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“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 & Horses Virtual Tour

Haven’t made it out to the Hearts & Horses ranch yet? Here’s your chance, thanks to our brand new virtual tour! Discover all of the state-of-the-art facilities designed to heal minds, bodies, and spirits at our 23-acre ranch in Loveland, Colorado.

Latest Podcast

MULE TALK! PODCAST: The Benefit of Organizational Skills

The Benefit of Organizational Skills
  • Find out how to organize your show clothes, tack, saddles and grooming supplies for an upcoming show.
  • When to bathe and clip your mule.
  • Vacuum and other grooming supplies.
  • Blanketing your mules.
  • Keep your paperwork on mules, truck and trailer in hand.
  • Delegate tasks to show volunteers.
  • How to be competitive, confident in your presentation.
  • Pay attention to your show equipment in being competitive for your class.
  • Be prepared for your classes.

LISTEN NOW

Learn more on Mule Talk podcast.

All Posts

MULE TALK! PODCAST: The Benefit of Organizational Skills

The Benefit of Organizational Skills
  • Find out how to organize your show clothes, tack, saddles and grooming supplies for an upcoming show.
  • When to bathe and clip your mule.
  • Vacuum and other grooming supplies.
  • Blanketing your mules.
  • Keep your paperwork on mules, truck and trailer in hand.
  • Delegate tasks to show volunteers.
  • How to be competitive, confident in your presentation.
  • Pay attention to your show equipment in being competitive for your class.
  • Be prepared for your classes.
LISTEN NOW Learn more on Mule Talk podcast. ...

MULE CROSSING: Benefit of Organizational Skills

By Meredith Hodges People have often asked me how on earth can only three people—my daughter, my husband and myself—manage to prepare and show as many as 18 head of mules and donkeys for one show?! They say that we must be crazy, and maybe we are a little crazy, but a few simple rules of organization have made this possible. The first consideration is the grooming of the animals themselves. Anyone who has had to body clip an animal knows how tedious and time-consuming this can be. Mule and ...

MULE CROSSING: Getting Down with Minis, Part 3

By Meredith Hodges In Part 1, you learned how to begin the relationship with your miniature equine in a positive and natural way that fosters good behavior and a good relationship between you. You also learned the importance of getting down to your mini’s eye level so that he can make eye contact with you, which discourages striking, jumping on you and other bad behaviors that are common when working with miniature equines. In Part 2, I discussed how important it is to successfully complete the tasks in Part 1 ...

WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: After the Winter Break: 3-29-21

Wrangler is such a goof ball! Because Wrangler would lock up in front of the Tack Barn and not want to walk over the grate, I got smart and learned to take Chasity to the Tack Barn first. Then, he didn’t even notice the grate and walked right in! However, he gets pretty rambunctious about waiting his turn. I could lead them both at once, but he needs to learn to be by himself with me sometimes...and BEHAVE! When I first got Wrangler, he would get excited like this and ...

MULE TALK! PODCAST: Good Basic Training Includes Common Sense

Good Basic Training - with Common Sense
  • Improve your communication by learning and speaking the equine's language.
  • Learn what type of touch and caress feels good to him.
  • Develop better and kinder training techniques to enable your mule to perform better.
  • Using kinder training techniques along with showing leadership to your mule will re-enforce the bond between you.
  • Make your verbal communication and body language clear to your mule and donkey.
  • Excessive and forceful training techniques used on the mule and donkey, simply don't work. This creates trust issues ...

MULE TALK! PODCAST: Getting Down with Minis, Part 2

Getting Down with Minis Learn about:
  • Mini group grooming - how it works to save time
  • Body - clipping
  • What to feed for a balanced nutrition program for minis
  • Knowing body language in working around minis
  • Efficient grooming practices & more
LISTEN NOW Learn more on Mule Talk podcast. ...

MULE TALK! PODCAST: Getting Down with Minis, Part 1

Getting Down with Minis Learn about:
  • How to earn their trust at their level.
  • Approaching your mini in a non-threatening way.
  • Haltering and leading your mini.
  • Lungeing your minis.
  • Keep your lessons short and fun!
  • How to introduce object to your mini.
  • Ground driving your mini.
  • The do's and don'ts are so important.
  • Grooming is not all that easy.
LISTEN NOW Learn more on Mule Talk podcast. ...

MULE CROSSING: Getting Down with Minis, Part 1

By Meredith Hodges Miniature horses, donkeys and mules all have one thing in common; everyone else is taller than they are! That makes eye contact with the trainer very difficult if not impossible for them. As the saying goes, the eyes are the window to the soul so it is understandable that they would become anxious if they are unable to look into a person’s eyes to decide whether they are friend or foe. I have five miniature equines: a mini horse named Mirage, a mini mule named Franklin, a ...

MULE CROSSING: Gate Training

By Meredith Hodges Learning to go through a gate with respect and consideration for the handler is an important lesson for your equine to learn. Your considerate and consistent approach to retrieving him from his stall, pen or pasture can make all the difference in safety and pleasure for you both. This begins from the time you take him from his stall. Do not go into his area, but rather, ask him to come to you. If you have been consistent rewarding your equine from your fanny pack with the ...

MULE TALK! PODCAST: Maintenance & Grooming with Mules & Donkeys

Maintenance & Grooming Learn about:
  • Use grooming tools that are comfortable for your mules and donkeys.
  • Expensive horse/equine grooming tools are not all necessary to keep in your tack room or trailer.
  • Insect control around the barn - what works.
  • If showing: when to body clip your mule and how to body clip.
  • Treating sores/scabs.
  • Group grooming.
  • Pasteworming is effective in controlling insects and flies - learn what to use!
LISTEN NOW Learn more on Mule Talk podcast. ...

MULE TALK! PODCAST: A Bit About Communication

A Bit About Communication - Achieving Balance & Harmony Learn about:
  • Different types of bits and the different metals used to develop in equine bits.
  • Snaffle bits and the different types that are recommended to use on your mule or donkey.
  • Curb/leverage bits used in Western riding.
  • The difference between a curb bit and a snaffle bit.
  • Bridles and headstalls for your mule/donkey.
LISTEN NOW Learn more on Mule Talk podcast. ...

MULE CROSSING: A Bit About Communication with Your Equine

By Meredith Hodges Over the past few decades, through trial and error, we equine owners and trainers have discovered that, when communicating with our equines, harsh bits are not really necessary. Rather, it is safer and more beneficial to use milder tack and equipment, to concentrate on learning correct body language and to give clear cues with our hands, seat and legs to elicit the desired response from our equines. Nowadays, at the beginning of training, more and more riders are learning to ride “by the seat of their pants;” ...

