<<First Name>>, your Lucky Three Ranch news for December 2022 has arrived!
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Dear Friends,

There is a reason they call this state, COLORFUL COLORADO! Each season is marked with its own variations of color that reflect the mood of each season. Even winter is not devoid of spectacular colors of its own in variations of white, grays and shades of black and brown. Spring comes in with lime greens, neon pinks and a variety of shimmering pastels. Summer colors are deep and rich with the density of the hayfield grasses, leafy trees and flowers that decorate the Lucky Three Ranch. Even the hair coats on the various animals, both domestic and feral, reflect the colors of the seasons. But there are none more brilliant than the colors of fall! After the second cutting of hay still leaves a variety of deep greens in the fields, and the grassy areas around the buildings are still lush and rich with color. Trees are only beginning to lose their leaves and the animals have their short summer coats until mid-October, or early November. We do regular maintenance of cleaning the bronze statues that only enhances and punctuates this panorama of color. 

We have been closed to tours for two years now, the first year because of Covid-19 and in the second year because of major construction on the property. We truly missed all of our visitors, but we will have some amazing new exhibits to show all of those who opt to come see us when we reopen in April of 2023! Some of you have already seen pictures of some of the things we were doing, but the photos don’t do justice quite like seeing these things up close and personal! You are in for a real treat when the Lucky Three Ranch again opens for tours!

I have deliberately tried to make our Social Media posts more numerous, particularly on Facebook! Don’t worry if you find you cannot be a “FRIEND” to me on Facebook. I have two pages: my MEREDITH HODGES FRIENDS page is generally maxed out at 5000, but I always post exactly the same thing on my MEREDITH HOGES PUBLIC FIGURE Facebook page and that has unlimited access. As a bonus on the MEREDITH HOGES PUBLIC FIGURE Facebook page, I exclusively allow “SHARING” from that page. If you need to get in touch with me with any questions or concerns, you are welcome to email me at and I will answer promptly.
We continue to document new equine management and training discoveries, post them publicly, and our documentary library continues to grow. Our book library has expanded with the addition of our latest 400-page Coffee Table book about BONNIE SHIELDS: TENNESSEE MULE ARTIST. There is more about this project in this newsletter in From Our Readers & Visitors and in What’s New?

I hope you all were able to have a warm and relaxing summer, and spend lots of time with your equines. I found that when I feel any depression creeping in, being with my animals is the best place to be...instant therapy! Their warmth and humor never fails to brighten my days. I hope this is true for all of you as well.

                     Best wishes and Happy Trails,


Click below for our winter sales
Our tours will resume april 2023!
Have a question for Meredith or want to give us feedback?
LTR Training Tip #123

Liberty Work

Meredith Hodges shares when its appropriate in the training process to engage in liberty work so you don't create bad pastural habits with your equine. For more information on leading, check out the Training Mules and Donkeys DVD series at, and download the Training Tip Tutorial at

View many more training tips on our YouTube channel.


Question: My mule and my donkey do so well during the spring, summer and fall.  But, when winter comes and there is snow on the ground, or rain pouring down, I am at a loss and don’t know what I can do. I do not have an indoor arena to practice what we are usually doing, so what can I do so they can stay fit and be ready to ride in the spring?

Answer: After spring, summer and fall come and go, the cold days of winter can easily become an excuse to slow down and do less, but winter can be just as fun and full of activities with your equine as any other season. Along with the basics—food, water and shelter—your equine needs activities to keep him fit and happy. Like any of us, he doesn’t want to be active only part of the year and then left alone during the winter months, bored and lonely (not to mention the stress he will feel when he has to be reconditioned every spring). Instead, it’s healthier for him, both physically and mentally, to be active and maintained year-round. This does not mean you need to ride him three or four days a week throughout the winter. There are lots of other fun, diverse activities you can enjoy together that will adequately maintain his body condition while keeping him interested and happy. Practicing Groundwork Basics can be very beneficial and will keep your equine in good condition throughout the winter months. These basics can be transformed into Liberty Work with your equine (including ALL equines – horses, mules, donkeys and ponies) that does not require an indoor facility and will enhance the bond between you. 
There are lots of different winter games that you can play with your equine, and if you have a friend who wants to participate as well, there are even more possibilities. With proper winter shoes (often with Borium beads) on your equine and good, flat ground, and if the weather permits, there are so many Gymkhana games that you can play. Or, how would you like a brisk cross-country gallop on your equine with a few fences to jump? Or, you and a friend can take an exciting ride on a tire or sled, with one person riding the equine while the other rides the sled or tire. If you have more friends with equines, you can even have winter races. You are limited only by your own imagination! Remember that any game or sport requires that you consider safety first for both you and your equine: What are your abilities? What are your limitations? What is your level of physical conditioning and that of your equine? Whatever activities the two of you do to keep busy, happy and healthy during the winter months, the name of the game should always be—FUN!

