In This Issue

Featured Product

Jasper The Mule

Longears Limelight

Video On Demand

Training Question

In Memoriam

What's New

Video Training Tip

From Our Readers

Our Guest Writer

Bonnie's Bit

Featured Product

Start the year off on the right hoof!
This year, make a resolution for you AND your equine. Resistance-free training is the wave of the future. Let Meredith Hodges take you there!



“A well-illustrated and
comprehensive book on the training of mules and donkeys by an exceptionally
well-qualified author.” 

~ Dr. Robert Miller

Jasper The Mule 

Especially for the 
little ones on
your Christmas list!

Jasper the Mule and his funny, happy friends are ready to bring laughs and great memories to you and your children! These DVDs and books promote family values in a fun and positive way and are designed for the whole family to enjoy. Jasper DVDs and books are the perfect
gift this holiday!

Order yours today!

“Jasper the Mule was a HUGE hit in my home!”
Rural Mama Sandbox

“Five Stars. Our grandkids
love it!”
Kim B.
Longears Limelight
Click on photo to see full image.
Texas girl Hannah Fewox and her donkey, Jennie, are two of my very best students, gaining knowledge from my books, DVD correspondence training course and website! Hannah has many accomplishments to her name, having trained Jennie to free lunge and to be ridden under saddle—both English and Western—with and without the bridle. After being inspired by my own Little Jack Horner, Hannah also taught Jennie to jump. But she didn’t stop there…she even taught her bunnies to jump! Hannah is a very talented young lady and she has a very special relationship with Jennie. I am so proud of them both!
—Meredith Hodges 

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Video On Demand!
Watch Meredith’s
award-winning shows and films on your computer or
TV, any time! 

Watch the equine
documentary series

Those Magnificent Mules

We have all six Jasper the
Mule animated films
available for kids!

Get started training your
equine with 
Training Mules & Donkeys

 Click here to instantly rent the programs to watch on your computer, or find out how you can watch Vimeo programming on your TV here
Its never too early to think about your education.

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Meredith HodgesDear Friends,

After all the rain we had all summer and into the fall, I was beginning to think I wasn’t going to be able to get in much training, but we were lucky and October finally brought warm and summer-like weather. I was pleasantly surprised and took full advantage. It’s not so much that I need to train my mules any more, or even that they need constant, controlled physical exercise, but, rather, I need their help in producing videos and the elements needed for shows, YouTube training tips, the LTR website and my Facebook posts so I can help others achieve the same level of success that I have.

When I speak of success, I don’t mean equines winning competitions or even just being broke enough to be able to ride the trails. I mean that my equines’ health and happiness have been achieved through a reliable feeding and management regimen, combined with physical training exercises that have been perfected for optimum balance and strength in good posture so that ANY time my equine and I are moving, we are strengthening and re-strengthening our muscles correctly and symmetrically. When you move in good posture ALL the time, you are able to control your body in as ideal a way as you can. This allows internal organs, muscle tissues, ligaments, tendons and cartilage to efficiently and effectively do their jobs. This promotes good health and longevity and is maintained primarily with turnout because bad posture has been replaced with good posture and is now their NORMAL way of moving. When good posture becomes the norm, all it takes to maintain it is movement.

