<<First Name>>, your Lucky Three Ranch news for December 2020 has arrived!
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Message From Meredith Hodges

Dear Friends,

First, I would like to extend my gratitude to each and every one of you for your steadfast support and continuing friendship during this difficult year! Your concern is greatly appreciated and I will treasure your friendship always! My heart goes out to all of you who have suffered losses from COVID and from the extensive fires that have ravaged our country. This year would certainly have to go on record as one of the most challenging ever! Still, we are strong and meet our challenges bravely because we are blessed with the most amazing companions ever throughout this crisis...our beloved Longears!

You might remember from my previous newsletter that we had a major blow-out with our Traveling Gun irrigation system. As it turned out, we had to replace the PVC feeder pipe with steel pipe. We could no longer repair the pods where the reel plugged in. We had blown every one over the past ten years and a second repair job was not an option. We could not afford to have it replaced unless we did a lot of the work ourselves, so that is what we did! My crew of two guys and one neighbor trenched 3900 feet and lined the bottom with 30 truckloads of pea gravel...all the way from the pump house to a “T” and where the pipe ran from the north to the south end of the hayfields. Then the steel pipe was delivered by our friends at the oil company and they proceeded to weld all the pieces together in preparation to lay the pipe into the trenches. It took a backhoe and a track hoe to meticulously set the steel pipe into the trenches. It was amazing to watch the craftsmanship of these guys! When the pipe was in the trench, my Assistant Ranch Manager, Steve, got into the backhoe and began back-filling right away, leaving only the areas where the pods were that would attach to the reel. Then the work around the pods began, cutting them flush with the field so as not to interfere with the hay equipment. Then they were set on cement and backfilled. After only one month, we had completed this intensive project and saved a great deal of money by doing a lot of the work ourselves! They shut off our irrigation water in late August because of drought and the grass was no longer growing much, so we had to forfeit a second cutting of hay, but we now have an irrigation system that will last for 50 years or more.

The Cameron Peak fire swept through Rocky Mountain National Forest just west of the Lucky Three Ranch. Fortunately, we were only affected by a lot of smoke all summer, but others were not as lucky. Many people’s livestock was evacuated to our fairgrounds at The Ranch, but hay was scarce so we helped stock grass hay for the evacuated equines. In September, we did get a bit of snow, but not enough to help with the fires. Then the Trouble fire started in Granby and threatened to merge with the Cameron Peak fire with Estes Park caught between. Fortunately, it did snow quite a bit in mid-October, slowed the spread and allowed the evacuees from Estes Park to go home. This snowstorm finally cleaned all the smoke and ash from the air where we are.

For MULE APPRECIATION DAY, we gave everyone a sneak peek at our newest documentary, ROCK AND ROLL: DIARY OF A RESCUE and received rave reviews!  Thank you all for your feedback. It is greatly appreciated! We are now working on more short videos to post on
Facebook and on the website, and we are working on another full-length documentary, CREATING THE JASPER CAROUSEL! On October 15th, we did the last of the interviews and shot video of the JASPER CAROUSEL, finally finished and in motion with kids (and us adults, LOL!) on board! 

As we face the challenges put before us, and as doors close, windows are opened, yielding opportunities for new beginnings! I wish the very best for my family, friends and fans for a happy and renewed holiday season!

Wishing you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!        

Best wishes and Happy Trails,


Click below for our christmas sales
Call to book your 
tour for 2021!
Have a question for Meredith or want to give us feedback?
LTR Training Tip #122

Groundwork for Donkeys

These groundwork exercises will give your donkey a foundation of strength and confidence he needs to perform well and be light in the bridle when you finally ride or drive.

View many more training tips on our YouTube channel.


Question: When I am training my donkey, he does not react the same way as horses and mules to my way of training. Is training donkeys different from training mules and horses?

Answer: Many people believe that training donkeys is different from training mules and horses, but in my experience, it is more a case of assessing each individual equine at any given stage of training and adjusting my approach accordingly. Like people, each individual equine learns differently and at their own pace. I use the same basic techniques with ALL of my equines…large or small, Longears or horse and any breed or sex. I break things down into very small, doable steps so they do not get overwhelmed at any stage. 

We begin with leading on flat ground through the Hourglass Pattern in a restraint I developed called the “Elbow Pull” (if they are under two years old, they will not need this) for 3 to 6 months. With their head at your shoulder, the lead rope in your left hand while pointing in the direction of travel and walking in sync with their front legs, it is important to lead through the pattern with straight lines and gradual arcs. This will facilitate the symmetrical development of the elements that support the skeletal frame (muscles, ligaments, tendons, soft tissue and ensure even wear on the cartilage in the joints). They should be asked to “square up” with equal weight over all four feet EVERY TIME they stop. Passive stretching exercises will promote flexibility and elasticity. They should always be rewarded with crimped oats for every honest attempt or successful achievement. Other foods are not healthy in large quantities and are not food that the animal will continue to work for. Each step is easy because they are done in a logical and sequential order that makes sense to THEM. When these guidelines are followed, they learn to trust you.

