Monthly Archive for: ‘March, 2021’

The Equine In Motion2

MULE CROSSING: The Equine in Motion

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By Meredith Hodges

I have done extensive work in training equines for many years and it seems you can never learn enough. If you learn how to ask the right questions, there is always something more to learn just around the corner. It is no secret that things can happen when you push limits and you can get what might seem to be the right results, but then you have to ask yourself…really? You may, for instance get your young Reining prospect to do a spin, but then you should ask yourself if he is executing it correctly so as not to injure the ligaments, tendons and cartilage in his body. If he is not adequately prepared for the spin with exercises that address his core muscle strength and good posture, then he is likely to do the movement incorrectly, putting his body at risk.

Horse trainers have kept us in awe of their unique and significant talents for centuries, and now that their techniques are more public, many equine professionals will pooh-pooh those who attempt a “kinder” approach to training. Scientists who study the equine in motion—its nutrition, biomechanics, care and maintenance—have   their own perceptions to offer as to what we can learn about equines. Because many of these studies and tests are done in the laboratory, scientists rarely have the opportunity to follow their subjects throughout a lifetime of activity, as well as having the opportunity to experience what it really means for you as a rider, to be in balance with your equine when you work together, whether you are leading, lunging, riding or driving. If they did, their findings would probably yield quite different results. With all this progressive scientific thought, it seems to me that common sense can often get lost in the shuffle and respect for the living creature’s physical, mental and emotional needs may not be met.

It is true that bribery never really works with an equine, and many people who attempt the “kind” approach do get caught up with bribery because they are unskilled at identifying good behaviors and waiting to reward until the task is performed. However, reinforcement of positive behaviors with a food reward does work if you can figure out how to adhere to the program, and be clear and consistent in how you behave and what you expect. In order to do this, you need to really pay attention to the whole equine, have a definite exercise program that has been proven to work in developing the equine’s good posture and strength, and be willing to work on yourself as well as your equine. A good program for your equine will require that you actively participate in the exercises as well. That way, you will also benefit while you are training your equine.

People feel better when they pay attention to their diet and are aware of their posture while practicing physical activities—and, in the same respect, an equine will perform willingly and happily if he feels good.  Horses have as many different postures as do people, and there are generalized postures that you can easily notice and predict in specific breeds of horses. For instance, the American Saddlebred has a higher body carriage than that of the Quarter Horse. However, each individual within any breed is not naturally born in good posture and might need some help to get in good posture in order to exercise correctly.

There are varying levels of abuse and most abuse happens out of ignorance. Many training techniques appear to get the equine to do what you want, but the question then becomes, “How is he doing this and will it result in a good strong body or is it in opposition to what would be his best posture and condition?” Any time you take the equine out of good posture to accomplish certain maneuvers, you are abusing his body, and this can result, over time, in degenerative breakdown. For instance, those who get in a hurry in Dressage and do not take a full year at each level in order to develop their equine’s body slowly and methodically may discover, several years later, that their animal has developed ringbone, side bones, arthritis or some other internal malady. These types of injuries and malformations are often not outwardly exhibited until it is too late to do anything about them.

In my experience with my draft mule rescues, Rock and Roll, this became blatantly apparent to me. When Rock had to be euthanized in December of 2011, a necropsy was performed after his death. When the necropsy report came back and we were able to ascertain the long-term results of his years of abuse, neglect and bad posture, we found it a wonder that he was able to get up and down at all, much less rear up and play with Roll and trot over ground rails in balance.

His acetabulum (or hip socket) had multiple fractures. The upper left photo shows Rock’s normal acetabulum and the upper right photo shows Rock’s fractured acetabulum. The photo at right shows the head of each of Rock’s femurs. Rock’s left femoral head was normal, while the right, injured femoral head was virtually detached from the hip socket and contained fluid-filled cysts. There was virtually no cartilage left on the right femoral head, nor on the right acetabulum. It was the very fact that my team and I made sure that Rock was in balance and took things slowly and in a natural sequence that he was able to accomplish what he did and gain himself an extra year of quality life.

Tragically, many equines are suffering from abuse every day, while they are trying to please their owners and do what is asked of them. Their owners and trainers take shortcuts that compromise the equine’s health. It could be that these owners and trainers are trying to make choices with limited knowledge and really don’t know whom to believe. But ignorance is not a valid defense and sadly, the animal is the one that ends up suffering.

When they don’t have enough time to ride, racing stables often use hot walkers in order to exercise their Thoroughbred horses. But when an equine is put on a hot walker, he is forced to walk in a circle with his head raised and his neck and back hollowed. Since we all build muscle while in motion, muscle is being built on the hot walker while the equine is out of good posture. Consequently, when the equine is ridden later, bad behaviors can arise simply because the animal is uncomfortable. It would be better to develop core muscle strength (the strength around the bones and vital organs) first in good posture before developing hard muscle strength over the rest of the body. Core muscle strength takes time, but once the animal begins to automatically move in good posture, it becomes his natural way of going.

The Lucky Three mules have always been worked in good posture, and spend only as much time on the hot walker as it takes for them to dry after a bath. They maintain their good posture while walking and rarely let the hot walker “pull” them into bad posture.

There has been a lot of scientific research done on equine biomechanics using treadmills, which is one of my pet peeves. It would seem to me that any data scientists have gathered is not viable for one reason. An equine on a treadmill will not move the same way as an equine that is moving over ground. Have you ever had the ground move backwards underneath you? What kind of an effect do you think this would have on your ability to walk, trot or run correctly and in good posture? The very motion of the treadmill throws the body balance forward while you try to keep your balance upright. It actually interferes with the ability to balance easily and therefore, does not build muscle symmetrically and correctly around the skeletal structure and vital organs.

Like many, I am of the belief that mechanical devices that force an equine into a rounded position do not necessarily put that equine in good posture. I would guess that many trainers think the “Elbow Pull” device that I use is guilty of developing this artificial posture. If that is their opinion, then they do not understand how it works. Rather than pulling the equine’s head down into a submissive position, when adjusted correctly, the “Elbow Pull” acts like a balance bar (like a ballet dancer would use) to help the equine to balance in good posture. It takes time to develop good posture. So, in the beginning, your equine can only sustain good posture for a certain number of measured steps, and then he must “lean” on the “Elbow Pull” in between these moments of sustaining his ideal balance on his own. The “Elbow Pull” simply prevents him from raising his head and neck so high that the neck becomes inverted and the back hollowed, but it does not actually pull his head down. The rope itself is very lightweight and puts virtually no weight on his head and neck at all. Note: Because horses react differently than mules and donkeys when hard-tied, a simple adjustment to allow the “Elbow Pull” to “slip” with a horse is necessary.

Like humans, when equines are encouraged and aided in developing good equine posture, core strength with adequate bulk muscle built over the top, they are healthier and better able to perform the tasks we ask of them. With this in mind and other good maintenance practices, you can enjoy the company of your equine companion for many years to come and most of all, he will enjoy being with you!

To learn more about Meredith Hodges and her comprehensive all-breed equine training program, visit LuckyThreeRanch.com or call 1-800-816-7566. Check out her children’s website at JasperTheMule.com. Also, find Meredith on FacebookYouTube and Twitter.

© 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2020, 2021 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

THANK YOU FROM CHILLY PEPPER & ALL THE CRITTERS Y’ALL HAVE SAVED! MANY PRAYERS NEEDED FOR LUCKY!

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The following is from Chilly Pepper – Miracle Mustang:

 

Meet “LUCKY # 5”

Lucky was found wandering alone on the range just hours after his birth. We have no idea whether he was abandoned on purpose due to his health issues, or his band was scared away or something happen to Mama.

He came in with some gurgling sounds and was twitching and shaking off and on. He was given Colostrum immediately, and thus started the journey of Foal # 5.

Lil Red is finally at a point you could call “stable”. He crashed so many times it seemed like he had no chance. He went down after he was tubed, nearly into a coma. Then he had to have Doc come out again. He is still having some gut issues, but doing very well overall.

