<<First Name>>, your Lucky Three Ranch news for March 2019 has arrived!
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Message From Meredith Hodges

Welcome to spring and all the work that goes with it! This is the time when most responsible breeding is done, so the next year’s foals will have the benefit of as much growth as possible before going into the winter months. The gestation of most horses is 300-340 days, but the gestation of Longears is roughly 365 days. Breeding later in the summer and fall should be discouraged.

When breeding for mules, mares do not generally show heat to a jack, so part of the preparatory process is to tease them with a stallion before breeding to the jack. Teasing is an essential part of the breeding process—a “teaser stallion” did this important work at Lucky Three Ranch. The teaser stallion should have selected mares to breed each year, if he is to be expected to perform his duty successfully. Teasing indicates where the mare is in her cycle and ensures that she is in true heat and ready to be bred. It also makes her as receptive as possible to the jack.

Breeding should be a calm and deliberate experience for both the jack and the mare. The stud manager has several decisions to make, all dependent on the personality of the mare. If she is calm, she might be fine in the breeding chute and she and the jack can breed safely. Some breeders do not have breeding chutes and will dig a long pit to put her in that allows the jack a higher approach from behind. Pastures today are often not expansive enough to promote safe breeding and should be discouraged. Teaching your jack to breed in hand is not only safer for the jack and mare, but also promotes good manners and responsible hygiene practices, minimizing the chance for the spread of disease. Assess animals carefully with regard to conformation and deformities so you will produce strong and healthy offspring. Males that are not suitable for breeding should be castrated and mares unsuitable for breeding should not be used. More details are covered in our Equine Management & Donkey Training manual and DVD #8 of our Training Mules and Donkey’s series.

Spring is also the time when we need to think about doing vaccinations. Find out which vaccinations are recommended for your area as there are differences from one area to another. We generally vaccinate in April after the weather has begun to warm up and follow up with boosters in November after the first freeze. If you have any Longears that are “needle shy,” there is a restraint method that can be used safely and humanely when employed properly. This is covered under the Training Question section in this newsletter.

I hope you and your equines weathered the winter well and enjoy the warmer weather that spring will bring...along with the mud. Here’s a quick tip about mud and grooming. If you don’t need to remove the mud to ride, just leave the animal for a day or so, and they will generally remove badly caked mud all by themselves.  Lightly sprinkle Johnson’s baby oil in the manes and tails during weekly grooming to minimize tangles. Most mud can be removed fairly easily with a shedding blade and a plain old plastic, multi-bristled human hairbrush!

Don’t forget to book your tour of Lucky Three Ranch for 2019 and if you are going to Bishop Mule Days 50th Anniversary Celebration, be sure to visit me and Bonnie Shields at her booth in the Home Economics Building just outside the main Arena entrance!  

Best wishes and Happy Trails,

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Have a question for Meredith or want to give us feedback?
LTR Training Tip #99

The Canter Pole

The canter pole exercises will help your equine to learn to measure his strides to the jump and allow him to jump efficiently.


Question:  My mule is difficult to worm and hates getting shots. We tried putting her in a chute, but he struggled so much we still could not get the job done. What do I do?

Answer: For the sake of safety, tie your mule to a good stout hitch rail. Then use our Face Tie technique (Training Mules & Donkeys DVD #2), running the lead rope around the hitch rail (or stout fence) and back through the noseband of the halter (nylon halters work best for this). Then come around a second time and loop it through the throatlatch part of the halter and around the hitch rail once more and tie it off. Take up the slack slowly as he gives it and be ready to reward him with oats when he complies. Then keep taking up the slack until his face is right up against the fence, or hitch rail. Do not try to bully him into it or he will just pull back. This should be done while he is standing parallel to the hitch rail so that when you pull the rope tight, it pulls his head tightly sideways to the hitch rail.

This will keep him from being able to swing his rear end around to block you. Reward him with oats and let him quiet down in this restraint before approaching with your shot. If he manages to keep you off the clear side, you can always go to the other side of the hitch rail and give him the shot from that side without fear of injury. If you do this correctly, it will simply restrain him in a safe manner and keep you out of the line of fire no matter what side you are on (the fence side is safer). 

Each new time that you give shots, try to do it with the rope a little looser each time to fade out the restraint. They will usually just come to expect it and go to their position along the hitch rail or fence, and will lean into it like they did when you first gave the shots like this. He will soon learn to quiet down immediately when his face is being tied and at best will seem to be saying, "Dang, do we have to do this again?!" But, he will learn to comply. This is a humane restraint for mules and donkeys, but do not try this with a horse! 

This is also a good restraint to use (and fade out) for those that are difficult to bridle. Just loop the rope through the noseband (and not the throatlatch strap) and tightly around the hitch rail. Just make sure when you put on the bridle that you “protect” their sensitive ears with your hands and they will learn to trust you.

“Wow this is fantastic stuff! I’ll be putting things in place for all my equines. I have horses, mini horses, miniature donkeys and a mini mule! Thanks so much!”


