<<First Name>>, your Lucky Three Ranch news for June 2023 has arrived!
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I hope this newsletter finds you all doing well after a pretty seasonal winter! I know we enjoyed the snow cover we got for winter mixed with cold sunny days in between. Personally, I really enjoy having four distinctive seasons and my favorite time of the year is Christmas...especially when it snows! We are now enjoying a seasonal spring with warmer temperatures, scattered rain and flaky snow showers...LOVE IT! We have been working on building my Ranch Manager, Chad Leppert, and his family a home on the additional property we acquired and closed on July 31, 2021. 

It has been quite a long haul with all the different permits we had to obtain and then the work was phenomenal! We had to demo a lot of buildings and a small farmhouse before we could even get started with construction. We donated the old farmhouse to the Local Fire & Recuse to use as a Training project. 

The first part of this project was to demo all the old buildings and put up a new, large shop building to house all the blacksmith, welding, mechanical, woodworking, leatherwork equipment and put in lofts in the shop for storage. The equipment barn at Lucky Three Ranch was too full of all our heavy hay and maintenance equipment to leave any more room for the day-to-day working equipment. It is really nice to have another large storage and working building.

Luckily, God has cooperated with Mother Nature and allowed us the time and weather we needed at every stage of construction, and still provided the moisture we needed for the 122-acres of Brome/Orchard grass mix for our equines and for those at Hearts and Horses Therapeutic Riding Center. Any extra hay, we will sell to our favorite semi-truck owner, Raul, who takes it to places that are scarce for grass hay. There was a lot of snow in March and when the snow finally melted, things were still not getting green very fast. The grass was brown everywhere! During April, the green grass began to emerge. Things are now looking VERY COLORFUL and PROMISING for a good crop and beautiful grounds this year!

The mules and donkeys are always a little put-out at this time of the year. From March until June, they are kept up in the dry lots with no grazing during the day. We like to give the grass a chance to get established before we start their turnout on pasture. This is just good land management! At this time of the year, we do feed them their grass hay three times a day and have larger dry lots for turnout so they can stretch their legs and play in their groups. It seems to be good enough for them. They have no bad habits and really good manners. No one gets any bite marks all over their body! 

After the weather warmed up a bit, I decided to organize the Hourglass Pattern with the obstacles at the JASPER BUNKHOUSE arena so I could get started with Spring Training Groundwork on the Lead Line and in the Drive Lines. Eventually, after a few weeks of Leading and Ground Driving, we will be able to ride the Hourglass Pattern and negotiate obstacles without having to move things around...YAY! Wishing you all a perfectly delightful and fun-filled summer!

                      Best wishes and Happy Trails,



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LTR Training Tip #52

Verbal Commands and Body Language

It is important to learn the elements of good communication through verbal commands and body language. You'll find an equine is willing to comply when he understands what you are asking! For more information on communication and lunging, check out the Training Mules and Donkeys DVD series at, or TMD Episode 5: The Round Pen and Episode 19:Donkey Training, Part 3 at, and download the Training Tip Tutorial at

View many more training tips on our YouTube channel.


Question: My mules and donkeys do not want to lunge when I put them in a Round Pen. Is it really necessary to have one and is it necessary for them to learn to be lunged? My mules will sometimes go around a couple of times and will then stop and turn the other way. They do not listen to what I say, and most of the time, they just go too fast and then stop abruptly. My donkey doesn’t want to lunge at all. He will walk a few steps and then stop and do nothing but stare at me. Even if I strike him on the rump with the lunge whip, he still won’t move. What do I do?     

Answer: There are a lot of elements that need to come together for a beneficial lunging experience for your equine. Yes, you do need a specific-sized Round Pen. More than that, it is critically important to prepare your equine for work in the Round Pen by building core strength in his body, in correct posture. You start by first doing the right kinds of postural Leading Exercises, first in the Hourglass Pattern in the “Elbow Pull,” and later, by adding Obstacles to the lessons (also done in the “Elbow Pull”) for coordination in continuing good posture. This will make sure that the elements that support his skeletal system are being built symmetrically throughout his body. Then, he will be able to sustain that good postural development on the circle in the Round Pen, throughout Ground Driving, and in the end, under saddle or in harness. Animals that do not get this prior training before lunging lessons will develop musculature support asymmetrically and will move out of good posture. They will lean like a motorcycle around the circle instead of having equal weight over all four feet, stay erect and bend through their rib cage to the arc of the circle while in motion. Being out of good postural balance can produce soreness throughout the body and influence the way that your tack and equipment will fit. 

The Round Pen is an essential part of your equine’s lunging training and should ideally be 45-feet in diameter for optimum use. Any larger and you wouldn’t be able to reach the equine with a lunging whip and any smaller would decrease the size of the circle, making it too small to negotiate and possibly harmful in the beginning stages of your equine’s posture and balance training. In the Round Pen, you will first use your verbal commands to simply define out loud what your equine is doing so he will begin to associate the words with his actions. This is a much more confined environment in which to work than your leading exercises but, affords more focused attention from your equine. 