For more information about winter games, go to my website at and look under TRAINING/MULE CROSSING/LONGEARS IN GENERAL(category)/WINTER FUN WITH YOUR MULE or TRAINING/TRAINING TIPS #123 


"What a wonderful publication you have created of ALL of Bonnie Shields' Creations!! I FINALLY got to the last page tonight! Only one thing you could have improved upon: that it didn't WEIGH SO MUCH!! Arg! (LOL). For the amount of art you have captured, Bonnie must have been drawing and painting 8 hours a day for the last 40 years! You BOTH have been so blessed to have one another in your lives! What a treasure you are to one another!"

"I've known Bonnie prior to 1987, when I moved up to her part of the country...more or less by accident! And have been blessed ever since to be able to grow "old" together! Well, just wanted to send you a THANK YOU for all that you have done for her,
she certainly is MORE than deserving of this wonderful publication!
Always grateful!”
                                  B. B. 

“Let the artist show her world, 
the beauty that was born with her, 
that never was before and never will be again.”
“Until one has loved an animal,
a part of one's soul remains unawakened.”

“OMG! I opened the Bonnie Shields Book...HOW AMAZING!!!!!!!! I love it! You are such an amazing woman to do this book it is just AWESOME!!!!”
                                  S. M.
“It’s wonderful!  I really enjoyed the book and seeing all of Bonnie’s creations over the much history. You and Gretta did a fabulous job.   It’s definitely a multi-read book. I’ll learn something new every time I read it. Thank you again Mer. It’s a gem.”
“What a fantastic tribute to a wonderful and talented lady. It deserves a place in all donkey and mule lovers. It was so large, heavy and complete I had to look at it on the table. I literally could not hold it and look at the pictures. It took me over an hour and a half to look at all the wonderful pictures on the 398 pages. We began our Brayer when I made a light table where we used a page template to lay out the magazine.  That brings me to my amazement of how extraordinary your accomplishment in the final gorgeous book that you produced. Needless to say, I am both pleased and amazed with the final book. My compliments to everyone who participated in this wonderful book. As Bonnie says, "keep your traces tight." I could say much more, but I do not want to get too maudlin and sentimental over what in a small way we had a part in the developing history that includes you and your dedication to our animals.”
                                  P. H. 
“Clay and I got our wonderful Bonnie Shield’s book last night. I’m at a loss for words. It is just such a great tribute to this wonderful, funny, amazing artist and writer. We laughed at the humorous poems and articles and flipped through the pages of her amazing artwork and beautiful sculpture. Every page is just a slice of joy. It is AWESOME, funny, and the printing is beautiful.  I love that it celebrates the amazing mules.  I cannot thank you and her enough! It is truly a ONE of a KIND book!!!” 
                                  G. A.
"I received the book and have spent the morning looking over it. It's beautiful and perfect, you all did a wonderful job. My grandmother would have been so happy with this. I wish she could have seen it. Thank you so much for including her in the dedication."

"Mer, it is far and above anything I could have dreamed of!!!!. Not much missing from THIS reveal!  You got stuff in here I had long forgotten about.  See, crime doesn't pay!!! Thank you for even thinking of doing this--.  For actually DOING it is beyond belief!  Terry even could not put it down. You are a MOST amazing woman to have as a friend, Mer. I just heard from a dear friend in Tennessee who was a librarian and she said that was the most beautiful and well-done book she has ever seen!!!!  Her name is Barbara Melton and she and I had little girls together and she loves horses all her life.  Been friends even longer than you and I." 

