Blessings to you and to your continued success!”

“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 believe in learning about providing structure that is rooted in love and respect for the animal.”

“Thank you so much Meredith!  Wow.  
What wonderful helpful words.  We are reading through them and looking forward to putting them into practice.  Thank you for being so thoughtful to share your wisdom with people.  We sure do appreciate it.  We haven't had a chance to read through it all yet, but if we have more questions, we'll send them your way."

Longears Limelight
Katie Wetteland

Katie Wetteland, who lives in Colorado, petitioned the USHJA to allow mules to compete after finding out that her own mule, Mjolnir The Longear, was a talented and enthusiastic jumper! Katie has been working hard and now a rule change in the U.S.A. means that mules can now take part in US Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) affiliated events! 





We consistently add NEW POSTS to the website as they appear on Facebook!

The LTR WEBSITE is the place to visit for all things equine! The LTR BLOG has stories from around the world. ABOUT LTR tells about Meredith and the Lucky Three Ranch, under TRAINING you will find Ask Meredith with commonly asked Q & A’s, Mule Facts, video TRAINING TIPS, VIDEO ON DEMAND (RFD-TV Shows and more), MULE CROSSING articles, LONGEARS MUSIC videos, Misc. Music Videos, What's New With Roll? (Story of the Rescue Draft Mules, ROCK & ROLL), Another Augie & Spuds Adventure (Training miniature donkeys) and Wrangler's Donkey Diary (Management & training of our new donkey gelding) CHASITY’S CHALLENGES!” Check out our TOURS (personalized clinics) and keep up with the latest developments in the equine industry with RESOURCES/NEWS (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). And of course, you are welcome to peruse our STORELEARN TOGETHER/EXCEL TOGETHER!


And all you KIDS!...Don’t forget to visit!

for lots of fun, entertainment and the




DVD #3 in our TRAINING MULES & DONKEYS video series is a must for all those who wish to learn how to drive their Longears. This comprehensive video builds on the basics with a general and  realistic description about what driving truly entails, the groundwork that is necessary for building core strength in a good balance for the work, fitting the harness, verbal commands, all about carts and carriages, hitching to the vehicle, Reinsmanship, Pleasure Driving, Obstacle Driving and working in harness. DRIVING is also covered in “Part 3” of our TRAINING WITHOUT RESISTANCE manual, also offered in French, German and Spanish.

APRIL  2021
50% off 

MAY 2021
50% off

and 50% off  


Bonnie’s Bit

Times are shure slow anymore, aren't they?  So is work and accomplishment.  I started out letting myself get frustrated over all the dead time and loss of direction, but think I am doing better appreciating this chance to take a breath and think about things more closely.  OOPS!!!  I got SERIOUS?  Call the Vet!!!

Yes, my work is kinda slow right now and I better appreciate it as, if Bishop Mule Days does indeed crank-up this May, it will certainly change back to panic time.  I am putting out another set of notecards.  Have several new prints I was preparing for Columbia Tennessee Mule Day.  Just had a most valuable and rare print returned to me of "Romeo & Juliet".  I think that was maybe my second or third print way back in the late 60's.

I'm framing it to carry with me to this year's shows. (it is of a white and black mule "smooching")

Several other new pieces possible, if time allows, but I do have Liz Hughey's poem, "Little Girls Love Horses" to illustrate and (hopefully) another book cover for Miss Irene Bennett Brown to paint.  I am MOST grateful to these wonderful ladies and their inspiring work.

As you might remember, I have illustrated two books now for my friend, Jack Parnell. ("MY Name is Ramsy" about his Clyde stallion, and "The Old Apple Tree and Friends" about the wisdom of caring for the land and nature and eachother).  Well, Jack and his wife and crew on his ranch--just up the road from me-- hosted a book-signing event last Saturday in their big horse barn.  Now, it is winter in North Idaho and we were in that super cold front that hit the whole nation that week and the wind was still whipping everything up that day.  We figured it was a most unfortunate date for the event but the show must go on and we bundled-up and soldiered-on.

