MEREDITH HODGES: Turning a Lifelong Dream into a Magnificent Reality
We all have hopes and dreams, but what makes certain people devote a lifetime, through sheer will and dedication, to forging their dream into reality? The answer lies in an unwavering belief in the importance of the dream and a passion that, even after decades of work and struggle, still burns bright.
Meredith Hodges was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the daughter of renowned cartoonist and “Peanuts” creator, Charles M. Schulz, and Windy Valley Ranch founder, Joyce Doty. A lifelong equestrian, Meredith has been passionate about horses for as long as she can remember. But it was while working at her mother’s ranch in the early 1970s that she really got to know mules and donkeys, coming to love and deeply respect these misunderstood and under-appreciated equines. Meredith worked as a licensed Psychiatric Technician (4-year degree) for six years at Sonoma and Napa State Hospitals where she had learned the technique of Behavior Modification that is employed in her in-depth management and training program with equines.
At this time, the number of mules and donkeys in the entire United States had dwindled to as few as 10,000, a statistic that shocked and saddened Meredith. She pooled her resources with the American Donkey and Mule Society and, through their tireless efforts, they managed to, almost single-handedly, significantly increase public awareness of mules and donkeys and their usefulness and unique abilities. Meredith’s decision to champion the rights of these equines actually led to changes in the laws that govern equestrian competitions. Mules and donkeys are no longer thought of as merely packing, farming and driving animals—made simply for drudgery. They have been elevated to participating in a host of equine recreational events, and are now finally welcome to compete alongside horses in all major equine competitions—a hard-won honor and an enormous stride forward.
In 1980, Meredith moved to Loveland, Colorado, where she founded Lucky Three Ranch and began breeding and training a line of mules that would become internationally renowned for their exceptional quality and athletic ability, producing numerous world champions. Meredith spent two years at Colorado State University studying to become a veterinarian, but changed her focus to raising her daughter, while training and showing Longears and horses. Meredith’s mules have competed successfully against horses in breed shows and in Dressage and Combined Training. She is also famous for training the first mule to ever reach Fourth-Level dressage and the world’s first formal jumping donkey to clear four feet in exhibition at Bishop Mule days in California. To this day, Lucky Three Ranch remains a cornerstone in the promotion of all equines, from its state-of-the-art teaching museum to its hands-on ranch tours (personal clinics to the beautiful equine sculptures that grace its grounds.
Meredith’s years of comprehensive study produced a new, enlightened approach to the humane and safe management and training of all equines with an specific emphasis on developing their bodies into each individual’s ideal equine posture for ultimate performance. Her groundbreaking training techniques are available to the public through her award-winning books, DVDs and numerous television shows and documentaries. Meredith’s research has finally been compiled into an extensive encyclopedia of information and reference materials on the Lucky Three Ranch website at www.luckythreeranch.com. Led by Meredith herself, every Lucky Three Ranch tour is a personal experience in learning about the management and training of equines that you will never forget!
Always well aware that our youth will be the stewards of the world’s animals in the future, Meredith has found a way to convey her message of treating animals with compassion, patience and respect to children everywhere with her own unique creation and loveable cartoon character, Jasper the Mule. What began as a letter from Jasper for her magazine column, MULE CROSSING, grew into an industry of its own. Jasper and his friends’ adventures are now featured in books, on her Video On Demand TV Shows and in a variety of animated videos. In addition to the Lucky Three Ranch website, she also designed a website especially for children at www.JasperTheMule.com, which provides a fun, child-friendly environment in which they can learn to appreciate, love and care for equines and all living things.
The passion that Meredith Hodges feels for the equines that she has fought for all her adult life is still as fresh, inspiring and infectious as it was when she first discovered the world of horses, donkeys and mules so many years ago. She has never wavered in her devotion to them and in her mission to carve a lasting and honored place for them in our world. They are lucky to have her as their champion, but Meredith actually sees it a bit differently. She feels honored and privileged to be a part of their world.