LTR Blog

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MULE CROSSING: Understanding the Use of Cruppers and Breeching

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By Meredith Hodges

The purpose of tack and equipment has always been to give man leverage against the equine’s resistance during training, but I believe that the equine is “talking” with his resistance and this is a cue to find another alternative to achieve harmony when something isn’t working. There is an ongoing discussion about the use of cruppers and breeching when riding mules and donkeys, and even some horses. The purpose of both is to keep the saddle from sliding forward when the equine is in motion, whether he is tracking on flat ground or going up and down hills. Inappropriate use of both devices could give the equine problems. Whether or not to use a crupper or breeching is not an either/or decision. My equines taught me that in order to make an educated decision about which to use, one needs to take into account the anatomy of the equine and the effect that each has on his body in motion during different activities.

Good conformation is important in allowing the equine to perform to the best of his ability, but the tack we use has an effect on the equine’s movement in spite of his shape. In order to obtain freedom of movement, the elements of the equine’s anatomy must be allowed to move freely through every joint of his body. Energy and blood circulation finds open tracks throughout the body and when unobstructed, will run freely from the core of the body to the extremities in a healthy equine. Core and bulk muscles that are developed symmetrically support the skeletal frame, the cartilage and ligaments that surround the joints, and the tendons that tie the skeletal frame together. All work to support the proper internal organ functions and when the equine in good posture with symmetrical strength, they are unobstructed.

Many people have approached me with questions about cruppers. Their primary concern is that the crupper can break the tail when under pressure. If there is enough pressure put on the crupper to break a tail, then the crupper should break first! When surgeries are performed, veterinarians use lifts that pick up the sedated animal by the tail to put him on the surgery table, so when pressure to the spine and tail is done properly, it can support the animal’s weight. When the skeletal system is adequately supported with symmetrical muscle strength and especially over the top line, the animal is better equipped to use his body efficiently, tucking his tail and using leg muscles to support his own weight while his spine remains flexed upward along the top line to support the weight of the rider. The extremities have full range of motion so he can pick each step with confidence and no obstructions. An animal with insufficient conditioning will hollow his back and neck and try to compensate for his inefficiencies in muscle conditioning and movement. When pressure is put on the crupper of an animal with inadequate muscling, there is weakness over the top line and tail that will not support heavy weight of going downhill and could possibly do damage to the spine at the dock of the tail. Just for the record, I have done lots of trail riding and three years of cross country (3 miles, up and down hills, over twenty jumps) and have always ridden with a crupper on all of my mules with nary an incident.

Breeching originates with pack and driving animals and has a distinctive purpose to keeps loads from shifting on pack animals and to provide “brakes” for those in harness. Breeching generally has a “crupper” built in with straps on both sides to attach to the saddle and help to stabilize the load. But in each case, the breeching is being used with an inanimate object that will not resist against any adjustments or corrections that the animal might make in his own body. An unbalanced rider is more difficult for the animal to balance than an inanimate load. The equine can adjust his load with his own body movements, but he cannot easily adjust a live load that works against his balance like an unbalanced rider would inadvertently do. If using a crupper, the animal has full range of motion in his body and legs with the maximum strength to back up any movement that would help to correct the rider’s position and keep him over the equine’s center of balance.

The problem with breeching on a saddle equine is in the configuration and the way it sits anatomically. When going downhill, the breeching must be snug to do its job properly and it will keep the saddle from sliding forward. However, it also compresses the biceps femoris, a large muscle in the hindquarters that functions to extend the hip and hock joints, and also causes a flexion of the stifle, and a rotation of the leg inward. When pressure is applied to this area, it restricts circulation and extension of the hind leg backwards and causes compromises in the muscles groups resulting in asymmetrical conditioning. This doesn’t pose a real pressure problem going downhill. The stifle joint is configured so it can lock when needed through a stay mechanism between the stifle and hock, but it should still have the freedom of full range of motion if it is to function properly and not get unduly locked up. When the actions in the animal’s body remain symmetrical and orderly all of the joints, including the stifle, are able to function properly. The stifle will usually get locked up only when there are chaotic and unsupported directional actions coming through the joint.

When going uphill, however, the breeching must still be snug to do its job, but the animal is not allowed full extension of the hind legs, so more pressure is put between backward motion of the femur and the breeching. This results in compromised circulation, restricted movement in the hind legs and an inability to control hind quarter foot placement. In a crupper, the animal going uphill has full extension in his hind quarters, an ability to maintain good posture and balance and this results in exact foot placement to maintain that balance comfortably and safely.