Breeding

MULE CROSSING: Donkey Jacks

By Meredith Hodges A donkey jack can be your best friend or your worst enemy! Because he is a donkey, he possesses all the wonderful characteristics particular to donkeys—intelligence, strength, easy maintenance, suitability for many equine sports and, probably most important, an innate affectionate attitude. You must, however, realize that he is still an intact male, often governed by the hormones in his body. When nature takes over, the jack’s conscious thought is greatly diminished and he can become quite hazardous to your health. The jack’s aggressiveness is often masked ...

MULE CROSSING: The Mule Foal

By Meredith Hodges Mules and donkeys have an inborn natural affinity for human beings, so raising your mule or donkey foal to accept humans can be a relatively easy task if you remember a few simple things. First and foremost, you must learn to be a willing role model and, at all times, be polite, considerate and respectful toward your foal in what you ask and how you ask it. Second, you must remember that, from the moment your foal is born, he will learn a great deal from his ...

MULE CROSSING: Stubborn As A Mule

By Meredith Hodges “Stubborn as a mule” is hardly an appropriate cliché to describe today's mules who are sweeping the countryside with their remarkable abilities! But why now? Why haven't mules been used successfully as saddle animals before this? My only guess is that in the past, we did not afford ourselves much leisure time out of necessity. Therefore, mules used for packing and farming had to be broke quickly to help with the work. They were generally trained by older and more experienced animals by working in teams. People ...

Donkey Training

MULE CROSSING: Breeding Quality Mules

By Meredith Hodges In the past, mares unsuitable for improved horse-breeding programs were the mares used for mule breeding. Looks and conformation were of little concern, since the animal that was produced had limited use for draft and farm work. In 1967, with the founding of the American Donkey & Mule Society, a new type of mule began to emerge—the American Saddle Mule—limited only by the imagination in his uses. As the mule’s popularity grew, so did the need for more carefully organized breeding programs to try to produce only ...

MULE CROSSING: Donkey Training, Part 1

By Meredith Hodges Training your donkey is not really much different than training horses and mules, although there are differences in instinct and attitude that will determine your approach in given situations. The mechanics and techniques, however, remain the same. The donkey foal needs to begin his life of training with imprinting. Imprinting is simply getting your donkey accustomed to your touch, your voice, your smell, the way you look and the way you interact with him. These are all the things he learns from his mother that will determine ...

MULE CROSSING: Donkey Training, Part 2

By Meredith Hodges If you have followed the steps outlined in Donkey Training, Part 1, your donkey should now—be easy to catch, let you put on his halter and lead, stand quietly while being groomed, allow you to pick up and clean his feet, follow you on the lead both over and around obstacles, load into a trailer, and follow your shoulder and your verbal commands. He should be happy and willing to be with you. This is a good time to let him watch other animals being worked, if ...

MULE CROSSING: Donkey Training, Part 3

By Meredith Hodges Prior to each training session with your donkey, review all that he has previously learned: Always lead him to and from the work station in a showmanship manner, holding the lead in your left hand with your right arm extended forward; groom him and clean his feet; review the turn on the forehand and turn on the hindquarters in the round pen; and send him forward to the rail in the round pen at the walk. You may have discovered that you need to follow him more ...

MULE CROSSING: Donkey Training, Part 4

By Meredith Hodges You have, thus far, begun to teach your donkey several things: how to begin to execute the turn on the forehand and turn on the haunches, how to walk forward in a round pen from the lunge whip without a saddle or harness (then with the saddle and harness), on the drivelines, and while being ridden. He has also begun to learn how to “trot on” from the lunge whip while tacked up, and how to walk and trot on the lead with an assistant aiding from ...

MULE CROSSING: Donkey Training, Part 5

By Meredith Hodges By now your donkey should be getting much better at his turns on the forehand and haunches on the lead line. He should be leading easily at the walk and trot and squaring up while stopped. He should be lunging at the walk and trot in the round pen, and ground-driving at the walk in the round pen, both straight and through turns and reverses. He should be walking and trotting with a rider in the round pen, without the assistant. He should be both ground-driving and ...

MULE CROSSING: Donkey Training, Part 6

By Meredith Hodges By walking your donkey through all the different phases of training, and before going on to the trot, you have given yourself and your donkey an opportunity to learn to negotiate and perfect your movements before you ask for speed. This allows for a lot more perfection of coordination to take place, so things are less likely to fall apart when you do add a little speed. This is the most obvious difference between mules or horses and donkeys. Horses and mules are difficult to slow down ...

MULE CROSSING: Donkey Training, Part 7

By Meredith Hodges If your donkey has any problems with the trot after the previously described exercises, it will probably be in the hourglass pattern while under saddle. If he has difficulty maintaining the trot through the turns and serpentines through the middle, and continues to bulge either one way or the other, you can try one more thing to help him. Have your assistant ride a seasoned animal through the pattern ahead of you while you follow a few strides behind. Don’t ride too close, or too far away ...

MULE CROSSING: Donkey Training, Part 8

By Meredith Hodges Now it is time for your donkey to learn to move laterally. Lateral movements are essential to the overall balance and posture of your donkey. It will improve muscle strength throughout his body and will reduce the risk of injury or soreness while he is being ridden or driven. You can begin his lateral work on the drivelines in the large arena. Begin by driving your donkey through the hourglass pattern (after review). As he approaches the first corner cone, ask him to circle it and then ...

MULE CROSSING: Donkeys: The “Sinking” Reflex

By Meredith Hodges Donkeys have a lot of behaviors that owners might find strange. One of these is dropping their spine, or “sinking,” when you put a hand on their back. Not all donkeys will do this, but many of them will, especially when they are young and or haven’t been handled routinely. I’ve personally had experience with donkeys sinking to the point that they’ll go down to the floor on their knees and bellies. You may also commonly recognize this behavior in cats and dogs. In order to understand ...

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

When Chasity first arrived, we needed to keep her in quarantine, away from the other animals for a minimum of two weeks. Over the past 41 years, we altered our facility to an all-steel facility. Reduced maintenance costs enabled us to proceed converting from wood and wire to steel until we completed the process. This has greatly reduced the overall maintenance costs for the entire ranch, enabling us to purchase steel panels for the barn runs. It was easy to quarantine Chasity safely and still allow her company (at a distance, of ...

