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

Dear Friends,

Like many of you, our summer was less than normal and posed a lot of unexpected challenges. We were hoping to be able to open up again and resume our tours with so many fans and friends who loved to come to visit, but it was not to be. But rather than becoming saddened by the restrictions on our social life, we opted to see the bright side of things and began to appreciate the extra time we had to get caught up on things that had been sidelined for a while, and began to move forward on our new projects.

No matter what we might have liked, Mother Nature had her own plans about when we would be able to cut, bale and stack the hay. We had a small window from rain appear in mid-June so we thought we had better go for it. This was NOT a normal season! We were doing pretty good until the stacker got bogged down in the mud and had to be dragged out with the tractor, the baler got hot and the clutch seized up and, as the grand finale, when we were done getting in the hay and got started irrigating, the irrigation system blew out a pod and we had “Old Faithful” right there at the north end of our hayfield. We were shut down for almost three weeks with no irrigation (just a sprinkle of rain...Thank you, God!) and finally received the hose we needed from ITALY to get the irrigation system up and running again...only temporarily, however! Once all the fields are irrigated, we will now have to replace miles of underground PVC pipe with steel pipe! The silver lining in all of this is that we found the steel pipe at an incredible discount from a friend and once replaced, we will never have to deal with blowing the pods where the reel plugs in again.

It wasn’t only our hayfield irrigation that ran amok. We had a severe lightning storm that took out the computer system in all three of our wells. But there was a positive side to that as well! The well company that we use was so busy that they couldn’t come out and set the speed on the JASPER CAROUSEL turntable which was the very last thing to finalize that project. When our wells went out, the job was large enough to warrant their attention and we got EVERYTHING fixed all at once, including the JASPER CAROUSEL! Now, if we can just open up those tours again! And yes, we made the carousel hearty enough so adults can ride, too!


When the tours can finally open up again, we will now have a wonderful new and exciting addition to the ranch, our OLD WESTERN TOWN by the name of ASSPEN, Colorado! It is situated on the west side of our equipment barn and caddy-corner from the JASPER BUNKHOUSE. It will include the Okie Dokey Undertaker, Chaney’s Church, Sheriff/Jail, the Burro Bank, the Lazy Ass General Store, L.J.’s Barber Shop, the Wild Ass Saloon, Bea’s Bath House and the Longears Livery & Blacksmith Shop! We are in the final stages right now, picking the stain and paint for the buildings and finishing up the historical paintings that will be enlarged and mounted in the lighted windows. We can’t wait to decorate the whole thing with Christmas lights! When all this craziness has passed, we hope you will all plan for a visit! We sure missed you all this summer!     


All the mules, donkeys, horses...and the cats...are doing well! They provided us with consistency and good examples of virtue, patience and endurance throughout the summer! They really seem to know how to accept that which you cannot change! It has been a real joy to work with my two Large Standard donkeys, Chasity (our new donkey) and Wrangler through the spring and summer. They are such willing and happy companions! Of course, my 16 other mules, donkeys and miniature horse get equal time and attention, too! I can’t imagine life without them!

Challenging times require desperate measures and a positive attitude! My Grandmother always used to say, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” We should be able to compete in the W.W.E. by now!!! LOL!

Best wishes and Happy Trails,

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Our 2020 tours 
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Call 1-800-816-7566
Have a question for Meredith or want to give us feedback?
For more information on groundwork (lunging and turns), check out the Training Mules and Donkeys DVD series at, or TMD Episode 5: The Round Pen and 19: Donkey Training, Part 3 at, and download the Training Tip Tutorial at
View many more training tips on our YouTube channel.
LTR Training Tip #56

Lunge Line Training

Learn how to train your equine on the lunge line. 


Question:  How do you get your donkeys to lunge? My donkey will not go in a circle around me.  All he wants to do is follow me and he gets scared and runs away if I use a whip.  

Answer: Lunging a donkey on a lunge line in an open area may seem like an impossible task, but when you take the time to break things down into very small steps and do them in a logical and sequential order that they can understand, there is nothing they will not do for you. People have often told me that training donkeys are very different from training horses and mules, but I have always used the same basic approach with only a   few “tweaks” here and there. I have to make those kinds of small adjustments for each individual equine anyway! So, “No,” it’s not that different! 

