|ASK MEREDITH A QUESTION|
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|LTR Training Tip #19|
Turning Fear Into Curiosity
Leading training on the obstacle course is your equine's initial exposure to real fear. Meredith explains how to turn that initial fear into a curiosity that will positively guide your equine's future interactions with the world!
View many more training tips on our YouTube channel.
Question: My mule is very nervous about new things and when I try to approach the things he seems to be fearful of, he just pulls the rope out of my hands and runs off. Getting him near anything he doesn’t like is impossible. If he doesn’t want to go with me, he will do the same thing. Most of the time he is really good, but if I take him trail riding, I am afraid he will do this on the trail and I could lose him. How can I get him to calm down and trust me?
Answer: Equines always do better when they have a definite and consistent routine from their owners that they can rely upon. The following information will help you to structure their management and training for the best results. Although we begin our DVD series with “Foal Training,” no matter how old, you should always begin training with imprinting and move forward from there with attention to feed as well. This will insure a positive introduction and will help to build a good relationship with your equine. Our methods are meant to be done in a sequence and taking shortcuts or changing our method in some way will not yield the same results. After many years of training for other people, I have found that equines, especially mules and donkeys, bond to the person who trains them. When they go away to other people, they do not get the benefit of this bonding and can become resistant over time when they return home. After all, you wouldn't ask someone else to go out and make a friend for you, would you? This is the primary reason I put my entire training program in books and videos, in a natural order like grade school is for children, for people to use as a resistance free correspondence training course instead of doing clinics and seminars. People are encouraged to use the series and to contact me via mail, email or telephone for answers to any questions. This way your questions can be answered promptly.
No matter how old or how well trained the equine, they still need time doing the simplest of things to get to know you before they will learn to trust and have confidence in you. The exercises that you do should build the body slowly, sequentially and in good equine posture. No human or equine is born in good posture. It is something that needs to be taught and practiced repetitively if it is to become a natural way of moving the body. When the body is in good posture, all internal organs can function properly and the skeletal frame will be supported correctly. Just as our children need routine, ongoing learning and the right kind of exercise while they are growing up, so do equines. They need boundaries for their behavior clearly outlined to minimize anxious behaviors and inappropriate behavior, and the exercises that you do together need to build their strength and coordination in good equine posture. The time spent together during leading training and going forward builds a good solid relationship with your equine and fosters his confidence and trust in you because you actually help him to feel physically better. A carefully planned routine and an appropriate feeding program is critical to healthy development.
Most equines never experience core muscle strength and this becomes even more important as they age. We do leading training for a full year to not only get them to learn to lead and to develop a good relationship with them, but also to develop good posture and core muscle strength in preparation to carry a rider. Leading lessons for postural strength and balance need only be done for 15-20 minutes once a week to be certain that they aren’t fighting balance problems later when you mount and ride. Even an older equine with previous training would still need this for optimum performance and longevity. During the time you do the leading training strengthening exercises, you should NOT ride the animal as this will inhibit the success of the preliminary exercises. If you ride while you do these exercises, it will not result in the same proper muscle conditioning, habitual behavior and new way of moving. The lessons need to be routine and done in good posture to acquire the correct results. Hold the lead rope in your LEFT hand, keep his head at your shoulder, match your steps with his front legs, point in the direction of travel with your right hand and look where you are going doing straight lines, gradual arcs and square him up with equal weight over all four feet EVERY TIME you stop.
TRAINING QUESTION CONT.
We are building NEW habits in their way of moving and the only way that can change is through routine, consistency in the routine and correctness in the execution of the exercises. Since this also requires that you be in good posture as well, you will also reap the benefits from this regimen. Along with feeding correctly, these exercises will help equines to drop fat rolls and to begin to take on a more correct shape and become strong in good posture. When they are comfortable in their bodies and feel through a predictable routine that they can trust you, their fear will be replaced with a sense of curiosity as they spend time with you.
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 email@example.com.
READERS & VISITORS
“I had a persistent FAN of many years, and his parents, show up to meet me. We had told them we weren’t doing tours, but they made plans for their vacation from Ohio and could not change them. They showed up when I was eating lunch on Thursday and the girls turned them away. They came back on Friday with four of my books to autograph. I didn’t have the heart to turn them away, so I gave them a nice tour! After the tour, I went back to my office to find this wonderful letter written by the young man. I thought it might be nice to share this with you rather than just listing a few testimonials. ENJOY!” – Meredith
Dear Meredith Hodges,
Yesterday, I stopped by the Lucky Three Ranch for the first time in my life. Even though there wasn’t a lot going on, it was still nice to see the place that the mules call their home. I have heard that many of your clients are much older folk. I appreciate what you and everyone else at the Lucky Three are trying to do to keep them all safe during the pandemic. Also, I have heard about how you are currently educating the next generations of people on how to train, care for and breed mules and donkeys (Mammoths included) through books and DVDs. In my opinion, I think that it’s a rather fascinating and nice way to give people an insight on how they can raise mules and donkeys the way that you do so well.