MULE CROSSING: Donkey Talk

By Meredith Hodges Donkeys are indigenous to desert areas that are often extremely hot or extremely cold. They are tough, surefooted due to the unique shape of their hooves, resistant to parasites, and disease and can withstand wide variations in climate. They require very little to survive and actually prefer the wide variety of brush and weeds that occur naturally in the desert with one of their favorite foods being dandelions. Donkeys possess an incredible hair coat that does not shed off completely like horses do in the summer months ...

Farewells

Eulogy to Von Twitchell

On December 31, 2014, the world lost a very special man at 82 years of age and I lost a very special friend. I heard about Von Twitchell long before I ever met him. Bishop Mule Days is an annual rendezvous for mule and donkey lovers from all over the world and I remember how excited I would get when I heard the name Von Twitchell echoing from the announcer’s booth. I would run as fast as I could to watch him and Miss Kitty in the gymkhana and ...
/ LTR Blog - Farewells

Goodbye to Lucky Three Sundowner

Foaled June 2, 1980, Lucky Three Sundowner was the last mule born at my mother's Windy Valley Ranch and at two weeks old, the first mule to become part of my own Lucky Three Ranch. He showed successfully at Halter, English and Western Pleasure, and became the 1984 World Champion Reining Mule at Bishop Mule Days. However, his greatest accomplishment was to make it to Fourth Level Dressage after introducing Dressage to our Bishop Mule Days show, and after winning the World Championship at Third Level Dressage in Bishop ...
/ LTR Blog - Farewells

Goodbye to Little Jack Horner

It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of our courageous and talented 34-year-old Sire-Supreme, Little Jack Horner (1980 – 2014). He is survived by hundreds of mule and donkey offspring, leaving an amazing legacy of performance in Gymkhana events, English and Western Pleasure, Trail, Reining, Driving, Dressage Driving, Second Level Dressage and Stadium Jumping to four feet in exhibition. He was an affectionate jack with impeccable manners right to the end. On the eve of his passing, I left him standing like a statue with ears ...
/ LTR Blog - Farewells

Sad Loss for Longears Industry: Goodbye to Crystal Ward

A professional trainer, judge and animal inspector, Crystal Ward owned the Ass Pen Ranch in Placerville, California, where she raised and trained horse, mules and donkeys. The first year she came to Bishop Mule Days was in 1979. She happened to be coming through Bishop on vacation and it really intrigued her. She thought the mules were simply outstanding. Crystal had a show career with horses, but the following year she decided she had to own a mule. She showed up the next year with a horse trailer in tow, and ...
/ LTR Blog - Farewells

Goodbye to Homer

Our hearts go out to Connie Bartels for the loss of her beloved Homer, longtime friend and loyal companion. He will be missed. “Sunday when we rode while I was taking his tack off I was talking to him telling him what a good boy he is and what a good ride we had. Then I hugged him tightly as I always do....he knew me, and he liked me a lot. To think that I will never ride him again is heart wrenching to me. He was my good ...
/ LTR Blog - Farewells

Goodbye to Buddie Stockwell

We were sorry to hear about longtime mule skinner Buddie Stockwell. We appreciate all the work that Buddy put into mules in Colorado with the Rocky Mountain Longears Association. Here is one of my favorite stories about Buddy. In the fall of 1984, Loveland, Colorado muleskinner Buddie Stockwell and horseshoer Jerry Banks, along with a few friends, decided to make a hunting trip into the Rocky Mountains. Packing in, the weather was beautiful with warm temperatures, calm breeze, and nary a hint of what was to come. After setting up ...
/ LTR Blog - Farewells

Rest in Peace, Besty Hutchins

As a proud representative of the American Donkey and Mule Society, Lucky Three Ranch is deeply saddened to say goodbye to our close friend, and co-founder of ADMS, Betsy Hutchins. She was one of a kind and shared our love for longears. We will miss her very much. Statement from the ADMS: It is with great sadness that the ADMS announces the loss of one of our co-founders, Elizabeth "Betsy" Hutchins. For over forty years, Betsy devoted her life and her home to the promotion of longears around the world ...
/ LTR Blog - Farewells

Melinda’s Masterpiece “Lindy”

LUCKY THREE MELINDA'S MASTERPIECE was one of our brightest "Stars" here at the Lucky Three! She was a loving, calm and intelligent mare mule, foaled here in 1990 by "Little Jack Horner" and out of "Lucky Three Mytikas," a registered Thoroughbred mare. Lindy never gave us a bit of trouble...ever! She was three years old when we were filming Tapes # 4: Basic Foundation for Saddle and Tape #5: Intermediate Saddle Training. She learned EVERYTHING that she did on those tapes on camera for the very first time in only ...
/ LTR Blog - Farewells

General Interest

MULE CROSSING: Why Mules Are Exceptional

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

MULE CROSSING: Mule & Donkey Movies & TV Shows

By Meredith Hodges
  • Does the Lucky Three Ranch participate in filming? Since my parents gave me a Brownie camera when I was five years old, I have been fascinated with taking pictures. They also gave me a diary after I learned to write. When I got older and began my interaction and training with mules in 1973, I always documented those interactions with my mules and donkeys in pursuit of learning the best way to manage and train them. I wanted to give them the best opportunity to exceed ...

MULE CROSSING: Differences Among Horses, Mules and Donkeys

By Meredith Hodges After discussing this with my veterinarian, Greg Farrand from Fort Collins, Colorado, we both agree that since horses, mules and donkeys are all equines, it would be difficult to make any distinction among these three types of animals with regard to their vital signs: pulse respiration and temperature. They would all fall within the designated ranges below that are excerpted from my book, “A Guide to Raising & Showing Equines." The only real differences would be with regard to each individual equine and not among groups of ...

MULE CROSSING: Benefit of Organizational Skills

By Meredith Hodges People have often asked me how on earth can only three people—my daughter, my husband and myself—manage to prepare and show as many as 18 head of mules and donkeys for one show?! They say that we must be crazy, and maybe we are a little crazy, but a few simple rules of organization have made this possible. The first consideration is the grooming of the animals themselves. Anyone who has had to body clip an animal knows how tedious and time-consuming this can be. Mule and ...

MULE CROSSING: In Appreciation of Mules

By Meredith Hodges We have all heard the numerous negative myths about mules that abound, but have you ever thought of a mule as a hero, as an extraordinary member of our society? The mule’s history can be traced back to Biblical times, and in those days, he was known as the preferred mount of royalty. Given his ancestry, this should not be surprising. After all, is he not the offspring of the chosen mount that Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem? As Jesus was the Son of God, so is ...

