<<First Name>>, your Lucky Three Ranch news for December 2023 has arrived!
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Dear Friends,
My how the years fly by! I can’t believe that it is December again already. I must say that it IS my favorite time of the year when we can decorate the ranch with Christmas lights & decorations and then exist in a fantasy world of our own. It makes this place seem so much more magical. We are living in difficult times right now and it is more important than ever to maintain optimistic attitudes and enjoy this precious life we have been given!

It was really hard when we were forced to limit our exposure to people for the past two years, so opening up the ranch to our avid visitors this year was wonderful to say the least! People flocked to the ranch this spring, summer and fall and enjoyed the new projects we had completed. Although the JASPER CAROUSEL was built for our children’s tours, many adults enjoyed rides on the carousel this year! It’s a good thing my guys built it to hold a lot of weight! I think we are all children at heart and that is not necessarily a bad thing. The carousel brought many smiles and laughter!

The OLDE WESTERN TOWN OF ASSPEN has also sparked a lot of interest and prompted even more new and creative ideas. As busy as we are with new and exciting projects, it keeps the creative juices going and limits attention to the negative distractions in our world. It keeps our focus on how to bring goodwill and humor to share with our community. It even gives our Longears more diverse and interesting things to do with us...and they are always ALL IN! My animals are afraid of NOTHING and truly enjoy their time with us. Yes, I am still riding them, but there is so much more we can enjoy together!


In 2024, we will be launching a new project. We are going to offer people the private opportunity to come to the ranch by appointment only and dress up for pictures. ASSPEN is a great backdrop for photos and we collected a lot of OLD WESTERN and VINTAGE clothing and accessories of all different sizes. We will be able to accommodate adults and children. Those who prefer to have their pictures taken in the VINTAGE clothes will appropriately be able to use the inside of my house as a backdrop. In order to give people an idea about what kinds of photos we can take against the ASSPEN backdrop, we spent this fall dressing up and taking pictures...what fun!



It was truly amazing how everyone became the characters that we all played: the Sheriff L.J. Horner, the Gingham Gang, the Bank Robbers, Dirty Dawg Dave, the Farm Family and the Saloon Girls complete with their Madame! We are not actors, but you wouldn’t know it from the awesome photos and video that we took. It’s funny how one thing prompts even more ideas when you work with Longears! They are truly inspirational! We might even consider doing a children’s book as a souvenir for our visitors to purchase after their treks about the ranch and through the town of ASSPEN. We are getting much better with photography after years of extensive practice...just one more thing we can share with people!


I hope that things improve enough in this world to enable you all to come and visit us and experience the joy and excitement of the LOVELAND LONGEARS MUSEUM & SCULPTURE PARK at the Lucky Three Ranch! We would LOVE to share it with all of our family, friends and fans! SO...add it to your bucket list for sure!

                            Best wishes and Happy Trails,


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Listen to Meredith's latest podcast conversation with Cindy about 
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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.


We have really hard winters here in the mountains and I have trouble deciding what to do to keep my mules and donkeys in good condition.

Answer: Liberty Work can be fun and exciting for you and your equine, but I believe it is important to know WHEN to engage in these kinds of activities. If you start your training process with Liberty Work you allow the equine to move in his own imperfect posture, this can end up reinforcing balance compromises in his body. Doing preparatory groundwork FIRST will produce symmetrical development of the elements that support the skeleton. It will enhance self-carriage and produce a more ideal athletic movement. When they all have the same consistent and solid postural foundation, it is no problem to lunge multiple equines all at once!

In any living creature good posture is not something that is inborn, it is something that needs to be taught. This is why I start my equines with postural leading training in the Hourglass Pattern, tacked up in my postural restraint that I call the “Elbow Pull.”
When Liberty Work is done AFTER postural groundwork exercises, it helps in many ways. It reinforces good postural body carriage in the equine at all three gaits, with enhanced athletic movement. It allows me to watch and assess the things we need to work on from a distance. It increases the equine’s response to body language and verbal commands. Ultimately, it adds more purpose to the exercise and increases the depth of the bond between us! Liberty work can even be as simple as taking your minis for a walk with their halters on and then by taking them off, allowing them freedom in a confined area for play.

