Monthly Archive for: ‘July, 2022’

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MULE CROSSING: Shoulder-In and Lengthening the Trot

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By Meredith Hodges

In order to perform the shoulder-in properly, it is important to understand its purpose. The shoulder-in causes the equine to engage his hindquarters so that they carry the bulk of his weight, giving him more freedom and suppleness in his shoulders and front quarters. A strong base must be established to carry this weight forward while the shoulders remain light and free to proceed forward while tracking laterally.

The shoulder-in is done on a straight line. Normally, an animal traveling in a straight line makes two tracks in the dirt behind him, because the front legs are positioned directly in front of the back legs. In the shoulder-in, the shoulders are positioned so that they cause a three-track pattern behind—the inside front foot makes one track, the outside front foot and the inside hind foot make one track, and the outside hind foot makes one track.

Begin by walking your equine around the perimeter of the arena. When you reach the corner before the long side, make a ten-meter (30-foot) circle. As you close your circle at the start of the long side of the arena, maintain the bend that you had for the circle, using steady pressure on your inside rein. At the same time, nudge your equine with alternate leg pressure in synchronization with his hind legs as they each go forward. Squeeze your outside rein at the same time that you squeeze with your outside leg, and then release the outside rein. Ride the hindquarters straight forward from your seat and legs, as you offset the shoulders with your hands. Be careful that your inside rein is not so tight that your animal bends only his neck to the inside. As you squeeze with the outside aids, feel your equine rock his balance back to the hindquarters, giving you the sensation of pedaling backward on a bicycle. Simultaneously, you should feel the front quarters begin to lighten and become supple.

Take your time and don’t try too hard. Be content at first with two or three steps of shoulder-in and then straighten him down the long side of the arena. After a few accurate steps of shoulder-in, as he straightens his body, you will feel him surge forward with more energy. Collect and slow your equine’s gait through the short side of the arena and then repeat the exercise on the next long side. As your equine begins to understand the concept of rocking his balance to the hindquarters, the surge of energy that you feel when he straightens will become more and more powerful.

Much body strength and coordination is involved in this exercise and at first, you may feel like you are all thumbs. Time, patience and practice will bring about positive results, so stay with it. Over time, do this exercise at the walk, the trot and the canter, and do it the same way in both directions in the arena. Don’t forget to praise your animal for each correct step that he gives you.

The next exercise to enhance hindquarter engagement and lengthen the stride is quite simple, yet still a little tricky because lengthening your mule’s stride means covering more distance yet maintaining the same rhythm and cadence. It does not mean speed up, although that is what most equines will try to do. Track the perimeter of the arena again. This time, collect the trot on the short sides, and then urge your equine to lengthen his trot down the long sides. To add variation, ask him to lengthen across the diagonals (from corner to corner) as well. Your equine’s first impulse will probably be to shift his weight to the forehand and just speed up. For this reason, do not push him too hard too soon. At first, just ask for a little more energy—be aware that your rhythm and cadence will not be lost as his stride increases. He will just be spending more time in suspension. Keep the forehand light and free while you ride the hindquarters. Let your hand open slightly with the foreleg going forward on the same side, and close as the leg comes back. This will help you to determine how far you can let that stride go before the balance begins to shift forward. It will also allow you to check the balance with your hands before it begins to shift. If he has too much difficulty, you should go back and practice lengthening over ground rails again to gain more strength and coordination.

As your equine gains strength in the hindquarters and is better able to carry your weight, his lengthened gaits will continue to improve until, perhaps a year or so later, he will be able to fully extend his stride at the walk, trot and canter. I caution you, however, that if your animal begins to rush, ask for less.

Another exercise that is helpful in lengthening the trot is to canter your equine around the arena, then cross half of your diagonal at the canter. Break to the posting trot and finish the diagonal. After the diagonal, sit the trot through the short side of the arena, pick up the canter on the long side again, and then cross the next available diagonal again and repeat the pattern. The drive that an equine gets from his hindquarters in the canter will carry through into the trot for the few strides on the diagonal and will create the true lengthening. This also holds true when teaching the lengthened walk (add trot work and back to walk) and the lengthened canter (add galloping and back to canter). This is your opportunity to tell your equine, “Yes, yes, this is what I want when I urge you on!”

Learning to ride from back to front (from the hindquarters forward) will greatly improve the harmony between you and your equine. Loss of balance seems to be the single most common cause of disobedience and problems with riding and driving animals. Carrying your weight and his in a properly balanced posture minimizes the chance for a loss of balance, and recovery from such a loss is much easier. Your equine will soon discover that your aids are indeed for his benefit as well as for your own, and he will become more accepting of them over time. As he becomes more balanced, you will find a world of different activities that you and your equine can do!

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.

© 2016, 2017, 2022 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

This article is an excerpt from the book, Training Mules and Donkeys by Meredith Hodges, 2013.

 

‼️ Deadline in 24 hours >> and we’re falling short.

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

We’re just one short day away from tomorrow’s deadline to hit our $50,000 Observation Fund goal. And right now, we’re falling shortPlease contribute now to help us reach our goal. >>

Because documenting the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) helicopter roundups is so critical to our mission, we’ve assembled and trained a team of photographers and videographers to cover virtually every helicopter capture operation conducted by the federal government this year.

This is essential work. Without the photographs and videos from our observers, the public would be in the dark about the brutality to wild horses and burros that our tax dollars are funding.

Oftentimes, our AWHC representatives are the ONLY ones on site to document the animal welfare violations taking place, allowing our staff to hold the BLM accountable by filing complaints and briefing members of Congress. 

We’re $37,732 of the way to our $50,000 goal – every dollar helps us continue this vital work. Please, if you can, donate to power our observation efforts during the 2022 roundup season today.

POWER OUR WORK →

Make no mistake; our roundup documentation is making a difference. Our evidence of cruelty — like the video of a foal roped and slammed to the ground or a mare crashing into the trap, breaking her neck and then left unattended while the helicopter continued to stampede horses over her body — is prompting Congress to act to curb this blatant abuse. Support is growing for legislative action to ban helicopter roundups, and Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) has even introduced a bill to prohibit the use of aircraft to capture wild horses!

Right now, we’re on the ground at three roundups – in the Piceance Basin in Colorado, the Triple B Complex in Nevada, and the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area (HMA) in California — where 20 horses have died as a result of these roundups so far. In one particularly horrific incident at the Twin Peaks roundup, the helicopter contractor stampeded 123 horses at once into a tiny trap pen, causing a panicked pileup of struggling horses that burst the trap open, causing injuries and two deaths.

In addition to raising awareness on these horrific deaths and influencing Congress to take action, photo and video obtained by these observation teams has also been turned into powerful public education campaigns and lobbying efforts.

Our roundup documentation program has never been more important. It’s grueling work in all kinds of weather. Watching these beautiful and innocent wild animals lose their freedom and families, day in and day out — it’s emotionally draining. It’s also expensive to get our observers out to these remote areas, keep them equipped and in the field with 4-wheel drive vehicles and places to stay after long, arduous days.

Please help us hit our $50,000 goal before tomorrow at midnight to fuel more training and deployment of our observation teams as we get into the thick of the 2022 roundup season. >>

DONATE NOW

Chilly Pepper – Scorching 911 – Literally Life n Death. CAN WE SAVE SOME?

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The following is from Chilly Pepper – Miracle Mustang:

Catcher called

Will you help me save as many as we can?

LOOK AT THESE FACES, YOU decide
 how many lives we can save.