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 ...

What About Muzzles?

Years ago, I believed that all I needed to have an equine was a halter, bridle and saddle, a water bucket and a patch of grass with a fence around it. I didn’t even think about shelter until much later when I finally decided that a garage would do. I now know that there is a lot of responsibility in taking care of equines and that it is an ongoing learning experience. Like most of us, I was a little lazy and wanted shortcut ways to deal with my equines ...
/ LTR Blog - General Interest

Horse Tales for the Funny Bone

Meredith is pleased to have contributed an anecdote to the first edition of a new book series featuring humorous, equine-related stories called Horse Tales for the Funny Bone, Volume 1. The tales were collected by Bonnie Marlewski-Probert at Whitehall Publishing, who also put together the Horse Tales for the Soul series. Horse Tales for the Funny Bone features stories about all breeds, all styles of riding, and all age groups—60 in all. This book is sure to brighten your day and put a smile on your face, and makes the perfect gift for all the equine lovers in your life! ...

Modern Day Mule Train

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, artist Lauren Bon, in collaboration with Metabolic Studio and the LA Department of Water and Power, is retracing the steps of the aqueduct's original construction, from Owens Valley to LA--with a 100 mule pack train. Their journey started on October 18, and the convoy is expected to arrive at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center in Griffith Park on November 11, with stops along the way at the Lone Pine Rodeo Grounds, Jawbone Canyon, and the Hansen Dam. The mules are ...
/ LTR Blog - General Interest

Romulus and Remus, A Big Pair of Asses…

(Equus africanus asinus, to be exact!) This is a special entry by Phil Yellott, owner of Romulus, who has been certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the World's Largest Donkey. Cara and I wanted to get a couple of donkeys for guard animals. We saw a couple of mammoth donkeys on Craigslist, who were very skinny and underfed. We contacted the owner, and were able to negotiate a price so we could get them. We named them Romulus and Remus after the legendary founders of the Roman ...
/ LTR Blog - General Interest

Biggest Equine Parade in the World

Mules and donkeys have a way of bringing folks together no matter where you are from. Here are our friends from Criadero Villa Luz in Colombia riding in the Cabalgata feria de las flores parade on their lovely Paso Fino mules, with friends from the British Mule Society. There were 8,333 horses and 1,600 mules in the parade--wow! ...

Hearts & Horses

Congratulations to Cliff and Bud!

Cliff Uber has been recognized as the 2012 PATH Intl. Independent Adult Equestrian award winner!  He will be honored as ...

A Sad Goodbye to Our Friend Cliff

With heavy hearts, we at Lucky Three Ranch say goodbye to our good friend, Cliff Uber. Cliff was an inspiration ...
/ LTR Blog - Hearts and Horses

Raising the Barn

Hearts and Horses broke ground on a new arena where they will continue to change lives through therapeutic riding. The ...

Hearts & Horses Virtual Tour

Haven’t made it out to the Hearts & Horses ranch yet? Here’s your chance, thanks to our brand new virtual ...

Historical

MULE CROSSING: Mules Accepted by U.S.E.F. in Dressage!

By Meredith Hodges It’s 2004 and “You’ve come a long way, Baby!” The movement to have mules accepted by major equine organizations began with the United States Dressage Federation in 1986, 17 years ago! There was still the hurdle of being accepted by the most prestigious equine organization in the country at the time, the American Horse Show Association that sanctioned all upper level shows and competitions. Since then, the mules’ participation in significant horse events was a long, uphill climb and membership in the A.H.S.A. was only a dream ...

MULE CROSSING: Reflecting On Longears

By Meredith Hodges The contributions being made by mules and donkeys today are more numerous than they have ever been before and we should give thanks that we still have these Longears touching our lives and making them full! When the age of automation arrived, many mules, donkeys, and horses were put out of work. Mechanical alternatives were taking their places in the fields, in the coal mines, along the canals and even in the mountains. Horses made a somewhat smooth conversion of use to modern day recreation, but it ...

From the SWISS BULLETIN: Project Mule Museum in Törbel

By Mariette Herzig and Josefine Jacksch Background The idea of creating a mule museum is already old. When the association "Interessengemeinschaft für das Maultier" (IGM) was founded 30 years ago, some members wished to realize this idea at some point. They started to collect everything about the mule and they could present small exhibitions in other museums in Switzerland. In 2007 the working group "Museum" was formed, in 2012 the association "Mule Museum Switzerland" was founded. Its task was to push the idea of a mule museum forward. Already in ...

From the SWISS BULLETIN: Evidence of mules in ancient times, Part 2

We hope you enjoy Part 2 of the translated historical Longears article written by Elke Stadler,  originally printed in German in the SWISS BULLETIN that comes to us from Switzerland. More articles to follow! By Elke Stadler Further evidence of mules in ancient times is shown by finds from various archaeological excavations. The identification of hybrids is more and more illuminated by archaeological research. The finds of mule bones on civil and military sites are scattered throughout Europe. In Pompeii Pompeii was an ancient city located in the modern commune of ...

From the SWISS BULLETIN: Evidence of mules in ancient times, Part 1

I hope all of our friends and fans will enjoy yet another translated historical Longears article written by Elke Stadler, originally printed in German in the SWISS BULLETIN that comes to us from Switzerland. More articles to follow! By Elke Stadler The French national stud farm had a collection of different documents compiled to determine the profile of mules in ancient times. One particular difficulty was that the historical evidence was all too often misinterpreted. Often the mules were confused with their parents, horse or donkey, or generalized as such ...

From the SWISS BULLETIN: The Mule Media Archive

 By Josefine Jacksch    History of the Mule Media-Archive   Shortly after the foundation of the «Interessensgemeinschaft für das Maultier» IGM (Mule Association of Switzerland) in 1989, an archive was established. The first part contains association-related documents such as minutes of meetings and assemblies, preparations for association activities, etc.   In addition, newspaper clippings, reports from horse magazines and other magazines, scientific articles and books were collected. VHS video cassettes, DVDs, CDs and individual pictures and photo albums completed the collection.   One of the goals, that the IGM has ...

From the SWISS BULLETIN: The Two Mules

Here’s a humorous mule tale for all of you Longears Lovers to read from our friends in Switzerland. ENJOY! Maurice Zermatten Pierre Bovier tied the rope around the iron bar that follows the wall; with the back of his hand he hit his mule on the back, as a sign of his friendship. He pulled a crackling piece of hay out of the oat sack, took his two cheeses under his arms and walked away. It was still winter up there, no relief was to be seen anywhere; dirty snow, ...