Hunter is also doing pretty well, and the little lamb was adopted out to a wonderful home.

Nicholas, was the 1st baby on this last, very long trip. He went to a very special adopter and is thriving. You can follow him on our adoption page. He and Lucky look like twins except Nicholas is much larger and older.

So now we come to # 5. LUCKY is still absolutely touch and go. He is on all sorts of medications and is making all my hair fall out from worrying about him so much. We had his blood work done, and it is not bad. His IGG levels are good, which means giving him the Colostrum was most likely exactly what he needed. Thank you to everyone who donated so we could afford to have it on hand.

Please keep him in your prayers. Lucky is having all sorts of random issues and his waste still smells like death. I am hoping and praying this is not why he was left alone hours after being born.

We have incurred lots of vet bills, and the babies are loving their milk. They are going through mass amounts and I want to thank the folks who sent it. None of this would happen if it wasn’t for y’all.

Our beautiful Appy mare, now know as Lady, went to a wonderful new home this weekend. Today, Hawk, Hidalgo and Bailey (aka CC) arrived at their new homes. So adoptions are going well, although my poor lil heart keeps breaking. It stinks to not be the “best home” for a horse you are in love with LOL.

I have “baby brain”, from not sleeping much for the last 4? weeks. I am up all night, every night with these kids, so hopefully this all makes sense. Just wanted to stop between making milk etc. and giving Lucky his meds to say THANK YOU! We couldn’t do it without you, and yes, we still need help. Look how much you have accomplished. I cannot even believe what magic happens when we all come together.

God bless and please keep these babies in your prayers!

The babies are going through milk like crazy. ANY help is much appreciated. Anyone who wants to donate directly to vet bills can simply call Harrah Veterinary at 509-848-2943 and donate ANY amount towards our ongoing bills. Just tell them it’s for Palomino – Chilly Pepper.

As always, YOU are the ones who keep this going. We are just hitting the busy time and I am praying I get to go home for a couple of weeks. These last 3 babies have already gone through hundreds of dollars of milk, enemas, meds and supplies.

This is the link to our Chilly Pepper’s Wild Horse & Orphan Foal Adoption Page, where you can see the progress and new lives of the horses YOU HAVE HELPED SAVED! (I can’t believe I didn’t do this years ago, but it is so fun to see the horses, babies and critters that are enjoying and thriving in their new lives.)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/364129998164107/

https://smile.amazon.com/ch/55-0882407 If you shop at Amazon, please go to this link.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO KEEP HELPING US SAVE MORE LIVES, YOU CAN GO TO:

You can go to gofundme

You can go to Paypal

if you would like to help these horses.

->You can donate via check at: (PLEASE NOTE NEW PO BOX #)

Chilly Pepper – Miracle Mustang,

PO Box # 233

Golconda, NV 89414

You can also donate via credit card by calling Palomino at 530-339-1458.

NO MATTER HOW BIG OR HOW SMALL – WE SAVE THEM ALL!

SAVING GD’S CRITTERS – FOUR FEET AT A TIME

Chilly Pepper – Miracle Mustang, WIN Project – Rescue & Rehab

We are now part of the WIN Organization

WIN (WILD HORSES IN NEED) is a 501c3 IRS EIN 55-0882407_

If there are ever funds left over from the cost of the rescue itself, the monies are used to feed, vet, care for and provide shelter and proper fencing for the animals once they are saved.

Donate to Help

 

 

We could lose 40,000 wild horses… if you don’t act now

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

We could lose 40,000 wild horses if you don’t act TODAY!

SJR 3, a resolution that calls on Congress to fund brutal helicopter roundups of at least 40,000 of Nevada’s cherished wild horses and burros, is being pushed by cattlemen, big game hunters and wildlife trappers who want to profit from the public land where wild horses roam.

Nevada’s wild horses belong to all Americans, so we need everyone to weigh in against this bill today.

Please send an email to the Nevada Senate Natural Resources Committee and tell them that you oppose SJR 3: SenNR@sen.state.nv.us. Be sure to use the subject line “I oppose SJR3.”

Personalized emails will make the most impact! Use these talking points when sending your email:

  • SJR 3 supports brutalizing Nevada’s wild horses and burros and decimating their wild populations so cattle can graze the public lands where they live.
  • SJR 3 is against the wishes of 86% of Nevadans who want to protect and humanely manage wild horses and burros.
  • SJR3 supports spending $1 billion or more in taxpayer dollars on the failed approach of roundups instead of long-term solutions like fertility control.
  • SJR3 will harm Nevada ecotourism and business development because few of these iconic animals will be left for visitors and residents to enjoy.
  • SJR 3 would lead to slaughter because the cost of rounding up and incarcerating so many wild horses and burros would quickly become untenable.

It’s critical that you weigh in against SJR 3. Please email SenNR@sen.state.nv.us now!

— American Wild Horse Campaign

DONATE

Young horse lovers, get excited!!!

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

Young horse lovers can get excited! A new trailer for the upcoming movie, Spirit Untamed has just been released, including Taylor Swift’s re-recorded song, “Wildest Dreams.”

In the movie, a girl and her new friends must save a wild herd of mustangs from rustlers. That sounds a lot like what the American Wild Horse Campaign is working on!

Click here to check out the new trailer for Spirit Untamed and consider making a donation to support our work in the fields, in the courts and on the Hill to protect wild horses and burros.

This movie provides a great opportunity to not only inspire a new generation of young horse lovers, but it also speaks to the very important issue of protecting wild horses.

In fact, right now, the Bureau of Land Management is planning to round up and remove hundreds of Onaqui wild horses from the West Desert in Utah. We are putting together an action plan to protect this beloved herd and preserve their freedom, but we need your help.

If you’re like the young person in the Spirit movie and you care about protecting wild horses, then please click here to watch the trailer and then donate $30 to our cause.

Thank you,

Suzanne Roy

Executive Director
American Wild Horse Campaign

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CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Maintaining a Happy Donkey: 3-2-20

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When Chasity first arrived, we needed to keep her in quarantine, away from the other animals for a minimum of two weeks. Over the past 41 years, we altered our facility to an all-steel facility. Reduced maintenance costs enabled us to proceed converting from wood and wire to steel until we completed the process. This has greatly reduced the overall maintenance costs for the entire ranch, enabling us to purchase steel panels for the barn runs. It was easy to quarantine Chasity safely and still allow her company (at a distance, of course!) and an introduction to her future stable mate, Wrangler. About every five years, we do have to spray paint the panels to keep them looking new, but this is a small price to pay for a happy donkey!

Once out of quarantine, Chasity and Wrangler were stabled next to each other. All of our runs are bedded with four inches of pea gravel. This promotes good drainage and keeps things from getting muddy. This, in turn, provides a hard surface for good hoof health and will not chip their feet because of its rounded shape. Each of our donkeys is given a soccer ball for play in the smaller areas. The ground surface is also soft and comfortable enough for them to lie down without causing shoe boils or sores. They learn to come by calling them to the end of the runs and rewarding with oats.

The mini donkeys’ pens are the same way, as is the road around the sandy dressage arena where they can also be turned out in the larger dirt area when it is not in use. They really enjoy a good roll in the sand.

Donkeys are desert animals and can easily become obese when exposed to green pastures. I only take my donkeys out to pasture to play with me.

My 60’ x 180’ indoor arena is lined with steel panels. I have a 45’ Round Pen at one end with obstacles inside the side gates around the south end. The enclosed area makes for good obstacle training with minimal distractions. Round Pen work and turnout in the open area during bad weather is completely safe and NON-DESTRUCTIVE!

At first, Chasity would not come to me at the stall door, but after being chased once into the stall to be haltered, she soon gave in easily. I always halter in exactly the same way, in the same place. They love routine.

