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


Lots of new things are happening around the Lucky Three Ranch all the time, but we are particularly excited to announce the beginning of yet another bronze by Robin Laws to add to our outdoor collection. This one will include Rock and Roll. Robin spent two weeks with 20 Lucky Three mules and their miniature horse friend, as they will be the subjects for a new Lucky Three Longears Fountain. Robin spent many hours of meticulous work getting the individual characteristics just right for each animal on the maquette (scale model), and it is now ready to be done in full size. When finished, it will stand nine feet tall!  




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Featured Product


Jasper: A Turkey Tale 

is on DVD!

Kick off the coming holiday season with Jasper the Mule's animated tale of Thanksgiving fun and friendship!


In A Turkey Tale, Jasper learns that giving is better than receiving, as he and his friends get ready to share Thanksgiving with the kids at the local orphanage. When Jasper and Moxie come to the rescue of a lost pet who has to find his way home, everyone learns the importance of giving and the simple joy that comes from being with those we love.


Jasper: A Turkey Tale is great enterainment for the whole family and a terrific way to welcome in this most special time of year.


With original music from 

Riders in the Sky!


Come to Jaspers Brand New Website to Get Your Copy!

In Memoriam

The Lucky Three mules enjoy their lunging exercises together.



As a proud representative of the American Donkey and Mule Society, Lucky Three Ranch is deeply saddened to say goodbye to our close friend, and co-founder of ADMS, Betsy Hutchins. She was one of a kind and shared our love for longears. We will miss her very much.


Click here to read more about Betsy. 

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


The Lucky Three mules enjoy their lunging exercises together. All but two of these nine mules are between 25 and 32 years old!

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Dear Friends,


What a busy summer we've had! The High Park fire in Fort Collins, just 10 miles away from the Lucky Three, raged on through the whole month of June, but was finally contained in the first week of July. During that month, it was over one hundred degrees every day and difficult to breathe, so working with the animals was out of the question. They preferred to stay in their stalls and runs, rather than go into the turnout areas where it was smokier. The hayfield was not growing well, but we did manage to get in enough hay to feed our stock for the year with a little left over to sell.


I found myself bathing soot and ash off of all of our mules, donkeys and horses, and it did seem to make a difference with them. The dirt coming off of them was sticky and an unusual shade of yellow, denoting some kind of chemical deposits in the air. No doubt it was from the retardant being dropped from the air onto the fire, as well as whatever was going into the air from burning structures. When all was said and done, the fire burned almost 88,000 acres and destroyed 250 homes. Tragically, one life was lost, but, thankfully, everyone else was successfully evacuated, along with their livestock and pets. A donkey made national news because of his heroism after he saved a herd of four other animals by leading them out of the fire to safety!



June, July and August were filled with tours of all ages. Everyone really enjoyed learning about mules and ranch management, meeting the Lucky Three mules and experiencing the life-size bronze statues (each with a story to tell) that on are display throughout the ranch. The latest bronze we set was of our star mule, Lucky Three Sir Lancelot, learning to bow-which he really likes to do for all the tours. We still have more tours through September and if the weather holds, we will continue to book tours into October for those who would like to take advantage of this unique experience.*


Our rescue mule, Roll, continues to do well. He is continuing to improve with his exercises and is maintaining his core muscle strength now. I was unable to work with him while it was so hot and smoky, but he didn't seem to lose the conditioning we had built. Once we could get back to work, a short walk in good posture with frequent square stops tightened his muscles once again, and he is now, with the cooler weather, able to go back to his regular schedule.


Although we all miss Roll's partner, Rock, who passed away last December, we are excited about a new display that will grace our educational tours next season. We have joined with Colorado State University to preserve Rock's bones for posterity. Once a necropsy had been performed on Rock, and we were actually able to see the condition of his bones and how damaged his body truly was, the miraculous benefits of the core work we did with him was obvious. The veterinarians at CSU agreed that it was only the muscle that we had built on Rock that kept him going for that last year of his life. I think Rock would be happy to know that he will be helping to educate people about the importance of conditioning your equine properly for the activities you will be doing.


We hope you all have a wonderful fall and remember to pay homage to our beloved mules this October 26th, which is-MULE APPRECIATION DAY! 