OLD MAN MULE – “FLASH GORDON” was simply thrown away. He is skinny, sad and does NOT belong on a slaughter truck.

The 1st $500 – $1000 PER HORSE covers bail, transport to Goldendale, Coggins & Health Certs, Brand Inspections, selenium shots etc. and that is just the beginning. I still have to feed them and care for them until they are adopted.

Stallions cost more to save because they also need
to be gelded, which is approx $440 including the ranch call.

The horses need your help Now to save as many.lives as we can.

I am going to have to stand and watch these horses go through the chute and pick the ones I think we can re-home. It is the worst thing to say yes or no, and it makes me physically sick and gives me nightmares. I am praying we can save more than a couple.

It’s up to you, Please Help!

.Please help us “git ‘er done”, and God bless y’all for being so amazing for these horses. He puts them in front of us for His reason, and I am glad He chose our Chilly Pepper Family to help them!

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS BEEN HELPING SAVE THESE PRECIOUS LIVES!

Please check out our Adoption page!
https://www.facebook.com/groups/543121366934903

If anyone wants to help,

Supplies or checks can be sent to

Palomino
Chilly Pepper
19 Weona Rd.
Goldendale, WA 98620

or

checks to PO Box 233,
Golconda NV 89414

Once again we are back and forth, so all addresses are good.

or Donations can be made at:

CashAp-$LauriArmstrong
Venmo – @Lauri-Armstrong-2

THANK YOU for everything we have received.

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

Your love and support at work. She is starting to feel better and better! THANK YOU!

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_

Circles And Stretching 5 19 20 32

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Circles and Stretching: 5-19-20

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5-19-20

Chasity is continuing to gain core strength, balance and even has a little “prance” in her step these days. The bacterial infection is almost gone and she is eagerly waiting at the stall door for her lessons each week. She gets structured leading exercises in her proper postural “gear” and in between, she has other things happening on other days like daily “soaking” of her infection, vet appointments and the farrier. Today, we will add circles at every cone to increase the intensity of her workout. Stretching is done more frequently now.

Chasity carefully walks in sync with me, no more pulling on the lead rope or charging ahead like she did in the beginning. She is happy on her way to the outdoor dressage exercise arena. Varying the location of her postural core strength leading training keeps her fresh and engaged.

On the way to the dressage arena, we stop to visit with Augie and Spuds, our delightful little mini donkeys. Chasity is intrigued. Where she is stabled, she can only hear them. Then it’s on to the dressage arena.

Since the arena is also used as a turnout area, it is a bit bumpy and the sand is deeper than the other places where Chasity has worked. It will increase the intensity of her work. Still, she is bending nicely through her rib cage while remaining erect in her body and doing her four-square stretches very well indeed!

Chasity is bending her joints well while walking in sync with me, however, I am noticing she is a bit stiff in her left hind leg, especially around the turns to the left. We added circles at every cone in the Hourglass Pattern to help to enhance her bending technique.

She steps out nicely with her right front, but as she brings the left hip forward, her gait is stilted and limited in it’s range of motion. The abdominal muscles are only moderately engaged and she stops short of reaching underneath her body to her center of gravity.

The right hind leg moves forward into it’s correct position, but she is just lifting and swinging her left hind leg forward instead of bending adequately through her joints, particularly in her hip joint.

As she steps forward with the right hind foot, the left hind has an abnormal look to the extension of the leg. It appears stuck in the hip joint and pelvic area, and is not swinging freely. Still, she is bending fairly nicely through her spine.

Another good stretch while standing four-square was in order and Chasity let me know that it felt VERY GOOD!

On straight lines with no rails, Chasity is able to reach underneath her body to the center of gravity, but going around the turns reveals some stiffness in her pelvic area while the rest of her spine bends easily.

Chasity really enjoys her stretches and does them with no problem at all. Then we begin to track in the other direction and it is clear that bending to the right is particularly difficult for her.

As we proceed around the cones to the right, her bending gets a little better and the right leg moves easily under her center of gravity. But when she approaches the rails, her pelvis appears to stiffen and inhibit her movement again.

There is plenty of “reach” in her front legs, but the rear legs do not seem to be able to consistently follow her forward movement. Her abdominal muscles are engaged and she is attempting to round her back, but her stiff pelvic area is inhibiting the ability to reach well underneath her body.

Traversing the rails is making it apparent that she should probably have a visit from our proficient equine chiropractor. Since she just arrived a short time ago, I did not think it would be prudent to expose her to chiropractic until I could loosen her stiff body a little bit and gain her trust first.

We finished traversing the rails and she had to “lean” on the “Elbow Pull” to keep her balance. She did pretty well circling to the right for the last time, but it was now clear that she would need to be adjusted with chiropractic before any further lessons could take place and be beneficial to her.

We ended the lesson with one more four-square downward stretch, then a stretch to the right…

…then she did a stretch to the left and left the arena in perfect synchonization with each other. Still, she didn’t have the “reach” behind that I thought that she should.

Just to make things a bit more interesting, we opted to investigate the lane to the small park to look at this new area. Chasity thought the steps looked particularly strange, but she was not fearful.

She navigated the steps like a champ and stood quietly while we took in the sights. She saw Robin Laws’ “Donkey Talk” to her left and J. Payne Lara’s “Love Me Tender to her right.This was a major accomplishment for Chasity since standing still was NOT something she wanted to do when she first arrived.

Then we went back up the steps, left the area and went to see the pack mules, “A Friend to Lean On” by Robin Laws. Chasity played “cute” for the camera. Then we went to see Bonnie Shields’ “Friends,” a bronze statue of Kylie, Moxie and Jasper from our children’s series. As you can see, her posture is greatly improved…the “Elbow Pull” is staying LOOSE most of the time now!








































We just helped save 16 mustangs from slaughter. Read their story!

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

We’ve got a LOT of news to share with you this week! You won’t want to miss the story of how we partnered with Skydog Sanctuary to rescue 16 mustangs from a notorious kill pen in Colorado, and you’ll definitely want to take action to support a bill to ban cruel helicopter roundups. So, please read on!

Ask Your Member of Congress to Co-Sponsor the Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act (H.R. 6635)

Across the West, Bureau of Land Management (BLM)-contracted helicopters are hunting down wild horses right now, chasing tiny foals, pregnant mares and other horses in high summer temperatures across very rugged terrain. These helicopter roundups are traumatic and dangerous, and wild horses are injured and killed because of them. Take this week, when BLM helicopters in Califoria stampeded 124 wild horses at once into a far too-small trap pen, causing the panels to burst and killing two horses in the process. Fortunately, members of Congress are standing up to this brutality, including Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) who has introduced a bill (H.R. 6635) to end helicopter roundups for good. Please act today and ask your legislators to cosponsor this important legislation!

TAKE ACTION

The Pinto Post – Tales from the Wild

AWHC operates the world’s largest humane birth control program for wild horses on Nevada’s Virginia Range. It’s part of an amazing community initiative involving several wonderful local organizations and dozens of volunteers who work tirelessly to protect this historic group of wild mustangs. Now you can keep up with their incredible (and sometimes daring!) efforts by subscribing to the Pinto Post, a monthly electronic newsletter that chronicles the work of the volunteers and tells the stories of the beautiful wild horse families living in this area.  Subscribe today to keep up with all the news!