From the SWISS BULLETIN: The Mule as a Workhorse in Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages

By Elke Stadler The history of mankind is closely connected with the use of the working force of animals. Animal power was of special importance in transport and traffic - before motorization it was the only available movable driving force, almost at any time and versatile. What people themselves could not wear or pull; oxen, mules, horses and donkeys carried or pulled. In the past, despite their essential importance for working life and the economy, the working animals were hardly noticed in literature. The work of the animals was so ...

From the SWISS BULLETIN: Opening of the Swiss National Museum in 1898

Please enjoy this historical post about their Longears from our friends in Switzerland! Opening of the Swiss National Museum in 1898 By Josefine Jacksch This year (2018) the Landesmuseum (Museum of the Country) in Zurich will be 120 years old. It is the most visited historical museum in Switzerland. Since January 2011 it has been part of the Swiss National Museum. Due to an increasing lack of space, it was extended from 2013 to 2016 with a modern extension that offers space for exhibitions, a library and a lecture hall. A ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 pas sages, use a telephone and cash register. Together, ...

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, ...

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 - ...

Interviews

Meredith on Modern Farmer

Meredith Hodges was recently interviewed by Anna Roth for Modern Farmer, a website and magazine for people interested in global agricultural issues, as part of a series of donkey-themed articles! Meredith discussed her training methods and philosophies, and specifically how they relate to—and must sometimes be altered for—donkeys. It wouldn’t be inaccurate to call equine specialist Meredith Hodges a “donkey-whisperer,” considering that she’s spent most of her life coaxing donkeys and mules into unprecedented acts. She fought to get them incorporated into competitive equine events around the world, and is a firm believer in ...
/ LTR Blog - Interviews

Meredith on “All About Horses”

Earlier this week, Meredith Hodges made a special guest appearance on Jim Swanner’s All About Horses radio show on WKAC, to discuss mules, donkeys, and horses. Click here to listen to the archived show, which airs every Monday at 9:30am on WKAC or streaming online. Check out Jim Swanner on Facebook and his radio website here! ...
/ LTR Blog - Interviews

The Mule Whisperer

I have been called "the Mule Whisperer," but I must admit that the mules have been whispering right back at me for over forty years now! Mules have taught me practically everything I know about training equines and for that, I am eternally grateful...and so are the people and their equines who learn from me! I am so proud of my fans and the successful accomplishments they've had with their equines! Thank you all for your kind updates and correspondence! Keep up the great work! ...
/ LTR Blog - Interviews

Jasper

Jasper: A Christmas Caper on Rural TV

Jasper the Mule stops by your TV screen once again this Christmas! Celebrate Christmas with Jasper and all his friends as Jasper: A Christmas Caper airs on Rural TV (Dishnet Channel 232) on Christmas Eve. It's the Christmas season and Jasper and his human family are in high spirits as they travel to visit far-away friends a few towns over. When Jasper and his pal, Moxie the dog, get out of the yard and wander down a strange alley, the two friends are headed straight for one big adventure! Presents ...
/ LTR Blog - Jasper

Jasper: A Turkey Tale on Rural TV

Jasper the Mule returns to your TV screen this holiday season! Celebrate Thanksgiving with Jasper and all his friends as Jasper: A Turkey Tale airs on Rural TV (Dishnet Channel 232) this week. As the gang prepares for the big Thanksgiving celebration, Jasper the Mule and his pal, Moxie the Dog, are hot on the trail of adventure! A mishap with a truckload of turkeys turns into a real live mystery, as the boys solve the case of “The Beady Eyes in the Bushes!” When they make a new friend who is ...
/ LTR Blog - Jasper

Jasper Wins Telly Awards!

We are pleased to announce that two episodes from our Jasper series—Jasper: A Precious Valentine and Jasper: A Turkey Tale—have each won a bronze Telly Award this year! The Telly Award statuette is produced by the company that makes the Oscar and Emmy awards. They receive over 13,000 entries annually from some of the finest agencies and corporations in the world, so it is a remarkable achievement to be selected for recognition by their judging committee. The Silver Telly Council is comprised of many top industry professionals, including past winners ...
/ LTR Blog - Jasper

Longears People News

Happy Hinnies!

This story comes from our friend, Luzma Osorio, of Criadero Villa Luz in Colombia. You may remember her previous posts about the mule mother on their ranch! Very little has been written about Hinnies--most of the time it is unfavourable comments and myths due to lack of knowledge about them. Until now, very few people have bred Hinnies because of speculation about their size and behavior; they are said to be very small and difficult. Typically a breeder or a farmer may only have one Hinny and several mules; ...

One Size Fits All? Not for Equines

An article in the U.K.'s Daily Mail reports that one-third of recreational riders are too obese for their equines, putting the animals at risk for health problems including lameness and back pain, citing a study from the Journal of Veterinary Behavior. This is a big issue for equine health, as an equine expected to carry a rider that is too heavy for him can cause both physical and behavioral problems. Rules like "the rider's weight should be 10% of the equine's" are often used as a general guideline, but are ...

Extreme Cowboy Race Washington

We love seeing people with great relationships with their equines, and here's a thrilling example of what training and teamwork can really accomplish. Ray Woodside and his mule, Willie, made a great showing in the Extreme Cowboy Race at the Washington State Horse Expo--check out the video below, and thanks to Jehnet for passing it along! ...

Mule Mama Update

Remember Chuchureña, the mule who gave birth to a healthy baby mule last September? Our friend Luzma Osorio sent us this update from Colombia, on the mule mama and her daughter, "La Bien Querida": I took some new pictures of the mule and her offspring last week, the baby is now three months old and she has grown a lot! They are gorgeous!! Photos by Luzma Osorio, Criadero Villa Luz What a beautiful, loving pair! Chuchureña truly proves that mules are good mothers, too! ...
/ LTR Blog - Longears People News

Mule Are Good Mothers, Too!

An excerpt of an amazing story from a friend of Lucky Three Ranch, Luzma Osorio, on the birth of a new mule in Colombia--and her mule mother! They say mules cannot give birth and are hostile to foals, but the mule Chucurena has proved completely the opposite. On 25 September 2011, she gave birth to a beautiful baby mule in Colombia, South America, and she is proving to be a great mother! Chucurena is a 3 ½ year old black mule from Hacienda El Cerro in Bucaramanga. She is very ...

