June 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?

New Website 


Coming July 1st! Watch for our new and improved website launch. The newly redesigned site has easier searching to find what you need fast, a new online store, and lots more ways to be a part of the growing mule and donkey community. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more updates!





Lucky Three Ranch Tours


Meredith personally conducts tours of her world-famous Lucky Three Ranch throughout the year. So if you share her love of longears, or you're just plain curious to learn what a real working equine ranch is all about, give us a call at 1-800-816-7566, or visit us online at www.LuckyThreeRanch.com.





Who says ranch life and romance don't go hand-in-hand?


"At our Lucky Three Ranch Christmas Party back in 2007, I introduced my ranch manager, Chad, to a lovely young woman named Heather," reminisces Meredith.  

"Now here it is 2011, and Chad and Heather just welcomed their beautiful little baby boy, Bohdan, into the world.  


Congratulations and much happiness to them!"





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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

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and your equine.


Longears Limelight

Our friend Jehnet Carlson has some truly beautiful mules at her DJ Bar Ranch in Belgrade, Montana!


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Dear Friends,

Meredith Hodges

My how the summer has flown by! We had several senior tours in June and they are always loads of fun. The seniors

seem to appreciate the value that mules hold in the building of this great country, as many of their ancestors had occasion to work with our remarkable longears. The stories they have to tell from their childhoods are always interesting and inspiring. No matter how varied these stories may be, the theme is always the same-those who worked with mules and donkeys have had the privilege of a full and healthy lifestyle. Their mules and donkeys not only taught them the value of a good work ethic, but provided lessons in how to get along with each other in a mutually satisfying way. As those with longears will tell you, you either learn humility from them or you just don't get along with them!


I was happy to see our local clubs, associations and clinicians forging ahead with many exciting shows and events to attend this summer, in spite of the difficulties in their various areas. Atttendancewas certainly down, as travel and the economy are at a low, but the undaunted spirit and drive of longears lovers always produces an unyielding optimism! If you want to see fierce competition, go to a horse show. If you want to experience fun and excitement, go to a mule and donkey event!


Sadly, our community has lost one of its finest ambassadors. Our hearts go out to Kathleen Conklin for the loss of her grand Percheron mule, John Henry. John Henry had am amazing career and broke numerous barriers in equine sports. Kathleen bought John Henry as a three-year-old from an Amish farmer, and their 17-year partnership included championships at every major equine venue, including the prestigious Walnut Hill Carriage Driving Competition. Finally, at the OakenCroft Equine Clinic in New York, veterinarians found a football-sized tumor under the great mule's heart. Our condolences go out to Kathleen Conklin for the loss of her wonderful long-eared hero!



Mini donkeys Spuds and Augie, now 11 months old, ar

e having a lot of fun learning all about ground manners here at the Lucky Three. We try to make each new lesson fun and exciting for them, and they really enjoy the diversity yet simplicity of the training. Their latest summer adventure involved leading training (without their halters) in the hayfield, where they could have easily gotten lost had they not followed obediently!


July came quickly and the old barn demolition began, followed by excavation at both Hearts & Horses and here at Lucky Three Ranch. I can't believe how quickly the old barn went down and was relocated to Hearts & Horses. Here at the ranch, the new 14-stall barn with enlarged stalls (12' x 14') is close to being finished after only a month's work! The same crew is working both locations, and I couldn't be prouder of my ranch manager, Chad Leppert, who has coordinated these efforts with his crew of two, the Port-A-Stall crew, the excavators, plumbers and electricians. This was no small project, but it is being executed with unbelieveable finesse and minimal interruptions!


Our rescue draft mules, Rock and Roll, continue to improve, although Rock has had a setback this month, due to the

outgrowth of the founder in his front feet. This was to be expected and, after one week of being three-legged lame, he is again gaining better condition in his feet. He will remiain on limited activity until the severe founder has fully grown out in an expected six to eight weeks. Rock is only walking over hard ground to go to the Tack Barn for his once-a-week massage. The rest of the time, he goes from his pen straight into pasture turnout for two hours each day. Roll is still getting his once-a-week exercise in the round pen and is beginning to gain the strength and balance he will need to be useful again-I have been working him under saddle in hopes of doing some light riding with him. He does have side bones in the right hind, which are a concern, but they do not appear to be hindering his progress, as long as we keep the foot trimmed and balanced.