The weight and ability of the rider will determine how much pressure is put against the animal and how much resistance it will cause. Even though mules can carry proportionately more weight than a horse of the same size, this doesn’t mean you can indiscriminately weight them down until their knees are shaking. Be fair and responsible and do your part in the relationship. Do not expect the animal to carry an obviously overweight body that doesn’t know how to control itself! Participate in training activities that prepare you both, first with groundwork and later under saddle. As you learn to ride correctly and in balance, you also learn how to ride supportively and take the stress out of going uphill and downhill. You will then find the crupper much safer and more efficient when riding in all kinds of terrain…even if you are a little heavier than you should be. You and your animal will be conditioned properly and he will be able to pick his way efficiently, safely and unobstructed!

To learn more about Meredith Hodges and her comprehensive all-breed equine training program, visit LuckyThreeRanch.com or call 1-800-816-7566. Check out her children’s website at JasperTheMule.com. Also, find Meredith on FacebookYouTube and Twitter.

© 2017, 2018 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc. MULE CROSSING All Rights Reserved.

We’re looking into legal action … and more news

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

Sign the Petition to Stop the Roundups

We’re just 4,864 signatures away from our goal to encourage the BLM to stop the roundups! It’s crucial that we reach our goal for signatures this week, as we plan to take our petition to the national wild horse and burro advisory board meeting coming up in October. If we can show this strength in support of stopping the roundups, we could push the BLM to change their tactics of abuse. Help us raise awareness, and put an end to the brutality of BLM roundups. Sign the petition today.

 

As BLM Moves Forward with Barbaric Research, We Explore Legal Action

The BLM Burns District Office in Oregon announced last week that it will begin controversial experiments to remove the ovaries of wild mares next month. Now, AWHC along with the Animal Welfare Institute and the Cloud Foundation are evaluating all possible means to stop the experiments, including litigation. We have also been working to expose the BLM’s collusion with the pro-slaughter group, Protect the Harvest and its perverse program to showcase spayed fillies who have undergone this barbaric surgery. Read more below.

 

Still Time to Show Your Support for Wild Horses! 

Great news! Our friends over at FLOAT have extended our limited-edition Keep Wild Horses Wild apparel for another week! This means you still have time to show your support for wild horses and our work to protect them! 

 

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ANOTHER 911 – WILL YOU SAVE MY LIFE? IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ONGOING RESCUE, WE GOT AN EMERGENCY CALL FROM THE WA FEEDLOT.!

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The following is from Chilly Pepper – Miracle Mustang:

911 ANOTHER URGENT CALL… As Matt was driving me home from surgery, we received an emergency call from the Shipper in WA. 4 babies need your help!

As we are the ONLY rescue he works with, it is up to us to save their lives. They literally have NO WHERE ELSE to go. They are possibly 5 or 6 months old, and it only takes 400 pounds to get them on the slaughter truck (or at least that is what I have been told).

So instead of staying home taking care of me for the next 5 days or so, Matt will be dropping me off tomorrow, picking up his truck from the shop and heading to WA to save these babies, (IF we can raise funds to bail, vet and bring them home to safety).

We so appreciate the donations y’all have sent to save the horses we were already working on, and thanks to your generosity we were able to secure the safety of 4 of them. Thankfully the palomino and the heavily bred mare were saved by someone else, so we were able to save a gelding ready to ship, the badly beat up horse, one of the donkeys and the branded mustang mare. We are hoping to save more, but it will depend on funding.

But that rescue is on hold, as this is truly a “now” emergency and we have to make sure we do what we can to keep these guys safe.

These babies desperately need your help to save them, and that requires funding, as WE ARE THE ONLY THING BETWEEN THEM AND THE DEADLY TRUCK. Once again, we will be running on faith, as I know that God put them in front of us and it certainly was not to let them die.

So please help us once again, and let’s bring these kids to safety.

Thank you as always, for your love and support for these horses.

BELOW:
Three of the kids safe and waiting to be picked up. Luckily the Palomino and the heavily bred mare were saved by others.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO KEEP HELPING US SAVE MORE LIVES, YOU CAN GO TO:

You can go to gofundmel

You can go to Paypal

if you would like to help these horses.

                                                                           ->You can donate via check at:

Chilly Pepper – Miracle Mustang,

295 Old Hwy 40 East, # 190

Golconda, NV 89414

You can also donate via credit card by calling Palomino at 530-339-1458.

NO MATTER HOW BIG OR HOW SMALL – WE SAVE THEM ALL!