Dear people, we were inundated with people coming to talk with us and see the grand horses AND buy books.  I tell ya, the folks of north Idaho are hard to discourage.  I know we sold out of books after 2 hours of SOLID signing and grinnin.  The publisher was on site and I asked him yesterday how many books he had brought to the party and he figured about 130!!!  I wore gloves the whole time, four shirts and my heavy barn coat and survived just fine but for the feet.  By the time I could get up from the table I could no longer even FEEL my feet!

So, BS is pretty-well thawed-out now and keeping busy taking care of hubby and Iris the mule and the barn cats and the two dear dogs.

Hope your 2021 is progressing and we all stay well and sane in this insane time.  Hug a mule for me. 
                                                    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!



Hearts & Horses is dedicated to providing opportunities for youth to grow, learn about themselves, and build relationships with others. Our Changing Leads programs and partnerships with local middle schools are designed to support young people facing adversity and improve their well-being. Equine-assisted learning can be helpful in addressing mental health concerns because it helps youth build meaningful connections with equines and volunteers, and it facilitates introspection. Addressing the mental health needs of our community’s youth is especially vital during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

COVID-19 has created a very isolating environment for everyone, and kids are highly vulnerable to isolation. They need support from peers, service providers, and a breadth of positive adults, especially when navigating crisis and distressing experiences. The impact of COVID-19 on mental health is so strong because it has increased stressors, anxieties, and other harms—all while decreasing access to services. At Hearts & Horses, we are dedicated to providing access to the most effective programs and services we can while ensuring safety of our riders, volunteers, and staff through this pandemic. 

Summer Alameel, Development & Communications Manager

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!


Can you possibly prepare for EVERYTHING?  No, you cannot. There is such a thing as being underprepared (oh, my jennet is about to foal and I haven't even got a foaling kit together). Or being partially prepared (the in-laws are coming for dinner tomorrow night and I have cleaned and made a list, but I haven't gotten the final touches). There is Prepper level prepared (which requires research, time, space and money). And then there is go-into-panic-mode prepared. 

The latter hit Texas this last week. Texas isn't designed for zero-degree weather. Not our houses, walls, insulation or pipes. Not our feed stores, grocery stores.  Not our electric grid. 

Some people thought ahead and got what staples they could; bread, milk, meat, cheese, and hand warmers. Some bought a lot of frozen dinners - which are either still frozen in their freezer as they had no way to heat them, or they were the lucky ones in the rolling blackouts (as we were 30 minutes on, 15 minutes off). Some got propane to heat their houses, some got a bag or two of feed. But many were left literally in the cold. 

Our small town sold out of everything within two days of the terrible forecasts.  We are hitting 70s today and still the town isn't restocked. Luckily we had hay. We were able to venture out to a bigger town and get some more feed, but even this was being rationed.  But who of us thought we'd need to have plumbing supplies laid in?  It will be weeks before pipe, sharkbite pipe repair parts, PVC, glues, and other materials will even be available. 

We can't all plan that deeply and intensely ahead. We can think ahead and do things such as winterizing our pipes, find ways to keep the trough from freezing solid. Lay in a supply of hay and feed in a good weather proof barn.  Have quilts and duct tape on hand for those rare instances when our animals truly DO need a blanket (elderly and newborn animals mostly).  Have a backup water supply, hand warmers, an oil lantern and a good supply of batteries for our flashlights.  You can bet there are a lot of Texans rethinking what their winter stores will look like next year! 

Planning ahead means efficient barns and houses. Knowing where your water cut-offs are. Where your breaker box is. Installing freeze-proof faucets at your water spouts. Prepping jugs of salt water to float in a trough to keep the surface open.  

We hope everyone managed to survive this Icepocalypse. We managed possibly better than others. Our animals survived, the water situation is resolving itself.   Paperwork is ongoing, as always, and we will do everything we can to get caught up as soon as possible. Hang in there, spring is on the way... 

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

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 have an adventure with Jasper and his friends.
All six Jasper the Mule specials are available with special features.

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