Meredith Hodges Biography
Born in 1950 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Meredith Hodges was raised in a family dedicated to both artistic expression and a profound love of equines. As the child of Peanuts creator, Charles Schulz (then a struggling artist), and Joyce Doty (a future mule breeder), Meredith’s early life was marked by a growing awareness of how connected she was to equines. As a young adult, Meredith worked on her mother’s famed Windy Valley Ranch, where she discovered the animals that would forever change her life.
Finally, with her first mule, first donkey sire and some horses, plus a truck-load of belongings, and no notion that she could fail, Meredith and her new family moved to Colorado and began the arduous task of transforming a ram-shackle former sheep farm into Lucky Three Ranch.
Once she established Lucky Three Ranch, it became not only her own sanctuary, but a home base for a lifelong mission to protect mules and educate the public about them. Meredith then began her breeding and training program, becoming an innovator of resistance-free training with behavior modification, a respected breeder and a fierce competitor along the way. Time after time, she rode her champion-bred “longears” to the gold and eventually moved on to judging, teaching and training.
As an animal advocate, she understands the urgency and necessity of preserving the mule for future generations to come, and she voices her opinion in no uncertain terms.
Throughout her journey, Meredith has learned many lessons—about equines, and, ultimately—about herself. She is as passionate today as she was 35 years ago in her devotion and dedication to the magnificent animals she identifies with so strongly.
Accomplishments and Awards
1986 – Meredith establishes the Colorado Mule & Donkey Society.
1986 – Meredith gives a presentation entitled, “Mules in Dressage” to the United States Dressage Federation in Houston, Texas. Mules are accepted nationally at non-AHSA shows and competitions.
1988 – Three of Meredith’s mules march in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, CA.
1991 – Lucky Three Ciji is International Side Saddle Organization All-Around Champion.
1991 – Meredith rides Little Jack Horner to jump over four feet in exhibition at Bishop Mule Days, setting the world record. Little Jack Horner becomes the world’s first Formal Jumping Donkey.
1992, 1993 – Meredith rides Lucky Three Sundowner to two world championships at third-level dressage.
1993 – Mae Bea C.T. takes first place at the Abbe Ranch Horse Trials, in competition with 56 horses.
1993 – Meredith rides Mae Bea C.T. in the presidential inaugural parade in Washington, D.C.
1997 – Meredith is awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the North American Saddle Mule Association.
1998 – Lucky Three Eclipse is named Bishop World Champion Warm-up Hunter.
2002 – Meredith’s television show, Training Mules & Donkeys, debuts on RFD-TV.
2004 – The award-winning Jasper the Mule series of children’s books is published, and a companion series of animated specials begins production.
2005 – Meredith receives a commendation from the Colorado State Senate for her tireless efforts on behalf of and long history of service to the Equine Community.
2006-2009 – Meredith produces the award-winning documentary series, Those Magnificent Mules, which airs on RFD-TV.
2006 – Mae Bea C.T. is inducted into the Bishop Mule Days Hall of Fame.
2008 – Meredith is presented with the “Best Friend of Bishop Mule Days” award at the annual Bishop Mule Days Celebration.
2010 – The children’s film, Jasper Goes to Bishop, is a finalist at the San Diego International Children’s Film Festival and Moondance Film Festival, and wins the Silver Mixed-Media Award at the Jamfest Film Festival.
Training Mules and Donkeys
Meredith’s landmark mule and donkey training has garnered much attention not only for its resistance-free and humane approach, but also for its proven results. She started out with traditional training techniques, as most trainers do, but quickly realized that there were flaws in this way of teaching; the owners needed training and conditioning just as much as their animals, and behavior modification was the key to the partnership. Rather than go on the road teaching clinics (where there was no one-on-one time), Meredith decided that she would instead document the training of her own animals in a filmed series for television that would show real trials that occured along the way. Allowing her audience to see the process she uses to teach her animals also allowed them to see the bond that developed through learning without using gimmicks or tricks. The result was the award-winning television series, Training Mules and Donkeys, which has aired on RFD-TV, the Discovery Channel and the Outdoor Network. A more-detailed version of the series is now available as a training set on DVD.
Meredith is also the author of the definitive training guides, Training Mules and Donkeys: A Logical Approach to Longears, Training Without Resistance From Foal to Advanced Levels, Equine Management & Donkey Training, Donkey Training, A Guide to Raising & Showing Mules, and Equus Revisited: A Complete Approach to Athletic Conditioning.
Those Magnificent Mules
Mules have been called rebellious, stubborn, difficult, trouble makers. They’re also brave, affectionate and unconditionally loyal to those they love. Welcome to the challenging, complex, often misunderstood and always fascinating world of ”longears,” as seen through the eyes of Meredith Hodges, the world’s leading authority on mules and donkeys. This is a world that she understands like no one else.