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 ...

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 ...

Help a Mule Make it to the US Dressage Final

Can you believe it? A mule has made it to the US Dressage Finals! Laura Hermanson and her champion mule Heart B Dyna are heading to Kentucky to represent longears in the national competition—for the first time ever. But they are asking for your help to make it there. Here is their story in Laura's own words: A MULE makes it to the US Dressage Finals in Kentucky! I am Laura Hermanson and I have been training and working with mules for over 10 years. I have enormous passion for ...

Buckeye the Mule!

A recent article at the Chronicle of the Horse had us excited to share the story of Buckeye, an 8 year-old Appaloosa mule who has been showing off the versatility of mules with his skills in the arena. When Buckeye first came to owner Christina Gregory, he was a little green under the saddle after being mostly used as a driving mule for an Amish family. After some initial work with Christina, he began training with 22 year-old Samantha (Sammi) Majors. Sammi began him with dressage and earlier in the year he was impressing judges and scoring ...

Flash of Wisdom: Rachel Anne Ridge

Inspiration doesn’t always come when you’re expecting it, and Rachel Anne Ridge certainly wasn’t anticipating a life-changing experience when a homeless, injured donkey showed up in her driveway. In her new book, Flash, Rachel describes the amusing and touching journey that she and her family experience with a donkey named Flash At a time of financial and personal uncertainty, the last thing Rachel needed was to take on an equine. Flash quickly became a part of their family. “It did not take long to fall in love with him,” she ...

Steve Edwards on Insurance for the Livestock and Equine Owner

The following post comes from Steve Edwards of Queen Valley Mule Ranch. Working with equines can be a rewarding and life-changing experience, but, as with all animal-related activities, accidents can happen. However, exorbitant insurance rates are currently threatening trainers' ability to provide clinics for equine owners, forcing them to cancel or drastically limit these sessions due to cost. Steve is one such trainer, and below he discusses his experiences with insurance companies, coming to the conclusion that his only option moving forward may be to forgo future clinics. I recently ...

Longears Videos

Longears Music Videos: Jasper Takes Bishop

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Longears Music Videos: Rollin’ Along: Donkey Carts

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Longears Music Videos: Kids and Mules

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Lucky Three Ranch

Equines of a Certain Age

Lucky Three Ranch knows a thing or two about elderly equines—miniature mule Lucky Three Franklin just celebrated his 40th birthday on April 1, and we've been happy to celebrate many of our other equines through their 20s and 30s. That's why we're very happy to acknowledge Tootsie, a resident of the wonderful Donkey Sanctuary in Ireland, who is an incredible 54 years old—making him one of the oldest mules ever. The Donkey Sanctuary rescued Tootsie in 1992, and he is part of their "Super Grannies" group of equines that are all over 30 years ...

Going for Gold

We are very excited to announce that our gorgeous revised edition of Training Mules & Donkeys has won the GOLD medal in the Pets & Animals category of the Independent Publisher Book Awards. We're very proud of the work we've done on the book, and it's great to see it being recognized. Many congratulations to our hardworking staff and to the longears that inspired the book! ...

35 Years of Lucky Three Ranch

It’s hard to believe that I have already spent 35 years in the business with mules, donkeys and a vast array of equine-related activities. I have always loved horses and began riding when I was only two years old. I was about as horsey as a girl could be—when I wasn’t riding, I was reading horse books, drawing horses and engaging in anything that remotely resembled a life with equines. At one point, I even designed a 100-stall barn and vowed to rescue every horse in our country that ...

Lucky Three Ranch From Above

A lot has changed at Lucky Three Ranch since 1980—and sometimes the only way to see all that progress is from the sky! Luckily, aerial photographer Ryan Hofmeister, of Heaven’s View Photography in Sterling, Colorado, has had his camera focused on the ranch since the very beginning, and has captured some truly amazing images from the air throughout that time. Ryan first met Meredith shortly after she moved in to Lucky Three Ranch. He had captured an image of the young ranch on one of his routine fly-bys, and stopped ...
/ LTR Blog - Lucky Three Ranch

Lucky Three Ranch Profile: Teaser Stallion Kip Dee Beau

When breeding for mules, a teaser stallion is needed to get the mares to show heat, as they will not show heat to the jack. In 1988, Lucky Three Ranch needed a good teaser stallion to use in our breeding program, so we began scanning the Colorado countryside for the right horse. I went out to a huge farm in Haxton that had 50 head of assorted horses on 2000 acres. The owner said I could have any of the 20 two-year-old stallions that I could catch. I strapped on ...

Cyclone’s Sarcoid Surgery

Even though I know how well trained my equines are, they never cease to amaze me! I can be dog tired and know that this is the day they must be groomed, wormed and vaccinated…all thirty of them! The very thought is quite literally exhausting on occasion. Though my staff helps with maintenance doctoring what are now mostly older and geriatric individuals, I still basically train and manage all my equines by myself. When I am tired and a job must be done, I am repeatedly reminded of how well ...

Little Jack Horner and “Caramelo” Critique

To the untrained eye, “Caramelo’s” performance might seem quite amazing! However, to those of us who know the elements of dressage training, it is evident that this jack is not doing all these amazing movements correctly. The saddle has not been placed properly over his center of balance, so the rider is putting undue stress on his front quarters. This is why you can see over-development in the neck and shoulders while the hindquarters show some comparative weakness. The rider’s position is actually prohibiting correct engagement from the hindquarters. It ...
/ LTR Blog - Lucky Three Ranch

Military Mules

“Sir, Reporting to the Mule in the Red Sash!”

West Point Military Academy Press Release “General Caslen, on behalf of all Army Rangers and the Class of 1975 and the West Point Society of South Carolina, we present you with Paladin!” said Steve Townes ’75, CEO and Founder of Ranger Aerospace LCC, who has been West Point’s “mule donor in perpetuity” for well over a decade. ( Since 2001. ) Four-year-old Paladin, whose name refers to 1 of the 12 legendary peers or knightly champions in Charlemagne’s court, began his West Point experience on March 31, 2016, reporting to ...

Mules at West Point

Mules have served as the loyal mascots at the United States Military Academy at West Point since 1899, as a symbol of heartiness and durability. This great video from Army Athletics details the history of mules both as mascots to the teams, as well as in service to the army at home and abroad. The video also follows the mules that are taking their place of honor at West Point, as the previous generation of the mule corp retires ...

