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: Mule Fever, Part 1

By Meredith Hodges During the last 50 years, thousands of people in this country have become afflicted with a rather unique condition. The symptoms include childlike behavior coupled with loyalty, integrity, honesty, maturity, humility and moments of overwhelming humor. Those who have this condition are among the happiest people in the world, for they are fortunate enough to experience “Mule Fever.” “Mule Fever” begins when you gaze into the soft brown eyes of a big beautiful mule and he cocks an ear in your direction. Timidly, you request a ...
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MULE CROSSING: The Round Pen

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. 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. Do not begin training your equine in the round pen, because an unbalanced and inexperienced equine in uncontrolled flight can easily injure himself. Specific ...
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Mule Crossing: Moving Beyond Prey vs. Predator

By Meredith Hodges In the past, when equines ran free, they were unencumbered by human interaction and could build and condition their muscles naturally. Today, with increased population but reduced open lands, their activity is often restricted. It then becomes our responsibility to not only train them, but to prepare them physically to perform and keep them happy in their environment. This responsibility becomes even more important when we ask them to exert more energy than normal, in activities like long trail rides, endurance events, showing and equine-related work. Proper ...
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LTR Training Tip #45: Leading Through Lateral Obstacles

 After your equine has mastered moving straight through obstacles, try some of the obstacles that require lateral movement. Download Detailed Description See more Training Tips ...
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MULE CROSSING: Donkeys: The “Sinking” Reflex

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 what’s happening, it ...
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MULE CROSSING: In Celebration of Mule History

By Meredith Hodges George Washington imported the first jacks into the United States on October 26, 1785. The two jacks were a special gift to him from the King of Spain, although one died during the crossing. Royal Gift made it to become the sire of Washington’s mules at Mount Vernon. Two hundred years later, October 26th became Mule Appreciation Day as a result of mule’s increased popularity in modern times. George Washington was one of the very few in his time who recognized the value of breeding good mares ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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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From the SWISS BULLETIN: The last packer of Zermatt Belvedere

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