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LTR Training Tip #78: Transitions


Transitions in your equine’s gait, speed or direction should always be smooth and fluid and not bouncy.

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Breaking HAPPY News!


The following is from Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue:



Very Happy News

We always look forward to receiving mail this time of year, when the thoughtful cards and happy news seem to outweigh the bills. Today was the most spectacular mail day and the timing could not be more perfect as we go from the dark, toward the light.

In today’s mail, we got the OFFICIAL letter from the IRS saying “We’re pleased to tell you we determine you’re exempt from the federal income tax under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501 (c)(3). Donors can deduct contributions they make to you under IRC section 170. You’re also qualified to receive tax-deductible bequests, devices, transfers, or gifts under Section 2055,2106, or 2522.”

Huge thanks to all of you who believed in us, in our sense of integrity and transparency throughout what was a huge, emotional ordeal for us.

Our beloved treasurer, Jean Marie Cross Nichols along with the help of her bookkeeper friend is mostly responsible for making this happen, they put so many long hours into sorting all the paperwork. Thank you both for all of your hard work!

Love and light,

Ann, Hannah, Elise and Jean

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MULE CROSSING: From Mules to Riches


By Meredith Hodges

Long before the Founding Fathers drafted our constitution, America began as a religious nation under God, and the mule has his roots in religion just as does the country he has helped to build. The mule of today’s ancestor is the donkey, mentioned in the Bible numerous times as an animal respected by God and blessed by Jesus Christ. The donkey was even chosen to bring Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem and, later, acted as the mount Jesus himself used for his ride into the city of Jerusalem.

Here is an ancient story, quoted directly from the Bible, illustrating the mule’s wonderful sense of humor: “So Zadok the priest, and Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, went down and caused Solomon to ride upon king David’s mule, and brought him to Gihon.” I Kings 1:38

“And Absolom met the servants of David. And Absolom rode upon a mule, and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the Heavens and the earth, and the mule that was under him went away.” II Samuel 18:9.

Mules are the true professionals of slapstick humor and professional psychotherapy! When you get into an altercation with a mule, you will seldom get hurt, but you will surely be set straight in a most humiliating way.

In the early days of what was to become the United States of America, mules and horses perpetuated the expansion of the colonists into the Western territories of America. Since these early times, the American mule has acted not only as a pack animal for miners and fur traders penetrating the West, but it has also played an important part in our country’s defense, being able to cross terrain not accessible by any other means, and carrying and pulling heavier loads of weaponry than horses could even begin to carry.

When the fight for freedom from England’s rule was launched with the American Revolution, donkeys and horses were used in varying capacities to help win the battle for our country’s liberty.

Freedom was won as a result of the combined efforts of humans, animals and faith. One need only examine the humble traits and character of mules and donkeys to see that they indeed possessed the faith and the strong constitution to make some very important contributions to this country’s independence.

Drivers and mules, Gary, W. Va., Mine, where much of the mining and carrying is done by machinery. Location: Gary, West Virginia.

As they say, an army “marches on its stomach,” so it was a natural for Americans to progress further and delve into agriculture. Because of the extraordinary ability of mules to work for longer periods of time in sometimes harsh and unrelenting climates, their surefootedness and resistance to parasites and disease and with their ability to work long hours, the mule became the gem of agriculture. He learned his job quickly and put his heart and soul into every task.

When American coal mining was booming, the mule was such a valuable member of the mining process, that a good mining mule was considered to actually be more valuable than a human miner. Mining has always been a dangerous business, and the mining mule’s innate sense of self-preservation was well known. “Mules are very smart…They know what they can do and would never do anything they couldn’t or would not want to do. Mules were known to pull at least three full mine cars full of coal. If you hooked up a fourth car they would balk at any commands and just stand there. No way would they pull the fourth car!” 1

“Mules are the living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West. Mules were the pack animals of Spanish padres and grizzled prospectors. These animals have a dominant place in frontier history. From 1883 to 1889, the 20-mule teams moved 20 million pounds of borax out of Death Valley, California, to Mojave—165 miles away—traveling 15 to 18 miles a day. The 20-mule teams, the dramatic solution of a transportation problem, soon became a world-famous symbol, the trademark first of the Pacific Borax Company and, today, of the many products made by U.S. Borax.” 2 So began the mule’s vital contributions to industry and the economy.

