LTR Blog

“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. 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.”

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Ground Breaking – Raising the Barn

Hearts and Horses broke ground on a new arena where they will continue to change lives through therapeutic riding. The new arena will be called Lucky Hearts, as much of the funding for the arena was given by Lucky Three Ranch.


Hearts and Horses Raising the Barn Fundraiser


MULE CROSSING: Handling Your Mule’s Ears

By Meredith Hodges Just how sensitive is a mule about having his ears touched? If a mule is handled often and properly, he should be no more sensitive about his ears than he is about any other part of his body. However, if he is rarely handled, mishandled or handled roughly, he can become quite sensitive about any part of his body and in particular, his ears. Bearing this in mind, take the time to desensitize your mule to touch and handling by paying attention to how he likes to ...
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MULE CROSSING: Introduction to Behavior Modification, Part 2

By Meredith Hodges In Part 1 of Introduction to Behavior Modification, we addressed the steps involved in employing the reward system of training properly whereby desired behaviors are rewarded promptly and negative reinforcement is quick, fair and used sparingly. In Part 2, I will explain how to break down more complex movements into smaller steps that are simple and easy to accomplish, and then how to string them together in order to get the desired response from your equine. Shaping Behaviors Shaping behaviors takes reinforcement to the next ...
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MULE CROSSING: Understanding the Use of Cruppers and Breeching

By Meredith Hodges The purpose of tack and equipment has always been to give man leverage against the equine’s resistance during training, but I believe that the equine is “talking” with his resistance and this is a cue to find another alternative to achieve harmony when something isn’t working. There is an ongoing discussion about the use of cruppers and breeching when riding mules and donkeys, and even some horses. The purpose of both is to keep the saddle from sliding forward when the equine is in motion, whether he ...
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From the SWISS BULLETIN: The last packer of Zermatt Belvedere

Please enjoy this article from our friend, Josefine at the SWISS BULLETIN. Mules have made their mark helping people with their tasks all around the world and their stories are nothing short of amazing!  Loving Longears is something special that we all have in common despite our different languages. Read it, below: The last packer of Zermatt Belvedere Mules in the service of transport and travel in ancient times  By Alban Lorenz The Valais lies in the southwest of Switzerland and is our little California. This canton is known for ...
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Mule Finds at Theodul Pass

Swiss Mule Magazine 2018-1 This article is written by Elke Stadler and from my friend, Josefine, editor of the Swiss Mule Bulletin in Switzerland! Since we share a love for Longears, we like to share each other’s respective mule historical experiences with our friends and fans. I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did! Thank you so much, Josefine! In the future, we look forward to more news from Switzerland in support of Longears: The Theodul Pass The name is derived from St. Theodul, the first ...
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Sybil Ludington: The Female Paul Revere

This article is a repost of Valerie DeBenedette's article at Mental Floss.   "… the midnight ride of Paul Revere, On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five: Hardly a man is now alive …" Yes, the famed Paul Revere set out on horseback on this day in 1775 to raise the alarm that British troops were on their way from Boston to Lexington. Revere rode about 20 miles through what is now Somerville, Medford, and Arlington, Massachusetts, knocking on doors to raise people to defend Lexington. Another rider, William Dawes, was sent by ...
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Compassionate Training – A Historical Example

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2017! Let’s go forward loving and learning together with our equine companions! When kindness is used in training, greatness can happen. That is the story of Beautiful Jim Key. The sickly colt was adopted by “Dr” William Key, a freed slave and self-taught veterinarian. Using his veterinary skills and training with no force, the colt grew into a healthy adult with some special abilities - he could read, write, spell, do math, tell time, sort mail, cite Bible passages, use a telephone and cash register. Together, they ...
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Mules and Donkeys in the Bible

When I posted this on Facebook about mules in the Bible… Origins: The mule is mentioned in mankind’s earliest records. Consider this passage from the Bible: “And Absolom met the servants of David. And Absolom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the Heavens and the earth, and the mule that was under him went away.” (II Samuel 18:9). If you choose to ride a mule, you ...
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Dressage Mule Slate Helps Spread Awareness of Working Equines

This is a repost from Brooke USA. Lexington, Ky.  - November 15, 2016 - Grand Prix dressage rider and trainer Vicky Busch and her mule "Slate" continue to spread awareness of the plight of working equines in the developing world and the work of Brooke USA. Most recently Slate and his young rider, Busch's student Isabella Rodwig won their Training Level Test 3 class at the dressage schooling show at Amen Corner Farm in Folsom, LA. The pair did so in style and with a nod to Brooke USA, with ...
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Laura Hermanson & “Behold the Desert” to Compete in USDF Finals

While dressage has long-been regarded as a horse and Pony Club sport, Meredith Hodges opened the doors to mules in dressage in the United States Dressage Federation Schooling Shows in 1986. With the help of Carole Sweet and Leah Patton of the American Donkey and Mule Society in Lewisville, Texas, they were formally accepted by the United States Equestrian Federation at their convention in Los Angeles in 2004. Laura Hermanson has since taken full advantage of this amazing opportunity. In 2015, she qualified for the United States Dressage Federation Finals with her own mule, “Heart ...
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Breeding Letter from George Washington

A letter from George Washington, written in 1786, was recently put up for auction by bookseller William Reese. The letter is in regards to a donkey sent to Washington's Mount Vernon ranch for the purpose of breeding. Washington is well-known for his agricultural brilliance and for breeding the first American mule. The correspondence was written a during a breif period of retirement and a few years before Washington became president.  Washington writes: "Dear Sir, When your favor of the first inst., accompanying the she ass, came to this place, I was from home - ...
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The History of the Missouri Mule

The Missouri mule is a well-known symbol of American strength and perseverance, thanks to its significant contributions both within the state and throughout the country. Today, the mule still serves as Missouri's official state animal, so the connection remains strong. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has put together a great photo slideshow about the history of these iconic equines and their role in the Show-Me State—click here to see the full slideshow! ...
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Prey or Predators?

Are equines prey or predators? Although some trainers base their methods on the idea that equines should be approached as "prey," this blog post by Sara Annon explains that the answer may not be that simple. An excerpt: The real lesson in this is that the predator/prey model of horsemanship is inaccurate. Rodents are prey animals. Horses are herd animals.  Their enemy is the weather (click here  and here). Horses die from hypothermia in winter, drought in summer, and starvation when grazing is scarce. Weakened animals are picked off by ...
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An Ode to Days Past, Colorado Burro Racing in Full Swing

The following story is an excerpt from The Gazette. IDAHO SPRINGS - Long ago before his long beard and long hair turned white, Bill Lee thought about what to be. An oral storyteller, yes, because that, he felt, was a noble profession. That was needed in the ever- urbanizing West. But what to be? "I decided on the mountain man," said Lee, 67, reflecting in his log cabin, "because it was a really short-lived era in history." So he would go as the mountain man, fur coat and musket and ...
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