"Meredith, what a beautiful tribute to a beautiful person. You nailed it! Thank you for doing that, Bonnie deserves it. And thank you for sending the books to me!"
"Thank you so much for sending over Bonnie's book.  It turned out amazing!  I am not completely through it yet but found it fascinating and full of so much detail.  You did such a great job!!! xoxo Love and Hugs"
                                  J. P. 
"Thank you so much for sending me a copy of the book you did for Bonnie! It's amazing!! I love the artwork and even some of her contributions to the Mule Days bills and the Mule Crossing articles. It was good to see all of that represented and it's eye-opening just how much you have done together over the years. It's a beautiful way to showcase your friendship."
                                  K. D.
"I received your newest book on Bonnie Shields. It is wonderful. I sat down and went through all of the pages and read a lot if it. Very interesting. She is a character."
                                  S. J. 
“I received my book last week and still reading and looking. I was blessed to have met Bonnie several years ago at the Bishop Mule Show and three or four times at Mule Days in Columbia, Tennessee. An awesome lady. She was a friend with another special friend of mine, Sue Cole that was the editor of Mules and More Magazine and now her granddaughter has taken over the reins following Sue's death in 2022 and also does a very wonderful job. I have several of Bonnie's prints and several of her Leaning Tree cards, miss seeing them. I love the book and try to find time to continue reading it. I am a lover of them long-eared critters.”
                                  M. R. 

Longears Limelight

20-Mule Team Comes to Washington D.C.  


One of our greatest thrills was when Bonnie ShieldsJasper the Mule mascot and I were invited by Bobby Tanner to ride in the old Borax Wagons pulled by the 20-Mule Team in the Bishop Mule Days Parade three years in a row (2012-2014). What an incredible honor that was!

When Bobby Tanner, primary owner and trainer of the 20-Mule Team and Henry Golas from the Death Valley Conservancy approached me with the idea of building new Borax Wagons as exact replicas of the old Borax Wagons used so many years ago, I thought it would undoubtedly be a worthwhile project! The original Borax Wagons sat on their pedestal in Death Valley unprotected from the elements, nearly completely destroyed and certainly not salvageable. I jumped at the opportunity to help sponsor the original building of the Borax Wagons and the project was born!

On January 1, 2017, the new Borax Wagons and the 20-Mule Team made their debut in the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. They held a practice in the desert near Bishop before they left for the parade and the mules all did great! On the parade route, they would be asked to make a tight turn onto Colorado Avenue in the midst of a lively crowd and would be asked to “jump the chain” to make that turn. What a spectacular feat to behold and they did it beautifully on parade day.


On the 4th of July, the 20-Mule Team, with Bobby Tanner and Garon Stutzman, made an appearance in Washington D.C.’s Fourth of July Celebration Parade. On their way home to CaliforniaBobby and the crew stopped over for a couple of days rest at the Lucky Three Ranch. It was both a privilege and an honor
to have them here in Colorado!

Watch this video about the 20-Mule team


You have to be crazy to draw mules! At least that was a popular opinion, but one Bonnie Shields chose to ignore. “I love mules. That’s why I draw ‘em.” It’s as simple as that. Born and raised in Southern Indiana, Bonnie wasn’t around mules until she moved to Tennessee in 1965. But, the meeting has proven to be remarkable. A longstanding member of the Cowboy Cartoonists Association, her wide variety of “mule art” can be viewed at numerous venues, mule and draft horse shows, Western arts and crafts shows, Western trade shows and on the internet at her website at  Her talents include drawing, painting and sculpture. She has done a wide variety from ink drawings to acrylic painting to bronze sculpture, from commissioned work to originals, all revering the mule. She has also written a multitude of articles for such publications as The Brayer, a bimonthly publication put out by the American Donkey & Mule Society, Mules and More MagazineWestern Mule Magazine and the “Bishop Mule Days” program. 
This lovely 400-page Coffee Table Book,
produced by Lucky Three Productions, L.L.C., is the most complete collection on record of Bonnie’s numerous artistic accomplishments. Longears lover or not, you will be amazed at the wide diversity of her work and entertained by her unmatched sense of humor!
This is a MUST HAVE for your personal library!


Meredith Hodges, well-known trainer and author of an extensive library on mules and donkeys has completed a supplement to her video training series with this detailed look at Athletic Conditioning. Equines will always conjure images of power, freedom and beauty. Although they thrive in the wild, man has interfered and put them into an artificial environment by domesticating them. They were not designed to be ridden, yet we ask them to perform stressful athletic activities with riders on their backs! To ensure good health, and the best possible relationship with your equines, learn to care, maintain and train them in a responsible way. This four-part series will identify crucial issues, pose in-depth solutions and introduce a team of experts that can help provide a happy and healthy lifestyle for you and your equine.

This Manual and DVD Combo are available as a package, individually and in four languages: English, French, German and Spanish and can be purchased at This is a MUST-HAVE for your equine library!

AND DON’T FORGET to visit!

Jasper and his friends’ adventures are now featured in books, on Meredith’s Video on Demand TV Shows and in a variety of books and animated videos available in our STORE. In addition to the Lucky Three Ranch website at, she also designed, a website especially for children that provides a fun, child-friendly environment in which they can learn to appreciate, love and care for equines and all living things. 