Man and donkey out on Tanner Ledge, Grand Canyon, Arizona

In 1976, under the direction of the North American Trail Ride Conference, the Bicentennial Wagon train became a notable event in American history. Commemorating the trek West that was made so long ago by brave and adventurous pioneers, the Bicentennial journey went from California east to Valley Forge, retracing the steps of these first U.S. settlers. The outriders brought back scrolls of signatures signed by enthusiastic citizens to reaffirm their belief in the principles upon which America was founded. State by state, wagons met up with the main train and joined the trek. No doubt, many of these Bicentennial wagons were pulled by our beloved mules. “Going through my deceased folks’ stuff, I found an ‘Official Souvenir Program’ of the Bicentennial Wagon Train Pilgrimage. It’s interesting reading about the program in 1995–‘96, to have a Conestoga wagon or Prairie Schooner from each of the 50 states across the country on historic trails, ending up at Valley Forge on July third.” 3

Although some Americans have become concerned about the impact donkeys may have on the environment and, in particular, on our state parks, there is no evidence that the burro will reproduce at a rate that will threaten the ecosystem, especially that of the Grand Canyon. In fact, it is possible that the burros have already been in the Grand Canyon for centuries. There is evidence that the erosion attributed to the burros is more often due primarily to other invasive forces, such as humans and the natural erosion that occurs from geological forces and the canyon’s climate. There is also some concern that the donkeys pollute water holes, but the defecation of burros (and mules) has never actually been proven to pollute anything in their environment. Currently, there is an effort to prevent mules from being used in the Grand Canyon, but they are clearly the safest way to traverse and enjoy the beauty of this American natural wonder. Mules and donkeys learn their jobs well and cannot be dissuaded from their purpose of carrying inexperienced tourists to the bottom of the canyon and back up again—with a remarkable safety record. Their smaller hooves do little damage to the trails, and their handlers have the integrity to maintain the trails just as they maintain their precious mules. Cyclists, hikers and motorized vehicles in the parks have the potential to do much more irreparable damage to the environment than any mule or donkey. In truth, it is the human element, rather than mules and donkeys, which does most of the damage to our delicate ecosystem.

America’s journey has been one of courage, determination and great faith. It has been defined by its sequential growth phases of religion, defense, freedom, agriculture, economics, industry and ecology. We have worked alongside mules and donkeys for centuries and have often taken their generous contributions for granted in the course of our fast-paced growth. But the mule and donkey are likely to remain with us as long as they can find a way to make their contributions to society.

Those of us who attend Bishop Mule Days every year and many Longears lovers across this country are very well-acquainted with the incredible assets of the mule, and look forward to singing his praises every year on October 26th, when Mule Appreciation Day rolls around. Let us never forget to thank our trusted equine companions for all they have done to make possible this great country of ours!

To learn more about Meredith Hodges and her comprehensive all-breed equine training program, visit LuckyThreeRanch.com or call 1-800-816-7566. Check out her children’s website at JasperTheMule.com. Also, find Meredith on FacebookYouTube and Twitter.

© 2012, 2016, 2019, 2022 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


1Mine Stories, The No. 9 Mine & Museum,Lansford, PA

2Mr. Longears, Volume 6, Number 21, Summer 1979

3ruralheritage.com email thread

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MULE CROSSING: On the Trail with Mules


By Meredith Hodges

With the hectic schedule of spring and summer slowly tapering into fall, thoughts of cool, refreshing mountain streams, the sight of a massive bull elk, or the quiet majesty of the rugged mountain peaks on a relaxing trail ride, mountain hunt or pack trip begin to ease their way into our minds. What better time to share with your mule or donkey? What better place for him to show you what he was born to do? A mountain trail ride or pack trip are both perfect ways for you to get to really know your Longears and strengthen the bond between you.

Mules are remarkably strong and durable animals, making them excellent mountain partners. The cupped shape of their hooves allows them to track the rough mountain terrain with much more surefootedness than their counterpart, the horse. A mule’s superior intelligence and strong sense of survival help him to carefully negotiate the placement of his feet, insuring the safest ride possible. This is both important and comforting to know when heading for the mountains. The mule’s strength and endurance are sometimes unbelievable, but always dependable. On a hunting trip, he will take you through rough mountain terrain for days then pack out the “elk of your dreams” with the greatest of ease.

Around the campfire, he is wonderful company on those lonesome mountain nights. His blatant curiosity can make for some fun—and funny— situations, and his loving ways will win your heart. But first and foremost, he is a reliable companion when the going gets tough.