SIGN UP FOR THE PINTO POST

16 BLM Mustangs: Saved from Slaughter!

On the same day we released our explosive investigative report on the deadly consequences of the Adoption Incentive Program (AIP), we partnered with Skydog Sanctuary on the rescue of 16 BLM-branded wild mustangs from a notorious kill pen in Eaton, Colorado. After being immersed in the grim statistics documenting the hundreds of BLM wild horses and burros who have been sent into the slaughter pipeline, we were gratified to help save 16 wonderful souls who would have otherwise faced a horrific fate. Read the story of these horses and find out how you can help by clicking below.

READ MORE

Thank you for your support.

— AWHC Team

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Longears Music Videos: Because We Can: Dressage

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MULE CROSSING: Dancing with Mules

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By Meredith Hodges

Lucky Three Sundowner was foaled at my mother’s Windy Valley Ranch in Healdsburg, California in June of 1980. Two weeks later he and his dam, Candy Etta, an AQHA registered mare, were shipped to the Lucky Three Ranch in Loveland, Colorado, where we continued the superior mule breeding and training program that my mother had started. Sunny was a tall, gangly little bay mule foal with an affectionate and willing attitude.

His show career began at halter and progressed to Western Pleasure and Reining by the time he was three years old. He won the World Championship in Reining at Bishop Mule Days as a four year old in 1984. Although he did very well in these events, he still seemed tense and nervous. For the next two years, I decided to focus on more relaxing events for him in Western Pleasure, Trail and English Pleasure. People were not easily accepting mules in equine events that were reserved for horses and ponies. Mules were universally considered stubborn, uncooperative and only suitable for the activities of farming, packing and pulling heavy loads. I suspected that this was not true and set out to prove it by schooling my mules in every discipline possible. Sunny had won the World Championship in Reining. I believed that schooling in Dressage could only help him in other judged disciplines and I set out to prove it.

During our beginnings in Colorado, there were small mule shows and some schooling horse shows that we could attend to test our skills. However, most people really didn’t believe mules could do all the different events that horses could do and did not want us around. A picture of Colonel Alois Podhajsky hung over my bed since I was small and I have always been in awe of the supreme levels of horsemanship that Dressage horses could attain. My dream was to be able to dance with Sunny in Dressage, but without anyone to help us, how could we ever achieve that level?

In 1986, fellow mule lover Sally McClean and I attended the United States Dressage Federation Convention and asked that mules be accepted into Dressage schooling shows. We were met with resistance, but there were some who were empathetic to our plight and they agreed that we should be allowed to compete at the lower levels to be able to test our skills and be part of the Dressage community. Sunny and I began Dressage lessons with local United States Dressage Federation instructor/trainer, Melinda Weatherford in Fort Collins, Colorado. Since neither Sunny, nor I, were previously schooled in Dressage and because he was a mule, we were faced with a much harder journey than we ever imagined. Lindy certainly had her work cut out for her teaching the two of us!

With acceptance by the U.S.D.F. (United States Dressage Federation), I felt it was important that our World Mule Show in Bishop, California, offered classes in Dressage. There were now a few others who were starting their mules in Dressage and they would need a place to show their progress against their own kind. The Bishop Mule Days Committee agreed and Dressage was included as a part of this truly world-class mule show! With the addition of Dressage, Bishop Mule Days became a 5-day show. Today, Bishop boasts a full week of over 180 different mule and donkey events with over 800 entries each year. Dressage classes grew rapidly with increased interest! People were beginning to realize how much Dressage could influence their Longears’ performance in other classes. Even the donkey classes began to improve and more events were offered for them as well. My own Little Jack Horner was working at Second Level Dressage, which was unheard of for a donkey!

During Sunny’s first Training Level Dressage test in 1988, he got frustrated and ran off with me! Mules will sometimes do that! He scored 5’s and 6’s. The judge’s comment was, “This could be a nice mover if you can get his brain-by teaching him shoulder-in and leg yielding…” Unfortunately, we were eliminated. In 1988, he made his second debut at Training Level Dressage at Bishop Mule Days. He had much improved scores of 6 and 7. The comments, were, “Very pleasing ride, lovely mule, need to work on halts.” The progress Sunny made in just a month was phenomenal!

Sunny really enjoyed the predictable exercise routine and was soon much more relaxed and submissive although, we still had an occasional runaway during practice. It took me awhile to figure out just why Sunny was running off with me. During the Reining training as a three year old, Sunnyhad been forced to continue to gallop after missing his lead changes. From that time on, he would take off every time he thought he made a mistake, even when I didn’t think he had! He thought that was the right thing to do, so I patiently just rode out the runaways on a loose rein and kept asking him verbally to “Whoa.” Each time, the runaways got shorter.

I knew that it was important to make sure his foundation work was stable and consistent, so we spent 1 ½ years schooling at Training Level Dressage. I made sure that he was only schooled every other day, with a day of rest in between. This seemed to help him to relax and settle, but his rhythm and cadence were still irregular at times. Then I thought maybe riding to music might help both of us. So, I sat down in the evenings, watched his training videos and picked music that would fit his natural rhythm at all three gaits. I even wore my Top Hat for our dress rehearsals to help me to set the mood. This staging during practice sessions made a dramatic change in his attitude… and mine!

Suddenly, we both experienced the harmony that we had only heard about that could take place between rider and horse, or in our case, rider and mule! It took a bit longer than expected, but spending that extra time at Training Level really improved his forward motion with strong engagement of his hind quarters. This, in turn, enhanced the lengthening and shortening of his strides within the working and extended gaits. We were ready to ask our coach if we could proceed to the next level. We began work on Leg Yields and attempted a bit of Shoulder-in.

We continued our weekly lessons with Lindy and progressed to First Level Dressage. We learned to sustain good balance, rhythm and cadence at all three working gaits and to lengthen these gaits with alacrity and grace. People at the farm where we took lessons began to stop and watch us in awe! They had never seen such a thing! In May of 1989, he showed at Bishop Mule Days again with scores of 6 and 7. The comments, “Nice moving mule. Good impulsion, but unsteady at times. Good overall.” There were 10 entries that year and Sunny placed first! We were definitely making progress and people were beginning to notice!

Later in the summer of 1989, Sunny and I began to work at Second Level Dressage and entered some local schooling shows against horses to measure our progress. He did very well and was rapidly becoming the “Dressage Spokesperson” for mules! In 1990, he took first in the Bishop Mule Days Second Level Dressage Class. He was honored by Bishop Mule Days when asked to do a special demonstration for their Sunday afternoon performance. Sunny wowed the crowd with his sensitivity, agility and graceful performance!

By May of 1991, Sunny was finally beginning to work at Third Level Dressage. Bishop had no Third Level Dressage class. So, they allowed Sunny to compete at Second Level Dressage again that year against four other mules and Dolly Barton who was rapidly becoming a Dressage champion herself – a mule bred by Bonnie Shields, the Tennessee Mule Artist!

Dolly placed first and Sunny placed second. Again, he scored 6’s and 7’s and the comments read, “Very nice ride! Needs more bending through turns and circles and scores will be higher.” Since both mules would be moving up another level by the next year, I went back to the Bishop Mule Days Committee and requested a Third Level Dressage class for 1992. They were so impressed with Lucky Three Sundowner and Dolly Barton that they agreed.

At Bishop Mule Days 1992, Sunny placed first against Dolly Barton in the Third Level Dressage class with scores of 6 and 7. I don’t think he liked being beat by a girl the year before! By 1993, Sunny was working at Fourth Level Dressage. It was at this time that I attempted to change his bridle, from the Eggbutt Snaffle Flash bridle, to a Weymouth Bridle with the curb action Weymouth and Bradoon. He reacted violently to the additional restriction from the Deluxe Weymouth Bridle. He was always compliant and responsive in his Eggbutt Snaffle Bridle, so I opted to go forward in the same bridle to keep him relaxed and happy with his work. He then competed a second year at Bishop Mule Days at Third Level Dressage, where he easily won being the only mule in the class. He had won respect from the horse community and had clearly surpassed his peers!

