<<First Name>>, your Lucky Three Ranch news for September 2023 has arrived!
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Dear Friends,

I hope you have all had an enjoyable summer! Lots of folks have been complaining about our weather patterns and they think it has been unseasonably wet, but in my experience, it is exactly the way it was when I first moved to Colorado in 1980. What I love most is the clear distinction among the seasons. For a while, it got mixed up pretty good, but since the brilliantly colored Fall of 2022, it seems to have gone back to clearly marked seasons! During the Winter, we had more robust snowstorms that covered our hayfields with more than a foot of snow that slowly sunk into the ground. This is ideal for moisturizing the ground for Spring growth. After three months of Winter weather, Spring brought frequent rain and sleet showers that might have eroded the ground had it not been saturated with the snow first. In between showers, and extreme lightning thunderstorms were warmer and dry days that afforded us work on our construction projects and Spring planting. 

The evening light shows were like extended versions of the Fourth of July! We got a bit worried about our hayfields as we watched the brome/orchard grass hay grow to extraordinary heights when we finally got into June! We thought it was never going to stop. However, upon reflection, we realized that June has always been wet, and most of the time, we don’t get our First Cutting of hay until after the Fourth of July so this is truly normal. After the Fourth of July, we had one more week of wet and cool weather. Although it did not rain as much, the cool temperatures were not ideal for cutting and drying out the windrows of hay for baling. This “window of opportunity” often fools inexperienced hay farmers and they will cut too soon. Then comes the next round of thunderstorms that soak the hay that they have lying in the field. 

We have learned to wait until this “window of opportunity” passes. We then cut when the temperatures rise above 85 degrees and give us the ten days we need to get the field cut, baled and stacked. With these clearly marked seasons, the hot weather did come after the Fourth of July and yielded one of our best crops of brome/orchard grass hay ever! We often see elk in the field inspecting the luscious grass! We normally get between 5000-6000 bales from our 122-acre fields during first cutting, but this year it was more than 9000!
After being closed to tours for two years, first because of Covid-19, and then because of the heavy construction we had going on to build my Ranch Manager his new home and shop, we were finally able to open to visitors in April of this year. We really missed those who used to come for a visit before we had to close down for two years. They are always in awe of all we do here. The Lucky Three is more than just a Mule and Hay farm. It is the home of the Loveland Longears Museum and Sculpture Park with many new exhibits, including the Jasper Carousel and the Olde Western Town of ASSPEN. We even have a lot of old-fashioned clothes. People are able to make private appointments to get dressed up in the Olde Western clothes and have their pictures taken in ASSPEN, or they can get dressed up in Vintage Clothes and get their photos taken inside my house with its Vintage decor. We have a lot of fun things going on here at the ranch!

This year, we had my relatives from Minneapolis come to visit the ranch! We gave them an extended tour and afterward, took them to lunch at one of our favorite Italian restaurants. After lunch, we all sat down and watched our documentary, LUCKY THREE HAY PRODUCTION.  They were amazed at how much we knew and asked if my Ranch Manager had gone to college. I told them, “No, he worked at a gas station before he came here. They don’t teach all of this in college!” All of us here have learned most of what we know from practical application and experience. It is amazing what you can learn when you are willing to open your mind and look beyond what is directly in front of you. They said they thought our Ranch Manager, Chad was a “genius!” They also thought we sure worked hard to which I replied, “We work hard, enjoy what we do, and we have the time to play hard because we are so well-organized.” It keeps things positive and uplifting! We had a lot to catch up on with my relatives from Minneapolis and had a wonderful time doing it! 

At this point, I would like to say that being well-organized on this 132 ½-acre ranch, and having everyone pick up after themselves, not only makes for an easy work environment but, a Happy Crew as well! Three gals, two guys and I keep the grounds and buildings pristine, manage and train 17 equines, give private tours by appointment only, do Online Equine Management & Training and answer ALL our communications from 248,000 followers.  Additionally, we make sure of our Social Media presence and produce numerous articles, videos and documentaries. We rarely use subcontractors and do most of the work ourselves when we are able. The learning process keeps us stimulated and proud of what we do to serve and share with others!

