December 2012
In This Issue
What's New?
Featured Product
Longears Limelight
Training Tip
From Our Readers
Bonnie's Bit
Greetings From ADMS!
What's New?


Going forward in 2013, we are excited to announce the restructuring of our tours into three different groups. We will offer our Standard Ranch Tour (three hours, meet individual animals and sculpture); an Abbreviated Ranch Tour (two hours, see groups of animals and sculptures); and an Equine Educational Tour (three hours, meet individual animals, view Rock Display and sculptures). The Equine Edcucational Tour will include not only a wealth of information on the care, maintenance and training of equines, but also a brand-new exhibit of our dearly departed Rock's skeleton and the history of his rehabilitation in relationship to our training practice. The 2013 tours  will also include a new longears orientation video, complete with a comprehensive history of the mule and amazing archival photos and footage.  







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Special Christmas Gift Ideas!


 Jasper Reading Bundle, Jasper Movie Bundle and The COMPLETE Jasper!




Featured Product

Just in time for Christmas!


Whether you're just starting out or you're ready for more advanced training; whether your equine is a baby, a beginner, or a seasoned performer, these complete, comprehensive book or DVD "bundles" offer you a priceless, lifelong resource so you can train your equine the right way-the "Meredith Hodges" way!



Now Available - Training Packages!




Package 1: Complete Training - everything you need




Package 2: Training from foal to adult and beyond.   



Package 3: A solid foundation for you and your equine 


 And remember our Mule

 Training packages are great for your horses too! 



Longears Limelight
The Lucky Three mules enjoy their lunging exercises together.


Mimi Costley and Jim don't let the winter weather slow down their progress. Leading training is extremely beneficial for good posture and 

core strength, and lots of fun 

to do together!


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Dear Friends,


Another Mule Appreciation Day has come and gone, but our appreciation for longears continues with many new and exciting projects in the works!


Despite a summer and fall persistently full of smoke and fires, we had a record number of tours at the ranch this year. Whether you are very young or not so young, an experienced equestrian or meeting an equine for the first time, interested in touring as a single, a couple, a group or a whole classroom, Lucky Three Ranch offers a unique and educational experience for everyone. Many of this year's tour groups were second-and third-time attendees, and they tell us they are never bored!



There are many exciting new changes to both of our websites. Jasper the Mule's website has a brand-new format, with lots of fun interactive games and activities for children and young-at-heart adults.


There are plenty of upgrades to our Lucky Three Ranch website, as well. The "Mule Crossing" articles are now archived and posted, and the LTR website also gives you a link to my new Training Tips videos on YouTube. In addition, the "What's New?" section of our website features continual updates about Lucky Three's famous rescue draft mule, Roll, and the exciting adventures of our mini donkeys, Augie and Spuds. And, as always, all submitted questions about longears are answered solely by me, so you can be sure to get the correct information you need promptly-when you need it! 


Roll continues to improve and, in spite of side bones and ring bone in all four feet, he is staying sound, which is nothing short of amazing! He is now enjoying being ridden in the open arena, and he is responding well enough to soon be able to take short walks with the other mules around the ranch to check fences and to do general ranch work that is not too stressful for him.


I am truly blessed to still be able to enjoy my show mules and Little Jack Horner into their old age. Our healthy maintenance and training program has provided longevity and increased practical use of these animals in their retirement. They seem to really enjoy their workouts together while they check fences and the condition of the hayfields, and make sure nothing is broken and in need of repair on the property. And, they seem to simply enjoy the beauty, spaciousness and serenity of their home. Lucky Three Sundowner (now 32 years old) is still the only mule to attain Fourth Level Dressage; Lucky Three Mae Bea C.T. (at 30 years old) is still the highest level Combined Training mule to compete successfully against horses; and Little Jack Horner (also 32 years old) is, still to this day, the only donkey to reach Second Level Dressage, do reining patterns with flying lead changes, spins and slides, and jump four feet under saddle.


These animals' incredible accomplishments are, as yet, unmatched, and with their special talents, they have paved the road for others to follow in their footsteps. I am so proud to think that my champions have encouraged others to reach for a higher level of performance in the industry! I am also very proud of people like American Mule Association member Audrey Goldsmith and her mule, Porter, who will continue our mission by being outstanding ambassadors for our breed. Mules and donkeys have been unjustly maligned for way too long, but performances like Porter's U.S.D.F. All-Breed 3rd Level Dressage Champion, U.S.E.F. National Silver Stirrup Award Champion for Zone 9, and  U.S.E.F. Year End Award Champion two years in a row against horses (2010 and 2011) render the public speechless and in awe of  the longears' abilities!


