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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: Mule Conformation

Mule Conformation

  • Ideal qualities to look for in a mule.
  • What to look for in the ideal head, neck, and shoulders of the mule. Mare and Both the mare and the jack contribute to the qualities desired in the mule.
  • Be selective in your breeding program to producing desirable mules.
  • Bone structure is important when selecting a mule for a job or performance.
  • The mule overall should have a balanced look to his body.
  • Pay attention to the hip, stifle, and gaskin, that should have a smooth-muscled look.
  • Mules and donkeys possess more “long” muscle than bulk muscle (as in the horse.)
  • Pay attention to the legs of the mule, the hooves, rib cage, joints, etc.
  • The most important trait of the mule is his disposition; this characteristic comes primarily from the mare.
  • Assessing the jack – what to look for and more!

All Posts

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 ...


By Meredith Hodges The Round Pen originated as a useful training aid for Western trainers who were trying to “break” the wild mustangs that were brought in off the range.
    1. There has been spirited debate between English and Western trainers as to the real value of the Round Pen as a training aid, since it can produce undue stress on the fragile joints of the equine-in-training.
    2. Do not BEGIN training your equine in the Round Pen, because an unbalanced and inexperienced equine in uncontrolled flight, in ...

MULE CROSSING: Making History with Mules, Part 3

By Meredith Hodges There was a time before the industrial age when one-third of all fifteen million mules on earth were being utilized by the United States. Mules worked in the fields, carried our packs, pulled heavy barges on the canals, plodded through darkness in the mines, guided supply wagons and streetcars about the cities, carried tourists to exotic places like the Grand Canyon and transported army supplies and light artillery for the government. And to help with all the back-breaking labor he faced, man’s invention of the hybrid mule ...

MULE CROSSING: Making History with Mules, Part 2

By Meredith Hodges As we track mules through history, we find there is a reoccurring theme that paints the mule as both a companion and adversary of man. Those of a certain temperament seem to be able to befriend the mule and those who would be combative suffer at his mercy. Man would rather blame stubbornness on the mule than to claim this stubbornness as his own. Clearly, there is no doubt that the mule is and always has been a hard-working and valuable beast of burden throughout history. His ...

MULE CROSSING: Making History with Mules Part 1

By Meredith Hodges Many people ask me when the first mules appeared on this earth. Historically, mules have their roots in the Bible. Contrary to the popular belief that mules are so lowly and stubborn that they would have to be the mount of serfs, they were—in the beginning—the mount of kings! “So Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, went down and caused Solomon to ride upon king David’s mule, and brought him to Gihon.” (I Kings ...

MULE CROSSING: Longears Loving Impact

By Meredith Hodges “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee:    he is just and having salvation; lowly      and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt        the foal of an ass.”   -  Zechariah 9:9 These words have been an inspiration to all who have heard them since the time they were written—to those of us who love Longears, the words carry the message of a lifetime and the secrets of a dream. Not only did the Lord Jesus ride into Jerusalem on the back of an ass, but ...

MULE CROSSING: Living with Longears

By Meredith Hodges In the beginning, my home, Lucky Three Ranch was a 10-acre sheep ranch with a small house and hay barn, an old Quonset hut, a feed barn, four three-sided sheds, and a perimeter fence made from sheep fencing with barbed wire on top. It was crossed-fenced around the sheds with some heavily chewed board fences and anything else the previous owner thought could be used for fencing. I’d already had experience with horses, but it wasn’t until my first mule, Lucky Three Sundowner and my first donkey jack, ...

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 level ...


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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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