                            Best wishes and Happy Trails,


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MULE TALK! With Cindy K. Roberts
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LTR Training Tip #114

Teaching Good Manners When Training

For more information on good manners, check out the Training Mules and Donkeys DVD series at, or TMD Episode 2: The Mule Foal, 15: Showmanship Review, and 17: Donkey Training, Part 1 at, and download the Training Tip Tutorial at

View many more training tips on our YouTube channel.



Question: When I go to catch my mule, he will come to me and I reward him with a treat, but when I try to put on the halter, he bolts away. If I coax him back, he will snatch the treat from my hand and bolt again. When I do manage to get him haltered, he gets pushy and anxious and will not lead easily. Sometimes, he even bolts and runs after he is haltered. What can I do about this? I am afraid he is going to hurt me.

Answer: I believe that learning and practicing good manners—that is consideration, courtesy and thoughtfulness—is good for everyone, including equines. Including lessons in good manners while teaching any training technique makes your job—and your equine’s—a lot easier, now and far into the future. He eventually learns to be attentive and patient and wait for your signal before moving, and all movements become purposeful with mutual consideration. Lessons in good manners at every stage of interaction with your equine can significantly lower the risk of your animal becoming distracted, which is crucial for safety when working with any equine. Good manners are a two-way street that will greatly enhance your time together. Learning to employ an effective reward system of training when the boundaries you set for your equine are observed will solve just about any resistance, or aggressive problems. It is suggested to avoid using “treats” and reward with oats which are a healthy part of their feeding regimen. Also, teach your mule to come to you and always walk with his head at your shoulder during leading. Reward him when he complies and withhold the reward when he doesn’t. Boundaries to aggressive behaviors must be set consistently and become an integral part of your routine.

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“Thank you so much for the wonderful tour and time you spent with us, Wednesday, April 19th. It was so enlightening to learn so much about what you are doing. Your passion and love for your animals is a treat to experience. I appreciate the time you and your staff dedicated to us. What a wonderful day. Thanks again!”

“I remember the first time I ran across a mule competing at a Horse Trial in Colorado. (It was actually Meredith Hodges!) Everything was going alright until the long ear let out an impressive bray and all hell broke loose! Up until that point, most of my mule encounters and experience had been in mountain trail situations where I was blown away by the athleticism, intelligence and tenacity of these mountain goat-esq beasties. But I'll admit, I had not even considered them show ring contenders due to a pure lack of imagination. Watching Miss Meredith work and compete with her mules over the years certainly opened up a whole new world for me (especially when they'd dominate in both Dressage and Eventing!) Fast forward many years - How lucky I am to now be working with a delightful mule, Knightstown Casey, owned by my friend and client, M. B. She spent decades successfully breeding, training and showing a variety of mules. Because of the vision held by these women featured in the article, and the many others who helped propel the acceptance of mules in "mainstream" horse shows, Casey is fawned over and treated like a celebrity. Thank you to the ladies (and gentlemen) who have taken the time to pierce the veil and to demonstrate how wonderful mules can be!”

Longears Limelight

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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  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. 