Quietly at home, with only a few onlookers, Sunny and I danced together to The Emperor’s Waltz by Johann Strauss with Canter Pirouettes, Half Passes, Passage and Piaffe. OUR DREAM TO DANCE TOGETHER HAD FINALLY COME TRUE! Lucky Three Sundowner passed away in October of 2015 at the age of 35 years, but his legacy remains. Dispelling all the old rumors about mules and donkeys, the memories we made together were priceless and paved the way for many more Longears athletes to “strut their stuff” in the equine industry of today! It took 18 years for mules to finally be accepted in the United States Dressage Federation Dressage Division in 2004, but nothing pleases me more than to see Longears successfully competing in the U.S.D.F. Dressage Finals against horses in Lexington, Kentucky! Long live our beloved 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.

© 2007, 2016, 2019, 2021, 2022 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.

Ground Driving Chasity7 7 20 7

WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: Ground Driving with Chasity: 7-7-20

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Wrangler is really beginning to enjoy his time working with me and helping with Chasity’s training! I think he is also happy to have someone he can be with in turnout after three years of being by himself… although a gelding, he’s just too rambunctious to be turned out with any of the others! They definitely form groups and it is wise to pay attention to the groups they choose…mid-aged mules together, minis together, older equines together and donkey families together. Wrangler LOVES his new friend, Chasity! They both truly enjoy the workouts we do together!

Chasity follows Wrangler around like a puppy dog! She is also very enamored with HIM! After adjusting his “Elbow Pull,” Wrangler and I watch the bicycles going by on the road. I find that it is beneficial when they see something, if you just stop waht you are doing and look at it, too. Then, there isn’t as much of a fuss.

Chasity watches as I ask Wrangler to flex at the poll with an offer of crimped oats. This reminds him about how to take the pressure off the “Elbow Pull” and keeps him relaxed. Then all three of us pose for a picture before getting to work! All my equines seem to know when it is “picture time” and they always perk their ears! They are all a bunch of “hams!”

“Well, are we going to do a proper reverse?” I ask Wrangler. He promptly turns into the fence and leads Chasity down the rail of the Round Pen at a walk.

Both donkeys are stepping well underneath their center of gravity and do five rotations at walk before I ask them to trot for five more rotations. Chasity is doing much better about submitting to the pressure of the “Elbow Pull” and is able to sustain her balanced posture and self-carriage for longer periods of time now.

Chasity doesn’t “lean” on the “Elbow Pull” nearly as much anymore. Both halt promptly upon command, they get rewarded, then proceed forward again and do a perfect reverse together.

Again, we do five rotations at walk and make sure they are in a regular rhythm, cadence and are submitting nicely to the “Elbow Pull” before I ask them to trot. Wrangler has really good balance and posture and is always happy to lead the way!

Now Wrangler is going to show Chasity what Ground Driving is all about. This will help them both to learn how to stay in good posture while rein cues are being given. The result will be an animal who is exceedingly light in the bridle when you finally ride them. Wrangler executes a very smooth change of direction with the “S” turn through the middle of the Round Pen. Chasity follows obediently behind her “boyfriend!”

We track left for a while in the same form, then do one more reverse and after one more rotation at the walk, we come to a halt. Then I ask Wrangler to execute a proper reinback which he does willingly with no resistence at all. I just make sure to pull and release with the corresponding line as he takes each step backwards. He is then PROMPTLY rewarded with his favorite crimped oats!

When you are consistent, polite, respectful, reward for good behaviors, make sure tack and equipment fits comfortably and always do things exactly the same way, your animal will come to know what to expect and there will be minimal resistant behaviors, if any, because they will know what to expect from you and will act accordingly. Your time together will always be fun for everyone!

TT 67

LTR Training Tip #67: Healthy Hooves for Healthy Riding

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Soundness begins with the hooves. There is a wide variety of reasons, so learning to assess if and when your equine needs shoes, and how often hoof care is needed is critical to your equine’s overall physical postural balance and general health!

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Our Colorado ads campaign is already working (!!) Take a look >>

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

Earlier this week, we emailed you about the campaign we’ve launched to educate Colorado residents about the atrocities the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is committing against the Piceance wild horses right now in their backyard.

And, our campaign is already working. Take a look: 

Not only is our campaign getting news hits across several of the major media outlets in Colorado — our ads are also making their debut in these very same publications (!!) Donate now to keep up the momentum and help us keep our ads live. >>

— Taken from The Colorado Sun

This campaign would not be possible without the generosity of dedicated supporters like you. You’ve powered our work thus far — in courts, on the Hill, in the field — and now online and on our TV screens.

We’re grateful to have supporters like you by our side, but we cannot grow complacent now. So far, 512 wild horses have already been captured in the BLM’s Piceance roundup — and 95 of the captured animals? Innocent baby foals. 

Our campaign is working, but we must continue to put pressure on the BLM to turn towards more humane in-the-wild management. Management that doesn’t break apart family bands, remove innocent animals from the public lands they call home, or cost them their lives.

Please, if you’re with us in the fight to protect Colorado’s wild horses and wild horses across the West, donate to power our campaign today and keep our ads on the air.

POWER OUR CAMPAIGN

Thank you for your continued support.

The AWHC Team

Help Fund our TV Ads

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

As the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is bearing down on Colorado’s last large remaining wild horse population, we’re fighting back.

We’ve sent a legal letter calling for the delay of the Piceance wild horse roundup, we’ve mobilized thousands of wild horse advocates, and we’ve echoed the urgings of Colorado Governor Polis and Congressman Neguse to halt the helicopters and instead explore humane alternatives to manage these iconic animals. And, now we’re taking that fight right to your screen:

DONATE TO FUEL OUR TV ADS

We are all set to launch television commercials educating the public in Colorado about what is happening to the wild horses just hours away from their homes. Public education is key to empowering more people to speak up for wild horses across the country. And people speaking up is the only thing that will save these cherished animals.

This important aspect of our advocacy is critically important, but it’s also expensive, and we need your help to get the message out loud and clear: wild horses should not be terrorized with helicopters, rounded up, confined for life, and robbed of the two things they hold dear: Family and freedom. Rush a contribution now and see a preview of our commercial before it goes live. >>

POWER OUR TV ADS

The Piceance Basin roundup has already seen the deaths of two wild horses since its start. And still vulnerable foals like two-week-old Elote, a beloved Piceance horse, and pregnant mares are being chased by helicopters. Together, we can enact change, but we need to make every citizen aware of the cruelty that our tax dollars are funding. Please, if you’re with us in this fight, donate to power our TV ads today. >>

POWER OUR ADVOCACY

Thank you for your support and generosity,

The AWHC Team

This week’s eNews: New report contradicts BLM’s justification for accelerated roundups

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

There’s been a lot going on with our precious wild horses and burros, so we wanted to share some updates with you, including our new report on the BLM’s Axtell Holding Facility in Utah, and a way for you to contact your legislators and ask them to protect wild horses and burros. Read on to learn more!

ACT NOW: Urge your U.S. Representative to cosponsor the Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act (H.R. 6635)

In early 2022, a foal died after suffering a broken leg while being chased by a helicopter. Video footage shows the helicopter continuing to chase the foal even after his leg was visibly broken. He suffered for 30 minutes before the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) euthanized him to end his misery. Hundreds of horses and burros tragically die unnecessarily each year as a result of helicopter roundups.