Mule Talk! Podcasts

MULE TALK! PODCAST: The Benefit of Organizational Skills

The Benefit of Organizational Skills Find out how to organize your show clothes, tack, saddles and grooming supplies for an upcoming show. When to bathe and clip your mule. Vacuum and other grooming supplies. Blanketing your mules. Keep your paperwork on mules, truck and trailer in hand. Delegate tasks to show volunteers. How to be competitive, confident in your presentation. Pay attention to your show equipment in being competitive for your class. Be prepared for your classes. LISTEN NOW Learn more on Mule Talk podcast ...

MULE TALK! PODCAST: Good Basic Training Includes Common Sense

Good Basic Training - with Common Sense Improve your communication by learning and speaking the equine's language. Learn what type of touch and caress feels good to him. Develop better and kinder training techniques to enable your mule to perform better. Using kinder training techniques along with showing leadership to your mule will re-enforce the bond between you. Make your verbal communication and body language clear to your mule and donkey. Excessive and forceful training techniques used on the mule and donkey, simply don't work. This creates trust issues in ...

MULE TALK! PODCAST: Getting Down with Minis, Part 2

Getting Down with Minis Learn about: Mini group grooming - how it works to save time Body - clipping What to feed for a balanced nutrition program for minis Knowing body language in working around minis Efficient grooming practices & more LISTEN NOW Learn more on Mule Talk podcast ...

MULE TALK! PODCAST: Getting Down with Minis, Part 1

Getting Down with Minis Learn about: How to earn their trust at their level. Approaching your mini in a non-threatening way. Haltering and leading your mini. Lungeing your minis. Keep your lessons short and fun! How to introduce object to your mini. Ground driving your mini. The do's and don'ts are so important. Grooming is not all that easy. LISTEN NOW Learn more on Mule Talk podcast ...

MULE TALK! PODCAST: Maintenance & Grooming with Mules & Donkeys

Maintenance & Grooming Learn about: Use grooming tools that are comfortable for your mules and donkeys. Expensive horse/equine grooming tools are not all necessary to keep in your tack room or trailer. Insect control around the barn - what works. If showing: when to body clip your mule and how to body clip. Treating sores/scabs. Group grooming. Pasteworming is effective in controlling insects and flies - learn what to use! LISTEN NOW Learn more on Mule Talk podcast ...

MULE TALK! PODCAST: A Bit About Communication

A Bit About Communication - Achieving Balance & Harmony Learn about: Different types of bits and the different metals used to develop in equine bits. Snaffle bits and the different types that are recommended to use on your mule or donkey. Curb/leverage bits used in Western riding. The difference between a curb bit and a snaffle bit. Bridles and headstalls for your mule/donkey. LISTEN NOW Learn more on Mule Talk podcast ...

MULE TALK! PODCAST: Benefits of Postural Core Strength Training

Meredith shares the benefits for postural core strength training with your mules. Discover what happens to your mule(s) that are trained for Postural Core Strength. Using the Elbow Pull. How to make the Elbow Pull for your mule. The benefits of the hourglass pattern - simple and easy to do! The benefits of implementing these techniques into your training/riding. Emotional, physical benefits of Postural Core Strength Training LISTEN NOW Learn more on Mule Talk podcast ...

Pack Burro Racing

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 ...

Hal Walter: Pack Burro Racer, Father and Author

For most people, racing nearly 30 miles and climbing 13,000 feet up a mountain—and back down again—alongside a pack burro might be the most challenging experience of their life. But for world champion pack burro racer Hal Walter, raising an autistic son has brought many new unexpected trials that were much more serious than a 900-pound donkey barreling down a mountain path. Hal recognizes and explores the parallels between these two important elements of his life, pack burro racing and fatherhood, in his new book, Full Tilt Boogie. Autism is ...
/ LTR Blog - Pack Burro Racing

Showing

MULE CROSSING: Driving Activities

By Meredith Hodges With the introduction of the automobile came decreased interest in horse-drawn vehicles. Tractors replaced equine-driven vehicles in the fields. It seemed as if equines had been put out of a job! But, as with any change, this was only temporary. Modern society still has need of equine participation, especially from donkeys and mules. The well-schooled driving donkey or mule is much safer and more reliable than any horse. The reason for this is the donkey and mules' natural sensibility and their positive response to verbal communication. Once ...

MULE CROSSING: Showing in Harness

By Meredith Hodges Now that you have spent many months teaching your mule to drive and he is doing so well, you have decided that it might be fun to show him in harness. So, what are that kinds of things that a judge looks for in a driving class of mules? Well, it's basically the same as it is with horses. The first and foremost consideration for a judge is your mule's manners. His manners will exhibit just how safe your mule is for driving. As with people, a ...

MULE CROSSING: Jumping Mules

By Meredith Hodges In 1986, when I first began using my mules in Dressage, you would never have convinced me that I would follow it up with jumping. I was fearful of jumping because of a few bad experiences I had with horses. However, once I took the time to learn to ride and train properly with Dressage and experienced the overall stability of a mule, my fear disappeared. Nowadays, when people find out that I jump my mules and my donkeys, the response is often, “I didn’t know mules ...

Statues & Exhibits

Dreaming of Friends

After two years, we finally finished our latest longears sculpture, a fountain called "Dreaming of Friends" by Robin Laws of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and I couldn't wait to share this with all of you! This piece was done to accommodate the twenty LTR longears (plus one miniature horse) that were not champions and did not have their own commissioned piece. We try not to play favorites here! Tours are currently closed for the winter season, but make sure to book your visit to see the statue in person in the new ...

John Henry: Rocking Mule

My good friend, Tennessee mule artist Bonnie Shields, recently introduced me to sculptor Dennis Page from the Rocking Horse Ranch in Riverton, Utah. Dennis is working on a hand-carved “rocking mule” that is modeled after Bonnie’s ceramic sculpture of Kathleen Conklin’s Champion Driving mule, John Henry. I am so impressed with Dennis’s work that I decided to purchase the wood-sculpted rocker. What an amazing addition it will be to the Loveland Longears Museum and Sculpture Park here at Lucky Three Ranch! Kathleen Conklin sent me some really nice pictures, his Championship ...

Training

WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: Riding in the Open Arena: 10-6-20

A lot of people tell me they have problems when their jennets or molly mules are in heat. And, they expect the behaviors of their gelding to change drastically when they are castrated. In my experience, it really doesn’t make much difference if you have a fair and equitable management and training program. When their bodies are managed in a healthy way and they are consistently taught good manners, they will be willing and able to perform well regardless. I always approach training in a fair and equitable manner that ...

