KYLE, your Lucky Three Ranch news for September 2021 has arrived!
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Although we were not able to have tours this past year, we did not let COVID slow us down one bit!!! We have been working on an OLDE WESTERN TOWN facade on the back and south side of our equipment barn. We felt this would not only be a great addition to our tours with the opportunity to talk about our Western Heritage, but also a chance to begin a new revenue stream by collecting old Western clothing and offering photos to the public taken in this clothing by appointment only. It will be a lot of fun and will create even more LONGEARS MEMORIES!
Jan Pollema, Executive Director of the HEARTS & HORSES THERAPEUTIC RIDING CENTER,  came for a visit and just loved the idea and got a real kick out of our new town of ASSPEN! Robin Laws and I even took Augie and Spuds, my mini donkeys, for a visit and they loved it, too! It was an opportunity for ANOTHER AUGIE & SPUDS ADVENTURE! Be sure to follow their adventures on the website under TRAINING/ANOTHER AUGIE & SPUDS ADVENTURE along with our other donkey and mule diaries!

Unfortunately, a dear neighbor and close friend of 41 years passed a few months ago. Our property surrounds hers and I kept my promise to keep her view of the magnificent Rocky Mountains clear and present all these years. When the property was offered, I thought it only fitting to add the property to ours (red line).
Although the house and buildings did not pass inspection, we will tear down the asbestos-filled buildings and rebuild a house and shop for my ranch manager and his family (and his mother-in-law!) to live in! I am willing this to them when I pass. Needless to say, we have a lot of work to do. We will keep most of the five acres (3.75 acres) in hay and keep it agricultural while building the house and shop on 1.25 acres. They are so happy to be able to raise their children in this healthy country atmosphere! Those of you that enjoy the country know exactly what I mean! Those of you that are not quite as lucky, be sure to visit your country friends as often as you can!

Take care, God bless and stay healthy!


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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. 



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


“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!

          A.S. H.

PS I have a couple of your books for you to autograph when you get the chance. PPS Tell Jasper I said, “HELLO!”

Longears Limelight

This fall I would like to highlight a lot of my fans who have submitted photographs of them and their Longears! I want to thank all of you for your continued support and wish you every success, and the very BEST, in your endeavors! It does my heart good to see and hear from so many people who are enjoying the animals that have been so maligned in the past. Longears are NOT stubborn! They are loving and affectionate when treated with kindness and respect as I suspect you all know already. You are ALL wonderful and skilled ambassadors for the breed! Keep up the good work! LEARN TOGETHER – EXCEL TOGETHER! I admire you all!




The Jasper Bunkhouse at the Lucky Three Ranch got a surprise addition to the backyard – a custom-built old-time carousel with characters from the book!
Learn how the team conceptualized, planned and executed building out this one-of-a-kind structure complete with statues and art from world-class artists.





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!


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 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


September  2021
Buy the JASPER MOVIE BUNDLE and get the


October  2021

October 26, 2021
50% off EQUUS REVISITED COMBO (One Day Sale)


November  2021

and get the BOOK and CD Free

AND GET 50% off

Bonnie’s Bit

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
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

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. 💙 ➕ 🐎
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!


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
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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