SAVING GOD’S CRITTERS – FOUR FEET AT A TIME

Chilly Pepper – Miracle Mustang, WIN Project – Rescue & Rehab

We are now part of the WIN Organization

WIN (WILD HORSES IN NEED) is a 501c3 IRS EIN 55-0882407_

Donate to Help

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LTR Training Tip #89: Intro To Curb Bits

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MULE CROSSING: Train Your Own Mule!

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By Meredith Hodges

Mules and donkeys are wonderful animals. They’re strong, intelligent and what a sense of humor! But training a mule or donkey is different from training a horse. They require love patience, understanding and a good reward system. Negative reinforcement should be used sparingly and only to define behavioral limits. The result is an animal that is relaxed, submissive, obedient, dependable and happy with his work.

Mule and donkey owners find it difficult to find trainers for their Longears because most horse trainers are unfamiliar with the psychological needs required by Longears to invoke positive responses from them. Those trainers who are capable are few and far between, making it difficult for inexperienced owners in remote areas to get their animals trained properly. Many people attempt to train their own animals and achieve a certain level of success despite the trials and tribulations of trial and error. This can be a long and frustrating road.

We are fortunate enough today to have all kinds of books and videos available on training Longears. However, it wasn’t that long ago when there was virtually nothing published on this subject. Those of us who were training needed to use educational resources published on horse training and modify those techniques to better suit our Longears. This still left a lot of room for trial and error…and frustration for both the trainer and the animal.

Interest in Longears has grown tremendously over the past 50 years. With this increased interest has come an increase in the numbers of animals that need to be trained each year. The few trainers who are competent with Longears could not possibly train even most of the animals that need it, even if it were geographically possible—which it isn’t. Owners usually need to travel distances to visit an animal in training, which limits their own ability to learn with their Longears. This can also become a problem when the animal returns home.

Seminars and clinics are helpful, but they cannot replace the day to day routine that helps produce a safe, obedient and dependable animal. Mules and donkeys bond to the person or persons who train and work with them. They develop a warmth and affection for them, and a desire to please and to serve. Without this bond, mules and donkeys will often comply, but without commitment to their work. Subsequently, when the pressure is on, they may “quit” on you in an instant.

Many people have complained about sending their animal to a trainer for as long as two years, only to have the animal return home and become a problem within as little as three months. It is important to take an active part in the training of your Longears. The more you can be a part of the training, the better for both you and your animal. Even if your mule or donkey is with a competent trainer, you need to plan on spending at least two days a week with your animal and the trainer so that your animal learns to trust you as well as the trainer. Being present and interactive with your animal at feeding time will solidify the trust he gains.

A lot of people ask me why I quit taking outside Longears for training here at the Lucky Three Ranch. In all honesty, I had developed a waiting list I could not possibly have fulfilled in a reasonable amount of time. I would, however, really like to see more people having fun and enjoying their Longears as much as I do. I considered doing clinics like so many trainers do, but I felt I could reach more people through a video and book training program with my technical support only a phone call away. Hence, I developed my training series, “Training Mules and Donkeys. Time and time again, my training series proves that this was a great way to reach people and help them to reach new levels of communication with their animals. People who never before had the courage nor confidence to even attempt such a thing are discovering the self satisfaction and elation of training their own mules and donkeys. Most people tell me it is the best part of their day when they can work with their animals. They are quite surprised at how easy it is to establish a routine that fits with their other weekly activities…thanks to the intelligence and forgiveness of these wonderful animals.

I had been involved with training horses most of my natural life before I began training mules at my mother’s Windy Valley Ranch in Healdsburg, California almost 40 years ago. I knew nothing of Longears at the time I started there. I tried all kinds of “suggestions” from other people and by trial and error—and a lot of resistance—I somehow managed to get a lot of mules trained, but I knew there had to be an easier way. I have to applaud the forgiveness of these mules in the face of my own impatience and ignorance. They let me know when my approach to training was unrealistic and punitive, and did so in a knowing and careful way. My lessons with them were proportionate to my mistakes, so I was lucky enough not to experience anything like head injuries or broken bones. When these kinds of injuries occur, there is something grossly wrong between the animal and the person who has been injured. It could be a lot of reasons, but the one thing of which I can be sure is that the animal acted appropriately for himself, and the problem occurred because there was a lack of communication.