Bonnie worked for 20 years with Marguerite Henry and illustrated her last book, Brown Sunshine of Sawdust Valley. It was the only piece of fiction Marguerite ever wrote. In keeping with Brown Sunshine of Sawdust Valley, Bonnie designed the first Breyer model mule and then worked on yet another. Her work has appeared on select “Leanin' Tree” greeting cards over the years on such products as t-shirts, note cards, calendars, jewelry and other novelty items. 
For the past 25 years, Bonnie has illustrated the workbooks for Meredith Hodges’ video series, Training Mules & Donkeys, and illustrated Meredith’s Jasper the Mule children’s series. She has watched her drawings be brought to life in a new animated series beginning with the first book, Jasper: The Story of a Mule, produced by Meredith Hodges and Media Tech Productions, narrated by actor, Lee Horsley, musical score by “Riders In The Sky” and animated by Bill Melendez Productions, producer of the Peanuts holiday specials, with the sequels to follow. Bonnie did illustrations and storyboards for the production of the books and DVDs that followed: Jasper: A Precious Valentine, Jasper: An April Mule’s Day, Jasper: A Fabulous Fourth, Jasper: A Turkey Tale and Jasper: A Christmas Caper. 
Bonnie has also done two life-sized bronzes for the Loveland Longears Museum & Sculpture Park at my Lucky Three Ranch in Loveland, Colorado. The first was of Meredith Hodges’ jumping donkey, Little Jack Horner called A Leap of Faith and the other was called Friends of the characters from the Jasper The Mule children’s series Jasper, Kylie and Moxie.  
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!
This lovely 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!

This is a MUST HAVE for your personal library!
Each book has been personally signed by Bonnie Shields and Meredith Hodges!




"American Donkey and Mule Society (ADMS), we realized that the main problem we had to face was the fact that information on donkeys and mules was almost nonexistent. The verbal knowledge that had been passed along through the generations was dying out and could not, in any case, be easily shared with the new public, which, at this time, was beginning to get seriously interested in these animals. Oddly enough, books on donkeys started appearing on the market in moderate quantities after this time as a new club, oriented only for donkeys, came into being in England—at about the same time that ADMS started in the United States. At this time, however, there was only one actual book on the subject of mules, and it had been written about one hundred years ago! The staff at ADMS reprinted A Treatise on The Mule by Harvey Riley, written in 1869, and were glad to have anything with which to help people.
I still know of only three general-purpose mule books in print, which means that Training Mules and Donkeys: A Logical Approach to the Longearsby Meredith Hodges, will fill a place that has been vacant for many years. There are thousands of mule lovers in the United States who feel that they do not know how to train their mules or donkeys, and who, in despair, put them into the hands of trainers who do not understand their particular character, and who proceed to ruin animals that have the potential to be safe and loving companions for the next forty years. It is everyone’s hope that this book will help those individuals, or their trainers, to understand mules and donkeys, and to handle them correctly. All of us at the American Donkey and Mule Society hope that this book will improve the lot of an animal that is very popular, and that could be far more popular if correct training methods were applied so that everyone who wants one could have a beautiful, well-mannered, well-trained, modern mule.”  — Betsy Hutchins, Co-Founder, American Donkey and Mule Society
Meredith began documenting her career with managing and training Longears and submitting articles to 25 equine newspapers and magazines internationally in 1982. In 1993, many of the articles were consolidated and published in TRAINING MULES AND DONKEYS: A LOGICAL APPROACH TO LONGEARSThis book began Meredith’s incredibly comprehensive “Training Mules & Donkeys” series of books, videos, TV Shows and Documentaries. The book contains a broad overview of the successful training philosophy and disciplines used in her approach to Longears training. She soon discovered how vast this knowledge was to become as she moved forward with the new challenges she experienced along her journey with Longears. As she learned more detailed information, it was also documented and published in her extensive books and videos that do overlap, but are NOT duplicated. She discovered that another series for children was needed so they could begin learning how to manage their own Longears as they were growing up. Thus, the JASPER THE MULE series was born. All of her books, videos and documentaries can be purchased individually, or as packages, from the store on her website at

Plan 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 animated videos. In addition to the Lucky Three Ranch website, 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.

