<<First Name>>, your Lucky Three Ranch news for June 2024 has arrived!
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Dear Friends,

What gorgeous weather we have been having here in Colorado! Spring has sprung and is allowing us the warm temperatures to work on outside projects while still giving us enough precipitation to encourage our hayfields to thrive and grow! When the weather gets a bit chilly, then we can spend the time doing our inside projects. It is time to make sure that all the hay production equipment gets its mechanical checks so it will be ready when the hay is ready to cut. That is always a guessing game depending on the weather patterns for each year. It is NOT that predictable. You just need to be ready to go. There is quite a lot to do, so it is best to start early and just because everything was good when it was put up in the equipment barn, it doesn’t mean it will stay that way all winter. Belts can get dried out and mice can do damage on things over the winter. So, spring is the time to check EVERYTHING, stock up on baling twine and change the oil, etc. in the tractors and balers.

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 are all looking forward to doing things together now that the weather is getting warmer. Oddly, they are not shedding very much this year. The hair has been slowly falling out and has left their hair pretty sleek even though the hair is still longer...age?...mild weather...weekly grooming? Hmmm...whatever it is, they are still gorgeous and young at heart even though they are mostly over thirty years old!


                      Best wishes and Happy Trails,



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LTR Training Tip #19


Leading training on the obstacle course is your equine's initial exposure to real fear. Meredith explains how to turn that initial fear into a curiosity that will positively guide your equine's future interactions with the world!

View many more training tips on our YouTube channel.


Question: My mules and donkeys do not always want to load into the trailer. Sometimes they will go in easily and at other times...not at all. How do I get them to just walk into the trailer every time?     

Answer: Leading training on the obstacle course is your equine’s initial exposure to real fear. How you handle your equine’s fear will determine how he will handle all stressful situations in the future. If your equine has already learned the elements of leading training in regard to strengthening his body in good posture and obediently following you, this is the beginning of a calm, mutually satisfying relationship of trust. First, think of the word “O.A.T.S.”— “observe,” “approach,” “touch” and “sigh.” It’s not only the reward you feed your equine, it also stands for the steps you’ll use to turn your animal’s fear into curiosity.

Make sure that your animal is tacked up with a stout nylon halter that will not break and a twenty-five-foot lead of the same caliber. (A heavy-gauge nylon lunge line works well.) When attaching the lead to the halter, do not use the snap. Tie the lead directly to the halter ring with a knot that will not slip or come loose, and never use a chain that will cause pain or injury to your animal. It is always best to cover your animal’s legs with shipping boots or leg wraps of some sort to protect him from injury during loading or transporting. 
Begin by coaxing him into the trailer with gentle words, lots of strokes and his favorite…oats. If he easily climbs into the trailer, reward him lavishly and stay with him in the trailer for a few minutes before unloading. 
If he just won’t budge, attach a long, stout line to his halter. Run it into the trailer, around a snub, and back out to you. Stand behind and to one side of your mule, holding the line in one hand and the whip in the other. Tap him gently below his hocks and ask him to “Walk on.” If you have been consistent with this verbal command, he should understand that this means, “Go forward.” When he steps forward, take up the slack in the line and reward him with “Good, Boy!” and another handful of oats. Repeat the procedure until he is completely inside of the trailer, and then reward him again. If he is being loaded into a trailer with a feed bin, make sure there are oats waiting for him in the feed bin as a reward for going all the way in.
A mule learns exactly what you teach him, and if you allow him to back up during loading, it could become a bad habit. When you have a mule that is being difficult, sometimes it is better to use two people—one on the whip and one on the line to take up the slack. Even if your mule will follow you into the trailer, this method of loading should be practiced in case you have a trailer that you are not able to go in with him. If the experience is executed with love and patience, your mule will soon learn to load easily. Most equines need an opportunity to survey the situation before they decide that it is really not all that threatening. If you take a step or two at a time, they will eventually go in with little or no resistance.



