<<First Name>>, your Lucky Three Ranch news for March 2022 has arrived!
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Here’s to a HAPPY NEW YEAR and new beginnings! My New Year’s resolution is to continue to look to my Longears for the positive way forward! There is something about mules and donkeys that will always elicit humor and make you smile...even when they are making you mad...LOL! With patience and understanding, we can all benefit from their subliminal (and sometimes not-so-subliminal!) messages to us...don’t ya think?! My Longears definitely have ME trained and it is so nice of them to let me think that I actually trained THEM. With Longears, the world is a much happier place!

In 2020, we were forced to cancel our annual Christmas Party, but in 2021, we decided enough was enough, and with the blessing from our extraordinary caterer, we opted to go ahead with the party in 2021! We decided to allow people to wear masks, if they wanted to do so, and made our annual Christmas Party a MASK-QUERADE PARTY! We had a whole lot of costumes available to lend to people for the party. Everyone got so excited and fully engaged with the idea. We once again decorated the whole ranch inside and out and made it look like a WESTERN WONDERLAND! Our caterer came through with his usual amazingly delectable food choices! We even added three gals singing “Winter Wonderland” before my usual speech, and everyone was invited on a tour of the Christmas Lights afterwards! It was so fun to be able to finally see the cut-outs that we had made in 2019 of Santa’s sleigh, my 8 tiny mules and Little Jack Horner as “Rudolph” on top of the Jasper Bunkhouse! After the tour of the Christmas Lights, people mingled throughout the house enjoying the food and drink. Our talented guitar players and singers gathered and provided ambient music in the Solarium throughout the evening. We all had a great time and nobody got sick later! I am convinced that we all are responsible for the sensible choices we make in our own lives, and whether we will be happy or sad...depending on our main focus! 

We are planning to open another revenue stream to our business since we also finished the OLDE WESTERN TOWN front of ASSPEN. We bought a whole lot of old Western, Vintage and Renaissance costumes and will offer photographs in those costumes to people by appointment only. We can use the town of ASSPEN for the Old West costume backdrops and the inside of my house for the Vintage and Renaissance costume photos. Since we had to close down the tours (can’t really do one in a mask since no one could hear me!), we thought this would be a good alternative while waiting for the opportunity to open the tours again...and even a viable addition to our upcoming tours! 

We really miss seeing all our fans in person like we could during the tours. Our tours are like no other. They are unique and personalized clinics for young and old alike. We start with a historical movie about mules. I come in afterwards and give a talk about our postural core strength training and how much health and longevity it gives our equines. The Seniors invariably recognize that this approach would help THEM as well...and they are right! Then we take everyone on a tour of the ranch to see the actual results of this training in my animals and to enjoy the Longears bronzes that are scattered around the ranch. There is no way to get a clearer picture of the benefits of my program than to see my older animals looking like YOUNGSTERS! Everyone benefits...even the ones that are doing the training! It’s a great exercise program for people and equines alike! I look forward to the day when we can open the tours again! We will post our tour status on our website at under TOURS when we are able to do this! We hope it will be SOON! Wishing you and your Longears the very best in the coming New Year!


                     Best wishes and Happy Trails,


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LTR Training Tip #1

Training Donkeys

Meredith gets a lot of letters and emails from people with training questions about their equines. Here, she offers some practical advice for training your donkeys.

View many more training tips on our YouTube channel.


Question: Can you please post an article about using donkeys to guard smaller livestock? I have heard so many different things about it that I would like to get a professional opinion on the subject. 