My training program is broken down into the smallest of steps. This way, the end result at each stage is that that neither you nor your equine is ever faced with a task you cannot easily perform, and your equine’s muscles are not at risk for fatigue or stress. The showmanship-type leading exercises that you will do in my Training Mules and Donkeys equine training series first takes your equine through work on straight lines and gradual arcs (while he learns to stay erect and bend correctly through his rib cage on the lead rope) and prefaces the round pen work of learning how to balance on a circle with lunging and ground driving. Once your equine is strong and consistent with these leading exercises, he can then move into the round pen and learn to balance his body at the faster gaits and learn to bend correctly on a circle with and without the lunge line, and in the drive lines.
The round pen is important because, in order for the equine to really achieve self-carriage, he must be allowed to move freely and without obstruction of any kind. You cannot achieve this by just using a lunge line. When your equine is not strong enough to balance his own body, every pull on the line pulls him off balance and he will reciprocate by pulling back because he is not yet able to balance his body in self-carriage effectively on a cir
cle at the faster gaits. This pulls you off balance as well and you can no longer guide him effectively onto a true circle. The solution is really quite simple: Just be patient and take the time to do the preparatory leading exercises before going to the round pen. In the round pen, do the balancing exercises during lunging and THEN, while you are still working in the round pen, you can attach the lunge line and, keeping the lunge line loose at all times, allow him to hold his balance and self-carriage. If you do have to tug as a reminder to slow down, you will learn to squeeze and release the lunge line as your equine’s outside front leg is in suspension, which will allow him to put that foot down on the arc of the circle instead of moving it straight ahead. Then, when you lunge in the open, he will do the same thing and occasional pulling should no longer be a problem.
When your equine is on the lunge line, he should not be asked to come towards you for the reverse. This is another reason that he must learn to balance on the circle in a round pen where he is able to turn away from you. If you pull him towards you for a reverse, it will incorrectly set up his hind legs for the right diagonal at trot and for the correct lead at canter. It will also put stress on the stifles and can cause injury. When he is turned away from you (toward the rail in the round pen), he will automatically set the pivot foot correctly and will easily move into the correct diagonal at trot or the correct lead at canter, all while maintaining his good equine posture.
I am truly grateful for all the things I have learned from all my equines to enhance our time together, particularly since we are all aging and would like to remain happy, healthy and active as we grow old together. I hope we can continue to share these joyous discoveries with all of our family, friends and fans! Because I have always followed the nurture/showmanship training regimen that I have just outlined, I have been able to keep my equines happy, healthy and active, which gives me a chance to enjoy their love and friendship for a lifetime. 
On behalf of everyone here at Lucky Three Ranch, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New

Best wishes and Happy Trails,


Training Question: 

Question Our Friesians pull on the lunge line and lose balance at canter and sometimes at trot. I saw your post about them learning core strength and finding balance. Can you let me know what I need to consider getting from your program, so I can begin to condition them to help them have better balance?

Thank you very much.  J.

Answer: I LOVE Friesians! Although I learned many important training techniques from my longears, when I applied these techniques to my horses, I got the same amazing results! I realized that it is really just a matter of changing one’s perception. Instead of focusing on just doing movements or “things,” it is important to focus on building the equine body in a slow and easy way, beginning with more work on the lead line, lunging and ground driving in order to prepare the equine for his task of riding or driving. This has made all the difference in the world, and all my equines now exhibit good posture, confidence, self-carriage and strength in good posture that can only be attained by a slow, logical and sequential process.
Once your equine is exhibiting self-carriage after leading training and he is able to balance on a circle in the round pen, you can teach lunge line training. Remember that you must always teach lunge line training in the round pen before you teach it in an open area.

In Memoriam

Little Jack Horner

It is with profound sadness that I announce the passing of my courageous and talented 34-year-old Sire Supreme, Little Jack Horner (1980 – 2014). He is survived by hundreds of mule and donkey offspring, leaving an amazing legacy of performance in Gymkhana events, English and Western Pleasure, Trail, Reining, Driving, Dressage Driving, Second Level Dressage and Stadium Jumping to an incredible four feet in exhibition. He was also an affectionate jack with impeccable manners, right to the end.
On the eve of his passing, I left him standing like a statue, with ears pricked and a fixed stare toward the Rocky Mountains. I glanced over my shoulder and as the sun went down, it cast a halo around his entire body as if God was beckoning him home. I knew in my heart he would not make it through the night. He will be sorely missed.

What's New


I am so excited and proud to announce the newest addition to the Loveland Longears Museum and Sculpture Park at Lucky Three Ranch: “Dreaming of Friends” by award-winning sculptor, Robin Laws of Cheyenne, Wyoming. This striking, thirteen-foot tall, bronze fountain took two years to complete and roughly three months to install. The purpose of this fountain is to include all the Lucky Three Ranch longears and the miniature horse that did not yet have an official statue done in their honor. In order to make sure that the animals were accurately depicted, Robin sat with each equine for an entire day, carefully molding each clay model to capture not just the animal’s physique but also its unique personality. Mission accomplished—magnificently!

Video Training Tip


LTR Training Tips: The Importance of Good Posture

Your horse, mule or donkey isn't born with good posture--so Meredith has some tips on how you can ensure he's moving his body properly as you train.