The oats reward assures that she will repeat the behavior. After only one lesson, she now comes to me every time to be haltered. For clean, dry stalls, we bore a 2’ wide x 4’ deep hole in the center, fill it with 1 ½” rock, cover it with four inches of pea gravel and put rubber mats on top. The pea gravel is held in with 2” x 6” boards bordered by angle iron.

Since we had no animals in the north stalls, we took down the panels and made a large turnout area bedded in four inches of pea gravel for Wrangler and Chasity. It was plenty large enough to romp and play…and not get muddy!

When I am out and about the barn, I reinforce Wrangler and Chasity’s will, as well as all the others, to come to me for their oats reward. We keep bulk rock, pea gravel and structural fill in bays behind the indoor arena.

When the equines are in turnout, we replenish the pea gravel as needed with the Skidsteer.

Wrangler and Chasity, our miniature donkeys Augie & Spuds, miniature mule Francis and miniature horse Mirage also have alternate access to a very large 2 ½ acre dirt pen…Large Standard donkeys one day, miniatures the next.

When it is dry, they can take turns on alternate days in the larger area to stretch their legs and buck to their hearts desire. They do not seem to miss being in the pasture with this kind of management and they really do stay very healthy. We have no incidence of colic, founder, abscesses, skin irritations, rashes or obesity.

Wrangler, Chasity, Augie and Spuds are TRULY HAPPY DONKEYS!


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MULE CROSSING: Rewards, Treats, Coaxing and Bribing

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By Meredith Hodges

It is important to know the differences among rewards, treats, coaxing and bribing in order to correctly employ the reward system of training called Behavior Modification.

Rule Number One: Treats and bribery should never be used during training. However, the appropriate dispensing of rewards and coaxing will produce the correct behaviors.

In order to reward your equine correctly for performing tasks, it is important to know the difference between a reward and a treat, and between coaxing and bribing. Let’s begin with some basic definitions of these terms:

Reward: something desirable given for a completed task

Treat: an unexpected gift given simply because it will be enjoyed

Coax: to gently persuade without dispensing the reward

Bribe: to persuade the animal by indiscriminately dispensing treats

Remember to give your equine a reward only after a specific task you’ve asked for has been performed—or even an assimilation of that task, which means the taking of baby steps toward completing the task. The reward should be given immediately upon completion of the task and then your equine should be allowed time to enjoy his reward before moving on to the next task. If your equine is given a food reward for only good behaviors, he will be more likely to continue to repeat only those behaviors for which he is rewarded and you can begin to “shape” his behavior in a positive way.

Treats, on the other hand, are a food that your equine especially likes, which are given randomly and without purpose. Giving random treats during training can result in crossed signals and confusion in your animal. Treats such as peppermints and even “horse treats” are generally an inappropriate food source for equines and when dispensed too freely, have actually been known to cause equine health problems, so forego treats of any kind during the training process.

Coaxing and bribing can seem like the same thing, but they are not. Bribery suggests the actual dispensing of a reward before the task has been completed. Bribery is the indiscriminate dispensing of treats and is not the way to clearly communicate to your equine which is truly a positive behavior and which is not. Rewards and coaxing are often confused with bribery, but rewards are dispensed for a task only when it has been completed, and coaxing using the promise of a reward can often be used to help your equine to stop balking and attempt to perform the task you have requested. Then the reward is given only when he has completed the task.

As an example of coaxing, you can extend a handful of crimped oats to lure your equine closer to an obstacle, but he should not receive the handful of oats until he completes the required task or travels enough distance toward the obstacle to deserve a reward. If your equine just won’t come all the way to an obstacle, even to get a reward, you can modify the task by asking your equine to just come closer to the obstacle and then halt (but without backing up). Then the reward can be dispensed for the partial approach and halt, because these actions still qualify as an assimilation of the bigger task that is to be completed. If he backs away at all, he should not be rewarded and you will have to go back to the beginning of the task and try again.

A kind word or a pat on the head may be enjoyable for your equine, but it doesn’t necessarily insure that the desired behavior will be repeated. However, a food reward insures that desirable behaviors will be repeated, because food is a solid, tangible reward. The food reward will back up the petting, (the petting is something that you probably do all the time anyway). When you visit your equine, you most likely pat him on the nose or head and say hello, but there are no real demands for any particular task being asked of your equine—you and your equine are simply interacting. You’re getting him used to touch, discovering how he likes to be touched and learning about his responses, which is actually part of imprinting.

The problem with carrots, apples and other foods people use for treats is that they’re not something for which the equine will continue to work and are not healthy choices for your animal in large quantities. After a limited amount of time, equines can easily become satiated on most treats. It’s like a kid with a bunch of candy bars. Once they become full they don’t want any more candy and they’ll stop working for the treat. Many foods used as treats, when given too freely, may also cause your animal to become tense or hyperactive. However, it’s been my experience that an equine will continue to work for crimped oats as long as you dole them out. Crimped oats are healthy for the body and they don’t cause an equine to become tense and difficult to handle.

When you’re using rewards, always start with lavish rewards for all new behaviors. This means that, every time you teach something new, you’re going to give lavish rewards for even the slightest assimilation toward the correct behavior. For instance, if your foal is tied to the fence and upon your approach, he quits pulling, it’s time to try to walk away from the fence with him and see if he will follow you. In this first leading lesson, you’ll untie him and ask him to take a step toward you. If he does, lavishly reward that step toward you, wait for him to finish chewing his oats and then ask him to take another step forward and toward you. If he complies and takes another step forward, lavishly reward that step too. During the first lesson, you will be rewarding every single step he takes toward you. Remember to keep the lesson short (about 15 minutes) and ask for only as many steps as he willingly gives you.

Between lessons, let your equine have a day off in order to rest. When you return for the second lesson, tie him to the fence and review with him your last lesson from the very beginning. He should remember the previous lessons and be willing to follow you right away in order to be rewarded. If he seems willing to follow your lead, untie him and ask him to take a step forward just as he did before, but this time, instead of dispensing the food reward when he takes the first step forward, simply say, “Good boy” and ask him for a second step forward before you reward him with the oats. You will now be progressing from one step forward before you reward to two steps forward before you reward.

If he won’t take the second step forward, then give the reward for the first step, wait for him to finish chewing and ask again for two steps before rewarding him again. If he complies, you can then reward him every two steps during that lesson and quit after fifteen minutes. Give him another day between lessons and then proceed in the same manner, beginning with a review of the previous lesson, then a reward for the first step, and then for every two steps. During this lesson, you can now ask for three steps, and you can continue asking for three or more steps during this lesson, provided that he takes these steps willingly and then stops obediently on his own to receive his reward. You no longer need to count the steps as long as he is offering more steps between rewards each time. If, because of his enthusiasm, he begins to charge ahead, stop him and immediately reward him for halting. This will insure that he keeps his attention on you and the task at hand. This methodical, deliberate process is setting the stage for a positive and healthy working relationship with your equine.

This is how you begin with leading training, and also how you should proceed with all the new things that you will be teaching your equine. In the beginning of leading training, he gets rewarded for even an assimilation of what you’re asking. For example, when you get to negotiating obstacles, your goal may be to cross over a bridge, but when your equine sees the bridge ahead, he may stop or start backing up. At this point, allow him to back until he stops. Go back and repeat the steps you did prior to approaching the obstacle. Then, asking for only one step at a time, proceed as you did during his flatwork leading training toward the bridge, rewarding each step he takes. Tell him verbally how brave he is and continue to reward any steps he takes toward the obstacle before proceeding forward. Remember to stop at any interval where he becomes tense, ask for one more step to be rewarded, and then allow him to settle and refocus before asking any more from him.

Once he goes to the bridge without a problem, you no longer have to reward him all the way up to the bridge. Just reward him when he actually gets to the bridge. Next, step up onto the bridge and ask him to take a step up onto the bridge with his two front feet, which is another new task. If he puts one foot on the bridge or even tries to lift up a foot and put it on the bridge, make sure you reward that behavior. Once he has a foot firmly placed on the bridge, keep tension on the lead rope and ask for his other front foot to come up onto the bridge. If he places his second foot on the bridge, you can then reward him for having both front feet on the bridge. Next, you’re going to continue forward and just walk over the bridge to the other side, pause and reward. Then quit this lesson. In his next lesson, if needed, repeat the approach the same way if he starts to balk. If not, ask him to step both front feet up onto the bridge, stop, make sure he is standing squarely, and reward that behavior.