After leading on the flat ground is sufficiently done, we add going through obstacles to build coordination.  This requires another 3 to 6 months. You can tell when the exercises are sufficient when they will traverse the pattern with the lead rope slung over their neck and when they respond only to your voice and hand signals. When they have learned to stay erect in their body and bend through their rib cage to the arcs and turns, you can then add lunging in the Round Pen for another 3 to 6 months. And finally, they learn to be light in the bridle with 3 to 6 months of Ground Driving before graduating to the open arena.



My approach is consistent, polite and respectful which brings out the best in each animal. Donkeys insist on this for easy compliance. When lessons are purposeful and predictable, they become easy to lead, lunge, ground drive, and are consequently much better under saddle and in harness later. This slow and meticulous approach requires a lot of patience, but the results are miraculous. A donkey that is balanced and light in the bridle is truly a smoother and more pleasurable ride! It takes time, but the results of this postural core strength, balanced bodybuilding are amazing and will add longevity to your donkey...and, he will truly appreciate your efforts on his behalf! Learn much more on my website at in the various sections under TRAINING, particularly under:

Or you can email me at
for even more details.


“I just finished your amazing ROCK AND ROLL: DIARY OF A RESCUE DVD and am writing this with tears and a snotty nose. What a fantastic job you all did and what a great story! It’s fantastic what a great life both of those giant mules had with you and it seems like they knew it. It's sad Rock had such a short time to enjoy the good life but I hope the things that you guys learned during his life and that folks can learn from his skeleton and his story will be of great help to future animals and their caregivers and handlers. The way you told the story, all the good information and the great video made for a very entertaining and educational show. You and your whole crew should be VERY proud of an excellent job on the script, video, interviews and music!” 

                     ~Marty Fernandes

“I just watched, ‘Rock and Roll: Diary of a Rescue,’ and want you to know how moved and inspired I was by your efforts, those of your staff and equid health care team and, especially, by those 2 amazing mules -- Rock & Roll. Thank you for providing them with such compassionate care and so much love! Thank you for producing this doc to teach others about mule rescue and welfare. It truly does take a village. Lucky Three Ranch is one special village in a million. Bless you, for your strength, determination and tenacity. 

"Run free, Rock & Roll!” ~Renata Hill

“Thank you for posting your wonderful training videos! I am a teacher at Ridgetown College, and while I state these things to them, and show them with our school horses, it is great repetition for them to hear it from someone else! Your equines are fabulous! I enjoy the videos even more because of the mules.”

~Shannon Stanly

Longears Limelight
Cindy K. Roberts

My name is Cindy Roberts, head honcho and developer of Every Cowgirl's Dream.  My website is designed for mule owners needing assistance in working with behavioral and training issues; here you will find my published mule training articles along with my mule training books. My adventures have taken me to diverse Western events and trails across the nation. God has blessed me to become a successful author and mule promoter.  Let’s talk about mules! Every mule I have trained or worked with, I have learned from. My life lessons with mules have been fascinating, sometimes heartbreaking and mostly comical. I use to be so serious and didn’t have the confidence to speak to people. Mules have changed all that! I have several books that I wrote about mules and now I have a podcast about mules and the ranch lifestyle, called Mule Talk! I am always searching for guests to come onto the show, so if you know of anyone, corral them my way! Remember to honor God's word, live by the Cowboy Code and keep riding!

~Cindy K. Roberts





The LTR WEBSITE is the place to visit for all things equine! The LTR BLOG has stories from around the world. ABOUT LTR tells about Meredith and the Lucky Three Ranch, under TRAINING you will find Ask Meredith with commonly asked Q & A’s, Mule Facts, video TRAINING TIPS, VIDEO ON DEMAND (RFD-TV Shows and more), MULE CROSSING articles, LONGEARS MUSIC videos, Misc. Music Videos, What's New With Roll? (Story of the Rescue Draft Mules, ROCK & ROLL), Another Augie & Spuds Adventure (Training miniature donkeys) and Wrangler's Donkey Diary (Management & training of our new donkey gelding) CHASITY’S CHALLENGES!” Check out our TOURS (personalized clinics) and keep up with the latest developments in the equine industry with RESOURCES/NEWS (Longears Calendar of Events, Classifieds, Longears Clubs, Therapeutic Riding, Equine Rescues, Equine Welfare in the News, Wild Mustangs/Burros Campaign and Horse Slaughter facts & FAQ's). And of course, you are welcome to peruse our STORELEARN TOGETHER/EXCEL TOGETHER!


And all you KIDS!...Don’t forget to visit!

for lots of fun, entertainment and the




Rock and Roll: Diary of a Rescue documents the progress of the victories and set-backs that the Belgian Draft Mule Team encountered after being rescued from slaughter, first by Fran and Larry Howe of the Bitteroot Mule Company, and finally by Meredith Hodges and the Lucky Three Ranch team of professionals.  This is a poignant story of how Rock gallantly gave his all and how his teammate, Roll, slowly emerged from his shell and learned to trust us and—even more importantly—himself. 

