<<First Name>>, your Lucky Three Ranch news for December 2021 has arrived!
Jasper The Mule Products Tours LTR Blog Training
Message From

Dear Friends,

Life has sure been a roller coaster for the past two years, but I must say that having Longears has kept things pretty fun and positive here at the Lucky Three Ranch! I see all of you are enjoying your Longears as well, despite the challenges that we face. I am so thrilled that there are still lots of Longears and their owners taking trail rides, showing and just doing plain old FUN things together! I am so grateful for my Longeared companions and the life that we live! I do feel for those who are not as fortunate as we are!

We had a record hay crop again this year. Normally, our fields will yield about 5000+  bales in a season, but this year we got 7700 bales! It is nice to know we will have two years of hay stored in the barn (in case next year is not as good like we suffered in 2015 when we lost the whole crop to mold!). We also have plenty of weed-free grass hay for the equines at the Hearts and Horses Therapeutic Riding Center with plenty left over to sell. 

Last year, they had to do their Lucky Hearts Gala fundraiser via the internet, but this year, on October 2nd, we were able to meet again in person and had an exceptionally successful fundraiser. This was particularly important to their clients after the previous year’s restrictions from Covid.

The week before Halloween, I was starting to get a bit low, so I decided to have ANOTHER AUGIE & SPUDS ADVENTURE with my mini donkeys! Longears are ALWAYS a good cure for getting rid of the blues and for lifting one’s spirits! I wasn’t sure if they would tolerate my silly ideas, but I should have known that they would, since they are ALWAYS so cooperative about doing all kinds of things with me! I dressed them up as GHOSTS (with holes in the sheets on one day, and as CASPER THE FRIENDLY GHOST on another day). I dressed up as a witch. I wasn’t sure if they would be afraid of me, but they clearly recognized my voice, and probably my scent as well! We had a REALLY FUN time together...with lots of laughs!!!

I find that when we are met with difficult challenges, we do have options available to us. It’s called “Free will!” We can either accept that which we cannot change and find the silver linings, or we can submit to the doldrums. What we decide will become what our lives are all about and will reflect who we are inside! So, my dearest friends, make the choices that will make you happy and that is what you will live, and what you will be!

                     Best wishes and Happy Trails,


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LTR Training Tip #121

Training for Rehabilitation 

Leading exercises for core strength in good equine posture are essential to the health and welfare of the abused equine.

View many more training tips on our YouTube channel.


Question: My Mammoth donkey is having lameness problems off and on, not all the time, in the rear end. He doesn’t like to work in the Round Pen, so it is hard to build up the muscles there.  People have told me that he could have a stifle problem. My vet can’t seem to pinpoint any real problem and the farrier has been trimming him correctly. What can I do to help him stay sound?


There are many who will get locked up in the stifle joint and that would cause random lameness. However, most lameness will occur when the equine’s skeleton is not adequately supported by the surrounding muscle, ligaments, tendons and soft tissue. This can also cause uneven wear of the cartilage inside the joints. If you are willing to stop riding (or driving) for awhile, the passive leading exercises, stretching in our HOURGLASS PATTERN (in the “Elbow Pull” self-correcting postural aid), and doing extensive and meticulous groundwork, can resolve most of these kinds of issues.

Our entire Training Mules and Donkeys series is broken down into small enough steps to identify problems in any equine. It provides exercises that are appropriate for any type of rehabilitation. The key is to always be kind, polite, respectful and considerate throughout all phases of management and training.

If you want an equine that is mentally, physically and emotionally healthy, and capable of being a safe, obedient and willing companion, you need to be willing to be patient, kind and understanding in your approach. Pay attention to those smaller details that will not only improve your equine’s skills, but your own skills as well.

Any equine, abused or not, will let you know when to proceed if you’re willing to pay attention and listen. When he doesn’t comply, he’s not being deliberately disobedient. There’s a reason for his behavior, and it’s up to you to find out what it is. When you watch, listen, are willing to modify your approach and keep the animal’s best interest at heart, there’s nothing he won’t willingly do for you, if he’s capable.



Athletic conditioning is much more than just physical conditioning. Athletic conditioning means paying strict attention to the equine as a whole—mentally, physically and emotionally.  Balancing all the components in your equine’s life is the only way to insure maximum health, longevity, cooperation and performance.

You can buy my books and videos in the STORE and I would be happy to send you a lot more detailed information if you email me at


“I’ve never known anyone who is more knowledgeable, caring, and passionate about Raising, Training, and Caring for her incredible mules. In addition, Meredith is an incredible author and video producer. Cheers to someone who follows their dream and does it all the RIGHT way.”

“Funny I came across this. There is a “proper” method of using the round pen. I love her prep work and reason for using it. But most of the good information is in her replies.”