When we raise our children, we begin with nurturing, love, affection and play. The way we play outlines certain behavioral limits for our children and helps them to develop and learn to socialize in a positive and healthy manner. As the child grows, family interaction helps him to define for himself his place in the world. Appropriate physical activities help the child’s body to develop in a slow and healthy way. School, in its natural and logical order helps the child to understand and learn to react appropriately in society and in the world. It helps to develop the confidence on which his self image and self worth is built. Physical activities increase with intensity, strengthening the physical well being of the child. This takes longer than 18 years. How can we, in all good conscience, expect our young Longears to develop in a healthy way, both physically and mentally, if we expect them to learn the same kinds of things in so much less time?

At first, you might think there just isn’t enough time to spend with your animal to accomplish all this, but somehow we all manage to make time for these things when we have children. We learn to experience and grow with our children, as we can also do with our animals by being realistic with our expectations at each stage of growth and training. We give ourselves the time to do this without the pressure of being hurried. There are few times in this world when we are really able to “stop and smell the roses.” Longears can afford us this very special time if you only let them. Look upon the time with your donkey or mule as you would look upon the time you spend with your child. Some days will be for learning and some for just plain fun. When there are learning days, try to make them fun and stress-free. Someday you’ll find yourself saying: “I can’t believe he has turned out to be so good. I never really felt like I was ‘training’ him!”

To learn more about Meredith Hodges and her comprehensive all-breed equine training program, visit LuckyThreeRanch.com or call 1-800-816-7566. Check out her children’s website at JasperTheMule.com. Also, find Meredith on FacebookYouTube and Twitter.

© 2000, 2011, 2012, 2016,2018 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

Breaking News!!

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The following is from Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue:

 

 

NEWS FLASH !!

We are very happy and grateful to once again be the recipients of a matching donation challenge. This could not have come at a better time for us. I think due to the fact that winter will not be far away, we have started to get a lot of calls about animals needing to be surrendered. This means we will need more resources to ensure having enough hay on hand. We have every animal that comes in seen by a veterinarian which can and does quickly turn in to a large bill. We will need all the help we can get!

Every donation made between now and November 1, 2018 will be matched dollar for dollar up to $5,000.00!

By taking advantage of this incredibly generous offer you can double the impact of your donation. Doing so will help every donkey, mule, and hinny we care for.

We are so blown away by this act of incredible generosity by donors who wish to remain anonymous.

Please do what you can!

Donate

Only a few days left!

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

We just wanted to let you know that there are only a few more days left to order our latest Keep Wild Horses Wild design before it’s gone forever! The campaign ends on Monday … be sure to snag yours today! 

This week only…Get your limited edition Keep Wild Horses Wild apparel and show your support for our work to protect wild horses!

We are thrilled to announce the launch of our limited edition Keep Wild Horses Wild apparel! For the next six days, our friends at FLOAT will donate $8 for every shirt sold to the American Wild Horse Campaign. 

Please visit float.org/awhc and SHOP today – there are lots of fun colors and styles to choose from! This is a great way to support our work to protect America’s wild horses and look fabulous! Don’t miss this opportunity!

Buy Now

A victory for wild horses!

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

Our opponents’ primary goal for the last two years: strip protections for wild horses and burros from federal appropriations legislation.

This week, they failed yet again. The House and Senate Appropriations Conference Committee agreed on a “continuing resolution” spending measure that will maintain protections for wild horses and burros against mass slaughter and cruel sterilization tactics.

We know that the the continuing pressure our movement is putting on Congress is making a difference. But this stopgap funding bill only goes through December 7.

It’s another victory for horses, and another set-back for our pro-slaughter opponents – but the fight continues right now. They think they can wear us down in fight after fight, but they’re wrong.

Will you donate right now as we gear up for the next spending fight? Our opponents have anti-wild horse amendments in Congress and lobbyists on the Hill.

Our team has never stopped fighting. Tens of thousands of supporters like you have made calls, signed petitions, and emailed Congressional offices. And our team of AWHC lobbyists has been working the Hill to educate and pressure lawmakers.

And all of this work has been against the backdrop of one of the most cruel and brutal summers of roundups we’ve ever seen. Just this week, an “emergency” roundup in Nevada removed 359 wild horses by water and bait trapping – and, in Utah, the BLM captured 151 wild horses from the Muddy Creek HMA.

It’s hard to imagine how lawmakers and special interests continue to pursue cruel policies of roundups and slaughter. But while they remain on the wrong side of history, our movement will keep fighting for these innocent and majestic animals.

Keep it up!

Thank you,
Suzanne

P.S. Your donations go directly to these critical lobbying and advocacy efforts. Every time Congress delays action on these spending bills, our organization has to re-up its effort once again.

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GO TIME AGAIN – CAN WE SAVE THESE BEAUTIFUL SOULS? AS ALWAYS, CLOCK IS TICKING – DEADLINES VARY 24 HRS – 5 DAYS!

