July 2007
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Dear Readers

Well, we recently got back from the 38th Annual Bishop Mule Days Celebration, and what a time we had! Nearly a solid week of non-stop activity kept us busy from sun-up to well after midnight each day. From top-notch competition to hilarious fun and games, Mule Days has it all.

Just like last year, we had a camera crew along to film, only this time, with more folks on our team, we were able to cover many more events. Also, this year the crew shot all of its footage in high-definition. RFD-TV has plans to launch a high-def channel soon, and we'll be ready with new, eye-popping, hi-def programming.

From day one we were tracking down interviews with some of Bishop's top performers and making the rounds to the various classes. Each year Bishop offers more than 180 events, so we had plenty to see.

A huge highlight was Friday night's show with the Budweiser Clydesdales eight-hitch demonstration and the amazing Priefert "Texas Thunder" Percheron Draft Horse Team. Each Percheron weighs an average of 2,200 pounds and stands an average of 18.2 hands! The six together were an awesome sight and one we hoped to see again. So imagine how surprised we were when we discovered the next day that Bonnie Shields and I, along with Jasper the Mule, would ride in the "Texas Thunder" wagon in the Mule Days Parade. We got what I hope will be some spectacular footage of these magnificent animals.

We also managed to catch up with Grand Marshall Von Twitchell for an interview, and we were on hand to see Tim Phillips along with champion mule Tuff Stuff inducted into the Mule Days Hall of Fame.

While we were there, Jasper had plenty of opportunity to visit with the crowd and make new friends. And of course, he really hammed it up during a rollicking round of Musical Tires. (See Jasper's Corner for fun photos.)

All in all it was a great experience, a successful filming opportunity and a heck of a lot of fun. If you've never made it to Mule Days, you really should go. And watch here or check our web site for information about our new television shows for RFD-TV, based on our incredible time in Bishop!



Richard Shrake Clinic at Lucky Three Ranch

Two of the best equine trainers in the business got together when Meredith hosted a clinic with Richard Shrake at Lucky Three Ranch, June 19-22. Not only did participants benefit from Richard's 40 years of experience as a professional in the horse-training industry, they also had the opportunity to work with Meredith and her good friend Joanne Lang, an animal massage therapist and rehabilitation expert.

Their message: Condition your athlete for the task rather than during the task. Using as an example a mule Meredith had rescued from more than a decade of neglect and abuse, they showed the animal's physical limitations as compared to one of Meredith's well-conditioned animals and discussed solutions to the problems.

Again, what the students heard loud and clear was don't rush your equine's training. By pushing a mule or horse too hard, too fast, you sacrifice his physical health and risk serious injury to you both.

Meredith and Joanne went on to assess each student's horse and suggest techniques for addressing physical problems. It was a fascinating, useful session, and Meredith had a camera crew on hand to capture the session and much of Richard's clinic on film.

Meredith plans to use the footage to produce several more shows for her Training Mules and Donkeys series currently airing on RFD-TV. Be sure to catch these informative shows as well as her documentary mini-series "Those Magnificent Mules." Check www.RFD-TV.com for program schedules.

And for more information about Richard Shrake and his Resistance-Free Training clinics , go to www.richardshrake.com.

"Mae Bea C.T." Arrives at Lucky Three

A remarkable work of art to honor a remarkable mule is complete. The latest addition to the Loveland Longears Sculpture Park and Museum is nothing short of breathtaking. The bronze statue depicts Meredith's champion mule, Mae Bea C.T., drawing a meadowbrook cart with the figure of Meredith aboard.

Five feet wide, twelve feet long and seven feet high this "life-size" masterpiece took three artists more than 3,000 hours to complete. Robin Laws, John Taylor and Tim Joseph labored for months, and Tim's Fort Collins, Colo.- based foundry produced and assembled the piece from 250 parts.

The statue will travel to Cheyenne for Cheyenne Frontier Days and to the Loveland Invitational Sculpture Show this summer before it is permanently installed at the ranch. Meredith regularly hosts tours of her ranch and sculpture park featuring works by a host of talented artists. If you'd like to visit, please go to www.luck ythreeranch.com/tours.

Also watch for a feature article on the statue "Mae Bea C.T." and Meredith's museum and sculpture park in the Summer issue of Horses In Art magazine.
Question: My mule is running off in the drivelines. What do I do to make her stop?

First, I have, over time, come to appreciate that different equines have different personality types. It does seem that a general rule applies: The larger the animal, the more docile the personality. I've also learned that when a donkey or mule has a tendency to bolt and run, it's because they don't necessarily agree with what you are trying to do or how you are trying to do it. If a problem arises, it is ALWAYS the handler's fault!

I have a mule that is acting the same way. She will allow me to walk beside her and drive her that way, but she'll run off if I get too far behind. I have had to deal with this problem with a few mules and donkeys in the past. What I do is continue to walk beside her and gradually lengthen the distance one inch at a time until she has accepted the drivelines correctly-no matter how long it takes. I will work her no more than 20 to 40 minutes every other day. I will make sure she gets her treats for "Whoa" and "Back." I will do a lot of "Back" while still close in to her and repeat "Back" frequently at every increased or decreased distance behind her, and I will keep things at a very slow walk until I feel her relaxation through the drivelines (not a trace of pull). I will always be calm and slow around her, willing to take all the time in the world if necessary. I will constantly review the lessons in showmanship in Tape#1, Tape #8 and Tape#9, going to and from the work areas, and during any ground interaction to help her to really, truly bond to me on a very personal level. I will treat her as my very favorite (I actually treat them all this way anyway, but sometimes there are those who are less confident and need this extra kind of moral support).