When your animal has all four legs securely on the trailer floor and is standing quietly, attach the breech strap behind him and close the doors before you release your snub and go to the front to tie him off. You can reach his head through the escape (or feed) doors in most trailers. The open sides of a stock trailer afford easy access. In an enclosed slant-load, you can step in and tie him easily if the doors are closed behind you and your animal knows that there is no escape. When he is loaded and secured, give him a reassuring word and a handful of oats for a job well done. 

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



“I LOVE your videos and podcast talks and articles in Mule & More and Western Mule. You're a wealth of information on mules and as a fairly new “muler” (3 yrs.) I appreciate you sharing. I've trail-ridden horses for 40 yrs., by no means an accomplished rider but I do my best for my equines.
One thing...and this may make you laugh...How do you CARRY/FEED oats while training?
I tried a fanny pack and dog treat bag but when I pull out the oats, between the mule and I, most of them end up on the ground. Is there a trick to hand-feeding crimped oats without losing half of them?” 

“Thanks for all of the info- we did not clip inside the ears, sprayed with tri-tech and used an earless fly mask. Jasper is back to being his happy self with no head-throwing!  You are the best!”

“Thank you for sending me your DVD and info packet to the rescue. It is gold to me. You are the most compassionate TV personality out there. I learn from other trainers too, and often I learn what NOT to do. I have problems with many training methods that are very popular right now. Your training is truly all positive and kind to the animals. Thanks and keep it up.”

“Watching you work your mules gave me lots of food for thought, and I was very impressed how you manage them. Your goal of driving and jumping 6 teams is huge, but if anyone can do it, I believe you could. Good luck with that endeavor. I was taken back by all you do, and it took me ‘til I got home to digest the magnitude of all your businesses.”

“I listened to several of your podcasts with Cindy Roberts and each time I learn something new or something sinks in that I have heard before but not embraced.  
Thank you for being such a mule and donkey advocate. I have always had horses from the time I was little but in the last 6 years have changed to 2 mules and they bring a smile to my face.  Love, love, love them.  I trail ride just for pleasure. I LOVE the way you train your mules and donkeys!”

Longears Limelight
(Donald O’Connor 1950-56)
The book and film series focused on the exploits of Francis, an experienced Army mule, and Peter Stirling (played by Donald O'Connor), the young soldier whom he befriends. Francis then stays with Peter through civilian life and back in the military. In the original 1950 film, the mule identifies himself to the commanding general as "Francis...123rd Mule Detachment... M52519." With a plot device like the later series Mister EdFrancis would usually talk only to Peter, thus causing problems for his nominal "master."

As the titles indicated, each film had a different setting or gimmick, exposing the world-wise mule and the naive GI to race track excitement, the world of journalism, and many branches of the military, from West Point to the WACs to the Navy. The basic plots were fairly similar, however, Stirling, with the sage but sardonic advice of Francis (gleaned from overhearing generals plan strategy or from discussions with other equines), would triumph over his own incompetence. However, inevitably he would be forced to reveal that his adviser was a mule, and be subject to mental analysis (sometimes more than once per film) until the grand reveal, when Francis displayed his talent (usually either to individuals, or to a large group). Some of the Francis films had animated trailers.

Francis (1950) a.k.a. Francis the Talking Mule

Francis Goes to the Races (1951)

Francis Goes to West Point (1952)

Francis Covers the Big Town (1953)

Francis Joins the WACS (1954)

Francis in the Navy (1955)

Francis in the Haunted House (1956)