Answer: There has been a lot of discussion since the early nineties around using donkeys for small livestock protection and predator control. Donkeys can certainly be a formidable opponent for cats and dogs, and other smaller animals. One needs to be careful about who the donkey is pastured with since it is in their nature to pursue and sometimes kill animals that are smaller and weaker than them. This is true in all donkeys, although some individual females tend to be more maternal and are not apt to go after smaller livestock. The males will always be more aggressive than the females and do not make good guardians for smaller livestock. 
The other thing to consider is whether or not they have been raised with the livestock they are expected to guard. When raised with the other livestock, they will feel more a part of that “family” and are less likely to do them harm. A donkey that is going to be expected to guard livestock, but was not raised with them, should be carefully introduced to them “over the fence” for several weeks. Then if all seems to go well, you can introduce them in the same pen and watch for any signs of aggression. If there are signs of aggression after a few weeks of being separated, then they probably will never really get along. You must remember that a donkey is NOT a predator, nor a prey animal that will necessarily get along with other livestock. Donkeys prefer to be in a herd with other donkeys. They do not like being alone either. Donkeys have a strong sense of “family” and prefer to be with their own kind. When forced to be with other species, they will blend, but grudgingly.
There are three basic sizes of donkeys: Miniatures, Standard Donkeys and Mammoths. Our American donkeys are further identified by their height when being described rather than specific breeds. This is because they are so interbred from being turned loose during the time of the Spanish explorers. There are no real purebred donkeys in America other than the descendants of the original Andalusian donkeys that were bred from George Washington’s stock at Mt. Vernon. One must go to Europe to see the original BREEDS of donkeys. American donkeys are identified as: Miniature Donkeys (36” & under), Small Standard Donkeys (36.01” to 42”), Standard Donkeys (42.01” to 48”), Large Standard Donkeys (48.01” to 56”) and Mammoth Donkeys (Males 56” & over; Females 54” & over). 
Miniature donkeys are not suitable guardians for livestock at all. They are too small and can fall victim to predators themselves. They simply cannot defend themselves. Standard donkey jennets are the most sought after for predator control, however, keep in mind that they are PREY animals and can fall victim to predators that are fairly large, or predators that run in packs. Mammoth donkeys are simply too slow to react. They lack the quickness and athleticism that it takes to combat a predator. Donkeys will never be able to guard against such predators as bears and mountain lions. 
Good ranch dogs that are bred for guarding sheep and other livestock are a much better choice for guardianship. They are quick, clever and always on the alert. Their barking can alert the farmer as well. They can even move the livestock to a safer location on their own and will often chase off a predator pretty easily with their confusing way of attacking.
As with all livestock, donkeys need to be provided with adequate shelter from the elements, whether heat or cold, must be provided trace mineral salt blocks and clean, fresh water. Their time on pasture will need to be monitored for optimum health which will often clash with the grazing needs of sheep, goats and other smaller livestock. Donkeys are desert animals and really easy keepers. It is not uncommon when they colic or founder on too much, or too rich, grass. They cannot be on pasture 24/7.
Donkeys will need regular trims and must therefore, be reasonably trained. They will require vaccinations twice a year and regular worming. If they are not trained to accept these things, most veterinarians and farriers will be averse to handling them until they are. It takes time and patience to gain the trust of your donkey before you can actually consider him trained.
I have found it better to be smart about livestock control and not make it so easy for the predators. As I said, guard dogs bred for herd management are a much better choice. One should NEVER use mules as a guardian as they WILL be dangerous to smaller livestock and other smaller or weaker animals, even older mules! However, I have discovered that when my mules are pastured next to the smaller animals, predators give them a wide berth and thus, skirt the pens where the smaller animals are kept. 


Since miniature donkeys and mules are always at risk, I add another element of safety for them by lining their pens with metal grating over the stock panels. Then, everyone is also brought in every night and turned out for a limited amount of time during the day. This gives me the opportunity to monitor their diet, check for injuries twice a day and keep them safe overnight. All my equines are taught to come in from turnout upon request. They know there is always a crimped oats reward awaiting them.
Wooden barns and wire fences can be easily torn down by larger predators. So over the years, I slowly replaced all of my wood barns and wire fences with metal barns, steel panels and vinyl fencing with hot wires on the top. I also run hotwires on the bottom of the vinyl fencing in areas where animals are likely to come through by climbing underneath. The way my barns and pens are laid out, the mule and large donkey pens surround the miniatures’ housing accommodations. It is not uncommon to see large “cats,” bears, coyotes and other predators in the foothills of Colorado where I live. It is even getting worse as more developments are built in the mountains and drive these predators off the mountains in the wintertime.
In summary, I do not recommend using donkeys as guardian animals. We need to remember that they are PREY animals themselves and can be grossly injured in any altercations with a predator. I think there are better choices for livestock guard animals and setting up the environment in which your livestock (donkeys included) is kept. These two considerations will promote the health and welfare of your livestock, and cost you a whole lot less in the long run!


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


“All the info you sent is perfect…… I can’t thank you enough for getting me in the right direction and now I understand it’s a lot different than breeding horses.  
I would love to find a nice rescue Mule but nothing close for me here in WV.  I will soak up all of this info and move forward from here.  You are fantastic and my only wish is that I lived closer. Thanks again for the great info.” 