“I love your work. I watched you on cable TV, seems quite a while ago. It's just a pet peeve of mine when people want to use a round pen and a whip as a starting place just chasing them around until they get tired when they aren't even properly halter broke. So glad you take the time to get on FaceBook!”

Longears Limelight


In December of 1956, the U.S. Army deactivated Hambone at a ceremony at Fort Carson. Hambone was one of the service’s most famous mules. Hamilton T. Bone made a name for himself as jumper by besting thoroughbred horses at local, state and national jumping events. He hit the big time in 1949 when a Life magazine article and photo spread about his exploits appeared following his banishment from participating in the Camp Carson Hunt Club jumper classic— after winning the event the previous year. “Hamilton T. Bone” — Hambone for short — had been foaled in May 1932. The Denver Post says Hambone served two combat missions overseas during World War II and also made three movies in Hollywood. Hambone was known for his silvery white coat and other crowd-pleasing actions during his military career and later in front of audiences at rodeos and equestrian shows. In 1970, a few months before Hambone passed, he was returned to Fort Carson, Colorado to live out his last days. He died March 29, 1971 at the age of 39. He was buried with appropriate military ceremonies in front of the Division Artillery Headquarters. The mule barns at Fort Carson were destroyed in 1970 and regardless of attempts made to reintroduce mules to the military in the 1980’s, the Army has made little use of the animals since 1956.


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 TIPSVIDEO ON DEMAND (RFD-TV Shows and more) MULE CROSSING articles, LONGEARS MUSIC videos, LTR Misc. Music VideosWhat'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 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.  


AND KIDS!...Don’t forget to visit




JASPER THE MULE thought it might be a really good idea to build a carousel in the backyard of his JASPER BUNKHOUSE! We all have hopes and dreams, but what makes certain people devote a lifetime, through sheer will and dedication, to forging their dream into reality? The answer lies in an unwavering belief in the importance of the dream and a passion that, even after decades of work and struggle, still burns bright. In order to make this vision to come true and the dreams that go with it come to life, it takes a team of remarkable, creative and skillful people. These are the “stars” of the Lucky Three Ranch!
Watch this documentary about how our team built this amazing carousel from the ground up, with no prior carousel template, on our website in the VIDEO ON DEMAND (VOD) section, or buy your own DVD copy at


All four TMM DOCUMENTARIES in a package (one with Rock &
   Roll Blu Ray and one with Rock & Roll Standard DVD) 50% off

     both versions 50% off 




February 5, 2021 (1-day sale)



February 12, 2021

Bonnie’s Bit

Times are pretty quiet for the Mule Artist these days!  It took a LOT of "bad-stuff" to do it, too.

Age and arthritis have caught up with me and I have decided to NOT do Bishop again. (breaks my heart).  The Idaho draft horse and mule show has shot it's "wad" and between the virus and the 100 plus weather in July anymore, it will probably not ever happen again.  All I have left is Hells Canyon Mule Days and the Gov of Oregon loved shutting that one down at the LAST minute!!  That's what she did this year!

So, I am trying to re-invent myself at this advanced age and it ain't easy!!!

In the meantime, I do my best to help my hubby with his health problems and handicaps, keep my sweet mule (IRIS) fed along with my also sweet barn cat, "Sammy" and the two wild dogs, Cleo the Airdale and Mac, the Welch Corgi, out of dog-jail and from going totally nutZ with the confinement we all feel anymore.

It is finally winter here in north Idaho and it snows occasionally and looks like a Christmas card--and then it rains and looks like a giant mud-puddle.  At least we are getting moisture.  I try not to complain.

Grain prices for mule-feed have run off the page and Iris thinks she is fine with tossing her hay (scarce around here) all OVER the place and then walking all over it.  She IS a Princess, you know!

SOOO---- I am doing what I can to hang in there and stay outta trouble for now.  Am open to suggestions as long as they don't involve computers or airplanes!!

On a high note. Liz Hughey the Cowgirl poet and I have won some MORE national awards for the pack mule series of children's books.  This time it is from the 9th annual EQUIS FILM & ARTS FESTIVAL that was held last month.  For children's books, Liz won the FIRST for Barney and "runner-up" for "Trash Talk".  This outfit ONLY awards a FIRST and a runner-up.  I won "runner-up" for "Trash Talk".

All you Jasper and Meredith Hodges fans out there have a Great Christmas and 2022.  We are all in this together.  Bonnie


Visit our Lucky Three Ranch WEB STORE to view and purchase. 

