September 2010
In This Issue
What's New?
Featured Product
Jasper's Corner
Longears Limelight
Training Tip
From Our Readers
Greetings From ADMS!
Bonnie's Bit

What's New?

Look for us on Facebook and Twitter. Join the fun!

Find us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterFind me on Facebook

Follow Lucky Three Ranch on Twitter and get the lowdown on what's up!
And be part of the Longears community-share your thoughts with Meredith on Facebook. Be sure to click "like" to join both the Lucky Three Ranch and the Meredith Hodges fan pages.

Look for Us at the World Equestrian Games, October 7-10, 2010

Held in beautiful Lexington, Kentucky, this world-class event is considered to be the "Olympics" of the horse world.
DON'T MISS IT: Meredith will be at the ADMS booth with Leah and Cara on October 10th from 1-9pm. Stop by and say hello.

Look for New Jasper: A Christmas Caper DVD

Santa's elves are hard at work putting the finishing touches on Meredith's brand-new DVD...the countdown has begun!


Featured Product

Magnifique! ˇFantastico! Wunderbar!

For the first time anywhere!

Meredith's award-winning DVD, Equus Revisited, and the award-winning companion manual have been translated into French, Spanish and German! Order your set online at

DVD-BOOK SET: $72.00
DVD: $49.95
BOOK: $29.95


Jasper's Corner

Jasper's Corner

Hi Meredith,
I am a local children's book author... I am so-o-o impressed with what you have done with Jasper. The website is fabulous and your characters are too. I think that Jasper should be on TV for kids to see on a regular basis. Learning about caring for mules and horses is so important. You have done such a wonderful job.

I will tell my friends who have small kids to get the books and DVDs.

Thank you for caring about animals.


Looking for a gift for the kids that's wholesome, positive and fun? The Jasper the Mule book series offers five delightful tales of adventure, each designed to help develop young minds and build character. These stories, beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Shields, educate as they entertain. Meredith purposefully included some challenging vocabulary words and a detailed glossary in each book. She also peppered in information about proper equine training and care, and she made each sure that each book gives kids something they can take out into the world with them-lessons about love and friendship, and encouragement to always do their best. A book for every season and written to last for generations, the Jasper the Mule series is bound to make your child smile.


Longears Limelight

Here are our Colombian friends on their beautiful mules during the Festival of Flowers. There were over 1,200 entries in this six-hour parade of equines!


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Meredith Hodges
Dear Friends,

I hope you all had an enjoyable summer with your longears. June brought a record number of tours to Lucky Three Ranch! We met so many wonderful people of all ages who were thrilled to meet and learn so much about mules and donkeys. Many of them had fathers and grandfathers who worked with mules, but they had no personal experience themselves. Children loved the gentle interaction with the live animals and getting their pictures taken with the bronze statues scattered throughout the ranch. Teachers discovered the educational value and charm of our Jasper the Mule series of books and videos. After meeting the LTR mules and Little Jack Horner, the kids were eager to tell their friends all about them!

Throughout spring and summer, we have been working on several projects. The Jasper sequel DVDs are in the process, and Jasper: A Christmas Caper will be available for sale before Christmas this year! Jasper: A Precious Valentine will follow in early 2011. Jasper: A Fabulous Fourth and Jasper: A Turkey Tale will be released on their respective holidays in 2012.

Lots of our foreign friends are thrilled with our French-, German- and Spanish-translated manuals, Training Without Resistance and Equine Management & Donkey Training, taken from our original resistance-free DVD training series. Equus Revisited, produced in 2009, is an important complement to the training series, and will be available in French, German and Spanish in the fall of this year.

In mid-July, we had a film shoot for our latest addition to our Those Magnificent Mules documentary series-my biography. This two-part episode will reveal the events in my life that led me on the journey to my obsession with mules and donkeys, and will give you the opportunity to get to know me better.

In August we invited Richard Shrake and his students to the ranch for a week of resistance-free education and just plain fun! Equine masseuse Joanne Lang and I gave a mini-clinic on the benefits of lead line groundwork and core training for equines. Our guests were amazed at how much their relationships with their equines blossomed in only a few short hours, and how much better they were all able to perform together the following day.

There is something to be said for taking time to appreciate the relationship you can have with your mule, donkey or horse if you are willing to slow down, be patient and do the things that will make them comfortable in their work. They will be grateful for your consideration and the rewards you reap will be tenfold.

I truly hope you have all had a wonderful summer with your equines. In light of the difficulties of life, it is good to know that solace can be found with your equine friends!