That’s why AWHC has been working to put a stop to this cruel practice once and for all, and Congress is taking action too! Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus has introduced a bill seeking to ban the use of helicopters during roundups — the Wild Horse and Burro Protection Act (H.R. 6635). Can you take a moment to urge your representative in Congress to cosponsor this bill?

TAKE ACTION

AWHC Responds to New Ecological Report On the Piceance-East Douglas HMA

Photo by © WilsonAxpe Photography

A new report released last week by Delia Malone, an expert land ecologist with the Sierra Club, directly challenges the BLM’s assertions regarding why it accelerated the roundup of the horses on the Piceance-East Douglas Herd Management Area.

According to Malone, the “BLM’s justification for an accelerated roundup is not supported by evidence.” Click here to read her report!

READ THE REPORT

AWHC Report: July Tour Of The Axtell Holding Facility In Utah

On July 1, 2022 from 9 AM to 12 PM the BLM hosted a tour for the public to view its private holding facility in Axtell, Utah that’s currently home to 1,030 horses and 218 burros. AWHC made sure to have an observer present to document any neglect or mistreatment. Click here to read the findings. >>

READ THE REPORT

Thanks for your support.

— AWHC Team

Saddle Mule FeetCCCC

MULE CROSSING: Hoof Differences in Horses, Donkeys and Mules

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By Meredith Hodges

The old saying, “No foot, no mule” is literally true, as it is in any nomadic animal. If the hooves are not trimmed and balanced properly, it will offset the balance of the equine’s entire body and can compromise longevity in the animal because his entire internal structure will be compromised. Most equines will need to be trimmed or shod every 6-8 weeks whether horse, mule or donkey.

Horse’s hooves in general are proportionately larger, rounder and more angled than that of the donkey or mule. The sole of the foot is flat on the ground promoting good circulation in the foot through the frog.

Regardless of the size of the animal, the hooves of the mule will be smaller and more upright than that of a horse of equal size, and should be well sprung and supported, not contracted. They should have a smooth appearance and look sleek and oily. No ribbing should be apparent and the frog should be well extended, healthy and make adequate contact with the ground for good circulation to the hooves. The shape of the mule or donkey foot is more oval and the bottom of the foot is slightly “cupped” which accounts for the surefootedness in the mule and donkey. When being trimmed, the mule should be left with more heel than the horse to maintain the often more upright position that complements the shoulders and hips. If the mule or donkey has a better slope to the shoulders, he might have an angle that is similar to the horse, but he will still grow more heel than the horse. The shape and condition of the hooves of the jack and the mare are both equally important when considering foot development in the mule.

Because donkey and mule hooves are different from a horse’s hoof in that they are more oblong, cupped in the sole, they need more heel left during a trim than the round, flat sole and low heels on a horse. There are, however, a few exceptions to the rule as there are in most generalizations. Most donkeys are relatively inactive and live on moderate ground, so they do grow out in that time period. Some donkeys, like my own Little Jack Horner, are much more active and will wear their feet down naturally.

Miniature Horse

 

Miniature Mule

 

Miniature Donkey

 

Saddle Horse

 

Saddle Mule

 

Saddle Donkey

 

Draft Horse

 

Draft Mule

 

Mammoth Donkey

 

Of course, those that do not have the benefit of good training and conditioning would still wear unevenly and would still need to be trimmed, however, with the correct training and conditioning, they may wear evenly and may not need to be trimmed more than once a year! The same goes for those who would live in rough terrain. They may wear their feet down, but they would still need to be trimmed for balance. Those who are moving correctly may wear down evenly and would not require trims as often.

Failure to have your mule’s hooves regularly trimmed in order to maintain their balance and shape can result in an imbalance in your mule’s feet, which will then cause an imbalance throughout his entire body, inhibiting his performance. However, if trimming is done consistently, the risk of imbalance, accident or injury will be greatly reduced.

There are a lot of things to consider when trimming and shoeing all equines. If the animal is to have shoes, for instance, then they would need to maintain the flat surface of the sole for the shoes to fit properly. It is important that the equine have relief from shoes when they are not being ridden as much. We usually take any shoes off during the winter which keeps the heels from becoming contracted from wearing shoes and promotes good circulation to the foot as the frog can then make contact with the ground more consistently than it can with shoes. A good understanding of the anatomical differences among horses, mules and donkeys is essential for healthy hoof care.

When your farrier is trimming your equine, he should take into account the angles of the shoulder, the forearm, the knees, the cannon bone, fetlock, pastern and the general angle to the entire body when at rest, not just trimming off the excess. This is an anatomical call and only people who are schooled and skilled in this profession should even attempt it or you could run the risk of injuring your animal.

It is commonly known that, when it comes to horses and mules, light-colored hooves are softer and more likely to break down under stress than are the darker, black hooves. Even though the black hoof is naturally harder than the light-colored hoof, if it does not contain sufficient moisture, it can become brittle and can chip away as destructively as can the lighter hoof. Whichever breed of equine you own and whatever the color of their feet, remember that good hoof care is essential for all domesticated equines.

For better or worse, an equine inherits his hooves through his genes. If your equine has inherited good feet—black, oily-looking, and with good shape—then you are fortunate and hoof care and maintenance should be relatively simple. If he has inherited a softer or misshapen foot, you will need to discuss more specialized care with your farrier. Beware of generalizations as they can often be misleading! Each animal should ultimately be assessed individually.

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.

© 2016, 2019, 2021, 2022 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Stretching The Spine 5 5 20 19

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Stretching the Spine for Optimum Flexibility: 5-5-20

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5-5-20

Chasity was very stiff and compromised through her whole body when she first arrived. She was extremely rigid over the top line and could not flex from the poll at all, much less through her entire spine. The “Elbow Pull” self-correcting restraint and work in the Hourglass pattern has helped her to be more flexible in her head and neck, and has produced some flexion through her back. Now we are going to ask her to extend that flexion the whole length of her spine. She has been learning how to stay erect around turns while bending through her rib cage, and easily flexes her neck and back when squared up at the halt. These subtle actions have reshaped the body fat evenly over her body and reduced the size of her enlarged neck by 50% in just one month! Her posture is already greatly improved!

Chasity began by leaning on the “Elbow Pull” to keep her reasonable good equine posture. After a month of work, she is now able to sustain her own self-carriage a good part of the time. When she leans on the “Elbow Pull,” it is taut and when she is in self-carriage with good postural balance, it is loose. She started over the first pole and it was loose, then caught her balance on the second pole and it tightened…

On the third pole, she regained her balance and the “Elbow Pull” became loose again, but stepping over the last pole she allowed her balance to be too elongated and had to lean on it again.

As Chasity walked away, she again resumed her good equine balance and self-carriage and the “Elbow Pull” was loose again. We repeated the poles a little later in the Hourglass Pattern and she was then able to sustain her balance and self-carriage over the first pole…

…over the second and third poles, in good equine posture and not leaning on the “Elbow Pull”…

…and finished over the fourth pole with no loss of balance at all! As she is strengthened in good posture, her core muscles, ligaments and tendons will gain strength with symmetrical development and her time in self-carriage will increase. Ultimately, the “Elbow Pull” will remain loose at all times. She now walks in a rhythmic and cadenced fashion, matching every step that I take and halts easily upon request with no anxiety, or excess movement.

