<<First Name>>, your Lucky Three Ranch news for March 2018 has arrived!
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Message From Meredith Hodges

Dear Friends,

It is truly amazing to have the ability via social media to get a glimpse of how my family, friends and fans in the Longears industry are doing with their animals. In 1967, there were not many mules left in this country after the industrial revolution... only about 10,000. Mules and donkeys were not exactly the equine of choice for pleasurable recreational activities. However, thanks to Paul and Betsy Hutchins, founders of the American Donkey & Mule Society (and now directed by Leah Patton), the Sierra Nevada Packers who founded Bishop Mule Days and a host of others like me with a passion for Longears, we can now boast over a million mules used in all kinds of equine activities all over the United States and around the world. 

Years ago, I donated three mules to the Hearts and Horses Therapeutic Riding Center and they have just recently added a donkey jennet named Lass to their program, donated and handled by Rachel Karneffel. Read more about these two later in this newsletter. Because of technology, we are now able to share our experiences with one another and develop more numerous shows, parades, exhibitions and other uses for Longears to allow people to experience how extra special they really are. Of course, WE equine lovers would rather be riding (or driving) than on the computer!

The numbers of Longears and events has grown exponentially, and the quality of our long eared partners has exceeded the public’s expectations since they are now bred from quality jacks and mares from all sorts of breeds and disciplines. The activities that people do with these wonderful equines are limited only by their own imagination and experience. It has been my personal mission to afford our industry an enjoyable and safe way to interact with these precocious individuals through the logical and sequential management and training program that I developed over the past 45 years. 

For decades, my friends, Luzma and her father, Ovidio Osario have been breeding and training quality Paso Fino mules and hinnies at Criadero Villa Luz, in Colombia, South America. They stand at stud some of the finest jacks in the world. Luzma is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable ambassador for Longears. With help from her father, her first-class production of Longears videos and promotional literature covers a wide cross section of interests. The use of their equines ranges from mountain trail riding, to research and development, to exhibitions, shows and parades.  

Luzma’s latest television show is about how she and her family at Criadero Villa Luz, helped their local mounted posse develop an exceptional breeding and training program with mules.

There is no doubt in my mind that those who love mules and donkeys will find ways for them to make more valuable contributions to the future! We all know what they have contributed in the past to build this into the great country that it is today! What they have yet to do for tomorrow is yet to come. Long live our illustrious Longears!

Best wishes and Happy Trails,

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Have a question for Meredith or want to give us feedback?
LTR Training Tip #74

Always use Good Horsemanship

Whenever you ride, always
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Question: I bought a crupper without buckles as you suggested to protect my mule’s tail hair, but now I'm uncertain about how to remove it. I don't think he would want me to bend his tail backwards and there isn't enough slack in the strap to slide it off. Sliding the whole saddle off backwards seems risky also. Any advice?

Answer: There is an adjustment buckle on the strap that you just need to loosen enough so you can slide the crupper off the side of the tail, and then remove the saddle. You don’t bend the tail backwards…only to the side. After loosening the crupper, I will go to the offside (right side) and slide the saddle back onto the croup to give more slack to the crupper so I only need to mess with the buckle once when saddling the animal. I then slide the tail out of the crupper and pull the saddle off from the point of the hip. This also gets them used to the saddle being on them in more places than just the in the middle of their back. Having the saddle put on from the correct side and taken off from the opposite side gets them used to being handled routinely from BOTH sides. It helps them to learn to stay calm wherever the saddle is and from whichever side you work. I hope this answers your question.

“Thank you for sending me your DVD and info packet to the rescue. It is gold to me. You are the most compassionate TV personality out there. I learn from other trainers, but too often I learn what NOT to do. I have problems with many training methods that are very popular right now. Your training is truly all positive and kind to the animals. Thanks and keep it up.”

“In my 30s and 40s I began asking myself many questions regarding animal welfare--on as many levels as I could think of: questions relating to proper diet, many aspects of medical care both conventional and holistic, as well as communication that happens through training and development of their physical and mental health. I believe in learning about providing structure that is rooted in love and respect for the animal.”

“I am a local children's book author.....I am sooo impressed with what you have done with Jasper. The website is fabulous and your characters are too. I think that Jasper should be on TV for kids to see on a regular basis. Learning about caring for mules and horses is so important. You have done such a wonderful job. I will tell my friends who have small kids to get the books and DVDs. Thank you for caring about animals.”




