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: On the Trail with Mules

By Meredith Hodges With the hectic schedule of spring and summer slowly tapering into fall, thoughts of cool, refreshing mountain streams, the sight of a massive bull elk, or the quiet majesty of the rugged mountain peaks on a relaxing trail ride, mountain hunt or pack trip begin to ease their way into our minds. What better time to share with your mule or donkey? What better place for him to show you what he was born to do? A mountain trail ride or pack trip are both perfect ways ...
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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 that needs to be ...
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LTR Training Tip #27: The Face Tie

 Learn how to properly use the “face tie” restraint for your mule or donkey. This is a humane alternative to twitches, stocks and hobbles. This tie should NEVER be used with horses. Download Detailed Description See more Training Tips ...
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LTR Training Tip #26: The Quick Twist

 If you need some extra leverage with your equine during initial leading training, try using the "Quick Twist." Meredith explains how to set it up, and when to use it in this Training Tip. Download Detailed Description See more Training Tips ...
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MULE CROSSING: The Responsible Use of Restraints in Training

By Meredith Hodges There is  a lot of discussion about training mules versus training horses. There are some who say that mules are harder to train than horses and others who say just the opposite. It has been my experience that it isn’t really that one animal is more “difficult” than the other. They each have their own redeeming qualities and individual limiting factors. The people who are dealing with them also have their own redeeming and limiting factors. For instance, if you are leading a horse and he does ...
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CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Chasity’s First Ride: 9-15-20

Chasity has come a long way since the end of March. She has worked hard and is now enjoying true strength in a balanced and correct equine posture. Her health has greatly improved as has her mental attitude. She is happy to be working with her companion Wrangler and they both enjoy being able to share their lessons. Sometimes they are walked together to the Round Pen and sometimes they are taken separately. This promotes independence while preserving their friendships with each other. I do not believe in deliberately separating my equines ...
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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 ...
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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: Introduction to Behavior Modification, Part 1

By Meredith Hodges “Throughout history, mules and donkeys have been pegged as being stubborn and therefore stupid, but I have found just the opposite to be true. They are intelligent, sensitive animals, and they have a particularly strong survival instinct. They’ll go to great lengths to avoid danger or what they perceive as danger, and the process of training a mule or donkey is the process of earning their trust.” —Meredith Hodges, internationally recognized mule and donkey training expert When I began working with mules and donkeys, I quickly realized ...
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WRANGLER’S DONKEY DIARY: Wrangler’s Runaway: 9-1-20

Wrangler has been a happy camper since we acquired Chasity. Before that, he was so rambunctious that there was no one else that could be in turnout with him and I had limited time to work with him. He and Chasity are the same size and the same age, so they do get along very well. I still have to make training judgments when working with them. He helped me to get Chasity moving freely in the Round Pen during her first lessons, but lately, he has been annoying her while lunging which does ...
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CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Combined Groundwork: 9-1-20

Chasity is in such good condition these days that I felt I could skip a week before engaging in her formal lessons again. She does get manual abdominal flexion exercises daily when she is fed. The beauty of postural core strength exercises is that they stay strong after the initial introductory work. It has been five months of this kind of exercise for Chasity, so if her workouts are only every other week, they are enough to sustain her strong core strength in good equine posture. The muscles, ligaments and ...
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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 ...
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How a Sturdy Mule Triumphed Over 198 Champion Horses in the Great American Horse Race of 1976

We hope you enjoy this intriguing and inspiring article that was submitted by one of our contributing writers, Tara Edwards, Trimepil: Sometimes, miracles do happen. Such was the case in the not so distant 1976, when a proper underdog proved to be better than the competition. The competition being over 198 champion horses who were gunning for the title. A simple mule came out on top when put against some of the most treasured horses from all over the world. But was this outcome truly miraculous, or was it a ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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