A few years ago, some close muleskinner friends of mine decided to take a hunting trip into the Rocky Mountains. Packing in, the weather was beautiful with warm temperatures, calm breezes, and not a cloud in the sky. After setting up camp and tending to their horses and mules, the hunters set off tracking elk. Hunting was good, but after a few days, the evening brought with it an unpredictable snowstorm of incredible intensity. The hunters crawled from their tents the next morning to discover their camp buried in more than four feet of   snow!

With no chance of the storm lifting, the hunters packed up what they could on their horses and mules and quickly got under way. Since time was of the essence, tents and much of their gear had to be left behind. As they left the campsite, the snow deepened and the terrain underneath was steep, rocky and treacherous. They had gone only a short distance when the snow became so deep and the terrain so hazardous that the horses refused to go one step farther. Anxiety was high when the horses could not blaze a trail out. The hunters were worried they wouldn’t make it off the mountain alive.

In the face of this great danger, my friend asked his trusted mule, Goliath, to break trail for the others. With slow, careful, deliberate steps, this well-trained, loyal mule led them all down the mountain to safety. Once there, they freed their trucks and trailers, which were buried in snow, loaded them up, and made their way back to the lowlands to safety. The storms on the mountain worsened and it was spring before the hunters could return for the rest of their gear, but they were eternally grateful to Goliath the mule for leading them safely down the mountain!

There are many stories like this one, where mules and donkeys have emerged as heroes in precarious situations. However, if you prefer not to take risks like my hunter friends, there are other less daunting activities you can enjoy with your donkey or mule.

Why not take your longeared companion along to the mountains for a hike or a picnic? He would thoroughly love just being with you in those beautiful surroundings. While you walk the trails, enjoying the marvels of nature, your donkey or mule can carry the lunch essentials. While you enjoy the wildflowers or try your hand at fishing a mountain stream, you can be confident that your Longears will enjoy the peaceful solitude and be able to stay out of serious trouble at the same time.

If you question taking excursions such as these with your longears because of a lack of training, there are fellow Longears lovers who can help you. All over the United States, excellent mule trainers are available to help beginners. A Longears lover once told me that his love for burros and mules began years ago when he found Dusty, a three-month-old wild burro caught in a blizzard. He took her home and cared for her, and, a year later, he entered her in the National Western Fall Classic Donkey and Mule Show. He and Dusty were awarded the title of Reserve Champion Donkey of the Show! Ever since, he has sought to help others enjoy Longears and horses in any way he can. In addition to breaking and training wild mustangs at his Medicine Bow Stables, he has included free clinics for burro owners to teach them how to handle and care for their animals.

Getting proper training for your donkey or mule can only enhance your relationship with them and in turn, they will enrich your life. This fall, why not take the time to really get to know these remarkable animals by letting them share in the fun, be it hiking, hunting, packing, or picnicking. The life you enhance may be your own!

To learn more about Meredith Hodges and her comprehensive all-breed equine training program, visit LuckyThreeRanch.com or call 1-800-816-7566. Check out her children’s website at JasperTheMule.com. Also, find Meredith on FacebookYouTube and Twitter.

© 2010, 2016, 2021, 2022 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.

Welcoming New Arrivals 🐴


The following is from Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue:


 Welcoming Fern

Welcoming our newest member of SYA, Fern.

Fern was bailed from auction by another rescue who kindly quarantined her and gave her a safe haven at their rescue. She unfortunately is completely feral and petrified of people. Giving where she came from I can’t blame her one bit, she came from one of the worst kill pens for animal abuse and torture that we know of. She is safe now and will be treated with the kindness and the respect she deserves.

Fern has already realized that she is in a safe place. Her “bubble” when she first arrived last Monday was 20 feet. She would bolt away from any of us and stare back at us with wide eyes. Just one week later thanks to the help of Laura, Lauren and one of our training volunteers, Mike Fern let me sit with her while she ate her dinner on Friday. Creating positive associations right off the bat is so important. She sees people- good things follow. A history of  positive reinforcement and she will be our best friend hopefully soon. The more time I spend with her the more I see that she is just scared but also very curious, you can tell she wants to be helped and loved. It will not be a quick process but we are here for her and we will stick it out with her until we have earned her trust.

Volunteer Mike Dunham sat outside her pen for close to an hour in 90 degree weather last week and Fern just hung out with him. Until she decided to lay down and take a little sun nap in his presence. How sweet is that?

Two other new arrivals at the rescue, