December 2011

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

What's New?


Check out our BRAND-NEW website!

We're excited about our newly redesigned Lucky Three Ranch website! The new search function means that whatever you need is now easier to find. Everything is right at your fingertips, from Meredith's 

answers to your questions, to the entire library of "Mule Crossing" articles, to 

updates and live newsfeeds.


So log on and get acquainted with a 
whole new way to stay in touch with 
the latest in longears. Please leave your comments and suggestions----we'd love 
to get your feedback! 



Hayfield Meredith's award-winning training manuals, Training Without Resistance and Equine Management and Donkey Training, are now available! Completely updated and packed with valuable information and beautiful color photos to show you just how it's done. These state-of-the-art books, which closely follow the sequence of the Training Mules and Donkeys DVDs, come in an attractive, easy-to-follow, 
full-color format.


Both are featured in the "Our Store" 

section and our new, interactive 

"What's New?" section.


Get your copies today and start the 

New Year off 




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.


Featured Product

Featured Product


Jasper: A Turkey Tale 

is now available on DVD!


As the gang prepares for the big Thanksgiving celebration, Jasper the Mule and his pal, Moxie the Dog, are hot 

on the trail of adventure! A mishap 

with a truckload of turkeys turns into a real live mystery, as the boys solve the case of 

"The Beady Eyes in the Bushes!"


When they make a new friend who is lost and alone, Jasper's mule-y sense of loyalty kicks in and he is determined to help, no matter what. Will Jasper and Moxie save 

the day? Will their new friend find his "forever home?" All the fun and 

warmth of Thanksgiving come to life in 

Jasper: A Turkey Tale.


With new original music from 

Riders in the Sky!


To order this fun-filled, uplifting adventure the whole family can enjoy, log on to

and then visit our Jasper Store!


Longears Limelight



Diana Schmid's SaMule checks 

out a young visitor in an armchair at their ranch in Wyoming. 


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Dear Friends,


Meredith Hodges

My how time flies! This year has passed so quickly and it won't be long before we are into the holiday season again. Fall brought our usual barrage of leaves everywhere. They seem to fall as fast as we get them picked up, but occasionally we do get some help from the guy upstairs in the form of sweeping winds that blow the leaves out east. We always appreciate His help.


We had a very busy summer and then stayed that way into the fall. We have never before cut hay so late in the season, but we did cut in mid-September and got a record amount of hay in this year. This was welcome, since we do supply hay for both our own animals and the animals at the Hearts & Horses therapeutic riding stable. There is quite a demand for hay this year because of the horrible drought and fires in Texas. A lot of the hay in Colorado is being trucked to Texas for relief, so good hay is hard to find and the prices are high. Lucky for us, we are in good shape and even have some extra to sell.

Our new barn is finished and all my old longears champions are thrilled to have bigger stalls for their retirement years. It certainly will make management a lot easier, since we now have no need to worry about the barn flooding and icing up anymore. We are now insulating and lining our indoor arena and, since our first cold snap, it is proving to be a lot warmer in there, even without heat! That will definitely help as we continue core muscle exercises to maintain our older and rescue equines.

Roll has been making great strides and is doing very well, in spite of the side bones in his right hind foot. He is finally capable of carrying his body in a balanced and rhythmic fashion. Rock, on the other hand, has had a few setbacks lately that have challenged our most learned professionals. The core muscle work has helped a lot, but we are now at a critical phase with his founder, and even his "booties" do not help him walk anymore. Before the snow arrived, we were icing his feet for 20 minutes every day, just to keep him sound enough to walk. We are keeping him on soft ground and minimizing his lessons to several very short lessons a week in the indoor arena, instead of longer lessons in the larger dressage arena that seemed to tire him too much. Though things were looking pretty grim, he is gaining strength again, so there is still hope! 


We had our first real snowstorm the last week in October, just before Halloween, which left us without power for half a day and we got nearly a foot of snow. With the electricity gone, there wasn't much to do except go out and play with the mules and donkeys and take some snowday pictures! The saddle mules kicked up their heels and ran and played, and then four of them decided it might be fun to do their lunging around me for some crimped oats! They LOVE those oats!


Augie and Spuds, the mini donkeys, weren't quite sure about the deep snow, but they were delighted to find that they could actually see EVERY oat they were trying to pick up in the snow. So we had a snow picnic! We all had a lot of fun that day!



We spent a good part of the summer and fall doing a complete update and 

reformatting of our two training manuals, Training Without Resistance and Equine Management and Donkey Training. They still closely follow the sequence of the Training Mules and Donkeys DVDs, and now include even more in-depth information about the care, maintenance and training of equines.


There's plenty of excited hustle and bustle here at the Ranch, as we get everything ready for our annual Christmas party, scheduled to take place the second weekend in December. This year, we will be celebrating Rock and Roll's, and Augie and Spuds's, first anniversary with us here at the Lucky Three. They have proven to be quite an attraction to the visitors on our tours.


All of us here at Lucky Three Ranch want to wish you all a safe and happy holiday season.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


                                                     Meredith Hodges

Training Tip:


Just got your Training Mules and Donkeys book and I LOVE IT!! I wish I bought it sooner!! Your resources and website are now my official 'go-to' place for mule education.


I'm hoping you can help me, I'm completely stumped and don't know what to do.


I have a yearling molly haflinger mule who recently developed the opinion that she doesn't want to unload out of the trailer. I say 'recently' because all trailer loading practice prior to 'that day' was issue whatsoever. In fact, we'd play hopping in and out just for fun without her halter on. She has NEVER had a bad experience loading or unloading, so I don't know where this resistance is coming from. She is completely happy and compliant in all other ground work exercises, crossing poles, logs, tarps, bridges, you name it. It took me almost 2 hours to get her out. I went really slow, didn't rush her, but I haven't loaded her back up since I can't identify what the problem is. She does enjoy playing games, so maybe that was comical to her, but I'm not sure if there is an underlying issue. Before I load her up again, I really want to be sure I handle the situation correctly. We hit the trails several times a month, so she has lots of trailer rides in her future. Naturally, I haven't been able to find much information on 'unloading' challenges so I'm stumped.



It sounds like you have been rewarding for getting into the trailer (and through all other obstacles) very consistently, as you should, but have you been rewarding for coming out? Every single time and the instant she hits the ground? Sounds like she thinks the only way she will be rewarded is if she is IN the trailer! Even though it took two hours to get her out, I think you did exactly the right thing in taking your time!



From Our Readers:

Dear Meredith,


Just wanted to drop you a quick note and let you know that the new format is nice. I was surprised when I came to the site today and saw it. I have not been by in a couple weeks. Look forward to finding the new book on donkey training, I have the other 2 and they have helped with my mammoth.


Thanks again and keep up the nice work, it sure does help.





Leah's Corner

Time for ThoughtHayfield


This summer in Texas was probably one of the worst on record. Records were made and broken, and unfortunately not in a good way!


There were high temps above 100 degrees for more than 60 days in a row. Not just 101 or 102 as a high, but up to 106 or 107. No rainfall at all along with devastating fires in the Southern areas of the state made things really bad for farmers and ranchers.


Some people didn't have provisions to get all of their livestock out of the fire zones. If you have more mules (donkeys, horses, cattle, goats, etc.) than you have trailer space, what do you do? Many people actually turned animals loose on the side of the road and hoped they would make it. Some did, some didn't. This has left shelters and rescues overloaded with "stray" donkeys. Local newspapers and news stations have carried stories about the glut of rescue animals. And of course it is not just equines. The livestock market in our area is pretty hard hit, and will be for some time to come.


With the drought and fires, many pastures, which were used for hay crops were destroyed. Other farmers and ranchers lost many other types of crops as well. Those that did manage to get a decent supply of hay have already had to use up some of this supply, since there is virtually no grass. Hay is now reaching high prices that will put many people out of business.


It's become a buyer's market. Horses, donkeys and mules can be bought for pennies on the dollar. Cattle ranchers that were lucky got their excess animals to the auctions earlier in the year. Next year, beef prices are going to be high, but what is this going to do for equine prices?


The key that will always remain for ANY equine market is well-bred animals. Animals with good conformation, with pedigrees behind them, and those that are trained are always going to have a market. Animals that might be purebred but have no paperwork behind them are more numerous now than ever, and they don't always help a market that is struggling with dips in the economy. Sure, it seems like the perfect thing to go to the classified sites and see "free horse" or "free donkey." But are you really sure of what you are getting?


Is the animal going to meet your needs in the future? Sure, a free yearling or weanling seems like a good deal...but are there papers behind it? A Free Broodmare? But no papers? Not broke to ride? No papers is a killer for many right there. Sure you can use her to breed mule foals, but is she breeding quality? Is she a Quarter Horse? Will you test her to make sure she doesn't have HYPP? (Horses should ONLY be bred if they are n/n, even for mule foals.) Is she pretty? How does her back look? Lame? Any teeth left in her head-----or is she even halter broke?