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



Meet Diane B.-- 

“Not A Wheelchair Kind of Girl”

Story and Photography by Michael Rothschild

It’s a beautiful Colorado afternoon. Diane, riding Mac, is flashing a smile that would light up a room. It’s a long way from a terrifying afternoon in 2015, when a surgeon told her a work accident had resulted in severe nerve damage that would never heal, and that she should “sit in her wheelchair and adjust to her life”. 

But Diane refused, saying “No, that doesn’t work for me. I’m just not a wheelchair kind of girl.”

By 2019, Diane had undergone 4 surgeries, one of which fused her spine. She had progressed from a wheelchair to a walker, and was receiving intensive physical therapy. But she hated the therapy because it was painful, and she didn’t feel like she was getting any stronger. When she was able to walk with just a cane, she started looking for other treatment options.

Diane had learned to ride when she was younger and loved it. Towards the end of 2020, she saw the sign for Hearts & Horses. She thought, “Hey, if I had help, I might be able to ride again!” She was so excited that she called and talked to Lauren and Liz. She told them that due to her accident she couldn’t bend like she used to. But they were absolutely sure she could learn to ride again.

Diane started riding at Hearts & Horses in January 2021. At first, she was petrified, afraid she would fall off her horse. However, with both a horse leader and a side walker she felt safe. By her third lesson, she started to think “Wait a minute, wait a minute, I might just be able to do this!”

By August, only 8 months later, Diane was riding independently. She now cries in class a lot. She says, “I have to keep reminding people. I'm okay. I'm happy! I'm not sad. I'm on a horse and I'm so happy just to be here!”

In addition to her time at Hearts & Horses, Diane now leases a horse and rides on her own three days a week. She is sure this is due to the help she got at Hearts & Horses. She says, “Because these guys helped me get my confidence back, my balance, and my core, I literally went from a walker in 2020 to now walking and riding on my own. I now believe in horses far more than I believe in surgery.” 

Her life has changed in other ways as well. Though Diane hasn’t been able to work since 2015, thanks to her increased strength and mobility she is now able to walk without support. She has been hired as a substitute teacher for the Poudre School District. She says “Before the accident, I had always worked. Having a job has brought a massive improvement in my mental health!”

What’s the most important thing Diane learned at Hearts & Horses? 

“There’s always hope. Ask for help, even when you think it’s hopeless.” 


Summer Alameel, Development & Communications Manager
Hearts & Horses - 163 N. CR 29 - Loveland, CO  80537
Phone: (970) 663-4200 x 307   COVID-19 Updates  
Hearts & Horses is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and we are proud to be a PATH Intl. Premier Accredited Center

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!



One more year is ticking off of the calendar. You wonder why it is so slow to come round, then suddenly it has cascaded into "Where did it go?". It's the end of the year, the seasons have changed, and soon you will have to write a new set of numbers on your checks. 

First, sit down, take a breath, and make a list.  Doesn't matter how long the list is, make it a list of all the things you still need to get done.  Don't hobble yourself, write it ALL down. AFTER you have the list, stand up, freshen up that cup of coffee, or cocoa, or iced tea, or whatever your favorite beverage may be (knowing we have both Northern and Southern hemisphere members). 

Now, sit back down and look at the list. Add anything else that may spring to mind.  Look one more time, and then number them in order of importance.  Or, mark them in colors - red, yellow, green, doesn't matter. Organize it in some manner, stuff that needs to be done RIGHT NOW, stuff that may need a day that you have helpers, stuff that can wait until you have that spare five minutes. THEN, work every day, every week, try and get some of those items marked off.  Dripping faucet?  Pick up the washer next time you are in town. If you don't have that five minutes when you get home, clip the washer to your fridge or your to-do list.  Five minutes to spare while supper is cooking, or waiting for the clothes to dry?  Change the washer.  Got chores done early?  Take those extra minutes and sweep the cobwebs out of the corners. Check the electrical outlets. Soak the brushes.  Oil a bridle.  If we let the list get too long, it gets us down, thinking it's just too much, and we all tend to just ignore the entire thing. One chore at a time.  If the job is too big, break it down into pieces on your list, and know that doing just part (making sure the battery packs are charged, buying a new box of screws, making sure the paintbrushes are useable, whatever) of a BIG task is still progress. 

And as always, make taking care of yourself part of your yearly to-do list.  Take a couple of hours and take a nap.  Read a book. Have your hair done.  Buy a new shirt, or a bling-y halter because it makes you happy.  

In closing, there is one chore we all try to avoid, but it is vitally important.  On those long cold nights, make sure you have a Will and a Medical Directive, and that your family knows your wishes.  Specifics for this vary from state to state and for other countries, but many can now be done via a kit you can purchase or even download.  If the worst should happen, you want to make sure your family knows your wishes (medically and final). It's important. Trust me. 

I hope you all have a wonderful and uneventful season and have the opportunity to gather with family and friends. 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
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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