MULE CROSSING: Getting Down with Minis, Part 1

By Meredith Hodges Miniature horses, donkeys and mules all have one thing in common; everyone else is taller than they are! That makes eye contact with the trainer very difficult if not impossible for them. As the saying goes, the eyes are the window to the soul so it is understandable that they would become anxious if they are unable to look into a person’s eyes to decide whether they are friend or foe. I have five miniature equines: a mini horse named Mirage, a mini mule named Franklin, a ...

WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: Riding the Hourglass Pattern: 9-29-20

There are differences in jacks, geldings and jennets, but I have found them all to have their individual redeeming qualities. Wrangler is carefully surveying the environment while Chasity walks obediently at my shoulder. Wrangler is much more playful while Chasity is sedate. My jack, Little Jack Horner, was always an energetic, enthusiastic, fully-charged male with extraordinary ability! What they ALL have in common is their exceptional intelligence, energy conservation and strong sense of self-preservation. What has produced the most success in the management and training of all my equines has been a logical, sequential and equitable ...

WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: Fine Tuning Wrangler’s Response: 9-22-20

Wrangler always eagerly awaits his weekly lessons! When things are predictable and are not “drilled," your equine will look forward to his time with you. I always try to keep lessons short (30-40 minutes), done in a logical order and consistent in the task executions. For instance, we always walk the same way, with the lead in my left hand, with a loose connection to his head to encourage self-carriage, repeated verbal commands and I walk with my feet in sync with his front legs. The gates are always executed the same way. He is ...

WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: Wrangler’s First Ride: 9-15-20

Wrangler has now completed his preparation for efficiently carrying a rider while staying in good equine posture with adequate core strength. Doing these kinds of logical and sequential exercises in a consistent manner makes all the difference in an equine’s physical development and mental attitude. Groundwork needn’t be boring for either you or your donkey. Doing these exercises the same way, every time, creates an unbreakable bond and deep understanding of what is expected between you. Before mounting your donkey in the Round Pen, there is one more interim step ...

MULE CROSSING: Riding Side Saddle (Aside)

By Meredith Hodges INTRODUCTION I was born LOVING horses in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1950. I got a pair of chaps and a “bouncing” horse when I was six years old. My Grandmother was always teaching me about Good Posture and Good Manners. She once wanted to take me on a shopping trip to the local mall and requested that I put on one of my frilly dresses. She told me that all the little girls would be wearing them and I flatly refused! You don’t ride horses in frilly dresses! ...

MULE CROSSING: Hard to Catch Mules: Before and After

It's always great to hear from people who have used our training materials successfully with their equines, so we loved getting an email recently from Becky of Becky's Homestead, showing off a video of her formerly hard-to-catch mules, Emma and Charlie. Using Meredith's methods, the mules now come to the gate and exit quietly, and turn to Becky to await further instructions—no chasing required. Becky writes: "I love your method because you don't have to be a tough, roping cowboy to train your problem mule. I also really like that you say people ...
/ LTR Blog - Training

MULE CROSSING: Driving Activities

By Meredith Hodges With the introduction of the automobile came decreased interest in horse-drawn vehicles. Tractors replaced equine-driven vehicles in the fields. It seemed as if equines had been put out of a job! But, as with any change, this was only temporary. Modern society still has need of equine participation, especially from donkeys and mules. The well-schooled driving donkey or mule is much safer and more reliable than any horse. The reason for this is the donkey and mules' natural sensibility and their positive response to verbal communication. Once ...

MULE CROSSING: Showing in Harness

By Meredith Hodges Now that you have spent many months teaching your mule to drive and he is doing so well, you have decided that it might be fun to show him in harness. So, what are that kinds of things that a judge looks for in a driving class of mules? Well, it's basically the same as it is with horses. The first and foremost consideration for a judge is your mule's manners. His manners will exhibit just how safe your mule is for driving. As with people, a ...

MULE CROSSING: Jumping Mules

By Meredith Hodges In 1986, when I first began using my mules in Dressage, you would never have convinced me that I would follow it up with jumping. I was fearful of jumping because of a few bad experiences I had with horses. However, once I took the time to learn to ride and train properly with Dressage and experienced the overall stability of a mule, my fear disappeared. Nowadays, when people find out that I jump my mules and my donkeys, the response is often, “I didn’t know mules ...

MULE CROSSING: Hauling Long Distances

By Meredith Hodges Hauling long distances needn’t be a problem with your Longears, if you use a little common sense and consideration. Their natural durability and good sense make them basically easier to haul than horses. When hauling for more than four or five hours, there are a few things to consider. Be sure to have your Health Papers and recent Coggins tests done for the trip. You will need them to cross state lines. If you need to carry firearms with you, be sure to look into the state ...

MULE CROSSING: The Language of Longears

By Meredith Hodges Many of you know me as the foremost authority on the contemporary saddle mule, but what you may not know is how I earned such a title. Most of us who have become trainers began by riding and showing. Through our success, we gained recognition and subsequently clients who brought their animals to us for training. Our success with their animals posed a question for each of us at a critical stage in our careers and we had to make a decision whether we were going on ...

MULE CROSSING: Gate Training

By Meredith Hodges Learning to go through a gate with respect and consideration for the handler is an important lesson for your equine to learn. Your considerate and consistent approach to retrieving him from his stall, pen or pasture can make all the difference in safety and pleasure for you both. This begins from the time you take him from his stall. Do not go into his area, but rather, ask him to come to you. If you have been consistent rewarding your equine from your fanny pack with the ...

MULE CROSSING: From Mules to Riches

By Meredith Hodges Long before the Founding Fathers drafted our constitution, America began as a religious nation under God, and the mule has his roots in religion just as does the country he has helped to build. The mule of today’s ancestor is the donkey, mentioned in the Bible numerous times as an animal respected by God and blessed by Jesus Christ. The donkey was even chosen to bring Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem and, later, acted as the mount Jesus himself used for his ride into the city of ...

MULE CROSSING: Benefits of Postural Core Strength Training

By Meredith Hodges Most equines can be taught to carry a rider in a relatively short time. However, just because they are compliant doesn’t mean their body is adequately prepared for what they will be asked to do and that they are truly mentally engaged in your partnership. We can affect our equine’s manners and teach them to do certain movements and in most cases, we will get the response that we want...at least for the moment. Most of us grow up thinking that getting the animal to accept a ...