Just as there is TANSTAAFL (there ain't no such thing as a free lunch), there really isn't any such thing as a free horse. You have paperwork, vet work, hauling costs, feed costs. If you are looking at breeding stock, those low-cost horses or donkeys you plan on picking up should be good looking and have their pedigrees and paperwork behind them.


Similarly, we hope that no one is in that boat----having to sell off stock because they cannot afford to keep it. It's always been a suggestion that if you have foals left over from year one, haven't sold weanlings from year two either, that you should rethink your breeding program. YES, we need more donkeys to breed on for future generations, but not at the cost of donkeys being given away for free on the classified sites!


Let's all review our budgets and breeding plans, see where we can make improvements all over (including bloodlines!) and look forward to 2012, with a better future on the horizon.


Leah Patton, office manager, ADMS


The Am. Donkey & Mule Soc. PO Box 1210, Lewisville TX 75067 (972) 219-0781. Newsletter: the BRAYER magazine, 100+ pgs 6X/yr, $23 US, $30 Canada, $45 overseas. We now accept Paypal, Visa/MC (+$1 courtesy fee appreciated). Reg info, forms, fees on our website at



Bonnie's Bit


I left you good people with plans to go to a steam threshing in Colfax, WA over Labor Day and I did get to see that. I had never seen a "push-header" operate in a wheat field before, and my friends, Jon and Michelle Overmeyer, were putting SIX of their beautiful grey draft mules on the contraption. That I had to see----  and I did--- and I was not disappointed. Watching those mules handle that Rube Goldberg contraption amongst the other wagon teams and the whistle of the steam engine and all the wandering admirers like me was awesome. I have since persuaded my video hero, "Video Mike" Kerson, into coming up to the NW and shooting this event for one of his valuable documentaries. Mike and Nancy Kerson have a goal in mind to capture and preserve all they can on how mules, horses and donkeys were and are used out here in the west. I highly recommend those videos.


Later that week it was time to load up the truck, hook up the camper and take off for Hells Canyon Mule Days in Enterprise, OR. Now, let me explain, my camper is ancient, keeps blowing tires and is a pain in the butt, but it is all I have so it's precious in its own way. I took it down to Les Schwab's to have the tires checked and prepared for the trip and I thought I was ahead of the situation. Wrong!


Driving through Moscow, ID, I heard this teeth-grinding screeching coming from my little precious and, to make a long story short, I was losing my left wheel. I somehow lucked onto another Les Schwab's just in time and, with some little wait for the Doctor's assessment, the news came back that that end of the axel was toast and they would hafta replace the whole axel. That put me well into Plan B, which I had never had to implement before---- that is, call the show chairman and see if she could get me a motel room for the show. Are you getting the picture yet? I operate on a shoestring and it just broke!


I did get a room. Shared a bed with Lizzy the dog and Cheryl Mundee, my sidekick, and we did the best we could while the camper lounged in the LS parking lot in Moscow. The nice man said, "You know, this camper is kinda old and it may take me a while to find an axel." Truth is, I think they had to scour antique stores and it took them just over a month to find and fix. The bill was bad. Figuring in the motel bill and the axel bill, I dug another hole and climbed in it.


Fortunately, the big draft horse/mule show here in Sandpoint went off without a hitch----  on my part, anyway----  and I did OK on that one. Right after that show, my hubby went off on a month's odyssey in his new car, and he toured the East Coast and visited friends in TN and daughter in NM, ending up in CA to see his dad. While he was gone, I spent his money on firewood, gravel and a house-cleaner. It was great fun. AND I got to go on two more wonderful rides on "Buddy," and with good friends. "Buddy" continues to prove himself a great little guy and can he handle a trail!


Now I am locked into "get-er-done" mode again with the big Cowboy Christmas show in Las Vegas with my Cowboy Cartoonists buddies. Cheryl Mundee is riding with me this year and daughter and granddaughter are driving over from Santa Fe to spend a few days with me in LV. Will be premiering the newest Jasper DVD, A Turkey Tale. If you haven't seen it yet, get busy. It is full of action, humor and good feelings. Our animators and production folks have done it again, turning out a superior product full of redeeming qualities. Not many businesses can say that anymore, but Jasper can.


Everyone have some great Holidays and God Bless Us One and All.