What I have learned from my mules and donkeys over the years has enabled me to make room for some rescue animals that will also be able to live out their lives in a healthier and more meaningful way. I hope to continue this work for many years to come, as the Loveland Longears Museum & Sculpture Park at Lucky Three Ranch becomes a reality. The mission of this non-profit entity is to educate the public and future generations about longears, and to provide ongoing care, maintenance and training of equines by at-risk and underprivileged children, and anyone else who might be interested, thereby ensuring that these magnificent animals will remain a significant part of our culture for many years to come.  


Best wishes and Happy Trails,


Meredith Hodges 

Training Tip:


My husband and I recently (two months ago) purchased a Shetland and her foal. Her foal is the offspring of a Mini-Donkey. So I believe the baby would be called a Mini-Mule. I have just recently began to work with her and she is so nervous. She jumps and runs at the slightest noise or quick movement. I would appreciate any advice you can give on training her. Or if you would recommend specific videos or DVDs I would appreciate your input.




No matter what size, how old or how well-trained the equine, they need time doing the simplest of things to get to know you before they will learn to trust and have confidence in you. Just as our children need routine and ongoing learning while they are growing up, so do mules and all other equines. They need boundaries for their behavior clearly outlined to minimize anxious and inappropriate behaviors. The time together during leading training (and going forward) builds a good solid relationship with your equine and fosters their confidence and trust in you because you help them to feel good.


I do leading training for a full year to not only get them to learn to lead and to develop a good relationship with them, but also to develop good posture and core muscle strength in preparation for driving or for a rider. Even an older equine with previous training still needs this for optimum performance and longevity. During the time you do the leading training strengthening exercises, you should NOT ride or drive your animal. If you ride or drive while you do these exercises, it will not result in habitual behavior and a new way of going, and will inhibit the success of the exercises. The lessons need to be routine, rewarded and done in good posture to acquire the correct results. We are building NEW habits in their way of moving, and the only way that there can be change is through routine, consistency in the routine and correctness in the execution of the exercises. Since this also requires that you be in good posture as well, you will also reap the benefits from this regimen. The result will be many years to really enjoy each other's company! My Training Mules and Donkeys DVDs and books can help you to achieve your goals!

From Our Readers:

Thank you so much for replying to my email. Yes, there is truly something very special about longears, as you say. It seems a double edged sword, though, that creatures soooo beautiful are so misunderstood by humans. For me the beauty that they are is like God speaking. There is such a feeling of reverence when around them.


I loved your story about Lucky Three Ciji! I don't doubt she understood every word you said. I'm not sure exactly how it works, but understand they do. Even when driving Coco I have to remember she can read my mind! Words not required, thank you! I think that words are only important to some humans and that other creatures communicate in a multi-channelled way. Many years ago when living in Australia I learned Sign Language and found that tuning into and reading faces and body language really opened me up to understanding non-humans as well. I always think it is a very honest language. Without "forked-tongues" as the American Indians are want to express it. Anyway, thank you for Ciji's story also and I am so grateful for your fulsome books and DVDs, etc. on the education and psychology of such soulful beautiful people. I have learned a lot from you and I always appreciate the way you generously give your time to our donkey and mule training questions. One day I hope to visit Monument Valley and while in that part of the world would like to take a detour and take a tour on your beautiful ranch. Here's hoping!


Thank you again, Meredith.


Best wishes always to you and all of your equines,


Kind regards



Bonnie's Bit


September started off at a dead run and then it got faster. Labor Day found me and my dog, Elizabeth, and the pop-up on the grounds of the Colfax (WA) steam threshing. Yes, steam threshing. The old way. Mules and horses, wagons, sweating guys. Dust, noise. It is AWESOME. And, this year I had talked my dear friends, Nancy and Mike Kerson (Video Mike) to come and document the thing. We had a great time camping next to one another and watching the Overmeyers work out their four-, six- and eight-mule hitch the night before the thrashing.


The next morning dawned sunny and clear, after some serious wind the day before, and everyone was on the grounds ready to do this thing. They've been doing this for just over 30 years now, having worked the ground and planted the spring wheat the third week in April with the teams and the old equipment.


Steam was building in the old Case engine and the "push header" was readied for the six beautiful grey mules to be hooked up. All this is an amazing process and takes lots of skilled help and tools. The header is "pushed" by the six mules pulling on the hitch bar, with the cutting head and the sweep right in front of their noses. There are three mules on either side of the tongue, and to watch them maneuver the 90-degree corners is a study in cooperation and calmness on their part. You gotta see it some time, and Video Mike can fix you up. The resulting DVD is just wonderful and informative and educational and fun.  It will put your soul back together-at least for a while.