Best wishes and Happy Trails,


Meredith Hodges

*Lucky Three Ranch tours are able to accommodate visitors who may have mobility issues. Please contact us for more information. 


Training Tip:


My mule is about 22 years old and he has been trail ridden in the Mtns. all his life. I have always fed him a mixed grain feed that has minerals, vitamins and all the good stuff, about 3-6 lbs per day depending on how he is ridden and how cold it is, plus he is in a dry lot and has always gotten plenty of Bermuda hay, about 10 to 20 lbs per day. This year I noticed his back bone has not filled up as usual. He is not sway backed, but the top of the rib part around the backbone is like a teepee drops about 3" before his big ole belly starts. I have wormed him several times, but can only use Safeguard because he has an allergic reaction to any Zymectrin products. What can I do for the poor ole fella? We still ride in the mountains and he seems to tire this year also, never has before. Please help!



Your mule has never had any core strength development, as is indicated by the atrophied musculature along the supraspinous ligament that runs from head to tail over the top of the spine (the "teepee" effect). If you feed as I describe below (most of today's feeds are just too "hot" for equines in general), and then do the leading exercises-paying special attention to your own posture, being consistent with the moves and his posture and straightness (and gradual arcs, not abrupt turns) while leading, asking him to square up every time he stops, etc.-things should improve. Start by only leading with the halter for a few weeks. Then you can add a bridle and surcingle with our "elbow pull" rigging, and continue to do your leading lessons through the hourglass pattern with that in place. With each change of the arc through the pattern, stop and have him square up and then you need to change sides so you are always leading from the inside of the arc and always asking him to plant his feet four square with every halt from now forward, not just during lessons. Do the pattern with three full rotations in each direction through the entire pattern, and then come up centerline and halt for each lesson. Be sure to measure your steps with his and maintain your own good posture throughout. You will soon see him regain his shape.


At Lucky Three Ranch, we do leading training for a full year to not only get our mules to learn to lead, but also to develop good posture and core muscle strength in preparation for the rider. Even an older equine with previous training would still need this for optimum performance and longevity. 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.


What your animal is eating can have a direct impact on his response to training. Many feeds can cause hypertension in longears and an inability to focus for any length of time. Mules and donkeys require a lot less feed than horses because they are half donkey and donkeys are desert animals. Too much feed or the wrong kind of feed and they can run the risk of colic or founder. For our average-sized mules, we feed an oats mix of 1-2 cups of crimped oats, 1 oz. of Sho Glo vitamins (by Manna Pro) and 1 oz. Mazola corn oil (for hooves, coat and digestive tract regularity). The oats must be "broken open" (crimped, steamed, rolled, etc.), as equines cannot digest whole oats. We feed this formula once a day in the evening, and grass hay twice a day, and we monitor weight gain with the hay and pasture intake. Miniatures get one fourth as much of the oats mix and grass hay, and a draft animal needs twice as much. For best results, do not alter or modify this procedure in any way. Also, make sure your equines have access to a trace mineral salt block for their salt and mineral needs. We worm our equines with Ivermectin in January, March, May, July and September, and then break the cycle with Strongid in November. We vaccinate in the spring and fall. You should never feed longears (donkeys or mules) any premixed sweet feeds or alfalfa products.


We feed the oats mix in the evenings for two reasons. First, in the spring, you should only let your equine out to a grass pasture for one hour a day for the first week, and then increase the pasture time by one hour per week in the weeks that follow. If your equine is getting oats in the evening, he will be more than happy to come in off the grass for the oats after such a short grazing time. Without the oats to look forward to, he probably won't come back in until he feels like it, which could be never. Second, if your equine is getting nothing but grass hay in the mornings, he will be more likely to comply with your wishes to get extra oats during training lessons. Pasture time at its maximum should not exceed five hours on any given day.
From Our Readers:

Dear Meredith,


Both my husband and I were in tears when I finished reading the story of Rock 'n' Roll to him. I didn't fully comprehend what you were telling me about the mules at Mule Days. Thank you so much for doing what you did with Rock. I know he has crossed the rainbow bridge and will be waiting for you and Roll on the other side. Thank you too, for allowing his body to be a learning tool for future doctors. I know you will continue to love Roll and we pray he has a long and happy life at your ranch.