The passion that Meredith Hodges feels for the equines that she has fought for all her adult life is still as fresh, inspiring and infectious as it was when she first discovered the world of horses, donkeys and mules. She has never wavered in her devotion to them and in her mission to carve a lasting and honored place for them in our world. They are lucky to have her as their champion, but Meredith actually sees it a bit differently. She feels honored and privileged to be a part of their world.




February 5, 2023 (1-day sale)



February 12, 2023 (1-day sale)



Bonnie’s Bit

It has been a most unusual autumn in north Idaho this year.  It was, for the most part, warm and sunny.

We got any of that fall yard-work done and the garden picked over and put to rest.  I got Miss Iris' teeth floated by an awesome lady vet that LOVES MULES.  Iris took to her and her assistant like they were old friends.  Let me tell ya, Iris KNOWS when there is a vet on the place and she is having NO part of it!!  They had her shot-up with the sleepy-time drug and then used something I had never seen before. (Guess we're too far in the woods to see these things much).  It was a battery-run long cylinder with round little flat "plates" on the ends that rotated and ground-down the teeth points in no time.  Iris was in La La Land and could have cared less and it was over in a Yankee minute!

I got a sweet little children's book illustrated about a little boy and his pet skunk. (FUN!!) I am currently working with a gal in Illinois who grew-up where Marguerite Henry lived with "Misty," the pony she wrote the book about so many years ago.  For those who don't know, I got to illustrate that wonderful lady's last book--"Brown Sunshine of Sawdust Valley" way back in the ‘90s.  It is a story about a horse-crazy little girl who wound-up with a baby mule that eventually became "King Mule" at Columbia, TN Mule Day.

THEN!!!  LIKE a MONSTER from the frigid deep, we got blasted by a real "northener" right out of the Arctic with 30 mph winds and almost 0 degrees for about 5 days.  Iris holed-up in her little "palace" out of the wind and packed-in the good feed--and pumped-out the residue for me to shovel, keeping me warm until I could make it back into the house!

So, now I am trying to stay warm and take care of all my responsibilities (mule, dogs, kitties and crippled hubby).  I see Christmas creeping in on me, too.  No rest for the wicked, you know.

You all hang in there.  Dream of spring and mule hair flying all over ya and you wearing a big grin.  It WILL happen.   
                                                                              Hugs from BS


Christmas is around the corner. Let's celebrate mules and art with this beatuiful, big, 
COFFEE TABLE BOOK  by the beloved 




To see Bonnie’s art and apparel that is for sale at the 
Lucky Three Ranch Web Store

Visit her website to find out more about the Wild and Wonderful World of Bonnie Shields,
Tennessee Mule Artist, Cowboy Cartoonist and True Artist!


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!


Hearts & Horses is celebrating changing the lives of people with disabilities for 25 years! Hearts & Horses was founded in 1997 to address a community gap in services for individuals with special needs. Starting with a handful of riders and one horse, they currently serve 165 riders weekly, own a 23-acre ranch, house 31 equine partners, and have one of Larimer County's largest volunteer programs. They offer diverse programming to meet the needs of a huge cross-section of our community, including children and adults with physical and cognitive impairments, at-risk youth, individuals with Alzheimer's, and veterans. All of this would not be possible without the incredible support of our community! To learn more about how you can help visit:


“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!



Living in a strange world... and I don't just mean today's everything going-on.  As an editor for a gloriously large newsletter (the BRAYER) that comes out six times a year, I live with writing dates that don't match everywhere, all the time.  It may be November, but I'm already writing January/February on things, and have been since August.  It's strange... I'm glad some days I have a calendar reminder on my desktop. 

I also have multiple other things that have future-date postings, and some days I am not sure which day it is. My animals don't know days of the week, but they sure know about when things are late...  

Clock changes affect them - your schedule suddenly changes... and they know it! WHY IS IT LATE, MOM?  Sometimes having animals rely on you is frustrating, other times it is the balm we need when things are off!  Try explaining time-change to your mule - you will likely just get a big head draped over your shoulder, and pettin's demanded. 

With the year rushing towards a close, we have family, friends, and holidays to plan for, but the animals don't care. It's just another day to them - one where you give feed, attention, love, and hopefully a little extra treat and hug.  Don't let all the things get you down.  Do your online shopping sitting on a bale of hay, sip your coffee or cocoa watching the longears play in the yard, and take a moment for yourself. 

Whatever you celebrate, make it fun for yourself as well. 

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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