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The following is from Chilly Pepper – Miracle Mustang:

Hi y’all,

Thank you for saving the last group of Texas kids. At the bottom of the page you will see a bit of what we are facing with their rehab.

HOWEVER, once again we received a call asking for help. The above kids are some of the ones we were asked to save. (We won’t know for sure which ones we will be able to save until we have the funds to secure them. But if one is already safe, we will save another one)

As Matt is going to be a third of the way there when he delivers the next group of horses to their new homes, this would be the time to save some more lives.

We wanted to give everyone a chance to save these beautiful souls from the slaughterhouse floor and to help save more lives. We are more than willing to “git ‘er done” as long as we can raise enough funds to make it happen.

There is a heavily bred mare, a beautiful branded mustang mare, donkeys, injured kids etc. They all need our help and as always, time is of the essence.

I am heading for surgery on Monday, but it should be an outpatient type of thing, (just replacing my generator), and Matt is ready and willing to go get these kids when he delivers the other 6 to their new homes.

As always, it all depends on you. We will keep doing the work if we have the funds to do so. Out of the last 9, 6 are heading to their forever homes. As you can see by the pictures below, there are 3 who need intensive care and they will remain at Chilly Pepper for the time being. BOTH of the mare’s front hooves are in horrific shape, and she will need major care. Our beautiful Princess Sahreena was emaciated and she will need lots of love and care. She also came in with some pretty gnarly injuries, but they are healing well.

Please help us save the “new kids”. We are looking at about $6000 plus to hopefully save 9? more lives, including transportation, rescue and vetting to get them home.

Again, this is not our “normal rescue”, but since Matt is already headed that way, we got the call, and the timing is perfect to combine the two, we are definitely willing to go the extra mile if you want to save these kids and keep them off the slaughter truck.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO KEEP HELPING US SAVE MORE LIVES, YOU CAN GO TO:

You can go to gofundmel

You can go to Paypal

if you would like to help these horses.

                                                                           ->You can donate via check at:

Chilly Pepper – Miracle Mustang,

295 Old Hwy 40 East, # 190

Golconda, NV 89414

You can also donate via credit card by calling Palomino at 530-339-1458.

NO MATTER HOW BIG OR HOW SMALL – WE SAVE THEM ALL!

SAVING GOD’S CRITTERS – FOUR FEET AT A TIME

Chilly Pepper – Miracle Mustang, WIN Project – Rescue & Rehab

We are now part of the WIN Organization

WIN (WILD HORSES IN NEED) is a 501c3 IRS EIN 55-0882407_

Donate to Help

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Longears Music Videos: Teach Your Mules Amazing Things – In the Classroom

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Congressional deliberation on sterilization begins TOMORROW

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

We wanted you to know immediately: The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations just announced that a Joint House and Senate Conference Committee meeting will take place tomorrow, September 13th, to begin discussions on finalizing Fiscal Year 2019 Appropriations legislation (H.R. 6157) – including funding for the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Wild Horse and Burro Program.

This committee will decide whether the final spending bill will include dangerous House language, known as the Stewart Amendment, that would authorize the BLM to manage wild horses and burros in non-reproducing and single-sex herds by subjecting them to risky, invasive surgeries (video).

If passed by the full Congress, this would spell the beginning of the end for the iconic, free-roaming mustang herds of the American West. Do not let Congress undermine over 50 years of wild free-roaming horse and burro protection…Please, take action today!

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

  1. Call Your Congressmen and Senators at 202-224-3121. Here’s what you need to say:“I’m [name] and I’m a constituent. Please ask Rep./ Senator [Name] to contact the Appropriations conference committee to urge them to reject the Stewart Amendment calling for the mass sterilization of wild horses and burros. This would undermine 50 years of protection and is counter to the wishes of the 80 percent of Americans who want our wild horses protected and humanely managed. Thank you.”
  2. Click here to send a follow up email to your elected officials on Capitol Hill.
  3. Reach out to key decision makers on Social Media:
    Senator Lisa Murkowski on Facebook and Twitter.
    Senator Tom Udall on Facebook and Twitter.
    Rep. Ken Calvert on Facebook and Twitter.
    Rep. Betty McCollum on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for taking action to stop the devastating Stewart Amendment from becoming law. Together we can save our nation’s iconic and cherished wild horses and burros!