The tack used with the “Elbow Pull” is not uncomfortable for your equine and it is impossible to affect their posture without using a snaffle bit. Since they do not respect a hard tie and will fling themselves over backward if you try, horses need a little different approach when securing the “Elbow Pull” than do donkeys and mules (covered in our EQUUS REVISITED DVD sold in our STORE).  It will help him to maintain his good equine posture in an ideal balance while executing all the moves that are asked. Most disobedience is generally due to a loss of balance or just falling out of good posture! Repetition in this tack and equipment changes their body carriage to a more ideal posture that will become their habitual way of going. This is much healthier, reduces the incidence of arthritis and allows the internal organs to operate as intended. Over the long term, this approach to training adds longevity to their use-life. After doing their core strength balanced leading exercises on the flat ground and then later over obstacles, the equine graduates to lunging in the Round Pen. I introduce the lunge line in the Round Pen so we won’t get into a pulling match in an open area. I keep it loose and only do a “squeeze-release” on the lunge line with my fingers as the outside front foot comes forward into suspension. This causes the front foot to land on the arc of the circle without throwing the animal off balance and becomes the “cue” to keep them on the circle in the open areas later without having to pull drastically on the lunge line!    

If you email me at,    
I am happy to send you even more details about this for FREE!


“I have been associated with Meredith Hodges for many years and know her to be a renowned world equine professional, specializing in mules. She has spent a lifetime of dedication and focus on the improvement and advancement of this breed. She has always concentrated on educating through patience, kindness, consideration and respect for her students and her mules. No one is more highly respected in this field and I know that her knowledge is a must for every person who owns and loves their mules. She has definitely “raised the bar” for the standard of excellence for equine educational books.”

Richard Shrake, A.Q.H.A. Congress Judge

I have known Meredith and her work for around thirty years and have always been an admirer. What Meredith doesn't know about training mules and donkeys isn't worth knowing. I am delighted to see this colorful new edition of her book, Training Mules and Donkeys: A Logical Approach to Longears. As with children and dogs, a well-trained mule or donkey is a happy one - every mule or donkey lover needs this book to train them well and keep them both happy. I cannot recommend this book too highly, it is an excellent piece of work and every mule-or donkey-lover should have one.

Lorraine Hawkins, British Mule Society

"Meredith and her Lucky Three Ranch has shared her passion for the American mule through her work as a trainer, artist, educator and author. She has broken barriers like no one else in her quest to tell the unique story of the Mule. Her Ranch facilities as well as her work through many venues and organizations have gone to show the amazing bond that exists between humans and animals - especially the mule. In addition to all this, she is a tireless supporter and promoter of numerous worthy causes, events and organizations."

Jennifer Roeser, McGee Creek Pack Station


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Rock and Roll: Diary of a Rescue documents the progress of 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!








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Longears Limelight
Hearts and Horses Therapeutic Riding Stable

LONGEARS are no stranger to the Hearts and Horses Therapeutic Riding Stable in Loveland, Colorado.  Their work with LONGEARS as therapy animals began with Katie who was honored at the Lucky Three Ranch Jasper Celebration Day in 2005 and later retired. Sadie (Foaled in 1997), Allie (Foaled in 2003) and Lass (Foaled in 2003) are still enjoying what they do and are working diligently with clients of all kinds: disabled, at-risk kids, Alzheimer’s patients, Veterans and many more. LONGEARS make incredibly successful therapy animals! Hearts and Horses is one of the very best equine therapy stables in the whole world!


Bonnie’s Bit

Isn’t this virus thing supposed to keep us locked in our homes and eating doughnuts?  So far, that hasn’t happened to me this summer.  With a handicapped hubby and all these critturs to take care of--and out of trouble--. Laundry, dirty dishes, mule pucky and dog leavins, too.  Well, I was kinda lost in there for a while and then the 27 mules on the combined painting had to be done by Hells Canyon show, so I jumped on that for three weeks and got’er done.  Print will be out by October and I’m sure the Lucky Three web site will show it to you--and try to con ya into buying the thing!