Groundwork and Liberty Work are great activities to do in the wintertime because they do not require much area to use. You can get the most from your exercises in half the time!

Visit my website at 
You are welcome to contact me by email at
 I will respond promptly!

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“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!!!!”

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“Thank you so much for the
fabulous tour last Friday of
Lucky Three Ranch with Robin Laws.
I was honored to have you take so
much time with us. You are doing incredible work! It was great meeting your whole team as well.
Your sculptures are so beautiful, too!
I hope our paths cross again.”

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"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."

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“I just wanted to reach out to say that I love following you on Facebook and seeing your gorgeous mules! Your posts were what made me consider
a mule in English riding!
They make excellent foxhunters!”

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“Your training method works SO,
SO well, I did it with Charlie,
and he has the happiest and healthiest work attitude of any equine I have
ever owned, ever. I can never say enough about your awesome
training method. There is nothing like riding a happy, healthy,
forward animal, it is SO much fun!!
I’m using your method on my new foundation Appaloosa colt
who will be here the end of the month.
I can’t wait to get started.”

❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️

Longears Limelight


This mule display team is one of the rarest teams and one of its kind.
Meta Description: Have you seen a mule display?
If not, you must surely read about how fascinating the mule display is.


Nine mules with their riders stand in line in front of the grand stand that had the kids running hysterically towards two of them who were disguised as a clown and a zebra. With a signal of the whistle, lining up in discipline manner were the seven of the nine mules and the riders, while the two, ejected in fun towards the sideboards. The scene of the light breezy evening at the Jaipur Polo Ground, after a competitive polo finals had the moods lifted with the Mule Display ready to get into action. And the kids that had once filled the grand stand with their happy chirpy voices were a crack to see the mules on the field. Tossing in a crackle of laughter, jumping down, they lined up as the seven mules had.

With this, the instructor of the Mules Display and the Mules along with their riders got into the trivial of displaying an extravagant piece of discipline, bond and understanding. In a knack of the whistle, the mules had the postures and positions ready and changed for the next step. While, the seven mules had the best of the excellence displayed on the ground, the two of the nine mules were probably a portrayal of reality, and more precisely, of a normal man. Adding a flavour of fun for the kids, these two mules were in fact an imitation of reality that depicted as to how a proper sense of training, discipline and understanding alone can stand the test of sincerity between the relationship of a rider and a mule. Although, they together were a good display of the love that a human and his animal shares, but it had not a tinch of discipline, therefore, the reflection of a common man. Of course, the rest of the seven were a masterpiece, but before celebrating the mule Display of the day alone, it is important to know from where it all started. Thus, there was an elongated detour to the past, where Col Nakul Yadav shared his distinctive knowledge
with LA POLO.


WW II was spoken of as an all mechanized war, due to extensive employment of tanks, mechanical transport and aircraft. However, facts revealed that animals still played a major role during this war. The Germans used over two and a half million horses and mules and the Red Army about 3 million animals in the Russo- German campaign. In all previous wars reqmt of horses far exceeded that of mules but in the second world war the situation was reversed. Mule became the No. 1 animal of the army because of its sure footedness and sturdy qualities as a pack animal. Speed of the horse was replaced by the tank and aircraft. Modernization has considerably reduced the Army’s requirement of animals, however, these advancements do not make animals obsolete in modern warfare. Kargil conflict once again highlighted the predominance of animal tpt.
It may be of interest to know that the Indian Army used horses, mules, camels and bullocks as pack & drought animals in the past, but we now hold only horses and mules which are used for transportation, sports and ceremonials. AT is one of the verticals of the Army Service Corps (ASC) which provides support to forward fighting troops and units by way of delivering logistics supplies and ammunition in the mountains in the most inhospitable terrains of J&K and North East where mechanical transport cannot ply.


At the start of the Second World War, British animal transport companies had been phased out, but at the last minute it was decided that mules would be useful in France to carry ammunition and supplies to forward positions where roads were impassable for vehicles because of the heavy shelling that had taken place. Mules would also be able to approach quietly - it was decided that they should be de-voiced to prevent them from braying - a procedure whereby a veterinary surgeon would remove the animal's voice box.
By October 1939, the decision was reached that each division in the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France should have an Animal Transport Company consisting of 400 mules. Four of these companies came from India and two from Cyprus. The Indian contingent came from Rawalpindi, part of modern-day Pakistan. 2700 mules were shipped from Bombay to Marseilles without a single loss and operated successfully in France throughout the severest winter in 125 years. Their major problem, apparently, was the ice on the roads. The mules weren't properly shod for such conditions and no field forges were provided. Until May 10th 1940, the Second World War was in a phase of little action between opposing forces, which became known as the Phoney War.