Be consistent in your use of words because equines will learn simple words and later, phrases and multiple commands. This is much like children first learn their ABC’s, then words and later, sentences and paragraphs. Equines can learn to understand our language, but they are not equipped to speak our language. There is a lot to learn during the multiple stages of lunging training. So, give yourself time to not only teach your equine to lunge, but to learn the integral elements of good communication through verbal commands and body language yourself.

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



“Just a note to say thank you for your newsletter & other material to read. It brings back happy memories of my donkeys when I read anything about them from your newsletters or training tips. Thank you.”

“The diet plan is going very well and no more liquid! Also, the training basics we started are also working well. It's very hard to have a mule on the east coast due to the lack of support. Vets don't know anything about nutrition, most farriers don't know anything about trimming and don't even get me started on horse trainers that think you can train the same way. I can't thank you enough, really THANK YOU!”

“All the info you sent is perfect…I can’t thank you enough for getting me in the right direction and now 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.”

“Thank you so much for taking the time to go through your quotes! You really show how training should be balanced and infused with play--something that's so easy to overlook. Even though my donkeys are more pets than anything, you inspire me to be consistent in my daily approach and care. It's good to be reminded of the importance of gentle consistency.”

Longears Limelight

From inside the archives, we meet Lady Moe. While some servicemen were known for adopting local dogs and cats, the 96th Bomb Group found another pet to take under their wings.

In August 1943, a crew from the 96th Bomb Group acquired a malnourished 50-pound donkey during their time in North Africa after flying the Regensburg shuttle mission.  

The donkey, who the men named Lady Moe, survived the journey and experienced her first combat mission when the crew bombed Bordeaux, France, en route to England. After the plane landed at Snetterton Heath, base of the 96th Bomb Group, Lady Moe became famous among the rest of the servicemen, who took great care of her.  She enjoyed eating cigarettes and food from the mess hall and spent her days roaming freely around the base. She joined ground crews and support personnel as they anxiously waited for B-17s to return from missions.  As a foal with a gentle personality and soft coat, she bunked with servicemen in their barracks.  

She quickly grew into a 150-pound shaggy coated creature with an ornery temper, according to a March 1944 article in the Stars and Stripes newspaper. Although she lived a pampered life, Lady Moe also had a duty to perform.  She appeared as a featured guest at public relations and charity events in England, where children and adults lavished attention and treats onto her.  Newspaper and magazine circulations published numerous articles about her exploits on and off the base. Lady Moe also made an appearance in V-J Day celebrations at Snetterton Heath in August 1945, where she remained after the war. In the years after the war, the men of the 96th Bomb Group remembered her fondly, whether it was a shared cigarette or avoiding her teeth in their attempts to pet her.  Above photo: A serviceman sharing a meal with Lady Moe.

On October 3, 1945, Lady Moe’s life came to a tragic end when she was hit by a train after she wandered onto a railroad track.  Her death was reported in several newspapers to the shock of the men who cared for her.  She was buried at the base. 


BONNIE SHIELDS – Tennessee Mule Artist

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 on 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. 


People are truly impressed with this amazing 400-page Coffee Table Book, produced by Lucky Three Productions, L.L.C. It 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 will be 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 produced an important 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 really designed structurally to be ridden, yet we ask them to perform stressful athletic activities with riders on their backs! To ensure good health through postural core strength development and to obtain the best possible relationship with your equines, learn to care, maintain and train them in a complete and 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!

Our documentary titled
exhibits the ultimate challenge and application of Meredith’s Management and Training techniques. 
Rock and Roll were a worst-case scenario rescue and truly put this amazing program to the test with remarkable results!

AND DON’T FORGET to visit!
 and his friends’ adventures are now featured 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. 

(use code‭:‬ “LUCKYTHREEHAY” at checkout)

(use code‭:‬ “JASPERCAROUSEL” at checkout)
UNTIL JUNE 30, 2023

Bonnie’s Bit

Spring has finally sprung in north Idaho. At least, that’s what I thought all that lightning and thunder was all about. I know my big, fierce, giant, airedale Cleo “Celebrated” by retiring to the middle bathroom with no windows to cower and shake and close the door till it was all over with. Iris my mule, is in grass paradise in the backyard. Currently, she is my “mowing” gizmo and she works cheap!! 

As for what I have been doing! Let me put it this way. I’m the only mule on this plantation and I’ve been worked hard and put away wet! (grumble, grumble). 