Now you no longer need to reward for one foot on the bridge. This is called “fading or phasing out” the reward for a previous behavior (one step), while introducing the new behavior of walking to the bridge, halting and then putting two front feet up on the bridge. Wait for a moment for him to chew his reward and then ask him to continue onto the bridge, stop and square up with four feet on the bridge and reward. If he does not comply and won’t stop on the bridge, just go back to the beginning, approach the bridge as described and try again until he stops to be rewarded with all four feet placed squarely on the bridge

Then you ask him, to place his two front feet on the ground while leaving his two back feet on the bridge. Then have him stop and square up to be rewarded. This is a difficult position and if he cannot succeed by the third attempt, you may have to step in front and aid in his balance, then reward him when he settles in this position.

The last step over the bridge is to bring the hind feet off the bridge, stop and square up one more time before he gets rewarded. This does two things. It causes your equine to be attentive to the number of steps you are asking and it puts him in good posture at each stage so that his body will develop properly. In future lessons, the steps in the approach to the bridge no longer need to be rewarded and as he becomes more attentive, he will learn to stop any time you ask and wait for your cue to proceed. After several months of this meticulous attention to these detailed steps, he will not necessarily need to be rewarded with the food reward each time—a pat on the neck and kind words of support should be sufficient. Rewards can then be given for whole “blocks” of steps when he successfully completes them.

Here is a question a lot of people ask: “This is fine while my animal and I are still working from the ground, but what happens when I finally get on to ride? Do I keep rewarding every new behavior when I ride?”  The answer to that question is, “No, you don’t.”  If you do your ground work correctly, it will address all the things that you’ll be doing while you’re riding before you actually even get on. Your equine has been lavishly rewarded for stopping when you pull on the reins and the drive lines, and he’s been rewarded for turning and backing and everything else he needs to learn before you actually get on him, so the only thing left to get used to would be exposure to your legs on his sides. He will soon learn that your legs push him in the direction of the turn you are indicating with your reins. For this action, he does not need to be rewarded.

In the natural progression of correct training—including during mounting training—your equine should also be getting rewarded when you’re first getting him used to your being on-board. Give him the oats reward for standing still while you attempt to mount (i.e., walking toward him, holding the left rein and reaching for the saddle horn), and then when you hang from each side of his body with a foot in the stirrup (first on one side and then on the other side), and, finally, from each side of his body while you sit on his back. When you ask him to turn his head to take the oats from your hand, you can be sure his attention will be on you because this action will force him to look at you in order to receive his oats. Then reward him again for standing still as you dismount. Consequently, by the time you actually get to the point of riding in an open arena, he’s been rewarded for having you on his back and for behaving well through all the exercises demanded from him during round pen training.

You may first want to lunge your equine when you move into the open arena. Lunge him on the lunge line and reward him during that part of your arena workout. When you are ready to mount in the open arena, have a few oats in your pockets to offer him when you mount on each side the first few times. This will ensure that his attention stays focused on you. Once he is used to being ridden, you will no longer have to reward him in the middle of riding lessons. If he does not keep his attention on his work in the open arena, this signifies that not enough time has been spent on the ground work and you should back up your training regimen to the point that he is maintaining attentiveness and performing correctly, even if it means going back to the round pen or leading work. If, in the ground work stages, you give plenty of food rewards in the correct manner, by the time you groom and tack up, your equine should have been sufficiently rewarded and will not require another reward until after your workout when you return to the work station and un-tack him. This is called delayed gratification. When you un-tack him and do your last minute grooming before putting him away, again be generous with the crimped oats and praise your equine for a job well done. Rewards are dispensed very specifically and pave the road to a solid foundation of trust and friendship.

To learn more about Meredith Hodges and her comprehensive all-breed equine training program, visit LuckyThreeRanch.com or call 1-800-816-7566. Check out her children’s website at JasperTheMule.com. Also, find Meredith on FacebookYouTube and Twitter.

© 2013, 2016, 2018, 2021 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Another Augie & Spuds Adventure: Learning to Ground Drive

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“Augie, come with me while she’s not looking!”

 

“Now that's more like it--working at OUR level!”

“I really like it when she works at OUR level!”

 

“A few last-minute adjustments so everything fits us just right!”

“You have to be really still when she’s punching holes!”

 

“Leading as a team is easy if you’ve done your homework.”

“Leading as a team is easy if you have done your homework!”

 

“Hey, I wonder if WE could use one of those sticks to reach farther!”

“What’s with the stick?!”

 

“Hmm, “Walk on” is pretty much the same, even with all this stuff on us!”

“Walk on?…oh, I remember that!”

 

“Pick up your heels, Spuds, I think she wants us to go faster!”

“I think she wants us to pass her!”

 

“Not too fast, though… she wants us walking beside her here.”

“Oh, I get it…she wants us to walk beside her now!”

 

“Now we’re the leaders—all our hard work in training is finally paying off!”

“WOW! Cool! We get to be in front now!”

 

To learn more about Meredith Hodges and her comprehensive all-breed equine training program, visit LuckyThreeRanch.com or call 1-800-816-7566. Check out her children’s website at JasperTheMule.com. Also, find Meredith on FacebookYouTube and Twitter.

© 2012, 2017, 2021 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

LMVEnglishRiding

Longears Music Videos: English Riding

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Thrilled about Secretary Deb Haaland’s historic confirmation!

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

Here at the American Wild Horse Campaign, we are thrilled about the news that Deb Haaland has been confirmed by the Senate to be the next U.S. Interior Secretary.

This is a critical role for not only the management of America’s wild horses and burros, but also their ability to roam freely and stay wild.

We applaud this historic nomination and look forward to Secretary Haaland’s inspired leadership in the fight to protect America’s public lands and wildlife. She has long been a champion for reforming the mismanaged federal wild horse and burro program, and we look forward to working with her to implement sensible solutions to humanely manage these majestic animals — which 80% of Americans want to protect.

Will you donate $25 to keep the good news for wild horses coming?

Donate

This is a HUGE victory for wild horses. The American Wild Horse Campaign successfully launched a grassroots push, which resulted in over 5,000 letters sent to Senators all across the country in support of Deb Haaland’s confirmation.

Now we have a wild horse-friendly Secretary of the Interior who we will work with to put the brakes on the BLM’s plans for mass roundups and inhumane sterilization of wild horses.

The work has just begun and Secretary Haaland will need our unwavering support to overcome opposition to reforming the BLM’s mismanaged wild horse and burro program.

The stakes are high. Right now, the beloved Onaqui wild horses of the West Desert in Utah are scheduled for roundup and removal starting July 1. The Bureau of Land Management is still planning to conduct brutal sterilization procedures on captive wild mares from the Confusion HMA in Utah. And Congress has begun its annual Appropriations process and is considering funding for the BLM’s inhumane Wild Horse and Burro Program.

We are counting on your help to stay in the field, in the courts, and on the Hill to protect wild horses and burros! Will you donate $25 or as much as you can today?

Thank you,
Grace Kuhn

Communications Director
American Wild Horse Campaign

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LTR Training Tip #32: Good Posture and Performance

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For your equines to perform their best, they need to have even weight distribution and efficiently utilize balanced movement in their bodies. Learn how to encourage good posture for good performance.

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Welcome to the Interior Department, Secretary Haaland!

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

News & Alerts

It’s official! Rep. Deb Haalad has been confirmed as the new Secretary of the Interior! As the first Native American nominated to this position, Secretary Haaland has bravely broken through barriers and the significance of her leading the Department of Interior cannot be overstated. Her historic and inspiring confirmation is a ray of hope for all Americans who cherish our public lands and wildlife, and especially our magnificent wild horses and burros.