I have been enamored of your passions and work with Longeared equines since High School. During that time, I was always intrigued with reading your books that support my knowledge about how I can work with, and breed donkeys and mules later on. I have been given a couple training DVDs from the Lucky Three Ranch about how to raise your own breeding jack. Speaking of jacks, I was in awe of Little Jack Horner, how versatile he was as both a competitor, even in jumping, and as an extremely popular herd sire for the mules that became popular in what they can do today, be it riding, driving, etc.
Then, I would be more than honored to inform you that since 2018 – 2019, I have become the proud owner of a currently 2 and a half-year-old Mammoth jack named Lennie. His name was inspired by John Steinbeck’s book, “Of Mice and Men.” Right now, this young jack is currently in training to drive in the cart and seems to be doing well at his job. Training him to drive and ride is just a way to introduce him to work and things to look forward to besides breeding, which is what you taught me in your books. His main purpose will be working as a breeding jack for both mules and Mammoth donkeys.
I would like to bring up that I attended the Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI); which is a branch of OSU, and is located in Wooster, Ohio. There, I took college courses in equine management, especially breeding work which involves experiences with both mares and stallions. The way I can apply these experiences for my own future in equines that will range from broodmare, jenny and herd sire management, to working with and marketing the young stock, be it mule or donkey. I have also taken a riding course in college which will positively add to my experiences in riding both Mammoths and mules.
In conclusion, I would like to say that it is very benevolent what the Lucky Three Ranch is doing to ensure the safety of its clients during COVID. I am also honored to have you as a reference in my quest to work with both donkeys and mules in the near or far future. I feel that following most of your works and experiences will benefit me as an owner to a Mammoth jack that will be able to have such a bright future ahead of him. If the pandemic lifts and it is safe for everyone to mingle, I hope that there can be a time to tour Lucky Three Ranch and we can get to talk to one another, even on the matter of Longears. Hope to see you soon!
PS I have a couple of your books for you to autograph when you get the chance. PPS Tell Jasper I said, “HELLO!”
ROCK AND ROLL: DIARY OF A RESCUE
(DVD AND BLU RAY)
Rock and Roll: Diary of 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!
WATCH THE TRAILER
We are so excited to announce that Rock and Roll: Diary of a Rescue won three TELLY AWARDS: 2 SILVER awards for the INDIVIDUAL DOCUMENTARY and EDUCATIONAL DOCUMENTARY divisions and 1 BRONZE award in the ENTERTAINMENT DOCUMENTARY division! This brings our total to
24 TELLY AWARDS for the production of our quality DVDS, TV SHOWS
and DOCUMENTARIES! Be sure to enjoy them all on our website at www.luckythreeranch.com either in the VIDEO ON DEMAND section under TRAINING or purchase your own copies in our STORE!
Lucky Three Productions is always working with YOU in mind!
Photo of Meredith with her Telly Awards
October 26, 2021
50% off EQUUS REVISITED COMBO (One Day Sale)
Buy JASPER: A TURKEY TALE DVD
and get the BOOK and CD Free
AND GET 50% off
TRAINING MULES & DONKEYS BOOK
This summer has--so far--been a real challenge for everyone and everything! June was actually pretty normal which I seriously needed to recover from the physical efforts it took to do Bishop Mule Days. Never again will I try to do a show from a pick-up truck. If you have no knees and are 80 years old, it just does NOT work.
I got down to business coming up with a cover sketch for Irene Brown's next story about the young woman and her mules and adventures. She OK'd the sketch and by the end of June, I was pretty well done with the painting. Good thing, as that is when the HEATWAVE hit north Idaho--just before our annual draft horse/mule show in Couer d Alene, Idaho. I have had my booth at this event for 40+ years. And, usually, I have my helper, Cheryl Mundee, with me, but she just could not be there for the whole thing. I set my show up in 104 degrees and by the time Cheryl came for her over-night help for me, I was very close to being sick from the heat and the work. She could only give me this one afternoon, but it shure saved me!!! It was so hot--even by sundown--that we elected to spread our sleeping gear on the ground next to the camper to sleep outside. Cheryl said she'd never done that and doubted she would be able to sleep like that. Well--she went right to sleep and snored ALL night.
The show is 4 days and I managed to get through it, but folks come to watch the performances and the vendors (all 5 of us) were pretty scarce in 100+ temps.
