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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: Getting Down with Minis

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.


Learn more on Mule Talk podcast.

All Posts

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: 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 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: Myths About Desensitization

By Meredith Hodges You really don’t want to desensitize your animals to everything. Here is Webster’s Dictionary’s definition of the word “desensitize”: 1) to make (a sensitized or hypersensitive individual) insensitive or non-reactive to a sensitizing agent. Some people have the misconception that, in order to desensitize an animal, you have to make it numb to its surroundings and any stimulus it encounters. Not true! What you really want to do is sensitize your equine to different body language and cues from you, as the trainer. So “desensitization” does not ...

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: Equine Behavior: Look Who’s Talking! Part 3

By Meredith Hodges In Part 1 of Equine Behavior: Look Who’s Talking, we discussed the evolution of man’s self-discovery and how he applied this to his approach to equines. If we want to manage our equines in a healthy way and accomplish even the most basic performance with them, there is much to consider during the training process. In Part 2 of Look Who’s Talking, we learned that equines are honest in nature and produce quick and honest reactions to a stimulus. Therapeutic Riding provides an exemplary teaching experience for ...

MULE CROSSING: Neonatal Isoerythrolysis

By Meredith Hodges “Neonatal isoerythrolysis (N.I.) is a condition in which the mare creates antibodies against the foal’s red blood cells, and then passes these antibodies to the foal via the colostrum. Once the foal absorbs these antibodies, they result in lysis* of the foal’s red blood cells within 24 to 36 hours after birth. This red blood cell destruction is widespread throughout the foal’s body and can lead to life-threatening anemia and/or jaundice. (This is similar to the human Rhesus, or Rh, factor, where a woman who is ...

MULE CROSSING: Establishing Management Practices for N.I. (Neonatal Isoerythrolisis)

By Meredith Hodges Establish a regular routine for feeding and management to avoid stressing pregnant mares and equines in general. Make your routine predictable. Mules are cheaper to keep than horses. They are more durable animals and are more resistant to parasites and disease. They require less feed and lower protein to maintain good health. They are intelligent in potentially dangerous situations and will avoid harm to themselves. They require less hoof care than horses in many instances. Under reasonable conditions, trims are sufficient. Shoes are not necessarily needed. But ...

MULE CROSSING: Equine Behavior: Look Who’s Talking! Part 2

By Meredith Hodges In Part 1 of Equine Behavior: Look Who’s Talking, we discussed the evolution of man’s self-discovery and how he applied this to his approach to equines. If we want to manage our equines in a healthy way and accomplish even the most basic performance with them, there is much to consider during the training process. In the not-so-distant past, the prevalent belief was that, if you had a reasonably large patch of grass with a fence around it, you could have a horse. We now know it ...

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: Equine Behavior: Look Who’s Talking! Part 1

By Meredith Hodges What kind of equine handler are you? When interacting with your Longears or any equine, are you an observer or a participant? Are you fully aware of the reasons for your equine’s behaviors? Behavior in general is most often motivated by a stimulus that elicits a response, yet the early years of physiological development are most dependent on heredity. Heredity includes not only physical characteristics, but mental, emotional and instinctual behaviors as well. We are taught that if an equine’s knees are beginning to fuse, he is ...

MULE CROSSING: My Favorite Christmas Tradition

By Meredith Hodges My favorite holiday of the year has always been Christmas! The sights, sounds and smells of Christmas transport me to a magical place for the whole month of December, and the excitement and joy of yesterday still ring true today. I cannot think of a more deserving holiday than one that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ and promotes so much hope and serenity throughout the world, if only for a day. Christmas reminds us all that the spirit of sharing and giving is timeless and takes ...

MULE CROSSING: Correct Saddle Placement & Related Issues

By Meredith Hodges My equines taught me that in order to make an educated decision about which tack and equipment to use, one needs to take into account the anatomy of the equine and the effect it will have on his body movement during different activities. Good conformation is important in allowing the equine to perform to the best of his ability, but so is developing core strength elements (muscles, ligaments, tendons, soft tissue and cartilage) such that the skeleton is ideally symmetrically supported. The equine’s body can then move ...

MULE CROSSING: Winter Fun with Your Equine

By Meredith Hodges After Spring, Summer and Fall come and go, the cold days of Winter can easily become an excuse to slow down and do less, but Winter can be just as fun and full of activities with your equine as any other season. Along with the basics—food, water and shelter—your equine needs activities to keep him fit and happy. Like any of us, he doesn’t want to be active only part of the year and then left alone during the Winter months, bored and lonely (not to mention ...

MULE CROSSING: Fitting Tack Equipment

By Meredith Hodges Whether riding or driving, the comfort and fit of your tack and equipment is an important consideration if you wish to get the best performance from your equine. Any piece of equipment that does not correctly fit your equine can cause less than optimum performance. Consider, for instance, the bridle, which is such an important communication device. Do not select a harsh bit for control. Control comes from logical and sequential practices during training and not from force. The bit should be comfortable and be fitted correctly ...


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Donkey Training

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General Interest

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Hearts & Horses

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Longears People News

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Longears Videos

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Lucky Three Ranch

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Military Mules

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Mule Talk! Podcasts

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Pack Burro Racing

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Statues & Exhibits

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Training Tips

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