From Our Readers

Hi Meredith, you emailed me about three weeks ago concerning my mule, Charlie. I asked about shots and trust. Well, to make a long story short, I have been doing exactly what you said and Charlie now canters up to me when I go to catch him. I’m so happy. Thanks so much. Our training is now so enjoyable we both look forward to it. Before this, I was at my wit’s end and we were both unhappy. It is so amazing how fast the turn around was. I still have to pinch myself to make sure it’s not just a happy dream but real. Thanks from your two biggest HAPPY fans!

Our Guest Writer: Jan Pollema

Hearts & Horses Presents Meredith Hodges with Lasting Legacy Award at “Lucky Hearts” Annual Gala
The 2014 “Lucky Hearts” Gala presented by Lucky Three Ranch brought another record-breaking year in attendance, number of sponsors and funds raised. The Embassy Suites of Loveland, Colorado provided a stunning venue, where we hosted over 500 guests (up from 360 last year), selling out for the first time ever! Our “Lucky Hearts” Gala would not have been possible without the incredible support of Lucky Three Ranch and Meredith Hodges.
Meredith Hodges has been one of the strongest supporters of Hearts & Horses since our very early years as a therapeutic riding program. Though it had a strong foundation and skilled personnel, not many people would have taken a chance on a program that pretty much ran on ‘heart’ during those early years. Over the years, not only has Meredith supported us financially, she has also donated several amazing mules to our program and has provided us with education and advice from her years of experience training equines and running a working ranch. Meredith has truly been an invaluable support system for us, and we couldn’t provide such beneficial and inclusive programming for our Northern Colorado community without her support and guidance.

Recently, Hearts & Horses had the opportunity to recognize Meredith for her many years of support at our recent 2014 “Lucky Hearts” 14th Annual Gala with the presentation of the Lasting Legacy Award. The inscription reads: “In recognition and appreciation for making an incomparable difference in the lives of so many in the Hearts & Horses community.” Meredith’s support of our program and its participants has been so influential that this award scarcely scratches the surface of her impact upon Hearts & Horses, but we are so thankful and awed by her continued support.
Meredith’s support has helped us to create the program of our dreams. Imagine a place where individuals with special needs can be themselves; where they can bond with a special horse or mule and develop lifelong relationships. Imagine a place where these participants can leave behind their crutches, wheel chairs, and therapies to soar to freedom. Hearts & Horses is that place! We are committed to providing affordable access to our innovative therapeutic equine-assisted services to over 150 participants weekly. With the depth and breadth of our programming, we are able to provide physical and occupational therapy for children and adults with physical and cognitive disabilities, as well as serve individuals through our programs for at-risk youth, seniors with Alzheimer’s, and our newest program for our greatest American heroes, US veterans and active-duty military personnel. 

For many participants, therapeutic riding is the ONLY intervention that works to help them reach their goals. As one mother stated: “My daughter does not get to choose much in her life, but when she is on the horse she feels she can accomplish ANYTHING!” Another participant, a veteran Master Sergeant of the Air Force, echoes these sentiments through these words: “This program has given me purpose in life again.”
Meredith’s invaluable and continued support over the years has given Hearts & Horses the resources necessary to become one of the premier therapeutic riding programs in the country.  We are continuously grateful for Meredith’s support and every day we think of her as we work with our amazing mules!

Warm Regards,  
Jan PollemaExecutive Director - Hearts and Horses, Inc.
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Bonnie's Bit:Bonnie Shields, the Tennessee Mule Artist

BS has been busy but at what, is the question. September always starts out with Hells Canyon Mule Days in Enterprise, OR, and once again I picked up hitchhiker, Cheryl Mundee, on my way there. She and I and Lizzy the dog had a change awaiting us when we got to the fairgrounds, as they didn’t have anyone but me in the hay barn this year, so they moved us to the “quilt shed,” camper and all. It has its advantages—like it’s close to a potty and the cafe—but disadvantages like space restrictions and it gets locked at night so we can't “fix” anything. But we worked it out and had a good show and saw lots of good friends again. The weather was awesome.
Lizzy is 17 years old now and has her health problems like all us old girls. Cheryl has a cat that is 18 and in the same boat, so she brought her cat to the show so she could take care of her. The cat and the terrier kinda looked at each other and said, “what the heck,” and peace was declared. They both were a draw in the booth. Lizzy sits in her high chair like the queen she knows she is and the cat sat in her chair and repeated the process on her end. It was fun for all.
Later in September was time for the big INTERNATIONAL draft horse and mule show here in Sandpoint, ID, and Cheryl came up to help me with this show (again bringing said cat along). I think the cat now is a show “junkie,” as she loves the attention and the excitement.