This 13-episode documentary series explores Meredith’s own personal and professional journey while discovering these magnificent animals and what they are capable of. It looks at the unique culture of mule people and go-for-broke competitions at world-class events, complete with behind-the-scenes interviews and footage. Meredith guides us through the capabilities of equines in therapeutic riding and comes full circle with the culmination of her life’s work: training with a complete approach to athletic conditioning.
Jasper the Mule
Meredith Hodges believes that children are the key to dispelling myths and preconceived notions. She developed the character of a young mule named Jasper to help children understand how truly intelligent and gentle mules and donkeys are. Jasper and his friend, Moxie the dog, have a series of adventures packed with excitement, adventure and mysteries, plus plenty of fun and interesting facts about mules and donkeys tailored just for kids.
Collaborating with award-winning Cowboy Hall-of-Fame artist, Bonnie Shields, Meredith created a colorful series of books that chronicle the adventures of Jasper the Mule. Young Jasper learns valuable life lessons, allowing children to relate to someone who isn’t perfect but discovers through trial and error and with the help of friends and family that each of us can learn from our mistakes.
Jasper’s adventures have also been adapted to the screen in a series of half-hour animation specials that are also available on DVD, using the voice talents of some of the most talented artists, and music from GRAMMY® Award-winning group Riders In The Sky.
All of the Jasper the Mule books and DVDs are designed to help children understand how to be kind to animals. The series teaches patience and acceptance and celebrates traditional family values, while using plain language and simple concepts to explore more complex issues. Both the books and DVDs are suitable for all ages.
“An adventure-filled story geared towards children that the entire family can enjoy!”
– Growing Up With Horses
“…A story that every family member can enjoy and learn from.”
– Horse Sense
“…A Black Beauty type story… offering lessons in caring – for animals and people.”
– Sterling Library Review
“…A timeless and whimsical story with vibrant illustrations to be enjoyed by kids and families alike”
– Buckaroo Reviews, Western Horseman
Lucky Three Ranch
Located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Lucky Three Ranch is a working ranch and the home of Meredith Hodges’ champion mules, horses, donkey sire supreme, and the latest additions, a pair of draft mules and two mini donkeys. The ranch is also the location of the Loveland Longears Sculpture Park, where dozens of bronze sculptures celebrate mules and donkeys. The ranch welcomes visitors and hosts special events and educational programs throughout the year.
It’s not just a ranch—it’s an experience! Nestled on 127 sprawling acres that snuggle up to the edge of the gorgeous Rocky Mountain foothills, Lucky Three Ranch is the name that world-renown mule and donkey expert and equestrian star, Meredith Hodges, chose to christen what has become the heart and soul of her ongoing commitment to the preservation and welfare of mules and donkeys everywhere.
What strikes you first is her huge but inviting house. It’s a fairy castle built by someone who dreams like a child but thinks like an engineer. The front door flies open and out strides a tall, attractive and very vibrant woman. Her vivacious energy belies her age, and makes the statement that she is mistress of her domain but all friends are welcome and strangers can count on becoming friends. Meredith Hodges is off and running, multi-tasking like a house on fire with the same spirit and sense of adventure she attributes to her favorite creatures on earth.
The nearby barns erupt with a raucous chorus of honks, brays, chirps, snorts, and a bunch of other noises. These are the happy cheers of a bunch of kids who’ve been waiting for their mom to come out and play with them. These are Meredith’s mules!
As everyone piles into a very cute but surprisingly souped-up golf cart, Meredith takes the helm. The wind blows through your hair and you hang onto your hat as she drives around her huge property. Slowing the cart at the mule and donkey stalls, Meredith calls to each of her “kids” and out they come; some trotting, some sauntering, some prancing—but all full of tossing heads, inquisitive looks, sniffing nostrils and lots of “mule talk.” A thrill runs down your spine as you respond in a very unexpected but wonderful way to this primal communication.
A trip to Lucky Three Ranch gives you a chance to savour the real meaning of “ranch lifestyle.” You’ll get to meet people who are so genuine and down-to-earth, you’ll want to hang out until you really have to go, as you wonder where the day went. Most of all, you’re going to discover why the Lucky Three Ranch experience is “all about the mules.” The fun and spontaneity generated by these people-loving creatures is something you’ll laugh about for a long time, and their intelligence and sensitivity will touch your heart. Witnessing these unique and amazing animals up close, you can’t help but feel that the fun and adventure of being around Meredith and her mules has just begun!
Excerpted from: Touring Lucky Three Ranch with Meredith Hodges: Unexpected, Free-wheeling, Fun! By Nell Wade
Lucky Three Ranch
PO Box 272490
Fort Collins, CO 80527
For logos or graphics, please send us an email or call us at 970-663-0066.