 

– The AWHC Team

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CROPRichardShrakeClinic8 11 2010 195CC

MULE CROSSING: Introduction to Behavior Modification, Part 1

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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 there would be no shortcuts to successful training. I steered clear of fads, trends and shortcuts and, instead, based my training program on Behavior Modification techniques developed by world-famous behaviorist B.F. Skinner over a century ago. For many years now, I have used these techniques to successfully train my own champion mules and donkeys, and I continue to share my method with millions of people through my books, an award-winning DVD series, multiple television shows, my comprehensive website and on Social Media.

The techniques presented here work well with not only mules and donkeys, but also with horses and any other trainable animals (and even humans). The program is designed to be resistance free, and the goal is—and always has been—to help people get the best performance and most enjoyment from their animals and to insure that the animal receives the best treatment possible.

 Behavior Modification Basics

As a young adult I worked as a psychiatric technician at Sonoma and Napa State Hospitals in California, and the Behavior Modification techniques I learned at that time proved ideal for my later equine training purposes for two major reasons:

˚The system in which the trainer sets performance goals and rewards positive behavior leading to achievement of those goals encourages “good” behavior instead of using fear-inducing punishment to suppress “bad” behavior.

˚The step-by-step approach that builds gradually on learned skills gives the animal a sense of security and achievement that encourages trust and helps minimize resistance.

Animals, like humans, need a predictable routine in order to learn. Just as children progress through grade school, building on their knowledge with each successive grade, animals learn best when a solid foundation is laid for each new skill. By creating a logical program from the outset, we avoid the confusion that can lead to resistance.

These levels of achievement are at the heart of Behavior Modification as a training tool. Acceptable levels of behavior must be defined at each level of training, beginning with the simplest of expectations and working forward. At each level the animal must accomplish certain tasks, and each accomplishment must be acknowledged and reinforced. Also note that it is critical—especially if you are working with a mule or donkey—that you, the owner, participate in the training process. Mules and donkeys develop a strong bond with their trainer, and if they’ve learned from someone else, their performance for you may suffer in the long run. It is also advisable to consult with an experienced trainer in your area, and if you are working with my Training Mules and Donkeys training series, I am just a phone call away.

Reinforcing Behaviors

Everything we do, every behavior we choose, is based on an instinctual desire to experience pleasure and avoid pain. Our choices reflect our experience. They are “reinforced” by the pain or pleasure they have given us in the past. Behavior Modification uses the same principles of positive and negative reinforcement with an emphasis on positive reinforcement.

In training, positive reinforcementis delivered in the form of rewards. We know that an equine, when rewarded for performing a certain task, will be willing to perform it again in anticipation of another reward. Note, however, that positive reinforcement is not bribery. The reward is not given as an inducement to perform the task, but as a reward for a task completed. The reward should be something the animal loves and will consistently work for, yet something that is nutritionally sound. In the case of equines, rolled or crimped oats work far better than rich snacks full of empty calories and are healthier for your equine.

Positive reinforcement also takes the form of verbal cues. When your animal performs the desired behavior, you should, simultaneously and with appropriate enthusiasm, say the word, “Good!” This works well when it isn’t possible to give a food reward right away. Clicker training, which has become a popular and effective means of audible reinforcement, is similar and applies the same concept. It’s immediate, it’s consistent, and it can be used with all mules, donkeys and horses to reinforce behavior. However, I feel that it is better to use your voice than a clicker, as the sound of your voice promotes engagement with your equine on a more intimate level, so your voice will yield better results than clicker training.

Negative reinforcement is used not to punish the animal but to encourage them to make a better choice. Negative reinforcement should be brief, to the point and used sparingly. It should never be of long duration or given arbitrarily. Negative reinforcement, such as a slap or a loud “No!” shouldn’t be used so often that it makes the animal unresponsive altogether. Remember that reinforcement by its very definition always strengthens behavior. Punishment is used to suppress behavior and may trigger other undesirable behaviors. B.F. Skinner himself said that positive reinforcement may take more patience, because the effect is slightly deferred, yet it can be as effective as negative reinforcement and has fewer unwanted residual behaviors. When you begin training, you will have to give a verbal and food reward every time the animal performs a desired response. Still, negative reinforcement is necessary to define boundaries.

As your equine learns certain behaviors, you can reinforce the learned behaviors less frequently and focus on frequently rewarding new achievements. Gradually, your animal will become satisfied with a verbal reinforcement for established behaviors, and he will comply for longer periods between food rewards. This shift from a predictable, or fixed, schedule of reinforcement to a variableschedule helps with skill progression. For example, in the transition from lunging when your animal was initially given a reward after each set of rotations in the round pen, to riding, he can eventually be ridden through his entire 30 to 40 minute session before receiving a reward.