Before the Senate’s historic vote to confirm her nomination, Secretary Haaland tweeted:

Indeed as a Congresswoman from New Mexico, Secretary Haaland was a champion for the environment and our public lands – including the protection of the wild horses and burros that call them home. Secretary Haaland brings a new ethic to the table right where it matters most, at the heart of the Interior Department.

In the House of Representatives she:

  • Co-sponsored a historic House amendment, initiated by AWHC and our coalition partners in DC, requiring the BLM to redirect $11 million of the Bureau of Land Management’s annual budget towards PZP fertility control, rather than mass roundup and removals.
  • Cosigned a bipartisan letter, urging the Senate to pass the fertility control amendment.
  • Took a stand against the BLM’s brutal surgical sterilization procedures, urging it to instead use humane, scientifically proven fertility control methods.

With Secretary Haaland at the helm, we are moving in the right direction — towards the protection and preservation of America’s iconic wild horses and burros. AWHC looks forward to implementing sensible solutions to humanely manage these majestic animals that 80 percent of Americans want to protect.

So, please join us in welcoming and celebrating Secretary Haaland by signing our card that will be delivered to her office.

>>Sign the Card Today<<

Wild horses have a fighting chance. This is our moment. This is our time. Welcome to the Interior Department, Secretary Haaland!

The AWHC Team

Donate 

The following is from Chilly Pepper – Miracle Mustang:

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The following is from Chilly Pepper – Miracle Mustang:

Meet “TUCKER & LIL RED”

These precious souls are fighting hard to be here and live in this brutal world. Lil Red has been touch and go from the start and is far from out of the woods. He had to be tube fed and then needed IV fluids. The vet has been out here several times and we are simply hour to hour. Prayers are much appreciated!

His little brain had not finished wiring when he was born. I am pretty sure he was a preemie. I have had numerous other foals like this, and they usually figure things out. He is NOT a dummy foal, just simply not “all there yet”. He was about 3 days old when I got him after being born on the feed lot.

Tucker has been having non stop tummy issues and is a bit colicky. Both have been through the wringer and will likely need more vet care and blood work. They are beautiful little boys who have had their Mama’s ripped away in front of them. Both of them spent the 1st couple nights crying incessantly. It is brutal to hear.

I just got the vet bill this morning for these last babies. This trip alone, the vet bills have totaled $2243.17. (*I LOVE Doc Bruce. His prices are SUBSTANTIALLY LOWER than we were being charged before. He is always there at the drop of a hat and I cannot say enough about how blessed we are. Not only for his expertise, but for the savings on each and every call he comes on.*)

Sadly, the bills still add up with the number of lives y’all are making it possible to save.

Nicholas and the little orphaned lamb both are at their new homes. Nicholas is thriving with his new Mama and is healing not only her broken heart, but the rest of the family’s as well.

The babies are going through milk like crazy. ANY help is much appreciated. Anyone who wants to donate directly to vet bills can simply call Harrah Veterinary at 509-848-2943 and donate ANY amount towards our ongoing bills. Just tell them it’s for Palomino – Chilly Pepper.

As always, YOU are the ones who keep this going. We are just hitting the busy time and I am praying I get to go home for a couple of weeks. These last 3 babies have already gone through hundreds of dollars of milk, enemas, meds and supplies.

This is the link to our Chilly Pepper’s Wild Horse & Orphan Foal Adoption Page, where you can see the progress and new lives of the horses YOU HAVE HELPED SAVED! (I can’t believe I didn’t do this years ago, but it is so fun to see the horses, babies and critters that are enjoying and thriving in their new lives.)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/364129998164107/

https://smile.amazon.com/ch/55-0882407 If you shop at Amazon, please go to this link.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO KEEP HELPING US SAVE MORE LIVES, YOU CAN GO TO:

You can go to gofundme

You can go to Paypal

if you would like to help these horses.

->You can donate via check at: (PLEASE NOTE NEW PO BOX #)

Chilly Pepper – Miracle Mustang,

PO Box # 233

Golconda, NV 89414

You can also donate via credit card by calling Palomino at 530-339-1458.

NO MATTER HOW BIG OR HOW SMALL – WE SAVE THEM ALL!

SAVING GD’S CRITTERS – FOUR FEET AT A TIME

Chilly Pepper – Miracle Mustang, WIN Project – Rescue & Rehab

We are now part of the WIN Organization

WIN (WILD HORSES IN NEED) is a 501c3 IRS EIN 55-0882407_

If there are ever funds left over from the cost of the rescue itself, the monies are used to feed, vet, care for and provide shelter and proper fencing for the animals once they are saved.

Donate to Help

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MULE CROSSING: Neonatal Isoerythrolysis

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By Meredith Hodges

“Neonatal isoerythrolysis (NI) is a condition in which the mare creates antibodies against the foal’s red blood cells, and then passes these antibodies to the foal via the colostrum. Once the foal absorbs these antibodies, they result in lysis* of the foal’s red blood cells within 24 to 36 hours after birth. This red blood cell destruction is widespread throughout the foal’s body and can lead to life-threatening anemia and/or jaundice. (This is similar to the human Rhesus, or Rh, factor, where a woman who is Rh-negative gives birth to her second or subsequent child that is Rh-positive, resulting in destruction of the newborn’s red blood cells.)1″

All legitimate mule breeders should be aware of this condition, especially because it can occur more often when breeding donkey jacks to mares than it does when breeding stallions to mares within the same species. If the hybrid foal’s blood type is the same as its mother’s, then there is no problem. However, when the jack and the mare have different blood types, and the foal possesses the jack’s blood type, there is potential for NI to occur.

On the surface of the mare’s red cells are antigens that will stimulate the production of antibodies against incompatible red blood cells (RBCs). There are basically two ways that these RBCs can get into her system:

1) If the foal’s RBCs enter the mare’s circulation via the placenta during pregnancy or during delivery.

2) If the mare obtains these incompatible cells during a blood transfusion.

If neither of these conditions occurs, the mare can carry, birth and nurse her foal with no problem. However, if the incompatible red cells do somehow get into her system, she will begin making antibodies against those cells that, in turn, will be passed into the foal’s system via the mare’s first milk, or colostrum.

“Signs of neonatal isoerythrolysis depend upon the rate and severity of red blood cell destruction. Affected foals are born healthy, and then typically develop signs within 24 to 36 hours. In severe cases, the signs of NI may be evident within 12 to 14 hours, whereas in mild cases, signs may not be present until three or four days of age. NI foals will develop progressive anemia, thus leading to depression, anorexia, collapse and death. These foals may also develop pale mucous membranes that later become yellow or jaundiced.”2

The mare’s blood can be tested ahead of time to determine if she has a different blood type than the jack (or stallion), but a positive test result does not necessarily mean that NI will automatically occur, only that there is the possibility for occurrence. Blood samples from the mare and jack should be taken two to four weeks before the mare is due to foal to determine if she is producing antibodies against the foal’s red blood cells. If the blood test is positive, then precautions must be taken to save the foal at birth by making sure it is prevented from nursing its dam for the first 24 to 36 hours. The foal should be muzzled and bottle-fed colostrum from a mare that has not produced these same antibodies, and therefore is compatible with the foal. To be absolutely safe, the colostrum should be obtained and tested from a mare that has never had a mule foal.

For the best results in building the foal’s immune system, this “replacement” colostrum should be collected within the first six hours after birth. The mare being used does not need to be the same blood type as the foal, but her blood must not contain antibodies to the foal’s RBCs. The quality of the colostrum will determine the amount fed to the foal. Immediately after birth, the foal should be given two to three feedings of colostrum within the first two hours, and then be given milk (for energy) for the first 24 to 36 hours after that. Goat’s milk is best for this purpose. After 24 to 36 hours, the foal should be able to be safely returned to its dam’s milk. If NI is present but is caught early enough, the foal can be transfused with blood and there is a chance that it may live, but this transfusion procedure has inherent risks and there are no guarantees of success.