From Colfax, it was off to Enterprise, OR and Hells Canyon Mule Days with my buddy, Cheryl Mundee, and Elizabeth the dog. Yes, Lizzy does get around. I think she has her own fan club out there, too. Anyway, poor Video Mike had to be there, too, so the good times just kept coming for us. And, yes, there is a Video Mike DVD of Hells Canyon Mule Days 2012.


Got about a week off and then it was time for the big draft horse/mule show here in Sandpoint. No rest for the wicked. The weather was outstanding and the horses and mules were, too. I was hoping the weather would hold on long enough for us to get a ride or two in in the local mountains before it set in with the fall rains up here.


Well, we got one in, anyway, and it was my first real trail ride on my new mule, Iris. I can report she is just wonderful on the trail. We got into a little bit of snow up there on top of Trail Creek and there were all kinds of tracks in the snow as we rode the old logging road. THEN, we rode upon wolf tracks and Lucille (my husband's mule) and Iris both registered alarm and reluctance to continue. About that time, some friends rode up on us and, with the added security of other animals, our two mules agreed to continue.  We did ride up on a young bull moose, but no one was upset by that and we had another wonderful ride to say good by to the season under our belt.


Since then, I have been working on paintings and painting up my mule and donkey Christmas ornaments in preparation for Cowboy Christmas in Las Vegas during NFR.


In the meantime, It's a Merry Christmas When Pigs Fly is now out on Amazon as an e-book, and author Patsy Trigg has put the music video on you-tube. Check it out! 


Have a great holiday season, 


Greetings from the ADMS



As the saying goes, it's hard to believe the year is drawing to a close already. Fall is definitely in the air, Hallowe'en decorations are already out of the stores, and everyone is looking forward to the big holidays with their family and friends.


To those who have lost family and friends this year, you have our sympathy and support.  Having been down that road with our own, we know how hard it is to cope with the holidays! A simple nod, a smile, and then go out and have a good session with your animals for some therapy! Believe it or not, they do know your moods, and can tell when you need some "cuddle time."


Make sure they all have a cozy place for the winter, whether it be a nice windbreak (where snow and ice aren't usually a problem) or a snug barn. Water can be a concern in wintertime, so best to lay out plans and backup plans before the bad weather hits. Water doesn't have to be warm, but it cannot be frozen! Check your pipes and their wrappings now, instead of finding out you have a problem the morning after the big freeze hits.


To blanket or not to blanket-that is a big question we get here as well. The answer depends on a number of factors. If you are keeping an animal clipped for show, you may need to blanket. There are modified clips-those that do not encompass the entire body-that help protect the animal but leave areas clipped short to allow hard-working animals to dry out easier. Most of our longears owners do not use trace or hunter clips, but instead do full-body clips, so this would mean most definitely blanket and shelter in the worst weather. Remember that Mother Nature usually allows the equine to grow the coat they need for protection in the environment they are used to. Now, if you have just obtained a new animal from a different region, they may need a bit of help. But also keep in mind that blanketing when it is not really necessary will cause the internal "control" of the animal to be thrown off, meaning more work for you in the long run.


Should you increase feed? Not necessarily. Free choice hay is usually fine for all sizes, types and ages of longears, but don't up grains or pelleted foods unless an animal truly needs it. If they are standing around doing nothing but eating, you may find you have an animal with ill-fitting tack come spring!


Don't give them too much in the way of treats over the holidays either! Just because people love to have big spreads in November and December does NOT mean that your longears need holiday buffets as well. The days have no special meaning to them, other than that you may be happy, so they don't need an extra bucket of apples, or pounds of carrots, or cakes and cookies. If you must have a "party" then  cut up carrots or apples and dole out sparingly. Don't go overboard!


Cold weather keeping you indoors is also a good time to catch up on any paperwork.  Stud reports, filing, transfers, new registrations, updating farm records, updating or writing a will, anything that you have been putting off. When was the last time you rubbed a little neatsfoot oil over your halters, saddle or harness? Take one of those cold blustery days and sit back with your favorite movie and a sponge. (Do it early enough and anything that truly has to be replaced can still make it onto your wish list!)


Above all, be safe on the roads, whether with your animals or traveling alone. Keep an eye on the weather, plan for emergencies and drive with care. Your family and animals will want you to be there for many years to come!


Happy holidays, and warm nights for everyone,



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