Not much for sales so my financial hole began to deepen, as usual, but I got to work on the 13 pen & ink illustrations for Liz Hughey's sweet poem about little girls and horses. Was down to the last 5 or so when my sweet daughter swept in from Santa Fe, NM for her annual check-up on mom. Boy, I wish she lived closer, but I SO appreciate her coming. She could only take it for 5 days, though!!! OH, well.
Got the poem done and shipped off to Indiana and took up the book cover again as Irene was not happy with it as it was. "Back to the Drawing Board!!"
In the meantime, we were getting lots of forest fires all around us and the air was barely breathable. It wasn't long until it got kinda close by as there was a lighting-caused fire in the eastern slope of Trestle Creek ridge, just east of us maybe seven miles as the bird flies, and where the young couple who do odd jobs for my husband and I own a place. It got so close to them they brought three of their old pick-ups full of their tools, etc. and parked them in Iris's front pasture. That fire is now pretty well out but the second one on the other side of the ridge is still very much going. It is in steep, rocky and rough terrain so there isn't much they can do to kill it right now. But the smoke is getting thinner up there so it may just be running out of fuel by now.
August reminded me it has been three years since I road Iris, my mule. SHE doesn't seem to mind this, but I am resigned to being ground-bound. Too many painful joints and no one to ride with for safety. I'm OK with it. Iris is still my treasure and my sweet friend. Hope you have a critter in your life to be like this for you.
Happy and Healthy Trails out there,
Visit our Lucky Three Ranch WEB STORE to view and purchase.
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!
Meet Ariana (& Connie)!
Ariana began to work with Hearts & Horses by participating in our powerfully transformative Changing Leads program and now rides in our Interactive Vaulting program. Before partnering with our outstanding staff, volunteers and equines, Ariana struggled to control her emotions, and cope with her rough start to life. “I can have anger issues. I went to so many therapists and that really didn’t help me. So Grandma put me at Hearts & Horses and this has really helped me,” she says.
Riding has encouraged Ariana to be more mindful and it makes her feel more calm, confident, and self-aware. Her passion for vaulting is palpable and she says she’s here to “build up my dance moves!”
This past year was a life-changing year for Ariana whose adoption finally went through during the COVID-19 shutdown. Her Great Grandmother / adoptive parent Connie is determined to show Ariana a new way of life, and programs like ours are a window to a different way of living for the little girl she loves so much.
"I don’t ask for help except for from an organization like this. The scholarship really makes it possible for us to be here. I always tell people who are having a hard time with their kids, go to Hearts & Horses." Connie C., Great Grandmother / adoptive parent
Summer Alameel, Development & Communications Manager
The legendary Hearts & Horses silent auction will be online again this year so anyone, near or far, can participate and support the Hearts & Horses mission. Bidding starts September 27th and concludes October 2, 2021 at 10 pm. This year our goal is to raise $350,000 of vital funding for our programming and operational needs! Join in on the FUN-ding by bidding on our unique items and follow us on Facebook to watch program highlights throughout the week! Each year we serve 1000 participants and we NEVER turn a participant away due to inability to pay, and that’s thanks to supporters like YOU! This silent auction is vital to supporting the organization’s programs throughout the year. Hearts & Horses serves all age groups in our community – veterans, people with physical and cognitive disabilities, seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and at-risk youth – all in partnership with an amazing herd of horses. 💙 ➕ 🐎
Hearts & Horses - 163 N. CR 29 - Loveland, CO 80537
Phone: (970) 663-4200 x 307 www.HeartsAndHorses.org 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
Some days things do not work out the way you want them to. You drop the phone. You are out of shampoo. You forget to put the coffee cup under the drip. The ice maker is frozen up and leaking water into the pan. Little things, but big impact on your physical and mental well-being, especially if they all happen at once.
Your animals can sense this. If you have a show coming up, or an important lesson, these small changes can have a huge effect on your body language. Take a few minutes to go sit on the porch and recenter. Cut some flowers for the table. Pull some weeds and fling them into the manure heap. Get yourself recentered so that you don't pass along the jitters and "off" vibes to your animals. They WILL know. Sometimes they can help comfort you, just take that extra few minutes to get a hug from a donkey (they love to lay that big head over your shoulder). Give them an extra bit of carrot and a good grooming. Breathe. Clean tack. Sweep the aisles vigorously. If you can, feed everyone, turn them out for a day, and take a short drive to town. Getaway for a bit.
Animals are super sensitive to our moods and body language. They can sense when you are off, and react in a number of ways. Rather than let all your worries and troubles fall on them, take a step back. Know it is a bad day and do what you can to ride it out or make it better. It's all up to you.
Here's to more better days, my friends.
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 http://www.lovelongears.com/main.htm