I asked her to square up and this time, instead of just flexing at the poll, I asked her to lower her head and stretch her entire spine from head to tail. Then we proceeded with more work in the Hourglass Pattern in the opposite direction and she practiced bending through her rib cage while staying erect around the corner cones.

Next, we negotiated the gate into the obstacles area, halted and squared up. I gave her a reward and asked her to stretch down again.

Chasity has been doing very well with breaking the bridge down into small steps. She halts easily, squares up and holds her balance in several new positions, with the front feet up, back feet down…

…with all four feet on the bridge and with front feet down and back feet up. She did very well at stretching her spine in all of these odd postions that added to her symmetrical core development.

Then she squared up again off the bridge and did one more deep stretch. Chasity was surprised to see the tarp where the tractor tire used to be and took exception to this “new” obstacle. The silly thing was that she side-passed the rail with her front feet on the tarp and her back feet in the sand. I thought, “Okay, now I know how to get her to side pass when I am ready! Silly Girl!” LOL!

We went back and tried again. She was hesitant, but realized what it was this time. I have to remember, Chasity has cataracts in both eyes and cannot see very well…trust is everything! There was no problem at all with the familiar smaller tires!

We reinforced her bending with the barrel exercises and practiced backing through the Back-Through “L.” She is still a bit “stuck” in reverse, but it will loosen up in time. She needs to learn to manipulate her body in a good postural balance and it is awkward for her now. It will just take patience and moving slowly. Speed will come with practice.

A nice deep spinal stretch relaxed and prepared her for the final obstacle! Chasity had been doing “Evasion Therapy” on me when I placed the tractor tire obstacle with too much open space around it. Boy, was she surprised to find out it was right there in front of her with no where to go but forward!

Chasity only put one foot inside the tire as she danced along the edge with her other three feet, so I opted to do it again the other way. This time, she put two feet into the center of the tractor tire… PROGRESS! Coming back through, she finally agreed to step through it with all four feet!

Finally, SUCCESS! My patience had paid off and our relationship was still intact! We finished with another REALLY DEEP stretch. Chasity’s flexibilty and elasticity were improving rapidly! Doing obstacles in confined spaces in the beginning promotes success and I am all about setting up your equine for SUCCESS!

It’s National I ❤️ Horses Day!! Here are 3 Ways to Celebrate →

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

 It’s National I ❤️ Horses Day!!

Today, we’re celebrating the beautiful wild horses and burros of the American West and the volunteers who help keep them safe and healthy.

Join us in our celebration by taking the following 3 steps to show your support and appreciation for America’s wild horses!

1.   Update your cover photo! → Show your social network just how much you love our cherished wild horses by downloading our official I Love Horses Day cover photo and adding that to your profile!

2.   Spread awareness about the plight of wild horses right now! → Post one of our sample messages OR your own story about your appreciation for wild horses.

Twitter Post: It’s #NationalILoveHorsesDay! Celebrate by taking action with me to protect wild horses  The BLM is conducting inhumane helicopter roundups of these animals all across the West >> Contribute now to @FreeWildHorses to help them protect our wild horses!

https://bit.ly/3o8oDMm

Facebook Post: It’s #NationalILoveHorsesDay! To celebrate, I’m spreading awareness about the plight of America’s wild horses. The Bureau of Land Management has been conducting inhumane helicopter roundups of wild horses — and it has to stop! All across the West, our mustangs are being brutalized so private ranchers can graze their livestock for below market rates. Contribute to the American Wild Horse Campaign and help them to put a stop to the helicopter roundups!

https://bit.ly/3o8oDMm

  1. Donate to our work to protect vulnerable wild horses and burros, including: observing BLM roundups, fighting for the safety of wild horses in court, advocating for humane in the wild management, and providing aid to rescue organizations!
DONATE

Thanks for celebrating with us, Meredith! And more importantly, thanks for acting to protect America’s wild horses.

— AWHC Team

Rein It In Copy

Longears Music Videos: Rein It In: Reining

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See more Longears Music Videos

Chilly Pepper – Catcher Called – Can We Help?

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The following is from Chilly Pepper – Miracle Mustang:

It’s GO Time Again!

Catcher just called! Will you help save more lives?

Still needing funds for the last 7 we just picked up. With vetting, transporting and buying some urgently needed hay, we are strapped.

Doc was out for blood work, health certs and to check on Mama Mercedes again. She is huge. Thankfully she is getting stronger, but needs lots of special feed. Times are tough and we need your help to keep saving these horses.

THANK YOU!

I simply cannot do it without your love and support. As always, I will do the “boots on the ground”, but I simply do not have enough funds to save them without your donations.

Please let me tell the catcher “Yes, we will save them!

.Please help us “git ‘er done”, and God bless y’all for being so amazing for these horses. He puts them in front of us for His reason, and I am glad He chose our Chilly Pepper Family to help them!

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS BEEN HELPING SAVE THESE PRECIOUS LIVES!

Please check out our Adoption page!
https://www.facebook.com/groups/543121366934903

If anyone wants to help,

Supplies or checks can be sent to

Palomino
Chilly Pepper
19 Weona Rd.
Goldendale, WA 98620

or

checks to PO Box 233,
Golconda NV 89414

Once again we are back and forth, so all addresses are good.

or Donations can be made at:

CashAp-$LauriArmstrong
Venmo – @Lauri-Armstrong-2

THANK YOU for everything we have received.

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

Your love and support at work. She is starting to feel better and better! THANK YOU!

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_

ACTION ALERT: Stop this California Roundup!!

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is planning a helicopter roundup operation to capture up to 1,000 wild horses in the Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Territory in northeastern California. (Act now to stop this roundup. >>)

The USFS has an ugly history within the Devil’s Garden Wild Horse Territory. Between 2018 and 2021, they removed 2,443 wild horses from this habitat — all so giant ranching interests could graze their livestock on public lands at the expense of taxpayers like you, Meredith. These helicopter roundups have had devastating consequences: in the 2021 operation, 5 innocent wild horses lost their lives.

Troubling news of continued injury and death followed, with 2 colts from this same roundup found dead in the USFS’ care after a mountain lion attack and 4 additional colts euthanized due to complications from gelding. One mare was found dead for no known reason, and a stallion broke his neck.

This upcoming roundup must be stopped. The USFS must invest in more humane methods and stop the cruel roundup and stockpiling of wild horses. Further, the agency currently has no formal vetting process for adopters nor for conducting compliance inspections following an adoption. With the USFS practically giving the Devil’s Garden horses away for just $25, we must ensure these measures are in place before any more horses are removed from the range.

You can act now by sending a message to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service demanding an immediate halt to this newest attack on these iconic animals and for measures to be put in place to ensure their safety. >>

ACT NOW

— AWHC Team

P.S. This Wednesday, July 13, at 4 p.m. PST, the Forest Service will be hosting a virtual public meeting about this operation. We hope you can attend. Details can be found here.

Screen Shot 2022 07 11 At 8.15.59 PM

So! Who’s Your Daddy?

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By Margie Sloan

Three colts walk into a barn.

The fillies perk up. After the whinnying and a few snorts, the boss mare asks,

“So! Who’s your Daddy?”

Colt one loudly boasts.

“He’s a Thoroughbred worth big bucks and runs around a track!”

Colt two very loudly boasts.

“Mine’s a Warmblood dressage dancer and can do the equine jitterbug and ballet!”

Colt three doesn’t see a need to boast. He simply states,

“Mine is a wild man, a hero and he’s free.” 

The boss mare is intrigued. She wants to hear about all the Daddies but first she wants to hear about the wild man.