Well, come June, I’m scheduled to make a trip to Amarillo, Texas to our first Cowboy Cartoonist  Rendezvous since COVID. I’m secretary treasure so I have to go. The plan is to drive to Logan, Utah and meet up with Polly Kennedy and continue to Texas with her. That will be fun. But, I’m hoping the summer will be not so hectic and I can get some things done for Meredith. Also, I’ve been involved in two upcoming books on Marguerite Henry (Misty of Chincoteague, etc.) One will be out in August, and the second one sometime next year. A great honor to be a part of two books on this grand lady. I got to illustrate her very last book, “Brown Sunshine of Sawdust Valley,” way back in the 90’s. Yes, it’s a MULE story about Columbia, Tennessee Mule Days and a young girl and her mule. 

Speaking of Tennessee and Mules, I’ve had a small part in a new Tennessee Country Music and Mule Festival in October.  The great guy that put this on was lucky enough to be brought up with his grandpa and his mules. He had me illustrate two stories of their adventures. He puts the stories in the festival programs. Thank you Marty Gordon, for letting me be a part of this event. It is a fundraiser for our injured military persons. Mules are still working for good in this world.

So, enjoy the clouds of mule hair this time of year. Iris is still under all that duff somewhere.  She is so PRETTY.  

        Keep your traces tight
 ~Bonnie                                   Bonnie & Iris

Cover image of Marty Gorden's book. Illustrated by Bonnie Shields. 
View the book
American Mule and Bluegrass Festival
Founder Marty Gorden
September 28-October 1, 2023
721 Whitthorne St.
Shelbyville TN. 37160

Visit our Lucky Three Ranch WEB STORE to view or purchase Bonnie's art and apparel.

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!


Equine-Assisted Services for Chronic Pain 


For the past two years, Hearts & Horses has been proudly partnering with the Cheyenne VA Health Care System, on an Equine-Assisted Services for Chronic Pain pilot program. The program pairs Veterans with a mental health professional, an equine specialist, and horses for a six-week, ground-based curriculum. 

The vision for this program is not to fix or to take away pain, but to help participants learn to live alongside it and lead a more peaceful life. Horses are animals that we can never fully control, even if we think we can. The same goes for pain or other chronic conditions, and that loss of control can be extremely difficult to come to terms with. Many people living with chronic pain learn to disconnect from their body in order to cope, which in turn can affect their ability to connect with others.

The hope is that the EAS for Chronic Pain program will help participants reconnect with their body, and community by building a relationship with a horse through groundwork. By learning to work alongside the horse, rather than trying to control it, participants can discover that there are ways to work alongside their pain instead of expending precious energy fighting against it. 

Hearts & Horses started this program with two five-week sessions in 2022. Now, thanks to funding from the Cheyenne VA Health Care System’s Whole Health Department, we are able to offer three six-week sessions this year, in Spring, Summer and Fall. This program is free of charge for participants and open to Veterans of all eras, as long as, they have a chronic pain diagnosis and are receiving care through the VA. For more information on the program or further enrollment criteria, interested parties can contact Stephanie Stall at

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


Leila Einhorn, 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

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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!



It's that time of year again-foaling season.  Haying season.  Fire season.  Vacation season - Hey WAIT!  What's a vacation?  Those of us that live on farms and ranches have special needs when it comes to "taking time off."  Who is going to follow our routine?  How do you do it?  

It's not easy. Friends and family may not be equine-savvy.  You have to have them come over ahead of time, get used to the layout, the feeding schedule (oh goodness, the supplements and the separate buckets)... don't schedule the farrier, or have a mare/jennet about to foal... water the lawn?   Check the fence line?  Are the hens laying eggs in the tack room?  The dogs, the ponies, the donkeys, the cattle... circus it is, but we know our own circus for the most part!  How do YOU do it?

As for fire season, the summer sun loves to scorch the grass to a crisp.  Rainfall is short in many places, so the fear of fire grows.  Could you evacuate your herd?  Do you have halters and leads for everyone in the pasture?  When did you last check the trailer tires?  Got a go bag for you?  Backups of your files? 

Every two months, usually right after I finish the BRAYER magazine, I do a big cleanup and backup on the computer.  I do dailies while working on the layout, so I don't lose hours of work.  But when it's all done, it's time to sit back and catch up on clean-up work.  Files that are duplicated, unused, unnecessary, out they go.  Back up the rest.  Do a second backup that goes off-site.  Essential everything easy to hand or locked up.  Portable hard drives are cheap nowadays and cost a LOT less than loss of info!  (More than ten years later and we are still missing info that can never be replaced after the break-in.) 

Do yourself a favor if you are planning a vacation, and let your cleanups and backups run while you are working out your lists.  Write it up, type it up, save it in duplicate - sure, put it on the cloud for easier access, but make sure your family knows the plans for EVERYTHING - wills included - while you are out and about! 

Having just finished a three-day working weekend, I know how valuable downtime is... hopefully SOON!   I'm lucky I have family to look after the animals while I'm gone, even though it's extra work for them.  Don't forget to THANK THEM abundantly!

Now, get to work on those lists so you can take that trip to the
mountains, or beach  - or even just a spa day!!!

 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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