Post World War II

During the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the United States provided large numbers of mules to carry weapons and supplies over Afghanistan's rugged terrain for the Afghan mujahideen. As many as 10,000 mules were procured and furnished by the CIA to help them in their ultimately successful effort to expel the Soviets from Afghanistan. Similarly, AT was employed extensively during 1962, 1965 and 1971. 

AT in Kargil Ops

AT was to be disbanded when Kargil happened in which Pak intruders entered the Indian territory in Dras and Kargil sect and blocked the NH1A at Dras thereby severely affecting L of Cs and threatening to cut off a major portion of J&K from Kashmir valley. AT played a very imp and crucial role to ensure continued and guaranteed logistic support to the fighting troops in the entire sector. All local ponies vanished from the required places after the first burst of shells landed in the villages/ gen area. No civ porter was available in the initial days. Fighting porters ie; the fighting troops could not be used as porters keeping in view the casualty rate and the need of the hour to immediate re-capture the areas held by the intruders. After the two heptrs of  IAF were shot down by the intruders using stinger missles (SAM) near Tololing (Dras), helicopters vanished and were not seen in the area for a few days. Later army helicopters came in for casualty evacuation and not for logistic support. Finally AT was the only available resource which under intense shelling could provide logistics support to the troops. This was done at the most crucial time when the entire country was embarrassed by the intrusion of a few men.


Before I touch upon the characteristics of AT, I would like to highlight that animals in AT units are trained to op under fire in the battle field. They are used to transport loads such as ammunition, weapons, rations, fuel, tents and any other loads as required by the fighting troops in the battlefield. Training of the animals is an ongoing process. The Animal Transport has certain capabilities and limitations which need to be kept in mind while employing AT :-
(a) Capabilities. Capabilities of AT are :-
(i) Can op over various types of terrain.
Can negotiate obstacles.
Can survive on local resources.
Can operate at night.
Limitations. Limitation of AT are :-
(i) Uneconomical due to domestic load. A word about the useful and domestic loads. Useful loads include mortars, ammunition, ration, defence stores etc belonging to the supported unit, where as domestic load constitutes animal ration and the ration of AT soldiers for duration of the op. Small circuit of action.
Casualties due to sickness and injuries.
Need for constant care and maintenance.
Vulnerability to diseases.


This mule display team is one of the rarest teams and one of its kind. The team comprises of 12 mules and one pony called the Jhamoora who is one of the biggest attractions of the team and sought off apart from a mule dressed as a zebra. Jhamoora the joker pony is one of the most hostile animals in the stables and doesn’t let anyone close other than its handler and may kick and bite anyone around, but when he wears his dress for the event he is full of energy and a different animal altogether filled with spirit and excitement to perform. Apart from traversing heights in the most inhospitable terrain of  North & East ferrying all kinds of load they also are trained to show some skills which display a true spirit of man & animal relationship which is built over a period of time. The handler is like a true soul mate and takes care of the mule throughout the day and the mule is most comfortable when he is around him and in touch.
The team depicts some display of agility and flexibility stunts along with the mule which you would have not seen before like picking the mule on its shoulders, making the mule lie down on his command and lastly make him cross the ring of fire. Not only that team will also show the fitness levels of the handlers often known as MULETEER. The team was originally raised in Missamari a small village in Assam in 2014 when it was part of 879 AT Battalion in the North East under the able command of Col Nakul Yadav another fine horseman and polo player. The team was then called BULAND AUR BALWAAN TEAM. The team is very popular in the Army circuit and has travelled all over and performed in Bangalore, Chandigarh, Tezpur and Calcutta. The team recently performed in Bhutan last month on the raising day of the Indian Military Training Team. The team is presently located in Bareilly under 883 AT Battalion and travels to perform in various locations. The team is now scheduled to perform in Calcutta on the 16 Dec for Vijay Diwas celebrations 2019.