“Wow look at that hay!!!   Thank you for the information. That is beautiful hay and property. I love CO. We pay such a ridiculous amount of money for hay here in Florida.  And I am concerned about where to get quality hay in N.C. where we are moving to. I found one local feed store and what they had was not very impressive at all, and she mentioned that last year they ran out of hay. OMG.  We will have a lot more land for turn out then we do now, but I am also concerned that my donkeys and horse are not use to having a lot of lush grazing. I guess I will have to figure all of this out.   I appreciate you getting back so quickly.”


“Can you tell me where to find corn oil in bulk? I am buying it from Walmart but it is expensive. Your formula has worked wonders on my 26 yr. old mule. Before I started her on the oats, oil and Sho Glo she could barely walk and I fed her lying down. She was on monthly injections and Bute daily for her joints.  Two weeks after I started her on the formula, she was walking with the rest of the herd and I even saw her running and jump in the air last week, she is feeling great again.” 

“You are so generous with your time and it is glaringly obvious you genuinely want to help folks learn all they can about long ears! I had the pleasure of meeting you at Equitana, a hundred years ago , but, unfortunately, hadn't made the foray into the wonderful world of long ears! While I very much enjoyed chatting with you, there wasn't much "substance" since I had zero mule experience at that time. Fast forward...I have 3 jacks and 8 mares. Who thought I'd be raising mules?! Not I!!! It's funny, but I credit you with being an influence and inspiration...even though it was a solid 20 years after our chance meeting that I bred my first mare to a jack. Rock on, Meredith! Thanks for all you've done, all you do, and all you have planned to do for long ears and the two leggers who love them!”

Longears Limelight


“Old Beck” was a mare mule owned by a farmer in East Texas. Mules are usually considered infertile, but “Old Beck” had been mated to a jack and produced a foal that was very clearly a mule, named “Kit.” When she was brought to Texas A & M in 1921, “Old Beck” was mated to a stallion and also produced a living colt, however this time a horse, named “Pat Murphy, Jr.” No other offspring were ever produced from subsequent breeding. “Kit” never produced any offspring. However “Pat Murphy” was a fertile sire. The story caught the attention of many, making “Old Beck” quite famous.
This was perceived as an oddity and resulted in much interest, as seen by the file of writings and correspondence held in archives on the subject of breeding mules with horses. "The mare mule, "Beck", was obtained by A & M College in 1921, with an infertile, mule-like female yearling, "Kit", which she had foaled in the service of a jack. In 1922, at about the age of 22, "Beck" was bred to a stallion and foaled the horse-like colt, "Pat" ….a bright bay, with white stockings and star. ..average size, strong, healthy and amorous, having the head, breast, hips, flanks and feet of a horse. His left ear droops slightly ...appears to have proverbial shrewdness of the mule. "  - Veterinary Bulletin, Lederle. V.11 no.1. 1942. pg.9-12. 


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,  
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 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

A NEW & IMPROVED WEBSITE for lots of fun, entertainment and the 


Meredith has a lot of training materials because there is a lot to know about management and training of equines. Throughout her 42 years of experience with Longears, she documented everything in journals, articles, film and photos. Each of her books, videos, documentaries and articles are made from the daily journals she produced that proved and exposed the truthful elements about management and training. Meredith does not deal in hearsay, only facts that have been shown to be true over this long period of time. Along with her personal 40+ year field study with 32 Longears & Horses, her knowledge is gleaned from consultations with numerous veterinarians, farriers and professionals in the Animal Science divisions of multiple colleges, and her impeccable and incredibly versatile show record with her Longears over 20 years. She bred some of the most conformationally correct and incredibly athletic mules and donkeys over the same amount of time. The culmination of her studies is clearly explained in her latest documentary, ROCK & ROLL: DIARY OF A RESCUE. 
This video 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. The Lucky Three Ranch 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 this amazing film on VIDEO ON DEMAND (VOD), or buy your own DVD at our online store




and 50% OFF our 
Bonnie’s Bit

It has already been a long and icy winter in north Idaho. We got big snows in late November and then much more in early December and MOST of it is still here (the goofy thing is messin' me up here). It has gotten very heavy and some of our out-buildings have suffered damage to their roofs.  Nothing to serious so far and since I cannot walk to any of our sheds or barns I have been able to remain up-right so far.  I DRIVE my 4 wheel drive van to the mailbox!

Iris (my mule) is doing great though, and so are the dogs and my sweet kitty, Sammy.  Sammy, I was feeding in the trailer shed--way across the ice.  I had to let the renters feed the barn cats as they live on the other side of the ice, but I miss my talks with Sammy and now he comes to me in the mornings and I can feed him on my front porch.  That doesn't mean he can't double-eat.  I think he has it all worked out, smart kitty Sammy.