Research on NI has been done over the years on Thoroughbred horses, and statistics indicate that 20 percent have incompatibilities between dam and sire, yet only one percent of foals develop NI. The incidence in mule breeding suggests that the rate is higher. The Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Fort Collins, the University of California at Davis and the Louisiana State University all have laboratories set up to do this initial NI testing on mares. Consult with your veterinarian about contacting any of these facilities for information on how to collect and ship samples for NI testing.

Out of concern for future mule offspring, the Lucky Three Ranch—with the assistance of our veterinarian, Kent M. Knebel, D.V.M.; Colorado State University researcher, Josie Traub-Dargatz, D.V.M., M.S.; and Louisiana State University researcher, Jill McClure, D.V.M., M.S.—began thorough testing of Lucky Three Ranch stock in the early nineties, with particular attention paid to our breeding jack, Little Jack Horner. It was discovered by Dr. McClure that Little Jack Horner’s RBCs were resulting in unidentifiable antibodies in many of the horse mares that carried his foals. The mares that were sampled had antibodies present, but Dr. McClure was unable to “type” the antibodies found in the mares.

The next step was to immunize some research horses at L.S.U. using Little Jack Horner’s RBCs. If they made antibodies, Dr. McClure would have a more readily available source of antibodies for further research. She also took samples from some burros from another L.S.U. project and discovered that they, too, had the same RBC factor that occurred in Little Jack Horner, but the antibodies produced in the mares were still unidentified. There was already quite a bit of medical and scientific data on N.I. that could help in the prevention of this potentially fatal condition. However, this discovery of new antibodies stimulated by the jack and produced by the mare proved that there was still a lot more that needed to be learned. All of Little Jack Horner’s tests showed him to be of a compatible blood type to the mares if he was a stallion of the same species, and yet these unknown antibodies were being produced. Perhaps future research will hold the answer to this puzzle.

A debt of gratitude is owed to veterinarians like Dr. Kent Knebel, who take time out of their busy schedules to collect samples for this research, and to dedicated researchers like Dr. Josie Traub-Dargatz and Dr. Jill McClure, who continue with this important research that benefits our mule industry and its future generations. Their ongoing research will continue to have a significant impact on mule breeding programs, not just here in the United States, but all over the world.

To learn more about Meredith Hodges and her comprehensive all-breed equine training program, visit LuckyThreeRanch.com or call 1-800-816-7566. Check out her children’s website at JasperTheMule.com. Also, find Meredith on FacebookYouTube and Twitter.

© 1990, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2021 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.

Help us save the wild horses – before it’s too late!

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

Today I’m going to ask that you donate $25 to the American Wild Horse Campaign. But first, let me explain why we urgently need your support:

This summer is going to be a hard one for our cherished wild herds. Their freedom, families, and even their lives are going to be on the line.

Right now, helicopter roundups are paused until July 1 for foaling season. But shortly thereafter, one of the most beloved herds in the country will again be targeted for removal: the wild horses of the Onaqui Mountains in Utah. We have a plan in place to attempt to stop the operation from proceeding and we need your support.

In August, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is planning to conduct brutal surgical sterilization procedures on captive wild mares from the Confusion HMA in Utah. We have already filed suit to stop them and will need the resources to continue what could be a long, drawn-out battle.

Congress has already begun its annual Appropriations process, considering funding for the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro Program. Will it continue to throw money at the mass roundup and removal of wild horses and burros, or will it require the agency to shift focus to humane, on the range management of mustangs? The outcome depends on us. We need your assistance to help keep our team on Capitol Hill.

While there is much at stake for our wild horses and burros, there are also big opportunities to create meaningful change with a new administration, Interior Secretary, and BLM Director. But time is of the essence — we must act now.

Will you please donate $25 right now and help us save the wild horses and burros of America — before it’s too late?

Thank you,
Suzanne Roy

Executive Director
American Wild Horse Campaign

NEWBORNS ON THE FEEDLOT – ANOTHER 911 – SHIPPER CALLED – IT IS BEYOND GO TIME AND THE BABIES NEED YOUR HELP!

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The following is from Chilly Pepper – Miracle Mustang:

Wow – the insanity has already begunY’all JUST SAVED TEN MORE LIVES since I arrived in WA to pick up the Stallion and the 2 Pregnant mares!

I was getting ready to head back home to NV on Monday when I received another urgent phone call for an orphaned, abandoned foal. Then a call for an abandoned, injured, newborn orphaned lamb. It never stops!

This morning I had Doc come out and pull Coggins on “Nicholas”, (Our most recent Emergency), I was prepping to finally head home and my phone rang again. There are “tinies” at the Shipper’s and I should be getting them tomorrowSo apparently I am not going home anytime soon.

Sadly, NEARLY ALL the funds have been depleted on this last rescue. Every day that I am here, I have to have folks at home taking care of the rescue. Although most of their time is volunteer, it still adds up substantially. (They are amazing!) We also need to get another load of hay for the “special needs” kids at the rescue. Fuel costs are rising and that is a substantial cost for us even before the ridiculous prices we are already starting to see.

I have to get more shelter set up for these critical babies. As the numbers increase, so does the need for safe nursery space to give them what they need.

We spent roughly $2000+ simply to “save” these lives, and spent over $1,000 on vetting for health certs, (and that does not include the latest couple visits). That was just to get the horses to camp and keep them off the slaughter truck. (Just in the last 2 weeks). This DOES NOT include medical care, feed, hauling, etc. It is just a drop in the bucket of the rescue expenses.

I realize folks are struggling. However, I will keep fighting for these lives as long as I have the funding to do so. Sadly I have been warned that they are planning on “hitting it hard” this year because there are so many horses. So I am asking everyone who wants me to keep saving these precious lives to make it happen.

Great news however, these last horses that you saved are nearly all adopted, and yes, we saved the “3 Old Ladies”. They are currently in NV and being assessed. They are approximately 25 years old and sweet as can be.

Sadly we had to let Angel Face leave this world that was nothing but cruel to her. She was in excruciating pain and it was much worse the photos showed. She is running free in Heaven with the Angels and is finally free from the horrific pain. I am still working on the mare with the long feet. However, her owner did get them trimmed (how well I don’t know), and supposedly the vet is going to assess her. I am still on standby. I know it costs a lot to set these souls free, but it is the right thing to do! It is beyond devastating and it feels like you are being torn apart, yet I will always do it if no one else will.

When you see Angel Face below, please know that your love and support ended her horrible suffering. YOU made such a difference for this beautiful soul by alleviating her endless pain. THANK YOU!

This is the link to our Chilly Pepper’s Wild Horse & Orphan Foal Adoption Page, where you can see the progress and new lives of the horses YOU HAVE HELPED SAVED! (I can’t believe I didn’t do this years ago, but it is so fun to see the horses, babies and critters that are enjoying and thriving in their new lives.)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/364129998164107/

https://smile.amazon.com/ch/55-0882407 If you shop at Amazon, please go to this link.

ANGEL FACE says – “Thank You So Much, for Helping End My Years of Suffering!” I am running free through the grassy fields!

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO KEEP HELPING US SAVE MORE LIVES, YOU CAN GO TO:

You can go to gofundme

You can go to Paypal

if you would like to help these horses.

->You can donate via check at: (PLEASE NOTE NEW PO BOX #)

Chilly Pepper – Miracle Mustang,

PO Box # 233

Golconda, NV 89414

You can also donate via credit card by calling Palomino at 530-339-1458.

NO MATTER HOW BIG OR HOW SMALL – WE SAVE THEM ALL!

SAVING GD’S CRITTERS – FOUR FEET AT A TIME

Chilly Pepper – Miracle Mustang, WIN Project – Rescue & Rehab

We are now part of the WIN Organization

WIN (WILD HORSES IN NEED) is a 501c3 IRS EIN 55-0882407_

If there are ever funds left over from the cost of the rescue itself, the monies are used to feed, vet, care for and provide shelter and proper fencing for the animals once they are saved.