Best wishes,

Meredith Hodges
Lucky Three Ranch

Training Tip:

I have a five-year-old molly mule that seems to be afraid to load into a trailer--she will hop into the trailer, but then will back out just as quickly, not sure if she has had any bad experiences inside the trailer.
I don't want to force her to stay inside the trailer and cause the problem to get worse. In attempts to overcome this problem, I put up a small corral around the back of the trailer and then put her hay /feed inside the trailer, hoping that this will help her to overcome the anxiety of being inside the trailer. I also am trying to groom her while in the trailer so that she can associate being in the trailer as a positive experience. Do you have any other suggestions? Am I on the right track?  

Answer: Thank you for your email. We really appreciate you taking the time to write! It sounds to me as if the groundwork was not done as consistently as it should have been if this mule is still jerking the lead from your hands at this late date. She should not have gone on to any under-saddle work until she was able to do all the leading training at your shoulder on verbal and body language commands only, first with the flatwork and then over obstacles. No rewards should be given when not complying exactly with your directions, but you also need to pay attention to how you are asking.

The anxiety is not coming from the trailer or anything else, it is coming from the relationship she has with you. Her feeding place should not be a training area. It should be a place to let down and rest. When people add obstacles and do the things you describe (and you are not the only one who has fallen victim to this way of thinking), it doesn't give the animal any down time to relax and anxiety will persist.

We cover trailer loading in DVD #1 of our resistance-free training series-and in our new manual-both titled, Equus Revisited, (along with all the other obstacles that we introduce on the lead line). Even horses are no-nonsense kind of guys and will become suspicious of techniques such as feeding them in the trailer. It isn't really the trailer itself that they distrust, but rather the approach that is being used to get them into the trailer. We teach our equines to be trustful and willing by developing confidence in the handler. When we begin leading training, they are introduced to all kinds of obstacles. We approach the obstacle first and encourage them to investigate everything this way and they are rewarded with crimped oats when they comply. By the time they have learned about many trail obstacles and other things around the farm that could be scary, the trailer is not a threat to them. They will most often just follow you right in, knowing there is a crimped oats reward waiting for them. They have never been trapped into complying!

For those that tend to be too timid or stubborn about going in, we use a second technique of running a lunge line from their halter into the trailer, out the side window, and back to where you would stand slightly behind and to the side of the animal. We encourage them with a tap of the whip on the fetlocks and take up the slack as they step forward. Unlike horses, mules and donkeys will not struggle against a tight rope. You just need to keep the tension for a few moments before they realize they cannot back up and they will then proceed forward. You just cannot rush them. If you are patient and consistent in your approach, they soon learn to be sent into the trailer from behind. If you do not snub the line and keep it taut, they will learn that they CAN go backwards and then they will. If you try to train them as you describe, they will learn to go into the trailer, but they won't learn to go into the trailer when you want them to, only when they decide they want to. Horses will fight a snub line, so we do not recommend training them this way. They will usually come if you just keep the rope taut in your hands and give to the pressure when
they comply.

With consistently dispensed rewards when earned, they don't generally leave your side. They will follow you and the fanny pack everywhere! If your mule won't follow you into the trailer, then you need to use the lunge line approach.

From Our Readers

Dear Meredith,

Thank you for sending me your DVD and info packet to the rescue. It is gold to me. You are the most com-passionate TV personality out there. I learn from other trainers; too often I learn what NOT to do. I have problems with many training methods that are very popular right now. Your training is truly all positive and kind to the animals. Thanks and keep it up.


Greetings from ADMS!

Hello to all from somewhere that's baking away this summer.

No, we're just in Texas, though comments have been made to the resemblance of Texas to the Hot Side of the netherworld. Which leads us to the question, just HOW do you manage to keep yourself and your longears cool?

Temperatures here have been in the triple digits-106, not just 100. The grass is baked, even the weeds are suffering. What does this do to pasture? Are your critters grazing on fresh-baked standing hay?

Mules and donkeys are, fortunately, hardy animals. They are usually more heat-tolerant than other equines, but you still need to make sure they have a shady space to get out of the baking heat. There are state regulations for sheltering animals-you need to make sure you have at least those minimums in place. A run-in shed with a wall and roof is about the bare minimum of shelter. While it may not seem much cooler standing under the roof, you would be amazed at the difference getting out of the beating sun makes!