Beware of the “delayed gratification” phenomenon, however. If your animal suspects that it will be too long before he receives a reward, he may be reluctant to even begin. Often a quick reward for a simple task at the beginning of a lesson is incentive enough to get him started. Also keep in mind that reinforcing too soon is ineffective. Your animal should be rewarded immediately after the correct behavior, not before. An animal rewarded too soon or too often can become aggressive and/or resistant to training. Remember, each of your own behaviors elicits a response from your animal. You must be meticulous in the way you ask your animal to perform, and always be aware of your own actions. In Part 2 of Introduction to Behavior Modification, I will explain how to break complex behaviors into small and simple steps to achieve the best results.

To learn more about Meredith Hodges and her comprehensive all-breed equine training program, visit LuckyThreeRanch.com or call 1-800-816-7566. Check out her children’s website at JasperTheMule.com. Also, find Meredith on FacebookYouTube and Twitter.

© 2005, 2011, 2016, 2018 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Support Wild Horses and Look Fabulous

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

This week only…Get your limited edition Keep Wild Horses Wild apparel and show your support for our work to protect wild horses!

We are thrilled to announce the launch of our limited edition Keep Wild Horses Wild apparel! For the next six days, our friends at FLOAT will donate $8 for every shirt sold to the American Wild Horse Campaign. 

Please visit float.org/awhc and SHOP today – there are lots of fun colors and styles to choose from! This is a great way to support our work to protect America’s wild horses and look fabulous! Don’t miss this opportunity!

Buy Now

Everyone needs to know what’s going on

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

News & Alerts

On Tuesday, BLM will resume rounding up wild horses with helicopters. Wild horses will be traumatized, terrified, driven for miles and trapped in pens. They will lose their families and their freedom, forever. 

We’re not letting BLM get away with it.

Our field representative will head to Utah tomorrow for the BLM’s roundup in Muddy Creek — a 443 square mile public lands area swarming with private cattle but where fewer than 200 horses roam. 

Last month, our field representatives documented BLM helicopters chasing horses into barbed wire in Utah, and literally running foals to death in Wyoming. This cruelty would be happening out of the public eye if not for work to expose it.

Help us do all we can to stop the roundups. Donate now to protect wild horses from this horrific fate.

Our roundup documentation and humane observation program is not cheap. But it is critically important. Often we’re the only eyes on the roundups besides the ranchers, who want the public lands cleared of wild horses so they can graze more cattle and sheep. 

The fix is in for our wild horses and we’re exposing it every way we can. And bringing it to the doors of our lawmakers, who have the power to demand change. 

Our field representative leaves tomorrow… will you help us keep him in the field?

Thank you. 

Suzanne Roy, Executive Director

Donate

IMG 3700

What’s New with Roll? Ground Driving the Pasture

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8-31-18

Roll needed another core tune-up today, but every time we take him out, we need to document everything in photos and video. Normally we would work in the hourglass pattern, but we wanted better pictures than just the arena sand and fences so we decided to do some ground driving today in the 5-acre pasture instead.

I had to tighten the reins that were tied up to the surcingle because he thought it might be nice to just lower his head and graze…that was not in the program!

He was light in the bridle and easily maneuverable. I was glad to be able to walk behind and see how his rear end was moving. It was VERY wobbly from both hips and could not walk a straight line.

He will most definitely need more chiropractic work and massage going forward.  I think regular core exercises are in order, once a week in order to build up his rear end bulk muscle again. We did a serpentine through the trees …

… and then left the field along the fence line to help him to stay straight. That should help to stabilize the rear, but he IS a 26 year-old with a very bad start to his life for the first 18 years, so I need to keep expectations realistic.

He lacked impulsion for the first part of the ground driving, but was beginning to engage the hind quarters a bit more and that added enough impulsion for him to go forward in a straighter line than he did at first as he traveled along the fence line.

Although I had tightened the reins coming from the bridle, Roll still managed to lower his head sideways and grab a few blades of the taller grass on the way out!!! He cracks me up!

He did remarkably better on the gravel road back to the Tack Barn. I did have to keep reminding him to keep his body straight, which he did very easily.

When we got back to the Tack Barn he drove right in and parked himself, squaring up upon my request through the lines. What a good boy!!!

[WATCH] Roundups at their worst

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

The roundups this year are underway — and they’ve led to dozens of deaths of wild horses.

What’s worse is that most Americans are unaware of the tragedy that is happening on our public lands, funded by their tax dollars. That’s why we’re doing everything in our power to raise awareness of this abuse.