When I first started with computers, I was intimidated and forced to employ those who were much more skilled to help develop my Lucky Three Ranch website. It has since been an intense learning experience to make sure that those who needed the information that I offered could find it easily whether they were computer savvy or not. Unfortunately, I discovered that what was simple to a techy was not so simple for those of us that spend more time outside in the company of our animals. So, last fall we decided to revise the entire website in order to make things much easier to navigate for our fans. We encourage you to visit our renewed website at www.LuckyThreeRanch.com and enjoy the plethora of affordable information that we have made available to you so you can have the same safe and enjoyable experience with your equines that I have with mine!

visit now


Bonnie’s Bit

I’ll get the sad part done right now.  We had to put our little feisty and brave Jack Russell down the first of February.  In the last two weeks of his life, he developed heart failure and it finally got to be too much to watch and contend with when you knew the outcome.  You just know when they say it is time and those eyes told me this was it.  Mr. Boo, you are so sorely missed but, you are not suffering now--just your people.

Otherwise, it has been seriously winter up here since before Christmas and anyone that thinks SPRING is eminent is fooling themselves.  We still have a foot of styrofoam snow left over from the last big dump and here came another foot of new stuff.  The mules are frustrated and bored and either wet with snow all over their backs or being pelted with cold rain.  Oh, they HAVE shelter handy but they prefer “enjoying” the experience, I guess.

As for me, I have been “holed-up” in my studio painting and drawing masterpieces to take to Columbia Tennessee Mule Days the first of April.  Anyone within striking distance of this grand event better make plans to BE there.  April 5-8. And, I did a “Major Piece” for the fancy art show in Wichita Falls, Texas the following weekend and it is a doozy.  It is a “funny” take-off of some of the outrageous situations we used to see in our Saturday movies at the Dream Theater in Corydon, Indiana in my lost childhood.  Good Times!  So, I guess I have been entertaining myself and staying outta trouble and in snow boots.

Taxes are in to the CPA, and the firewood is holding out so, I guess things are OK.  No moose in the barn this February--so far. Oh, but you will enjoy this one:  It is almost dark and my three mollies are gathered in their favorite corner of the west pasture just minding their own business.  I happened to look out the window to check on them when I saw this other four-legged crittur about 50 yards from them slowly creeping up on them.

Lucille, the 17 hand black molly, was closest to the intruder when she noticed it and it had her attention. But, she wasn’t making a "moose alert" and was standing firm with the other two peeking from behind.  I studied the “crittur” and deduced it was an ELK, no antlers.  Then, I spot two more just like her not far behind and also s-l-o-w-l-y advancing on the three maidens.  Another six or nine yards closer, the three mules are still not panicking but, now Lucille has retreated to the back of the line and it is Iris’s turn to be brave.  Well, that didn’t last too long and then it was old Cookie’s turn, which barely happened at all.  Smart old girl went back to the end of the line and Lucille was “it” once again.

This went on for several more minutes as the elk now numbered seven, and darkness was closing the door on my ability to see what was happening.  Last I saw that evening were three cornered mule mollies facing seven elk, with only ten feet between them. I prayed this would all work itself out with my fence in tact and no mules scattered about the neighborhood in the dark.

The Lord does answer prayer.  Morning found everyone home and the fence still intact.  Wish I could have watched the dramatic ending but, I suspect these two versions of critturs were just mostly curious. No one threatened anyone else and it all passed harmlessly into experience.  They do NOT react to MOOSE like that, trust me.

Hugs and Grins,

Visit the Lucky Three Ranch web store to purchase Bonnie Shields' beautiful art and apparel!

And don’t forget to visit her website to find out more
about the Wild and Wonderful World of Bonnie Shields,
Tennessee Mule Artist,
Cowboy Cartoonist and True Artist!