Donkeys, mules and horses sweat over their entire body, and as they do, they lose salts, minerals and water as well. Providing a salt and mineral lick as well as fresh water is absolutely essential. An equine can go for several days on no food, but will dehydrate and die very quickly with no water. If you use automatic waterers, check them to make sure they are working properly and that the basin is not hot to the touch. Troughs should be topped frequently with cool water from the hose-don't run scalding-hot, lying-in-the-sun hose water into your animal's drinking pool! If you rely on a stock pond or stream, check to make sure that this source is still clear and fresh. If it starts drying up, is muddy or cloudy, you will have to find an alternate water source.

Do you stable your animals during the day and let them out at night? Or the other way around? This is a method of helping to keep animals cooler-but only if the barn or stalls are well-ventilated and cooler than outside. Some equines like fans in their stalls (make sure it is secured up and out of reach of the animal) and some are afraid of them. Most usually come to like the fan once they realize it provides some relief from flies and heat.

Fly spray is essential at this time of year. Flies will also be attracted to lighter-colored animals, so you might need extra protection for an aged gray or mostly white spotted animal. Fly masks are now made with ears big enough to fit our longeared friends.

Riding may be out of the question for your area, especially if both heat and other factors make it a level orange or higher alert day. Pollen, mold, heat, humidity and pollution can contribute to danger levels for outdoor activities. If you must ride, try for early morning before temps rise, or evening when it cools down some. Don't forget that you need reflective or visible clothing! A few dollars and a few minutes of prevention can save lives.

Cooler weather will be here sooner than you think, so keep the tack oiled, hose down that mule, and start planning for Fall Show Season!

Leah Patton,
Office Manager, ADMS

Bonnie's Bit

June was a buster. I got back from Bishop on a Wednesday and a week later, husband Terry and I took off for two weeks in Southwestern Germany. It was my first sojourn abroad and I did it with a bit of trepidation, but Terry has done this before, so I relied on him a lot for guidance here. We went to visit two great friends I've made through Bishop over the years, Dagmar and Hanno Pilartz. These two live in a sweet little village in the Eifel section of Germany and, despite their regular jobs, manage to run a horse hostel. AND they have three mules in their string!
The very first full day we were there happened to be my birthday and we spent five hours in the saddle, rode to and attacked a real castle, rode home and polished off a bottle of champagne. Needless to say, I slept that night.
The Pilartz's mules are two half-sisters out of Fjord mares and a little black fella who reminded us of our own Toby mule. Terry and I were given the mule mares to ride and they were just super to us and for us. "Mule" is a universal language.
Other than mule riding, we were treated to many more castles and the Nurburg auto racetrack close-by, and a trip on the Rhine, and concerts, and lots of the tourist stuff we required. It was a grand trip. The Airbus, however, was not fun. I may row the next trip over.
When we got home, it was time to jump back on the project for the Jasper website that Meredith has designed. It is a series of games for the kids that is set up like different arenas at a mule/horse show. The kids select the animals they want to show and then have to add the correct equipment and gaits and people. We see it as not only fun, but a learning opportunity. For me, it was a challenge to get everything simple but correct and then having it all "fit" together. The really hard part is being done by the website folks, but my part was fun for me.
I just finished the website work when August hit-along with company. Well, not REALLY company, as it was my daughter and granddaughter from Santa Fe, NM, but they are kinda "high-maintenance." We had days on the lake all planned out as they love the water, but the day after they arrived, my husband got a call from his dad that his mom was dying. He had to jump in the Chevy and race down to Palm Desert to be with his dad, and his mom did die while he was there. It was a sad time, and as he is the captain of the ship, we didn't get to do the lake as we usually do. But, it was good being with Laura and Maggie for the 10 days they were here.
Today (the 18th) I drive to Spokane to pick up my long-time buddy from Tennessee, Barbara Melton and HER granddaughter, Samantha. We take off in the morning for Alberta Canada and we are guests of the T's Donkey and Mule show this weekend and Marlene Quiring. After the show, we get to spend some time at the Outpost at Warren Rock, a remote horse/mule camp run by Tim Barton. We haven't been there for some years now, and we are looking forward to the old friends and the wild scenery. It will be a trip of discovery for ten-year-old Samantha. Hope she likes it.
September is chock-a-block for BS. I do Hell's Canyon Mule Days the weekend after Labor Day (Enterprise, OR). It is their 30th year!!!! Then, two weeks later, it will be the big Draft Horse and Mule International Show here in Sandpoint. I expect, once that is over, I will enjoy my regularly scheduled nervous breakdown and will spend some time with my mules and donkey. That is the plan, anyway.

Hugs and Grins,