His name is Merlin. He’s a stallion of the Colorado Sand Wash Basin Herd. And he is indeed a hero in every sense of the word. No one knows just how many he has sired. However, his role as the Godfather to a forgotten foal is a compelling story of compassion and courage.

Last September, The Bureau of Land Management conducted a roundup of the Colorado Sand Wash Basin wild horses in their effort to thin the herd roaming on Northwest Colorado Public Lands. The roundup was done with helicopters and wranglers stampeding the horses to holding pens.

Observers from wild horse rescue groups and nature photographers noticed a tiny foal that looked to be no more than a few days old, terrified and isolated. Her mother, a mare identified as Serendipity, herself sired by the legendary Picasso was last seen running to escape the low flying helicopter.

Scott Wilson, the winner of the 2022 Sony Open Competition Natural World & Wildlife Photographer of the Year experienced a once in a life time example of the bonds of wild horses protecting their herd at all costs.

What Wilson saw and memorialized on film is the stuff of campfire stories and cowboy movies. It’s doubtful that any screen writer could come up with anything better than the true story of a mustang stallion confronting an uncaring wrangler and protecting a defenseless newborn foal at his own risk of certain capture. Wilson experienced a brief moment of hope and heroism in the midst of a brutal round up.

“Even a tragedy needs a hero. Just after sunrise, on a ridge to the left of an area designated as a viewing area…viewing area i s a term I use loosely since i t was nearly a mile from the holding pen and the helicopters approach was obscured…appeared a tiny newborn foal with what observers assumed was a mare, until it became apparent this was a mustang stallion known locally as Merlin. 

The newborn, as yet unnamed, had been without its mother or her milk since she was rounded up the previous day. The stallion, in a huge sacrifice was seeking to bring the young foal to help. Instantly, we knew were witnessing an extraordinary example of compassionate wild animal behavior at its finest. 

At this point, you want the foal to enter the trap without any drama or be humanely captured so it has the best chance of being reunited with its mare or milk at least. But you also want the stallion to escape. Between the soaring helicopter and an approaching cowboy, Merlin clearly sensed danger and bolted with the foal in tow until Merlin turned and placed himself between the foal and the cowboy. 

Observers were ordered back to their cars at this point, so we have no idea what happened next or how, except the foal eventually made it to the pen and on to a foster facility in Craig, Colorado. 

Stallion Merlin paid the price with his freedom and was held in a holding pen with 120 wild horses rounded up in just one morning. But not for long. 

In an extraordinary act of defiance the following morning, Merlin vaulted the seven foot high fence around the BLM holding pen, with no room for a run up, and galloped his way to freedom. The dramatic escape instantly elevated Merlin to Sand Wash Basin legend status. Artists have been inspired to write poetry and paint versions of the tale. 

Perhaps even more magical is that Merlin was just one of four wild stallions during the 10 day round up who sacrificed their right to roam in order to return a foal to its mother. 

Unbelievable family values! 

The foal, a beautiful black filly was given a chance at a good life. She is growing up and thriving in Kiowa, Colorado at a horse sanctuary. Her name i s Stella Luna and she i s one of the lucky ones.”

The boss mare liked the story. The other two colts were dumbfounded as they had never known about wild horses.

The barn manager came in to do his chores and turned the radio on.

The horses swayed back and forth in their stalls and the barn manager sang along with Janis.

“Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose. Nothin, don’t mean nothin’ honey, if it ain’t free.” 

Photos by Scott Wilson

Copyright © Margie Sloan, May, 2022. All rights reserved.

Email: argiema@yahoo.com 

Read the article as a PDF.

Read the article on The Plaid Horse July 2022- The Horse Care Issue.

Read the SAFE Act article PDF.

Rain On Mules 4

MULE CROSSING: Disaster and the Effects of Training

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By Meredith Hodges

Disaster is not always predictable, or even expected. We all know the weathermen are not always right, yet they are usually somewhere in the ballpark concerning what is about to happen. This summer has been unusually HOT and on this particular evening I was glad to be able to settle down in my pajamas and watch a movie. Although we have stalls for everyone in our two barns, we often opt to leave the eight mules from the South Barn in the dirt pen overnight when the weather is good. This makes for a lot less stall-and-run cleaning in the morning. I no sooner settled on the sofa when I heard a very peculiar noise coming from all around and on top of the house. HAIL, I thought, and got up to look. There was a lot more than just hail headed this way! Dark, ominous clouds slowly made their way across the sky, sheeted in lightning with loud roaring thunder. The hail, mixed with sheets of rain, began coming down faster and harder. I looked out the sliding glass door of the back deck and noticed my mules were running and dodging all over the dirt pen. They ran for the shed, but the wind was pushing the hail into the shed, and they bolted right back out again. They would need to be brought in to the barn! This wasn’t going to let up any time soon.

I waited until the hail had subsided a bit and made my way to the Grain Room where I filled a bucket with oats to put in the South Barn feeders. I always reward my mules for coming in when they are called! I couldn’t get all the way to the main South Barn doors because the guys had been doing some serious trenching to replace the existing water lines that had gone bad and sprung leaks everywhere. The black poly pipe was put in 20 years ago with non-galvanized clamps that were now rusting. We would be replacing the poly with Pex, but for now the trench was wide open with huge piles of dirt along the edge, most of the way down the road and in front of the South Barn doors. I did manage to get to the north end of the South Barn runs, went through the gate and into the closest pen, just as the thunder rolled and the lightning began again overhead. Instantly, down came a torrent of rain and hail!

When I got inside the barn, I went directly to the light switches…no lights…DANG! The only light in the barn was coming from the outside doorways when the lightning flashed. Thankfully, it was sheet lightning and not lightning bolts! As my eyes adjusted to the dark alleyway in the barn, I could make out the feeder doors, so I began dumping oats into the feeders and left the feeder doors open. They provided a bit more light into the alleyway…not much light, but it was better than pitch black! I no sooner finished dumping the oats into the feeders than the sky really opened up and let go with full force rain and hail! I just stood in the middle of the rough cement alleyway, lightning flashes all around me! I waited, afraid to touch the metal building, until I realized the building was grounded and shouldn’t necessarily pose a problem. So, I opened the stall door at the middle of the barn, entered the stall, and stood in the doorway to the run to watch the spectacle…pretty amazing show! I prayed for an opening to make my way across the pen, through the gate and alleyway between the barns to the next pen off the North Barn where mini donkey, Spuds, was housed. Things toned down a bit and I took advantage of the lull in the storm. I ran to the gate at the end of the pen, but I forgot, it was Lindy’s pen and she digs deep holes in front of her gate!

I tripped as I went into the hole, but luckily saved myself by grabbing the gate! Quickly as I could, I unlocked the chain (you have to have chains if you have Longears!), then made my way to Spuds’ pen across the lane. I unchained his gate and closed it behind me. I didn’t want an escapee! Spuds was waiting just inside the doorway to his stall, so I went to his inside stall door, grabbed his halter that was hanging just outside the door (good place for it in case of emergency!), put it on him and led him into one of the empty stalls on the north side of the North Barn. We keep those stalls empty when we can, so we can block the heavy winds by closing all the doors on the north side. It keeps the inside of the North Barn calm on the south side, and even blocks the winds from going all the way through to the South Barn.