Donate to Help

StormyAprilEarsArticle11 3 11 111CC

MULE CROSSING: Handling Your Mule’s Ears

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By Meredith Hodges

Just how sensitive is a mule about having his ears touched? If a mule is handled often and properly, he should be no more sensitive about his ears than he is about any other part of his body. However, if he is rarely handled, mishandled or handled roughly, he can become quite sensitive about any part of his body and in particular, his ears. Bearing this in mind, take the time to desensitize your mule to touch and handling by paying attention to how he likes to be touched in any given area, and then by being polite about handling those more sensitive areas. This is an important part of any training program, both for general management and for safety purposes. This is the heart of imprinting.

The mule that has an aversion to having his ears handled poses a problem with management convenience, but more than that, he can be a safety hazard in many situations. Here are some examples of lack of desensitization causing inconvenience and possibly, a dangerous situation. Inconvenient: Your mule does not want his ears touched, so you have to disassemble his bridle each time you put it on him. Dangerous: Should you accidentally touch his ears while putting the bridle on him, he could possibly thrash his head around and knock you silly! Inconvenient: If you get into a difficult spot on a trail where you have to dismount and move quickly, you may be unable to take the reins over your mule’s head in order to safely lead him. Dangerous: While you try to get the reins over his head without touching his ears, your mule could inadvertently knock you down or lose his balance and fall down while trying to avoid you. The moral is this: If your mule is to be a completely safe riding animal, he must be appropriately desensitized all over his head and body—including his ears—and trust that you will not harm him.

Desensitization should be humane and considerate—never abusive. When we say we want to desensitize an animal, it simply means that we want him to become accustomed to touch and handling all over his body, particularly in areas such as his head, legs and rear quarters, where he is apt to be the most sensitive. An animal that has not been politely desensitized will tend to react more violently to touch. When properly teaching your mule to become desensitized, your touch should be presented in a pleasurable way, so that your mule not only learns to tolerate it, but to actually enjoy it and look forward to it. An old-time method such as “sacking out” is a somewhat crude technique that is used to desensitize an animal by tying the mule in a corner where he cannot flee, and then flinging a tarp or large canvas all over his body, including the head. Often times, it creates more problems than it can solve because it is rarely done politely. A mule that has been “sacked” about the head can actually become more sensitive because this inconsiderate approach teaches him that humans cannot be trusted. He perceives that they will fling things over his head, blinding him and causing him anxiety for no apparent reason. The mule will stand still only because he cannot move, but if he is given the opportunity to flee or fight back, he will more than likely do so. Thus, the old “obstinate mule” myths are actually most often the result of some fault of the trainer, and not the mule. Sacking out more politely will eliminate these kinds of potential bad habits.

Desensitizing a mule that is sensitive about his ears is a long-term process. First, you must maintain a firm, quiet and tolerant attitude. Nothing your mule does should make you angry enough to lose your temper or your patience. Make sure your mule is tacked with a stout, non-breakable halter and rope. While stroking his nose in a polite and soothing manner, ask your mule to come forward, one step at a time, to a stout hitch rail. If he won’t come easily, just snub your lead on the hitch rail so he cannot go backwards, and keep coaxing him forward until he comes. Take up the slack with each step and then hold until he takes another step forward toward the hitch rail. Wait as long as it takes for him to gain confidence enough to come forward. Do not get into a pulling or pushing match with him—you will only create resistance in him and perpetuate avoidance behaviors—and he will win because he is stronger and he weighs more!

When his nose is finally up to the rail, run your lead around the post and come through the noseband on his halter and around the post again. Then tie him off snugly, so that his nose is tied as closely as possible to the hitch rail, making sure there is no slack. Now begin softly stroking your mule’s nose, using gentle yet firm strokes. Next, work your way up his forehead, and finally toward his ears. NOTE: Remember to use soft, gentle yet firm strokes, going with the grain of the hair and never against it. Do not “pat” your mule—it’s too threatening.

Let the tips of your fingers find the base of your mule’s ear (away from the open side) and stroke upward, toward the tip. At this point, he will probably thrash his head back and forth to avoid your touch—just remain slow, deliberate, reassuring and gentle about your approach. When he has allowed you to stroke the ear, even if for only a couple of seconds, leave your hand resting on the ear and use your free hand to feed him an oats reward. Don’t take your hand away from the ear until he is chewing calmly and no longer worried about your hand on his ear. Do this with each ear no more than one or two times each session and then go to his shoulder and work your hand in a massaging fashion over his neck, toward his ears. While your thumb cradles an ear, let your fingers move over his poll. With your thumb, gently stroke upward on the back of his ear, while leaving the rest of your hand over his poll. If he jerks away, just keep going back to the same position of thumb cradling the ear and fingers moving over the poll.

When he will tolerate this, you can then cradle the ear in your fingers and with your thumb, begin to gently rub upward on the inside of the edge of his ear. Do not go too deep into the ear at first. After he is calm with this, you can begin rubbing downward into the ear with your fingers, while cradling the ear in your opposite hand, being very careful not to go too deep. Watch his eyes and allow him to “tell” you how deep to go. If it feels good, his eyebrows will raise and flicker. If he doesn’t like it, he will simply jerk his head away and that is your cue to lighten up. Most mules love to have the insides of their ears rubbed, so find the areas inside your mule’s ear that actually give him pleasure. Each individual mule will be different.

In the next step, you will be in the same position, but you will close your hand around your mule’s ear and hold it with just enough pressure that he cannot jerk your hand loose. Do not hold too tight, grab or pull the ear—just maintain a quiet, gentle hold on the ear and go with his movement. If he pulls away, just slightly tighten your grip on the ear until he stops pulling and then lighten your grip again. Tighten only when he pulls away, and then immediately release when he stops resisting—tighten and loosen your grip as needed, and be sure to follow his movement. He will soon learn that if he doesn’t fight it, there is no discomfort. Never tightly grip his ear and do not tighten your grip any more than you need to in order to hold onto the ear—you never want to induce pain. Once your mule is tolerant of you holding his ear in this fashion, you can introduce the clippers, should you desire, using the same guidelines of tightening gently yet firmly when he pulls and releasing when he submits. However, introduce the clippers only after he has completely accepted you holding his ears.

Introduce the bridle by holding your right hand flat on the poll between your mule’s ears, and by using your left hand to raise the crown piece over his nose and up to his forehead. Slide your right hand down his forehead a little to meet your left hand. When your hands meet, transfer the crown piece into your right hand, insert the bit with your left hand, and then raise the crown piece up to the base of his ears. Slowly transfer the crown strap back to your left hand. Gently cup the fingers of your right hand around the base of his right ear. Now bend the ear forward and under the crown piece and slide it over your hand (and the ear) into its position behind the ear. While keeping your palm firmly on your mule’s poll, slowly move to the left ear and repeat the same movements.
The bridle should now be in place and you can reward your mule. Do not put on and remove the bridle any more than once per session. Your mule needs to clearly know that this is not just some annoying past time you have discovered, but an act of necessity. He will soon learn that if he cooperates, it won’t take too long. Once the bridle is on, get right to the business at hand and forget the ears for a while.

When you return with the difficult mule, tie him as before, stand directly in front of him (with the hitch rail between you) and gently remove the bridle with both hands lifting and sliding the crown piece over both of his ears simultaneously, so there is little pressure on his ears as it slides over them. If he still holds the bit in his mouth, hesitate for a minute when the bridle is off his ears and allow HIM to drop the bit. Removing the bridle this way will help to avoid chafing the ears and will avoid the bit hitting his teeth before you remove the bridle the rest of the way. Always removing the bridle in this fashion will encourage him to drop his head and will prevent bad habits such as pulling away or flinging his head.