Then, my dear friend and neighbor, Jack Parnell with the fine line of Clydesdale horses, decided he had another book inside his heart and came to me with the script.  It is about an ancient apple tree on his ranch and this tree has a tale to tell and wisdom to impart and Jack needs pictures to go with the story and will I do them? SURE.  So, your mule artist has been chained to the drawing board and painting stuff you will not believe when this sweet book comes out. The “kicker” is, the printer wants it OUT and in the stores for the Christmas market and they pronounce a deadline of Sept 1.  I’m NOT going to make it!!!  They are going to hafta go to plan B.  Every illustration (19 of them) is full of details and situations and period stuff that has to be done right so it has gone really slow sometimes.  Then, this week Jack dreamed up a whole ‘nuther illustration and asked me to do the cover, which I thought had been covered by a photo of the tree.  Well, the photo is still IN but he wants MORE, so I am adding the tree’s “friends” to the cover.

Haven’t been on my sweet mule for a year now.  Too dangerous to ride alone and too hard getting on and off.  I miss it but I don’t miss all the work it takes to get the trailer out and everything gathered to go with it and traveling to a spot we can trail in--should one of my friends volunteer to go with me.  I am grateful for Jack’s sweet story and the opportunity to be a part of its message.

Mornings are already chilly in north Idaho.  What happened to summer?  I am behind on EVERYTHING!!!  Keep those traces outta them places!! 



Lucky Three Ranch Web Store




Visit Bonnie's website 
to find out more about the 
Wild and Wonderful World of 

Bonnie Shields
Tennessee Mule Artist, Cowboy Cartoonist & True Artist!


Or for more information call Bonnie at 208-263-6534  

After needing to cancel the Spring and Summer session at Hearts & Horses, the organization has entered their third phase of reopening this month and are happy to welcome back participants that need special care and support while riding. To ensure the highest level of safety for their riders, volunteers and staff, Hearts & Horses developed an emergency task force to help navigate the challenging and ever-changing landscape of the health and safety recommendations from state and federal agencies. While their services may look a little different with new robust safety and sanitation measures, they have been able to continue serving the wide cross-section of people with physical, mental and social disabilities in our community. While the smiles may be behind masks and face shields, the mission of Hearts & Horses to promote the well-being of these underserved populations has adapted to meet the needs of their participants. 
The new culture of adapting to change and keeping everyone safe has carried over to the Hearts & Horses’ annual fundraising event the Lucky Hearts Gala. This event is presented by Lucky Three Ranch, and this year marks the 20th Anniversary of this important event! In the spirit of change and adapting to given circumstances, the 20th Annual Lucky Hearts Gala will be a virtual experience which provides an opportunity for sponsors, auction donors and the organization to reach far more people by bringing the mission of Hearts & Horses into their homes to be shared with family and friends, wherever they may be!

For more information about the 20th Annual Lucky Hearts Gala Presented by Lucky Three Ranch and how you can get involved, visit
Jan Pollema, Executive Director

Loveland, CO | 970-663-4200 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization

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!


Is the summer over yet?  These long, hot days, some of us long for cooler weather, long shaggy coats on our longears, cups of hot chocolate. I suppose it's winter in the other half of the world - are they longing for summer days? A ride on the beach with your mule?  Sitting by the pond with a cane pole and a line, "helped" by donkeys or other curious creatures?  Or just sitting back in a rocker on the porch and watching the donkeys take a nap in the shade of the big tree.  

Some days are just longer than others, more emails, more phone calls, more days when the cows push the fence down or there is a fire across the street… yet we all keep pushing forward, doing what we can to live life and manage things for our family and our animals.

Right now it's time to put up hay, and some fields are looking like they have quite the yield, fingers crossed for everyone that the quality is high and supply is plentiful.  We are doing our own... now if we can get a good mix of rain and sunshine for one more cutting! Got to see the draft horses, mustang, donkey, longhorn cattle and the goats through the winter! 
Whether you have a pair of longears or a whole spread, you will know, as I do, the wonderful days when you have those moments to just sit and enjoy them, or those days where everything goes wrong and it is an emergency.  I hope you have more of the former rather than of the latter.   My farm has now but one living Longear, dear Rabbit, and he will live out his days here, but this may see the last of the donkeys and mules for me… right now I feel to old to start again.  Perhaps 2021 will come in with new, fresh energy and enthusiasm!  Only a few more months, and we can turn a new leaf, hopefully with better news and a brighter outlook! 
Stay safe, hug your longears, 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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It 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), Wrangler's Donkey Diary (Management & training of our new donkey gelding) and a new category has just been added titled 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 STORE. This website is like no other!



And for the kids, don’t forget to visit JASPER’S NEW & IMPROVED WEBSITE for lots of fun, entertainment and the ultimate Longears Learning experience! 

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