And last, but certainly not the least, we are proud to announce the launch of our new and improved website! We have lots of new information, easier access to existing sections, a search engine to help you quickly find answers to your questions, live newfeeds and translated information in French, German and Spanish. And don't forget to check in at Jasper's website to take a look at his latest new game, where he and his friends allow you to take them to the show ring in Barrel Racing, English and Western Pleasure, Driving and Jumping. When you're loving, learning from and living with longears, it all about the fun!


Best wishes and Happy Trails,












Meredith Hodges

Training Tip:
Question: I have had my mule since she was a foal-and she does everything I ask from the ground perfectly. She is not seeing me as the "Herd Leader" (I assume with her being insecure), especially when outside horses are present. She "joins up" with me when I work her in the round pen...we are really bonded. If you can suggest 1 or 2 exercises that would help with this particular issue? I really am at a loss since I have done so much ground work with her!

Answer: This has nothing to do with being a "herd leader." You learned that from the horse trainers. Mules and donkeys don't respond well to their methods because they do not take the full health of the equine into consideration. They just teach them to do "things" without making sure that they are physically capable of doing those things. Your mule is insecure, but not in the way you think. She has not had the benefit of a sequential training program that addressed her physical, mental and emotional needs.

For instance, leading training is not just to teach them to lead, but also to condition the muscles that are closest to the bones and vital organs. These muscles can be conditioned only through a very passive series of leading exercises, and you must do them regularly for at least one year to teach the brain to fire to these muscles automatically, which keeps the animal in good posture before moving on to round pen work.

The program needs to be consistent and predictable, and with purpose. Then your animal can relax and learn to keep cool in any situation. I hate to say this but...you may have done ground work, but if it wasn't with this in mind, then the exercises were not beneficial and you really do need to start over, if you want your mule to feel good and strong and have confidence and trust in you.

Mules will all be friendly with people when it is easy. It's when things get a little tougher that you find out how well they have actually bonded with you. For instance, if new horses come on the scene and she ceases to pay attention to you, you aren't as bonded as you might think. There are no quick fixes. However, when they are cared for properly, mules can live into their fifties, so you do have plenty of time to do things in a slow and beneficial way for both you and your mule.

From Our Readers:

I took the DVD of Jasper Goes to Bishop home and my three-year-old granddaughter and myself watched the video. This has become one of her favorite videos to watch. Jasper is such a delight! What a compliment to Bishop that Jasper choose this to be his first show. What a fun video!


K C 


Here's a great letter from a couple who visited Lucky Three Ranch this past April:


Hello Meredith!


Just a quick note to thank you once again for the grand tour you gave our group today.  Everyone has a good time and the love and caring you have for your four-footed family is tangible.  Love is contagious, we catch it from our friends...all footed varieties!


I am looking forward to coming out again-just to get a hug and to tell you "Hello."


You made K's day by giving him a welcome hug, you know.  Thank you for your warm heart and deep caring.


The world is a better place for your being in it!


Best ever,


J and K

Leah's Corner

Some of us may be old enough to remember that lovely song about cowboys, the open range and cool, clear water. Many of us also have seen pastureland turned into row after row of strip malls and apartment buildings. So many things change with the times.

Some of those things have to do with the way we must feed, house and water our equines. Used to be that we put them out in a pasture, maintained whatever fence was there, and they drank from the stock pond or a stream. In Southern states, you might still find this on larger spreads, but in other parts of the country, it' s boarding stables and stall time all the way.

While an equine can be made comfortable in a stall, they really do require pasture time. The digestion system relies on the animal actually moving around, eating for a good portion of the day. During the hottest part of the day, a donkey, mule or horse may take a siesta in the shade (whether it be under a tree, a shed or in the stall), but come cooler evening, they will be right back out to pasture again. Tails swishing, you can hear contented munching, snorting and the occasional hoof stamp. Ah, the sounds of summer, along with the buzzing of mosquitoes, trucks barreling down the highway...but we digress.

A mule or donkey needs to eat roughage a good portion of the day, but water is vital as well. Stock ponds or clear streams aren' t available in so many areas. Buckets of water, troughs or automatic waterers have taken those places. All watering systems have their drawbacks-contamination, mosquito larvae traps, algae growth or just plain expense-but regardless of the method used, your mule, donkey or horse must have access to fresh water on a daily basis.