“Thank you Meredith for always responding, you are a kind person to support everyone and not criticize even when we deserve it.”


“Thank you Meredith! I have your book about training mules and donkeys, and have studied your website, but I have not been consistent in my work with Molly. Now that I'm retired I plan to try again. Your careful explanations will, I feel, be critical to our success.”

Meredith Hodges

Rocky Mountain Horse Expo 

The 1st Annual Hall of Fame awards and reception took place on the opening night of the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo on Thursday, February 28th. The reception was in celebration and to induct six top innovators of the equine industry into the Hall of Fame. This will become an annual event to start the Expo each year.  
These six Hall of Famers have created the foundation of many of our training applications and educational materials/ knowledge. 

Inductees: Julie Goodnight (RFD-TV instructor), Dr. Robert Miller (wrote the book on Imprinting), Denny Emerson (Olympic Gold medalist in Combined Training), Pat Parelli (Natural Horsemanship), Meredith Hodges (American Donkey & Mule Society representative, animal inspector & judge, author & producer) and Richard Shrake's brother, Greg Shrake (Richard Shrake, AQHA instructor/judge, was unable to attend). 

The night included a meet and greet, reception, individual spotlight, as well as, a question and answer discussion. The evening concluded with the honored panel accepting their awards.

Congratulations to the equine legends honored during the First Annual Hall of Fame Awards held by the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo!

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Author Meredith Hodges and illustrator Bonnie Shields are proud to
introduce their brand new book to the JASPER THE MULE series of
books and videos with their latest edition,

Enjoy the hijinks of yet another JASPER & MOXIE adventure
as they experience the perils of April Fools' Day!

If you would like to be notified when our new book is available click below!

Notify me! 

Lucky Three Jubilee got UNDER the chicken wire!

Crystal Ward’s mule WAS adequately tied!

The grass is always greener... and Longears are quite tenacious!!!
Be sure to ease your Longears and other equines onto the spring grass for short periods of time at first and not just turn them out for hours right from the beginning.

Bonnie’s Bit

I just got home from a MOST interesting and challenging trip--to town!  We got a foot of snow over night with it still coming down and I decided I needed to get to town to get more senior feed for those two mollies.  They are calling for another 24 plus hours of snowing.
Just getting to and from the barn this morning was a challenge and digging out the van--my wonderful Astro van.  Those mollies hole-up in the back of the barn lot in this kind of weather and closely consider any and all movement.  I should be so smart! But, sadly, I am not, so I got "Goldie" (the van) dug out and the windshield mostly operational. The wipers freeze up with even the mention of snow and cold so it is a constant fight to keep the windshield so I can see out of it when on the road.
Very few of the county roads have been plowed in the last few hours and I tell you, that snow is really coming down so if I was to do this, I better get with it--so, I did. It is about 5 miles to hwy 200 from my house and with the county road barely passable and my windshield gooped up, I had to pick my path and hope for the best. I made it to the highway and pulled a bit over (let's NOT over-do that movement) and crawled out with my scraper and can of de-icer and went to work. I no sooner started that when another car pulled up behind me and another woman crawled out with HER scraper. Hard to keep us country gals at home sometimes, I guess.
Well, the state highway wasn't much better than the county roads, but the "path" was clearer, and I got the windshield under semi control so away we went to do our needed chores in town.  Oh, I DO have a loyal and helpful co-pilot that rides with me Cleo, my huge Airedale dog.  Yeah, the one with "bone-breath". Love her. Especially when she rides "shotgun" and you can't see out the passenger side window. Luckily, I had given her a fresh bone before we left the driveway, so she was oblivious of our situation.
Long story short, we made it to town and the bank and the grocery store and finally to the Co-Op for the mule feed.  Took the big highway back north as it was more traveled, and you could see the pavement in the right lane. I took a right onto Selle Road and once again encountered a county road with lots of snow, so I had to get careful again and avoid the other idiots wandering into town on Selle.  What's WRONG with us??
When I got to our road, wouldn't you know the blasted snow plow HAD been there and I had the usual barrier of plowed snow to bust through into our driveway. Last hurtle. Success!!!
So, here I sit writing all of this down because I have run out of adventures. I have another book to illustrate but the illustration board hasn't arrived yet--and now it might not make it for days. That is OK, I'm into a Win Blevins book about the mountain men. Is it spring yet???? BS OH, so far, NO MOOSE in the barn. Good thing as the barn doors are frozen wide OPEN. IS  IT SPRING YET???


 Visit our Lucky Three Ranch 

to purchase new art from 
 ​Tennessee Mule Artist 
Bonnie Shields

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!


The 2019 Hearts & Horses Sweet Hearts of the Year


Hearts & Horses is a therapeutic riding center in Northern Colorado that serves people who have disabilities. Our programs are tailored to meet the needs of individuals who have physical disabilities, at risk youth, the elderly, veterans, and others who have special needs. Hearts & Horses currently serves 180 riders a week with the help of about 250 volunteers who commit their time to our program, riders and equines weekly. 