Our regimen of compassion, respect, patience and physical therapy helped both mules to obtain their own personal miracle. 

Rock and Roll touched everyone’s soul by proving they were ready, willing and able to give everything they could, straight from their enormous hearts...a touching story you won’t want to miss.

Give the Gift of the Perfect Partnership!



50% off these amazing DVDs

Get the full story on training your equine with the entire series of 
Training Mules and Donkeys DVDs, #1-10


Go behind the scenes of the equine industry with Those Magnificent Mules.


and our brand new 
ROCK & ROLL: Diary of a Rescue!


Equus Revisited: A Complete Approach to Athletic Conditioning

This four-part, two-DVD set complements Meredith Hodges' original correspondence training series Training Mules & Donkeys with a complete athletic conditioning regimen suitable for all equines—including horses, donkeys, mules and other equine hybrids. Also available in FrenchGerman and Spanish.


50% off

February 5  50% off
A Guide to Raising and Showing Mules
(One Day Sale)

February 17 – 50% off
Donkey Training  


Bonnie’s Bit

Life on the Brass Ass is a mix of good and really bad right now.  Some of the bad is out of my ability to "fix", and some is being worked-on and some must be endured but I am still marching on.

We all have times like this and I have great faith it will improve and I will grow because of it.

All the critturs are healthy and demanding food on a regular basis, so that is a good sign.  Hubby has had one of his much-abused "easy chairs" removed from the house, making room for the Christmas tree next month.  Thanksgiving is gonna be down-sized and simple.  Only one guest--an artist friend of ours who lives alone locally.

Trying to scare up SOME income, I am putting out postcards with 4 of my children's books to likely victims with a pretty good deal.  (I didn't write them, just drew the pictures).  Otherwise, I am awaiting the release of the "Old Apple Tree" yet.

So, this Panic-demmient has me hunkered down like so many others and praying we all survive.  I can tell you that the occasional contact with friends and the daily dealing with my Iris mule and the dogs is keeping me going right now and what a blessing this is.

I wish for all you great mule fans out there for a good Holiday Season with those you love--two-legged and four.  Be Strong and smile at the devil.  It pisses him off!!  Bonnie

                       Hug your asses!!!

 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!


Hearts & Horses has worked tirelessly to get riders back in the saddle safely at the ranch and has adapted in these ever-changing times. One thing that has remained consistent is that the organization is recognized regionally and nationally for their contributions to therapeutic riding. 

Every year, the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH Intl.) accepts nominations for exceptional contributions to the Equine Assisted Activities & Therapy industry, and Hearts & Horses has received three awards for Region 10 and one National award for their exceptional work:

    Carol McKennan
  • Carol McKennan, Volunteer Since 2013, 2020 National PATH International Volunteer of the Year and Region 10 Volunteer of the Year
  • Liz de Kock, Director of Equine Services, Path Intl. Region 10 Credentialed Professional of the Year,
  • Varsity of Lexlin, Member of the Herd since 2013, PATH Intl. Region 10 Equine of the Year
Congratulations to all three of these recipients for the well-deserved honors! 

Due to the reduced capacity that has been necessitated by COVID-19, this year presents the largest financial challenge Hearts & Horses has ever faced. A great way to support them right now is by participating in the Driving Love Raffle. Each raffle ticket purchase gives you the chance to WIN a 24- month lease on a new truck or $10,000 cash!

Help support Hearts & Horses by purchasing a $50 ticket or 5 for $200!

The Driving Love Raffle is generously sponsored by Loveland Ford Lincoln. All proceeds benefit Hearts & Horses. Must be 18 or older to enter. Raffle Drawing: Thurs, Dec 17, 2020, at Hearts & Horses at 1pm MST. For more information and to purchase your raffle tickets, visit

Summer Alameel, Development & Communications Manager

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!


I was at a funeral yesterday.  Even though the gentleman was older (my dad's best friend) you realize that there just isn't enough time to do everything, see everyone, learn and experience all the things you want to do. Take each day as you can.  Read a new book.  Research a new subject. Learn something about the background of your family, look through old family photos. Last week I was at an estate sale and bought a  HUGE and fabulous fossil collection.  In the way of sharing, I have sent packets of small fossils that this woman collected over her lifetime out to teachers and home-schooling friends. I'm sharing, and I want today's kids to have some hands-on experiences.  Her husband was enthusiastic at my idea of sharing a small portion of her life passion (I'm a rock hound and have been my whole life, so getting to do this was a giant tic off my bucket list). My daughter and I went fossil hunting ourselves. We go fishing. She is learning to build things - sheds, goat pens, fences.  She can castrate a calf, give vaccinations, change her car battery or tire.  Break outside the mold.  This year has been BAD, it's causing all of us to face inward, but take some time to get out, do something each day that isn't the norm. Oh, and please, if you have stories your grandparents or parents or friends have told you over the years, please write them down.  Someday they may be valuable to your family or others.    

Stay sane and hug LONGEARS! 

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

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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