September  2023
Buy the JASPER MOVIE BUNDLE and get the


October 2023
October 26, 2023
(One Day Sale)


BUILDING A NATION: The History of the American Mule


November 2023
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And get all four TMM DOCUMENTARIES in a package
50% off

November 24th-27th 
and get the BOOK and CD Free

Bonnie’s Bit

It's Hells Canyon Mule Days time for the mule artist.  My favourite "show" for the mules and their fans. I am getting my "act" together, ordering more BS shirts (Dances With Mules and HI--BY) and more Jasper books and Liz Hughey's books on packing stories. I must rent a little hauling trailer as I cannot use my old friend, "Goldie" the Chevy van, to carry everything I need to set-up and function from my booth.  My husband bought one of those big black Ford pick-ups several years ago and that bed is only 5 ft long and 2 ft deep!!!  Now, how smart was that???

My last show at Bishop, that was what I had to deal with and I had to buy a canopy so I could get most of my stuff in that truck--somehow.  I hauled my old pop-up camper there for the last time, too.  I am OLD now and my body is worn-out and that situation just did me IN before it was all over, so I sold the canopy and decided that was my last Bishop show!

But, Hells Canyon is another story.  No way was I going to miss that one, so I rented a trailer to carry my show in and a motel room to secure the old bones (mine and friend Cheryl's) and went at it.  It kinda worked, though it still is a LOT of physical work and the questionable "income" feature I just don't want to study on.

Not much else going on in the mule-art world right now, unfortunately for my creditors.  I did work on a spanking fine new book about Marguerite Henry, the awesome woman who wrote all those great books we all grew up on.  I recommend you look this book up, if you love Miss Marguerite.  It is called "Marguerite, Misty & Me" and is written by a super gal from Illinois, close to where Marguerite used to live and where Misty lived with her.  Susan Friedland is her name, and she has written several other "horse" books you'd like, too.  Since I was the illustrator for Marguerite's last book, "Brown Sunshine of Sawdust Valley", and had a wonderful relationship with that sweet lady for the last years of her life. I mostly contributed what I knew of her those last years.  She was one true "hero" that lived as she seemed to be.  The genuine thing.

After Hell's Canyon, I gotta get my butt to Amarillo, Texas the last of September to the Cowboy Cartoonists Rendezvous. We haven't been together since the Covid thing.  It COULD be WILD for a few days in Amarillo!!!

I guess you'll just hafta tune in for this next epistle by the Mule Artist/Cartoonist.  Thank you, Miss Meredith, for letting me be a part of this computer adventure.  You are BRAVE!!!

                          Keep your Traces TIGHT out there.  They're after us.  ~BS

And don’t forget to visit her website to find out more
about the Wild and Wonderful World of Bonnie Shields,
Tennessee Mule Artist, Cowboy Cartoonist and True Artist!


Hearts & Horses is holding their biggest fundraiser of the year, the annual Lucky Hearts Gala, on Saturday, September 23, 2023 from 5:30 - 11:30 PM at the Loveland Embassy Suites. As one of the premier charity events in Northern Colorado, the Lucky Hearts Gala is well-known for its robust live and silent auctions, casino games, gourmet food and drink, and incredible stories of hope and healing from the Hearts & Horses ranch. 

The emcee for the evening is legendary Rockies outfielder and sports broadcaster Ryan Spilborghs. Each ticket includes a delicious three-course meal  (choice of surf and turf or vegan), as well as hosted beer, Coyote Gold margaritas, and $500 “H&H Bucks” for gaming. Attire is “Classy Colorado Western,” so break out your best boots and get ready to make some memories!

Tickets are on sale now through September 13th, and can be purchased by clicking the link --> PURCHASE LUCKY HEARTS GALA TICKETS

Can’t make it to the in-person event? You can still support the Hearts & Horses mission AND win fabulous gifts by registering for the Lucky Hearts Silent Auction, which takes place online. Packages include unforgettable trips, autographed sports gear, one-of-a-kind art, and so much more. Bidding begins 9/18 and closes 9/23 at 10:00 pm. To register now and receive a text when bidding goes live visit:  

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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