Unfortunately, my art business is still in the ditch pretty much.  I am trying new things and there are two gals in Washington state that are mule-freaks, like me, and they are all jazzed-up to start a business going to places and selling all kinds of stuff--including BS prints.  They are a lot prettier than this old bag, so maybe this will work out well for us both.  Keep your fingers crossed.

As this snow does finally melt it will take my fences with it so it seems every blessing I can look forward to has a dark side.  OH, well! I've lived here for 40+ winters and know the drill and refuse to leave.  Must love it up here. YUP!

Keep your traces outta them places, kids.  We are making progress towards MAY. 


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

And 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!

Changing Leads at Hearts & Horses


Since its inception in 2009, the Changing Leads program has welcomed thousands of at-risk youth from our community into the arena. These youth are often referred to H&H by other agencies such as The Namaqua Center, or by foster parents or school counselors. No matter how they come to be here, we're happy they are!

One of the greatest strengths of the program is to provide a safe space for youth with mental health issues or tumultuous home lives to create positive relationships and promote resiliency. The program works to teach transferable skills such as self and social awareness, relationship skills, decision-making, and self-regulation; to enhance personal, school, family and community relationships. These skills increase the likelihood that our youth will graduate and be functional members of society. All around, a good thing! 

The Changing Leads curriculum combines Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) as well as Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in partnership with an equine. Hearts & Horses has been on the cutting edge of developing, understanding, and fostering EAL and SEL on a greater scale through our participation in numerous educational and medical-based research studies. This work has contributed to the development of many EAL and SEL practices used around the country.

Over the last several years, SEL programming has received increased attention. Given the growing need for youth behavioral health services, it is no surprise that Changing Leads has become Hearts & Horses’ largest program. 

In 2016, Hearts & Horses began partnering with local school districts to offer a full-day program designed to engage middle-schoolers before their emotional and mental health is most threatened. Partnering with schools to conduct equine-assisted learning (EAL) courses have proven to be vital for youth at-risk, especially in a time like this when behavioral health services are in higher demand and more difficult to access.

Over the years, we have worked tirelessly to gain funding, build awareness, and foster stewardship of this life-changing program. Recently, Changing Leads had a featured in-depth article in PATH Intl. STRIDES Magazine, which only furthers our reach in sharing our journey with other therapeutic riding centers, which ultimately will help more youth-at-risk. 

Read Tamara Merritt, Associate Executive Director and volunteer Caleb Bay's featured article in the Fall 2021 Path Intl. STRIDES publication>>

“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!


Oh Mother Nature, can we have a talk?   Looking at social media feed, it seems we have had a bit of repeat of this sort of thing (aka freezing rain and outlandish temperatures) on a repeat cycle yearly... it was just last year that Texas had some major problems.  Now today, after a lovely day of a high of 85 degrees, it's now 25 and sleeting.   And yes, that's in Texas.   

For most people, that changes nothing.  They go about trudging through their snowy pastures, penning up creatures in barns or loafing sheds, or just making sure there is extra hay put out.  Here in Texas, it means we have to dig out often neglected clothing (we don't own super-heavy winter coats for the most part) and hoping our poor creatures are huddled in the shelter.  Lots of hay, a windbreak, a blanket for the really young or very old.  But in that same vein, ever tried to convince a Longhorn range cow her newborn needs a blanket?   No?  Well, it doesn't really work.  Luckily, these calves are pretty sturdy.  All the equines (horses, donkeys) know they need to get into the deep woods or the shed - they prefer the woods.  Since our herd is fairly integrated, the cows and equines usually tend to keep company in the same area.  But they can have their trees, I'll take indoors and a hot cup of tea.  

It's a good time to catch up on "indoor" things (that is, after all the outdoor must-dos have been done - roofs nailed down tight, fences checked, hay brought in, stalls or barns shoveled and bedded as needed, etc...)  Paperwork, cleaning tack, prepping foal kits, refreshing old meds, or first-aid kits.   Make an indoor to-do list as well as those outdoor chores.  Make sure there are both BIG items and small ones (like empty trash from the bathroom) on the list.  Then on those days when it's too horrible outside or motivation is at a low, you can look at the list and find one small thing to check off and say "I did it". 

Keep on putting one foot in front of the other.  It will be spring before we know it (and winter for you people on the flip side in the southern continent) and there will be plenty of lovely days to spend outside watching our beloved longears frolic.  

 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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