That old adage about leading a horse to water is true. You can give him all the expensive watering gadgets in the world, but you cannot make him drink from them. Most equines will quickly adapt when they realize that the water is cool and the fountain (bucket, trough) isn' t going to jump up and eat them. However, watch for bobbles that can cause problems. Sometimes changing where a bucket is hung, or even changing the color of a bucket (so much for equines not being able to see colors!) can cause suspicion. Recently, some friends could not figure out why their horses had not touched one of the auto-waterers they normally drank from. Seems the hot-wire strand had popped loose from the insulators and was instead touching the waterer. We haven' t heard back if the horses have started using it again. What would your donkey or mule do in the same situation?

It' s hot out, but maintain your fences during summer! Do it early in the
morning, when there is some semblance of " cool" weather. Good, all-around fence maintenance means less in major repairs for the long run. One thing many people do not think about-if you get snowdrifts, will your fences still keep your animals in? Do not rely on a strand of barbed wire (guaranteed to cut up an equine at some time in their life) for holding back determined animals.

Shelters may vary by location as well, so always check into your state and local laws. What you are basically providing is shelter from cold, wet, and the harsh rays of the sun. The donkeys and mules are not going to care how fancy the doorways are (as long as they are snag free), or that you built the barn to be a miniature replica of the ones at the nearby racetrack. They may not even appreciate the fact you gave them this great lean-to and they prefer to use their favorite shady tree instead. Still, we are obligated, as their caretakers, to do the best we can for them.

Take a ride on a cool morning, let your friend cool down (don' t shock him with a cold hose), groom the sweat marks off and kick back for a while and enjoy watching him roll and romp.

Leah Patton,  

Office manager, ADMS

The Am. Donkey & Mule Soc. PO Box 1210, Lewisville TX 75067 (972) 219-0781. Newsletter: the BRAYER magazine, 112 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 www.lovelongears.com.


Bonnie's Bit


For the most part, winter went slowly and coldly up here in North Idaho, and I wallowed in the isolation and the time to spend doing as I pleased, art-wise. Got many new pieces done. Some legit mule art and some of my goofy, fun stuff. Gotta be able to do both, you know, or the psyche blows up  and messes up the walls.


I do a lot of "freebies" for local community functions, so I wound up doing a lot of them around March, plus the logo, etc. for Hells Canyon Mule Days. I have provided them with around 30 cartoons for a coloring book and a cover for their dutch oven cookbook, too. Talk about "whippin an spurrin!" Hope my art works for this great and good event.


Mid-April, I loaded up my show and headed for Madras, OR and the great spring auction put on by Small Farmers Journal. Yes, I had a booth-not an auction. It was very much impacted by the economy this year, and attendance and sales were definitely off, but the good friends were all there to enjoy. We did a lot of complaining about the weather, as it was AWFUL.


Early in May, my friend, Kayo Fraser and I loaded up in her new car and headed for Tappen, British Columbia (Canada) to finally meet, in person, Miss Martha Cantarini.  She is the fabulous stunt woman from the 1950s and '60s who we have all seen in our favorite westerns. Her book, Fall Girl, is a MUST read, and now she is working on another book about her special horse, "Frosty." She has graciously asked me to be her illustrator, and I eagerly agreed, so we knew we needed a face-to-face to work out the details. Martha is just an amazing person, and her story about Frosty will appeal to all horse AND mule lovers. She very much reminds me of Meredith in her approach to her horsemanship. I'd shure like to get them together someday.


Then, before I knew it or was ready, it was time for Bishop Mule Days.


Bishop was hard-hit this time, with the Equine Herpies virus and the price of traveling keeping both human and mule numbers way down. No lines at the potty or the showers, though. I guess every cloud has it's silver whatever. Debbi and I held down the fort alone this year, as Meredith wisely stayed on at the Lucky Three to look after things. We missed her, but Jasper still showed up and collected his many hugs and grins from the kids, big and little.


On our way home, we stopped in at the public library in Weiser, ID for an impromptu "show," and Jasper has a whole new crop of enthusiastic grandparents in Idaho now.


The weather insists on being the pits this spring, so I am back in the studio amidst the ruins of Bishop, wondering what to do next and wanting to be on a good mule in the sunshine. Summer is already getting complicated on my calender, and not with all good stuff, either.


Oh, well. Like my dear Leroy always said, "Keep Your Traces Tight."