When your mule gets used to having his ears handled and being bridled while snubbed and haltered, you can then begin dropping the halter and loosely tying him while he is being bridled. Sometimes it takes a couple of weeks before you can drop the halter—this will vary depending on the individual mule, so just be patient. Your quiet, gentle perseverance will eventually win out and your mule’s ears will be desensitized and quite manageable. After you have mastered his outer ear and inner ear, you may find that your mule actually enjoys having his inner ear stroked or scratched, and bridling becomes easy. Integrating washing his face and cleaning his nostrils and ears during the grooming process should further help him to accept having his ears handled. Handling your mule’s ears can actually become a truly pleasurable experience for your Longears.

To learn more about Meredith Hodges and her comprehensive all-breed equine training program, visit LuckyThreeRanch.com or call 1-800-816-7566. Check out her children’s website at JasperTheMule.com. Also, find Meredith on FacebookYouTube and Twitter.

© 1992, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Another Augie and Spuds Adventure: Big Turnout With Little Friends: 11-20-20

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“It’s another adventure, Spuds, but where is THIS?!”

“Looks like a GREAT BIG dirt pen, Augie!”

“Who is this, Augie?! OH! It’s a pretty girl!”

“It’s Francis, Augie!!! The love of my life!”

“Hmmm…what’s this?! Tastes pretty good!”

“Better look out, Spuds! She’s got a boyfriend over there!”

“Hey, Augie! Let’s run away…maybe she’ll follow!”

“Oh look, Spuds, it’s Mom with more OATS!”

“Coming, Augie! Wouldn’t want to miss the oats!”

“Look, Augie! She’s sneaking past Mirage to come and see ME!”

“Hi, Francis! How have you been? I’ve missed you!”

“It was a really hard choice Augie…pretty girl or oats on the ground!”

Spuds is so fickle! I’m going back to Mirage!”

Hey, Augie! Want to go exploring? This is a REALLY BIG place!”

“Check it out…green grass under the fence, Augie!”

“What do you think, Francis? do you like me better than Spuds?”

“Hey, Francis, where’re ya going?..Come back!”

“It’s Billy Bad Ass flirting with Francis now…and Mirage doesn’t seem to mind!”

“Maybe not, but our friend, Billy, didn’t really like them…come on Augie!”

“It may be a MUCH BIGGER pen, and quite an adventure, but we three are buddies forever!”
“What a beautiful day, eh Spuds?!”

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MULE CROSSING: Why Mules Are Exceptional

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By Meredith Hodges

Across the United States and around the world, as mules are given more and more opportunities to perform in many diverse situations, they are exhibiting their exceptional beauty, athletic ability, endurance and intelligence. There are definite physical and psychological reasons for these outstanding abilities. It has been proven that the mule not only inherits the mare’s beauty, but is also more athletic than the mare out of which he came. The mule is an exceptional hybrid not only because he inherits these qualities from his dam, the mare, but he also inherits the best qualities from his sire, the jack who is responsible for his muscle structure, thickness of bone, strength and intelligence.

The muscle structure of a mule is noticeably different than that of a horse. His body is covered with masses of long, smooth muscle whereas the horse has more differentiated bulk muscle masses.

The most apparent example of this difference is seen in the chest of the mule. The horse’s chest has two distinct muscle groups, which creates a very distinctive line of separation in the middle of his chest. However, the mule’s chest is composed of one wide muscle mass that resembles a turkey’s breast, which greatly enhances the mobility of the front quarters. Another example is found in the mule’s hindquarters, where the long, wide and smooth muscles enable the mule to kick forward, backwards and sideways—he can even scratch the top of his head with a hind foot if he wants to! Mules are also quite capable of climbing under, over and through most kinds of fencing. Restraints that are used with horses often do not work with mules because of their astounding ability to free themselves from annoying circumstances with their strong, quick and agile movements. Because the hindquarters of the horse possess bulkier muscle masses, the horse does not have this incredible range of motion. The difference in muscular structure is similar to that of a ballet dancer versus that of a weight lifter—the ballet dancer’s longer, smoother muscles are more conducive to elasticity and agility.

In addition to this physical structure, which allows him more diverse range of movement, the mule also inherits from his sire (the donkey jack) the strength to tolerate prolonged and strenuous use of his muscles. One need only try to budge an unwilling donkey to realize his incredible strength! Donkeys traditionally possess an unbelievable vigor, and this vigor is passed on to the mule, adding to his superiority over the horse in strength and endurance. The donkey jack also contributes to the superior, tough hooves of the mule and a unique resistance to parasites and disease. Throughout their long history, the donkey’s natural ability to survive and thrive in habitats both desolate and unyielding guarantees that donkeys and their mule offspring are more sure-footed than other equines and masters of self-preservation.

Donkeys have long been referred to as “stubborn,” but this is a false and unjust perception. It is not stubbornness that causes an overloaded donkey to stop dead in his tracks to rest his body, but rather common sense and a strong desire for self-preservation. After all, would a sensible human being deliberately pack more than he could comfortably carry, and then continue a hike until he drops from heat and exhaustion? No. Would his refusal to do so be considered as being “stubborn?” Certainly not—it’s just common sense. The same common sense should be applied when understanding a mule or donkey’s behavior—and this holds true in any potentially dangerous situation a donkey may face. For example, when crossing a body of water, the donkey does not possess a human’s acute visual depth perception. Therefore, when he refuses to step into water that seems perfectly safe to us, it is because his depth perception is telling him to use caution and to take his time in evaluating the situation before he proceeds. His behavior is determined by the way he is asked to perform a task and by his concern for his welfare and safety.

As a rule, donkeys are equipped with the innate intelligence to sense that humans are not always concerned with what is really best for them, yet they are still willing to gives us the opportunity to convince them otherwise. Donkeys also have a natural social attraction to humans and, when treated with patience, kindness and understanding, they learn to trust and obey. On the other hand, if they are treated with pain and abuse, they are not likely to comply and can become very dangerous to handle. Mules and donkeys have an honest way of responding to our demands, so if your mule or donkey is not complying with your request, you need to review the clarity of how you are communicating your desire and adjust your approach accordingly. The intelligence of the donkey is no accident.

When a male donkey, with his traits of superior intelligence, strength and muscle structure is bred to a female horse with a calm disposition, good conformation and athletic ability, the result is an exceptional and incredibly beautiful animal—the MULE!

October 26th has been popularly designated as National Mule Appreciation Day, but anyone who’s ever been lucky enough to nuzzle a muzzle knows that these magnificent, gentle, bright, honest, upbeat, funny, patient and loyal friends need our appreciation and guardianship not just once a year but every day. Let’s spread the word whenever we can mules and donkeys are truly amazing!

To learn more about Meredith Hodges and her comprehensive all-breed equine training program, visit LuckyThreeRanch.com or call 1-800-816-7566. Check out her children’s website at JasperTheMule.com. Also, find Meredith on FacebookYouTube and Twitter.

© 1985, 2013, 2016, 2019, 2021 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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LTR Training Tip #31: Proprioception

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Equines are not born with an awareness of their own bodies, or proprioception, so they must be taught how to orient themselves.

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USDA Must Reinstate Horse Protection Rule!

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The following is from the American Horse Council:

American Horse Council Action Alert

House “Sign-On” Letter to USDA

Supporting Horse Protection

As you might recall, in early 2017, the outgoing Obama Administration issued a final USDA rule on the Horse Protection Act (HPA) to end the practice of “soring” of a horse’s limb.  This rule mirrors the industry-endorsed “Prevent All Soring Tactics” (PAST) Act by taking common sense measures to protect certain Tennessee Walking Horses and Racking Horses from the practice.  Unfortunately, the Trump Administration suspended the HPA rule four years ago and never reinstated it.

The horse industry and its allies in Congress are currently lobbying the new Administration to bring the HPA rule back, by circulating a “Dear Colleague” sign-on letter, and petition to USDA.  Contact your House lawmaker today and urge him or her to sign the congressional letter and petition below and reinstate the Horse Protection Rule of 2017!

Take Action

 

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