We need your help. Watch our new video that documents the atrocities of this year’s roundups, and share it with your friends and family.

WATCH AND SHARE

Helicopters chasing horses to the brink of exhaustion, foals being run to death and separated from their herd, innocent animals being driven into barbed wire – as soon as people hear about all of this cruelty, they’re against it. And when people come together to demand action, lawmakers will take notice.

If we bring awareness to this issue – by alerting people to the abuse that is going on behind their backs, we can put enough pressure on lawmakers to replace these barbaric roundups with modern, humane and scientific management practices.

Please watch our new video, and share it with your friends – so we can put a stop to this cruelty, once and for all.

Thank you,

Suzanne

Donate

Take action to stop the BLM’s brutal roundups

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

Over the last month, we’ve seen images of horses being rounded up, driven into barbed wire fencing, and chased by helicopters to the point of exhaustion. Foals have been literally run to death. Once healthy horses have been forced into holding pens, losing their freedom and their families forever.

So far this has been a deadly summer for America’s wild horses and burros.

It’s time for a freeze on the roundup program until a full investigation is completed.

Your hard work is paying off. We already have over 53,000 signatures on our petition calling for a halt to the roundups, but we need to expand that number before we deliver your signatures to the BLM.

BLM helicopters will take to the air again in September. Our tax-dollars should not be funding this abuse. Keep speaking out, and let’s stop these roundups.

Help us reach the 75,000 signatures we need.

Thank you,

Suzanne

PS – Read more about the work we are doing to fight these roundups.

Donate

 

LMVkidsandmules

Longears Music Videos: Kids and Mules

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See more Longears Music Videos

4 days left!

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The following is from the American Wild Horse Campaign:

We have just four days left to get our comments in to oppose the BLM’s plan to conduct barbaric sterilization experiments on wild mares in Oregon. The BLM intends to remove the ovaries of 100 mares via a surgical procedure (ovariectomy via colpotomy) that is associated with high risk of pain, hemorrhage, evisceration, infection and abortion for pregnant mares. Recently Colorado State University (CSU) pulled its association with the experiments, but BLM is proceeding anyway! Please protect wild mares from these risky and cruel surgeries by weighing in today!

Thanks,

The AWHC Team

Donate

ONE MORE MAMA WITH HER BABY – WILL YOU SAVE THEM TOO? Complications with the Texas kids

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The following is from Chilly Pepper – Miracle Mustang:

This beautiful mama and her baby are scheduled to ship in 3 days. WE CAN SAVE THEM WITH YOUR HELP! But once again it is up to you.

(I apologize for the quality of the photos, but they are all I have.)

Matt is still in Texas, as complications have arisen with 7 horses y’all just saved. All of the mares have clear Coggins (the blood test required for transport). However, only 2 of the mares received their Health certificates, so now we have to put the others in quarantine until we can get a Health certificate to bring them safely home.

It will cost up to $1500 to quarantine up to 30 days. Hopefully it won’t take that long to get them healthy enough to get the necessary paperwork. However, once we establish this “quarantine” we will be able to use it in the future at a fraction of the cost.

To complicate matters further, when Matt was heading back to “wait” for the vet to come out again, there were issues with the truck and off to the shop it went. That is the issue with having 16 year old vehicles and working them as hard as we do.Luckily, the truck is being repaired and will be ready to go today. We work really hard to keep them road worthy but they are old and never stop working.

Sadly, we are stuck at this point. We cannot bring the horses home who do not have the proper paperwork. Luckily we have a safe place to quarantine them, but we obviously did not figure for the additional expenses involved.

So once again we are asking our Chilly Pepper Family to not only SAVE ANOTHER MOM AND BABY!, but to help us get the funds to cover these unexpected costs, so we can quarantine these mama’s and their babies and get them home to safety as soon as we can.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO KEEP HELPING US SAVE MORE LIVES, YOU CAN GO TO:

You can go to gofundmel

You can go to Paypal

if you would like to help these horses.

                                                                ->You can donate via check at:

Chilly Pepper – Miracle Mustang,

295 Old Hwy 40 East, # 190

Golconda, NV 89414

You can also donate via credit card by calling Palomino at 530-339-1458.

NO MATTER HOW BIG OR HOW SMALL – WE SAVE THEM ALL!

SAVING GOD’S CRITTERS – FOUR FEET AT A TIME

Chilly Pepper – Miracle Mustang, WIN Project – Rescue & Rehab

We are now part of the WIN Organization

WIN (WILD HORSES IN NEED) is a 501c3 IRS EIN 55-0882407_

Donate to Help

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