The mule who appeared on-screen was a female named Molly, selected because she was easy to handle. She was purchased from Ed Frazier in Drexel, Missouri. According to author Pauline Bartel, Universal Studio paid $350 for the animal but made millions from the film series. Molly was trained by Les Hilton, an apprentice of Will RogersHilton went on to train Bamboo Harvester, the horse that played Mister Ed. To create the impression that the mule was actually talking, Hilton used a thread fed into the animal's mouth which would cause Molly to try to remove it by moving her lips, the same technique used for Mister Ed.     
Tribute to an LTR CHAMPION: 
LUCKY THREE MELINDA'S MASTERPIECE was one of our brightest "Stars" here at the Lucky Three! She was a loving, calm and intelligent mare mule, foaled here in 1990 by "Little Jack Horner" and out of "Lucky Three Mytikas," a registered Thoroughbred mare. "Lindy” never gave us a bit of trouble...ever! She was three years old when we were filming Tape #4: Basic Foundation for Saddle and Tape #5: Intermediate Saddle Training. She learned EVERYTHING that she did on those tapes on camera for the very first time in only THREE DAYS! I want people to see what REALLY happens for the first time when training, so we don't "stage" anything ahead of time. We want our clients to know what to expect. "Lindy" had an exceptional disposition and she was an impeccable trail mule right to the end! It was sad to lose her on this Easter afternoon, but it gives me comfort to know she is running with her "Sibs" and the rest of the older herd members we have lost over the years after they crossed the Rainbow Bridge. They have all made it well over 30 years and I look forward to rejoining them all when it is my time to go! But for now, God has much for me to do here yet! My sweet "Lindy" will be sorely missed!!!
Love that girl like I love them all!


Cindy K. Roberts and I have known each other since 1994 when I put an ad in her very first book, THE OFFICIAL FLYING TURTLE COOKBOOK AND GUIDE TO SOCIAL GRACES. Over the years, she has authored numerous books about Longears and asked me to contribute to them which I willingly and enthusiastically did. We are two “rogue” Muleskinner Girls that really LOVE our Longears to the point of an obsession that has cemented our mutual admiration and friendship all this time! Until last August 2023, we had extensively worked together, but had never met each other face to face! If we clicked before, we REALLY clicked after meeting each other last August and have eagerly embarked on doing even more together through her MULE TALK PODCAST. Our mission is to dispel old rumors about mules and donkeys, and to enlighten people about the positive ways to elicit the very best from their own Longears, so they too can enjoy a fulfilling relationship with them the same way that Cindy and I do. We hope you enjoy the contributions that we love to share with all of YOU! 

SHOW SEASON BEGINS! HAULING LONG DISTANCE is just one of the many Podcasts that we have done together. Link to or at for a complete list. MULE CROSSING article posts will follow the Mule Talk Podcasts posted on Facebook with even more detailed information to share with all of you!


LUCKY THREE HAY PRODUCTION covers all the details of what goes into producing weed-free, certified grass hay for the equines at the Lucky Three Ranch. Producing top-quality hay is a lot more than just cutting, baling and stacking the grass that grows in the field. This documentary covers everything from irrigation practices, managing the land to maintaining the equipment, livestock and much more!
We all have hopes and dreams, but what makes certain people devote a lifetime, through sheer will and dedication, to forging their dream into reality? The answer lies in an unwavering belief in the importance of the dream and a passion that even after decades of work and struggle, still burns bright. In order to make this vision come true and the dreams that go with it come to life, it takes a team of remarkable, creative and skillful people. These are the “stars” of the Lucky Three Ranch. The brightest star that shines at the Lucky Three Ranch is JASPER THE MULE! His adventures can be enjoyed in the numerous books and videos produced by Meredith Hodges and illustrated by Bonnie Shields.
The documentaries can be found on our website under VIDEO ON DEMAND or as a DVD in our STORE at

These documentaries are a MUST-HAVE for your DVD library!

(use code‭:‬ “LUCKYTHREEHAY” at checkout)
And get 50% off the DVD

(use code‭:‬ “JASPERCAROUSEL” at checkout)
And get 50% off the DVD


Get 25% off the

Get 50% off 

And get 50% off the DVD

Bonnie’s Bit

We are finally enjoying some serious spring up here in the chilly north.  My lilacs are actually blooming and that makes me smile.  As a little girl growing up in southern Indiana, my "secret" place was under a huge lilac bush.  I could watch my world go by and smell the blossoms and just be happy--and safe from my little brother, the "Monster" who broke as many of my toy horses as he could find.  Lovely boy!!