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We are working on a special project here at the 
Loveland Longears Museum and Sculpture Park at the Lucky Three Ranch.
We are committed to keeping these stories alive.
Let us never forget our heroes.
Please send us any stories, photos and history you have about
mules and donkeys in our military. 



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, you need to 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 is 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 ROCK AND ROLL: DIARY OF A RESCUE 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!
Whether training for normal use, show, or rehabilitating compromised equines, Meredith’s approach will give your equine the athletic edge and take him to his ultimate level of performance! He will be grateful that you care so deeply and the bond of trust between you will deepen like never before!

AND DON'T FORGET to visit!
Jasper has a website all his own, full of entertainment, educational Longears information and lots of fun!




Videos 1-10 50% off

EQUUS REVISITED DVD both versions 50% off 


50% off DONKEY TRAINING book



February 5, 2023 (1-day sale)



February 12, 2023
Bonnie’s Bit

It still hasn't snowed in north Idaho yet and the skiers are having appy-plexie!  Poor things. BUT, the guys with glasses at the weather bureau say FRIDAY it is coming,  Whoopee??  Knowing north Idaho like I do now, I can promise you, any snow that falls Friday will be bitty and in two days it will set in raining for at least a week!  That will put my sweet IRIS in her shed, looking out and wanting MORE feed.

Not much else happening around here.  Maybe that is a good thing.  I should be grateful--but I'm not.  A bored mule-artist could be a dangerous thing.

Oh, well.  Christmas is raising its lovely head and I got things to do.  Bet you do, too.  Hope we all "make it" through this holiday thing and hit 2024 with hope and resolve to make it better.  MERRY CHRISTMAS to all.  And, don't forget the reason for the season.  Now--go hug a mule or donk or horse, even and sin no more, (HA)!!!  

~The Tennessee Mule Artist Bonnie Shields says that.


“What a fantastic tribute to a wonderful and talented lady. This book deserves a place with all donkey and mule lovers. What an extraordinary and gorgeous book that you produced. I send my compliments to all that played a part in the publication of this extraordinary book. As Bonnie says, "Keep your traces tight!" 
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 magazine, and the “Bishop Mule Days” program, and her yearly publication of the BS ‘ogram is always a welcome read! 
In 2006, Bonnie was inducted into the Bishop Mule Days Artist’s Hall of Fame. Despite public demand, Bonnie always makes time to spend with her mules during the year exploring the beautiful scenery and experiencing the wonder that the mountains have to offer. Her mountain adventures were never dull and invariably contribute to her diversity of work and her infectious sense of humor!

GET YOUR COPY TODAY and don’t forget those family and friends that would enjoy this for CHRISTMAS!
Purchase this book at 
or at and enhance YOUR equine library!

And visit her website to find out more
about the Wild and Wonderful World of Bonnie Shields, Tennessee Mule Artist, Cowboy Cartoonist and True Artist!
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I think I inherited my love of mules from my maternal grandfather, Earl Rand. He was a road builder in Kansas in the 1930’s. In this photo, he is driving a team of mules.
He also loved fancy cars and he had the first car in Kansas City that was not black.
It was a 1928 Ford Convertible, beige with a green racing stripe!


Stories From the Saddle: Cooper

For this month's newsletter, we'd like to introduce you to a rider who especially touched our hearts this year. Meet Cooper. 

Cooper lives with multiple diagnoses, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, and PTSD. Thankfully, Cooper's adoptive parents have always been his fiercest advocates. They discovered Hearts & Horses with the help of Larimer County, and he began riding in our Changing Leads program for at-risk youth in January of this year.

"When we started here at Heart & Horses we didn't know what to expect," Cooper's father, Andrew, says. "We were shocked that...automatically the first time he gets on a horse [there's] no fidgeting, he's stoic, he's listening, he's paying attention, he's not squirreling all over the place looking at things. It was amazing to us and it was like, wow, this might be the thing that really turns the corner for him."

Over time, riding at Hearts & Horses has transformed Cooper's social, academic, and family life. "We've seen it across the board," Andrew says. "Everywhere people will come up to us and say 'Man, he has really made a lot of progress.'"

You can learn more about how Hearts & Horses has made a life-changing impact on Cooper and his family by watching this video!


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!

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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