Each year, Hearts & Horses hosts the Sweet Heart of the Year Competition. For a $10 donation each, anyone in the community (riders, volunteers, donors, etc.) can send a “Valen-Quine” to the member of the herd who “makes their heart gallop.” Voting is open from the end of January until mid-day on Valentine’s Day and the member of the herd with the most Valen-Quines wins Sweet Heart of the Year!

This year, we had a last second tie! The competition was fierce and not one, but two, emerged victorious…our 2019 Hearts & Horses Sweet Hearts of the year are Prince Raymond, our donkey, and Princess Xellie, our smallest pony!

The goal of the Sweet Heart of the Year fundraiser is to help provide exceptional care to our amazing, hardworking 30 member herd of horses, ponies, donkeys and mules! It costs about $20,000 a year just to provide hay for our herd. The $5,290 that was raised during this year’s Sweet Heart competition goes a long way towards keeping our herd happy, healthy and well cared for.

Meet the Winners:

Raymond: Raymond is an 11 year old mammoth jackstock donkey gelding who has been at Hearts & Horses since September 2018. He has the distinction of being our only donkey (although we do have two mules as well, Allie and Sadie). Raymond was rescued as a 5 year old from an auction and sent to a rescue in New Mexico, where he was adopted and trained to pack (even on busy highways!) and then trained to ride. He enjoys trail rides, ear rubs and tail scratches. He adores small children and is very sweet. Sometimes he gets nervous of new things, but with a little reassurance, he will do almost anything you ask. When he is hungry, he will let you know with a loud bray.

Xellie: Xellie is an 11 year old bay pony who has been at Hearts & Horses since September 2017. She has the distinction of being our smallest horse at 11 hands. Xellie is taking up a new career at Hearts & Horses, having been outgrown by her "children". She has impeccable ground manners and a lot of experience with Western Horsemanship. She has spent many hours on the Trail looking after her younger riders.

Join us next year for another round of fun!

Emmy Soyka, Volunteer Manger, Hearts & Horses


Give the Gift of Joy and Healing
Through an incredible depth and breadth of programming, Hearts & Horses impacts every life we touch. Support the wonderful effects of therapeutic riding for individuals by supporting Hearts & Horses today!



Buy the TMD DVD set and get the Equus Revisited Combo 




Do not miss our upcoming 

Purchase the BRAND NEW  

Jasper: An April Mule's Day book

and get the

Jasper: the Story of a Mule book

Jasper: An April Mule’s Day book not available until April 2019



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!


Remember a long time ago when they said you should have a nice, neat resume that showed your skills, abilities and how long you'd stuck to your job?  Wow, this person is great, they stuck with this company through thick and thin for ten years!  Good investment!  Did you know that nowadays, "they" (just who is this they, anyway, and will they come and help some people that really need an extra hand?) say you should change jobs every few years to show you have growth in your career?  "They" obviously aren't farmers or ranchers. 

No, these people don't understand stick-to-it-ness. I've been with ADMS for 24 years. Is there room for upward expansion?  No, there isn't.  But would I trade it for a 9-5 somewhere else? For what gain?  I have an office with a view.  I get to talk to people all over the world. I help to provide educational materials on a subject I love. I get to deal with animals first-hand. It may not be the greatest job anywhere anywhen, but it has a purpose and it's a lot of hard work to train someone else to do it. Someday I may have to, and I'll have to find someone with the same stick-to-it attitude.  Someone who gets up feeds critters in the morning. Cleans pens or stalls or catboxes or kennels.  Humps around sacks of feed or bales of hay, or brings in the big round bales with the tractor. Who knows what it is like to walk fencelines in four inches of freezing mud.  Or be knee-deep in a puddle fixing a busted water line. How about that someone who understands corralling the entire herd and running them through the chute to vaccinate against botulism? Get in there and trim the flap off a hoof and do some touch ups because the farrier can't make it out this month. Thinks the Farm/Feed store is as great a shopping mall as any in town?  

Animals shape our way of life.  They shape our days, nights, weeks and weekends. They are a major pivotal point in all of our lifestyles, whether it's just remembering you need cat food or getting a load of hay delivered. Your designer shoes may be a pair of cowboy boots. Your shirt might be flannel, your gloves leather. We choose the style, and it makes us what we are. Farmers and ranchers - and even hobby owners - are a different breed. We might sit in an office during the week, but the animals are our long-term job.  It's a lifestyle we chose. We share that bond. The mud, the mosquitoes, the sweat, the wire cuts, the blisters, the long nights and sometimes, those blissful early mornings when everything is right. Put that on your resume. Show them what real dedication is. 

Until next time, 

Leah Patton, office manager, ADMS 

The Am. Donkey & Mule Soc.
PO Box 1210,
Lewisville TX 75067
(972) 219-0781.
Newsletter: the BRAYER magazine 76+ 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

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