My sweet Iris mule is thirty-four this spring and still pretty and kind and huggable. And, I am nearly finished with illustrating the story about the Mammoth Jack, "JACK."

I'm sending Meredith stories about some of the paintings shown in that big, wonderful book about me. The first one is about my "Hero" mule, LEROY.  The second one is about the little donkey saddled up and tied to a parking meter that has it's red flag UP and she is not happy about it either.  It's shure a fun assignment for me and I get to go WAY back to remember how I came across the critturs in my artwork.  If you haven't gotten your copy of this book you are missing a really good time.
                                                             Keep your traces tight ~Bonnie      


“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!


"He is standing by my Tennessee barn on my little place north of Springfield and not really shure of what his fate would be with this goofy lady that had just bought him in his later years.  If his previous owner knew his age, he wasn't telling, but you could see where he must have been grey at some point in his life.  Though he was "past his prime", for me he was PERFECT!

He had obviously "been there" and probably "done that" and had proven himself a rock when I had tried him out, though they had to run him into the walking horse barn and trap him in a stall to catch him.  To me it seemed a bit suspicious that my trip to the place he was might be a wasted adventure.  He was skinny and rough to look at and they put a work bridle with blinkers on it and some old western-type saddle and handed me the reins.

I climbed aboard and squeezed him a bit and he simply strolled-off and out to the big pasture. Carefully, I tried things out.  He only "plowed-rein" but it just took a hint of what I wanted him to do to get the right results.  I even took him out to the highway by the barn and exposed him to traffic and loud trucks and walking on the side area.  He was a rock and cool as could be with the noise and everything I took him through.

By the time I returned to the barn you could not wipe the big grin I was packing and a sale was made there and then.  This was somewhere in the 1970's.

Not knowing his age, I took him to my vet and to other friends with mule experience for their opinions.  They ran from 18 years to 25 years, so I just claimed him to be 20.

Every page contains an inspiration of her work!
Purchase this book or at 
and enhance YOUR equine library!

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!

Mules make exceptional therapy equines due to their hardiness, intelligence and loyalty. One in particular is a draft mule named Lucy, at Hearts & Horses. Her impressively large stature and signature long ears can be intimidating at first glance, but it doesn’t take long for participants to connect with her gentle nature. After only half an hour of getting to ride Lucy, one rider said, “This is the most incredible creature I have ever known!” 

Introducing participants to the incredible mules and equines at Hearts & Horses can be life-changing. Helping to keep these services accessible to those that need it most is why Lucky Three Ranch generously supports their mission all year long. You can help support these efforts in many ways by volunteering or supporting the programs with a donation.

The Hearts & Horses Silent Auction is a key component of the annual Lucky Hearts Gala that makes a huge impact! The auction proceeds make up a large portion of critical funding to help keep their services affordable for all participants. 

To make a silent auction donation, simply fill out the Online Item Donation Form. To arrange for item pick-up or for more information, email or call our office at (970) 663-4200.

Your contribution and business name will be featured in a mobile auction viewed by people around the nation and by in-person guests at the Lucky Hearts Gala on Saturday, September 28, 2024 at the Embassy Suites Loveland. The online Silent Auction opens the week before the event so, they kindly ask that donations be received by August 1, 2024.

We hope you can support Hearts & Horses by donating a complete package at a minimum value of $100 or stand-alone items at a minimum value of $50. The Silent Auction takes place online, so anyone, near or far, can participate and support the Hearts & Horses mission. Bidding starts the week before the event and concludes September 28, 2024 at 10 pm. The money raised at the Lucky Hearts Gala enables Hearts & Horses to continue to provide their life-changing services to those in need. 💙 ➕ 🐎


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

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!
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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