Saturday of the show I was given instructions to meet at my friend, Karleen Meyer's show wagon before the show, and I got kidnapped and forced to climb, crawl, and drag myself up into the driver’s seat and was hauled into the arena. Guess what? It turned out OK. They thanked me for some 30+ years of doing their show logo and designs and they gave me a hand-sewn lap robe with some of the designs embroidered on it. It was handed up by a handsome young man, but he promptly ran away. Oh, well. Thank you to all involved.
It is now the rush to Christmas and I am painting figurines for my friend, Polly Kennedy, and trying to work-in some Christmas commissions, too. Just finished five illustrations for Lon Thiele, who is writing a book on a girl and her mule, “Harry,” that worked in the Missouri Bootheel country in the 1940s. I don’t have a title, but I am shure that those of you that get the mule magazines will be hearing about this book eventually.
Not “doing” LV this year. Staying in town. Working with some friends on some local charities and feeding treats to Iris. Not a bad deal, huh?

Keep Your Traces Tight and Happy Holidays 

Greetings from the ADMS:
Leah Patton, office manager, ADMS

Hello all from the frost world of Texas! We are so glad we aren’t in New York! This year has been completely topsy-turvy in more ways than one! Some of us are ready to put 2014 behind us and look forward to better things in 2015. Financial, health, car, fence...can the repairs be over and some sense of normalcy please return?

Of course, we all know that there isn’t “normal” when you are dealing with equines. Your best show mule gets a cut the day before a show. Your old donkey limps up dead lame. The neighbor calls and asks if he can keep the new four-footed lawn ornaments that have just taken out 30 feet of fencing. Or your brother calls in the afternoon and wants to know just how many head of livestock we have, since half appear to be on the verge of the road and half in your yard eating your roses.

How do you prepare for financial emergencies? This year brought a fraudulent tax return (even with careful monitoring of mail and all tax handled by an accountant, the thief got there first), purchase of a car for a college freshman, tuition for said freshman, car repairs, new tires for another car...two rolls of fencing wire, all the haying costs, and feed to be laid in for winter. Add it up like that and it is a MOUNTAIN. Hopefully, when stretched out over the year, it never becomes an avalanche.


How do YOU deal with the emergencies? Do you have a nest egg hidden away somewhere? If you own equines, have kids or any animals, you should. You just never know when you are going to have to have that extra funding. Even tucking change away in a big jar is better than nothing, but a savings account, 401K, or other form of “rainy day fund” is really a necessity.

We know of a person who had an opportunity to buy some fabulous stock many years back. Top bloodlines, good breeding stock. This person dipped into the 401K and bought...and bought...and bought. We never heard if the funding was later replaced. We hope so! If you borrow money out of your fund, find a way to put it back!   

It’s the holiday season, and we all like to give and get gifts. But when drooling over the bling and baubles in the tack catalogs, take a moment. Is it on sale? Do you REALLY need it, or just want it? Could that extra $20 be better used in the rainy day fund? How’s the tread looking on the truck? Would it be more prudent to put that extra money toward the tires, or a halter that might get used once or twice? It can be very hard to budget out, but with the equine market still in an unstable place, it bears thinking on.

We are down to the bare bones here at ADMS, trying to keep things up and running smoothly. As always, we ask that if you have questions about the registration process, or mules and donkeys in general, you go directly to the source material and find out directly. It’s so much easier to get the straight answer from the people who do the work, as opposed to information that has mutated three or four times down the line. Facebook and social media do wonders for expanding the knowledge base, but people still need to make sure they are getting the information straight and true. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! 

Here’s hoping everyone has a safe, warm and prosperous season ahead!

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, $27 US, $37 Canada, $50 overseas. We now accept Paypal, Visa/MC (+$1 courtesy fee appreciated). Reg info, forms, fees on our website at

The statements, views, and opinions by contributors are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of Lucky Three Ranch and Meredith Hodges.

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