By the time I got inside the North Barn to turn on the lights (Luckily they worked!), the rain, lightning and thunder had revved up again! I would need to pause before taking my side trip to the house to get my flashlight, before retrieving the mules from the dirt pen across the north road. My only thought was that it would be difficult to tell them apart in the darkness of the South Barn alleyway with no lights. I never doubted for a minute that they would behave. We have a very predictable routine that makes handling them very easy and stress-free no matter what the conditions might be. However, if I couldn’t tell them apart in the dark, I might put them in the wrong stalls and they would not like that. Even that would be hard to do because they each know which stall is theirs, but any mistake on my part could cause resistance and bad behaviors on their part. So, I would need my flashlight!

The downpour finally let up, so I ran as fast as I could back to the house for my flashlight. I got it and was back to the North Barn just in time for another downpour that lasted about three minutes. The lightning was getting more extensive and lit up the whole sky above. Hmmm! I didn’t relish the thought of running into the open area on the north side of the barn…the last leg of my journey to the dirt pen. There were four gates to latch back to open the MULE CROSSING from the dirt pen to the barns. I opened the stall door at the far, east end of the north barn. As soon as it looked safe to proceed, I made my way to the first gate where I could see all eight mules waiting patiently for me at the second gate across the road. I quickly opened the gate in front of me and sighed with relief to see that two ends of the double gates ahead on either side were already in place. I just had to swing the other sides to meet them, and get them chained together. Finally…the last gate was ready to be opened and as I opened it, the mules came sedately through the gate and walked to the stall door I had opened at the far, east end of the North Barn. I signaled Lance to take them all in while I brought up the rear and closed the gates behind me. I didn’t want anyone turning back. Merlin and Vinnie decided we were going through the wrong stall door into the North Barn and stood at the far west stall door. That is the one they usually use when we let them back and forth to turnout.

I made a feeble attempt to “herd” them toward the east door, but they were having no part of being “herded,” so I just gave up and told them to follow me…or NOT! Before I even made it to the doorway, I could hear the storm surging again. I politely stood to the side when I heard Merlin and Vinnie come running to the door. They slowed as they passed by me and went through the doorway and into the North Barn…at a walk. Inside the North Barn, all eight mules were bunched up in the alleyway. Spuds loudly brayed his dissatisfaction at being put in a strange stall. It’s amazing that the smallest donkey on the place has the LOUDEST voice! Then I remembered…I had not opened the gate at the end of Spuds’ run after I had put him in the other stall. That is why everyone was still bunched up in the North Barn alleyway between the stalls. I called Lance to come with me (He’s the leader) and went to open the gate. He was followed by Lindy (his girlfriend), April (Her sister) and Sassy (Lance’s sister)…while Merlin lagged behind. We proceeded through Spuds’ pen, across the lane between the barns, through Lindy’s pen (after traversing the big hole!) through her stall, then into the dark alleyway of the South Barn. I led Lance to his stall by his fly mask, opened the door and let him go in. April was next, but she had a hard time seeing her door with her fly mask on, so I just pointed the flashlight at it, and she went in. Sassy took that opportunity to dash into the barn and trot to her stall door where she waited for me to come and open it. I didn’t even need the flashlight for her!

When I went back to Lindy’s stall, she was threatening Merlin who was standing right outside her back door under the overhang. I took her out of her stall and put her in an empty one across the alley, so I could retrieve Merlin and the last three mules from the North Barn. The storm was building up again. Merlin was happy to be in the safety of his own space. I could see the last three mules eating hay and oats from the floor in the North Barn two runs away. I would need to wait again before crossing. I tried calling, but they could not hear my voice due to the incredible decibels of the roaring thunder. It took another four, or five, minutes before it subsided this time. When it finally did, I ran across the runs and into the North Barn. The mules just looked at me inquisitively as if to say, “What?!” I just told them, “Quit eating and get your butts to the South Barn!” They immediately complied and walked through the two runs into the South Barn, and into the dark!

I came behind them with the flashlight and pointed it at each of their stalls. Guy went first, looking for his Lady Love, Sassy. He was happy to be back next to her. Angel looked stoic and lost at the west end of the barn. She wasn’t too far from her stall, but could not make out the door in the dark. I walked up to her, slid the door open and pointed the flashlight to show her the inside of her stall. Then she abruptly woke up and quickly entered her stall, relieved to be in her own familiar surroundings. She peeked out the doorway in time to see another sheet of lightning flash though the clouds and across the sky! That was when I noticed that Vinnie was really disoriented at the east end of the barn. He didn’t even notice the feed cart stacked with hay with my oats bucket perched on top! Ordinarily, he would be the first to make a beeline for any bucket! I hurried to his stall, opened the door and pointed the flashlight inside, but he just stood there…frozen. I gave a short tug on his fly mask and he then stepped into his stall…also relieved to be HOME! Lance peered out the back door of his stall and watched as the rain persisted. There was so much lightning outside that it looked like daylight at times. I went to the empty stall retrieve Lindy and put her back into her own stall. She was happy to go back to her feeder to finish the oats.

I used to take off their fly masks each night, but I began to notice there were benefits to leaving them on. Merlin poked his eye on a tree when he was a yearling and almost blinded himself. For twenty-seven years, he has had to wear his fly mask to protect that eye from dirt, debris and flies that were attracted to the medication we were using on him. The fly mask never posed a problem as long as we kept it clean. When the weather got hot in the springtime, we used the fly masks on those mules that had sensitive skin around the eyes and who were prone to sunburn. They never had a problem seeing anything because looking through the fly mask was like looking through a screen door. During the storms like this one, the mask protected their faces from the pelting rain and hail. The rain actually washed the fly masks clean. When we have no rain, we just wash the masks as needed. Putting them back on when they are still damp, keeps the mules’ foreheads cooler in hot weather. At night, when they lie down in the deeply bedded stalls, the fly masks keep the shavings from irritating their eyes. With hygienic practices in the environment and regular stall cleaning and grooming, parasites and flies have ceased to be a problem. I have never had to put fly masks, or leg protection of any kind, on my donkeys or horses. In the case of this disaster, the fly masks came in pretty handy to safely lead them to their stalls…in the dark!

I walked through the barn one last time and checked to make sure everyone was okay. They were all drenched, but not stressed, as they munched their oats. I still wasn’t able to go out the front doors, so I made my way through Lindy’s stall. I had to wait another three minutes for the storm to subside again before traversing Lindy’s pen to the gate…side-stepping her huge hole…and then latched and chained her gate behind me. I could hear Spuds calling from the stall in the North Barn, “Hey, don’t forget ME!” I latched and chained the gate on his pen and went to the barn to fetch him. He was also a VERY happy Mini Donkey to be snugly tucked into his own “bed” for the night. I made the rounds in the North Barn to make sure everyone got their measure of oats before I left for the night. I took one last look and turned off the lights. I waited through yet another downpour before I closed the main doors of the barn behind me and headed for the house. It was 10:30 p.m. when I walked into the house. Whew! What a night!

I am so grateful that I have always been consistent and routine about the way I handle my equines. Handling them through this incredible storm was a piece of cake! Being consistent and routine about my actions wasn’t an easy task to learn, but through self-discipline and persistence, in the end, I was able to be consistent and win their trust! Now, my equines all know exactly what to expect from me and never get anxious about anything I ask of them. In the middle of a disaster such as this, they know undeniably that I will be there to rescue them and make them comfortable again. They don’t have to hurry; they don’t have to rush, just behave and do what I ask…and everything will be okay. When things are done haphazardly, equines get anxious. They never know what to expect and can become difficult during stressful situations. When you discipline yourself to be kind, respectful and reliable, they know they can TRUST you! And, TRUST goes a long way toward cooperation and safety for all of 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.

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