O and J 

Bonnie's Bit


I'd like to say this has been an idyllic summer with lots of riding and sailing and kick-back time, but it just ain't so. I been busier than a bubble-dancer in a pin factory and nothing will stand still long enough for me to shoot it down.


First off, June was cold and wet and gloomy all month. I did get to spend the time at the drawing board and got started on this wonderful "Flying Pigs" story/project. What was that I said? FLYING PIGS!


Well, you see, a songwriter friend of mine in Tennessee has hired me to illustrate her children's Christmas story about Santa losing his reindeer and having eight pigs left in their place to learn how to fly before Christmas. Now, does that sound like fun and a perfect BS project? The thing is, we have a deadline here and no one but me takes it seriously in my life.


Anyway, I have a good start on all the illustrations and was doing pretty good until August. Actually, until the last week in July. That's when the company began to hit. We had just over two weeks when the beds never got a chance to cool off!!! All I got done was cleaning up and getting ready for the next wave. Thought I was "home free" when the last gang left, but oh no. Then the county fair found me and I was off doing stuff for their decorations-and for the senior center booth, too. On top of that, I had promised to do a poster for the CA Backcountry Horseman March convention and that was nippin' at my heels, too. As of today, I have completed all that stuff and I am exhausted.


In the meantime, my hinny, Buddy, had developed a rotten attitude about being handled from the ground and he was fighting me to the point I was gonna get hurt if something didn't change. Well, I made it change. Buddy is now back with his previous owner and I bought a sweet lady mule named Iris who is used to carrying old gals like me and is not adverse to working. I have only ridden her once, but her ears started flapping-and so did mine, so I think this will work.


The future? Well, I gotta get cracking on the pigs and here comes September with Hells Canyon Mule Days and the big Draft Horse/Mule show here in Sandpoint. Not to mention the Labor Day steam thrashing at Colfax, WA. I have persuaded my buddy, Video Mike, to come up from Napa, CA to shoot this awesome event, with the grey mules of Jon and Michelle Overmeyer working the push header in the wheat field. Then he is coming to Hells Canyon to shoot that event.


So my next goal is to survive Sept. and still get some pigs painted. Riding Iris? Who knows? But in the meantime, she and I are bonding and that is a good thing.


So, like my hero mule, Leroy, always told me, I am keeping my traces tight and going down the row as straight as I can. Hope you are, too.

Hugs and Grins,


Greetings from the ADMS



Dear mule and donkey lovers everywhere,


If you had not read on the ADMS website, we lost one of our co-founders, Betsy Hutchins, this last month. For over forty years, Betsy devoted her life to the betterment of donkeys and mules around the world. She read all the books that were to be had at the time, then gained knowledge first-hand, and passed it on.


With the advent of the Internet, the world is available at your fingertips. You can correspond with people halfway across the nation, or in another country.


Do be aware though, that just as in a face-to-face setting, you will find information that is true, false, misleading and confusing. Any time you have questions about care, feeding, training, breeding, showing or anything concerning your equines, it's fine to get many opinions, but be sure to go straight to the experts as well! Everyone learns by gathering as much info as they can, sorting through it, gaining experience and using what works for them.


Build a library of videos, photos, articles and printed books. When you find something that works, utilize it and make it part of your daily routine. Take a moment to jot down that routine as well, so that others who might come in to help will have instructions at the ready. This can ease your mind if you go out of town, take a vacation (Vacation? What's that?), or (knock on wood) have a reason to be in hospital.


We have said it before and now is a good time to remind everyone as well-organize your paperwork. Just as you would want to have your bill-paying and bank books in order for your family, make sure your animal paperwork is in an accessible place as well.  On one of those rainy-day Sundays where you cannot get out and work with the mules, sit down on the couch with a cup of hot coffee/tea/cocoa and your files. Make copies if you need to, catch up on breeding reports and transfers, send off anything that needs to be updated. Show your spouse or kids where the paperwork is, just in case.


We hope that emergency measures are never needed by anyone, but we are all human and have finite lives. We have the privilege while here in this realm to be able to enjoy our animals. When the time comes for us to move on, we can look forward to a less paper-work snarled job for our spouses and a reunion with our four-legged friends in green pastures.


Looking forward to happy hearts and cool fall rains, 


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