These types of personalities simply take longer to come around, but with great patience, kindness, trust and respect, they eventually do. I wouldn't necessarily use them for driving, but they can be very good under saddle. In fact, once they do bond more strongly with you and look to you as their "Protector," they are the ones who will have more "go" and thus, more athletic tendencies and ability. Figuring out what kinds of things they like to do naturally helps a lot as well.

I have dealt with many animals that were the same way, and I know it takes tremendous patience, but I also know that they can come around. You might need to back up and do things even more slowly and more meticulously than you ever thought you needed to, but you should get positive results if you do. Lower your expectations of her for a while, and try to have more fun with the basics.

When she does bolt, never hang onto the reins, lead, or drivelines. Just let go of her if you are on the ground or let them loose if she bolts under saddle. Just make sure you work in areas that are adequately and safely fenced, so you can easily catch her again. Whether on the lead line, in the drivelines or under saddle, once she realizes that you aren't going to play "tug-o-war," that she will get a reward for staying and that it is a waste of her energy to keep running, she will do it less and less.
Dear Meredith:

We wanted to give you a big THANK YOU for making our visit to your ranch so enjoyable. Everyone was very interested in learning more about "long ears." I don't think anyone had heard of your ranch and the work you are doing before, and I am sure they will be telling friends about it.

I saw an article in Sunday's Rocky paper about someone else who has mules, and they were giving the same information about how smart they are.

Ray and I really appreciate you having Robin's latest sculpture for us and our group to see. It is really wonderful, and we will have to call Robin and tell her what a great job she did.

We appreciate you having your staff there to answer questions and to extend us such a warm welcome.

Again, THANKS!!!

Marge and Ray Speaker and the Ventures Unlimited group.

Check the "Events Calendar at www.luckythreeranch.com. If you know of an event that is not on our list, please let us know.
Jasper: A Fabulous Fourth

With the Fourth of July come and passed, it's a great time to pick up Jasper: A Fabulous Fourth, the most recent book in the Jasper the Mule children's series.

In this fun-filled, holiday adventure, the family's Fourth of July picnic offers more excitement than anyone planned when Jasper and Moxie get a taste of freedom the whole gang will remember. Fully illustrated by Bonnie Shields.

Coming in September, Jasper: A Turkey Tale. Watch for details.

For more information or to order go to www.jasperthemule.com or www.luckythreeranch.com, or call 800-816-7566.
With new programs featuring all the excitement of Bishop Mule Days and more in production, Training Mules and Donkeys remains one of the most popular shows on RFD-TV. You can find it on the DISH Network, Channel 231, and on DIRECTV, Channel 379.

And if you're a cable customer and your cable company doesn't offer RFD-TV, please ask for it.
Jasper Had a Blast at Bishop Mule Days 2007!

To protect and to serve

Daniel Miller reminds us to never underestimate a mule with this amazing story. It began when a Montana couple riding the range found themselves in the company of a mountain lion. The big cat was stalking the couple's dogs. As it moved closer the man dismounted and prepared to fire his rifle in the air in order to scare off the predator. But before he could get a shot off, his mule took charge. As the lion approached the dogs, the mule grabbed it by the tail and quickly dispatched it.

When the lion was dead, the mule walked over to the couple as if nothing had happened, ready to resume the ride.

Photos of the attack remind us all that mules have the means to protect as well as to serve.

Send submissions to newsl etter@luckythreeranch.com!
Hi, Everyone - I've been a busy bee this spring. Just finished the storyboard for the new Jasper sequel, Jasper: A Turkey Tale. Some bit-just over 360 drawings!!!

Recently had a show in Lewiston, Idaho, in conjunction with the Idaho Backcountry Horsemen's state convention. My husband was retiring state chairman. While I was there, they had an auction to raise funds for the state organization and someone started bids on my overalls!!! It was a surprise to me, but I did my best to sell them. With a little bump and grind and peek-a-boo, they brought $65! Luckily, I had a pair of jeans with me, so it didn't get me into too much trouble.

Right after that, I took my wares to the spring auction in Sisters, Ore., put on by my friends at Small Farmers Journal. Had a great time and got to see many old friends.

In the meantime, just so I won't get bored, I am carving the right hind leg of a carousel mule I designed for the Missoula municipal carousel. The mule is "Horse," a very famous REAL mule that lives just outside of Missoula and is owned and trained by Deloit Wolfe. "Horse" is the mule that wows 'em at Spruce Meadows in Calgary ever September in their Challenge of the Breeds.

Carving wood is a new experience for me, and all I can say is just keep those Band-Aids coming. This is not the easiest thing I've tackled, but I will get 'er done.

Bishop never fails to do its thing and get all us mule folks together for a good time. My usual partner, Debbie Gullo, could not make it this year, so I recruited my teckie friend, Cheryl Mundee to go with me and do all the heavy lifting--and make change. I think it worked. She claims she lost five pounds!

Don't forget, Jasper: A Fabulous Fourth is now on sale! Visit www.jasperthe mule.com.

Lucky Three Ranch

phone: 800.816.7566