Those of us who know donkeys know how amazing they are--sweet, friendly, loyal and so very intelligent. FabulASS Farina, or "Lass" as we call her, is an amazing small (14.2hh) mammoth jennet. She has been working at Hearts & Horses in our Changing Leads Program for youth at risk, Therapeutic Riding Program for students with disabilities, and in hippotherapy. She has excelled in all of these areas, and is very endearing.
She is owned by Rachel Karneffel, Hearts & Horses PATH Intl Therapeutic Riding Instructor and owner of Foghorn Farm. Her big, soft ears are always there to listen to daily worries or triumphs. Her heavy, fluffy head is always ready to be cradled and hugged close, in a way that most horses will not tolerate. Her BIG, loud voice tells everyone who shows up that they are welcome. Lass takes exceptional care of her riders, walking carefully so as to keep them balanced, and waiting patiently if a rider needs a break. She so enjoys rubs and grooming, and students enjoy rubbing her long ears, making her lower lip droop and her eyes close with ecstasy. She is narrow bodied and comfortable for sore or tight hips. She is extremely forward moving and has very little lateral movement, mostly front to back movement. Before Lass was a Therapeutic Riding Donkey, she did a little showing, packing elk on trips, kids camps, and trail riding.
Lauren McClave, who is a physical therapist and sees clients at Hearts & Horses, says “because Lass is so narrow, but has a smooth walk, she is ideal for those kids in hippotherapy that might have difficulty straddling a horse."
My experience is that Lass creates a situation in which riders feel safe, but challenged to have an independent seat and to steer better with leg cues. She does not respond to too much rein aid, so in order to steer her correctly, the riders must learn to have better timing and releases, as she requires that correctness in riding. This makes my students better riders who learn to respond correctly to their equines. 
There are very few donkeys in therapeutic riding programs that are rideable in the USA. It is a unique experience for everyone at our program to have such a different personality at the stable!  
By Rachel Karneffel,
PATH Intl Instructor at Hearts & Horses 
Don’t Miss our
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Purchase the Jasper Goes to Bishop DVD
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April 1st – May 31s

leah’s corner

Greetings to all from the variable state of Texas!  This year so far we have had real winter - unusual enough for our state.  Days below average on cold, actual snow one day (luckily no ice storms here in the general D/FW area) and now rain!   Rain in such amounts that the forecasters are saying flooding is possible.  That means wet pastures, mud, mud, and more mud. 
Donkeys are originally desert animals and have a coarse, non-waterproof coat.  You can build them a barn or lean-to, but that doesn't mean you can make them use it.  Many will stand just outside, getting soaking wet and looking like the most miserable creature on earth.  This also means their hooves get quite wet, and in any equine, we now have to be concerned about fungal infections and white line disease.  If you have never heard of WLD, it's something you need to Google RIGHT NOW. 
A key to happy and healthy donkeys and mules is a nice sandy area to roll and stand.  The sand will drain better than just dirt, and donkeys love a good wallow.  It's a natural curry for them, as well as getting those hooves into shape.  Regular farrier work is a must, of course, but make sure your farrier doesn't fall to the old myth that "all donkeys must be made to stand on their toes".  The general hoof shape of the majority of donkeys *is* more upright to that of a horse, but this is by no means the be-all way that all donkeys stand.  Each and every donkey should be evaluated on their own merit and trimmed so that hoof angle matches the pastern angle.  
My own donkey "Rabbit" has rather upright hooves, and his dam is clubfooted naturally on one foot.  She has broken angles, and only a lot of trimming and care has brought her hooves to a normal-for-her compromise.  My Poitou donkey gelding Thor, has long hooves shaped like a horse - but they match his pasterns.  I'll never trim him to stand upright and boxy.  Each to their own, do what is right for the donkey!  There are hoof articles available to work with your farrier on doing the best trim for the individual animal. 
Here's hoping that winter-remaining will be mild and we'll all see some turn in events that make 2018 better than 2017 was.  Fingers crossed for all! 
Leah Patton, office manager, ADMS 

The Am. Donkey & Mule Soc.
PO Box 1210,
Lewisville TX 75067
(972) 219-0781.
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Watch Anytime, With Video On Demand.
Did you know you can watch Meredith's award-winning training anytime, on all your devices? Watch all the episodes of Training Mules and Donkeys 
plus Give Your Equine the Athletic Edge.

More in the mood for some entertainment? Catch Those Magnificent Mules or let the kids go have an adventure with Jasper and his friends.
All six Jasper the Mule specials are available with special features.

Three day rentals and all videos have closed captions!
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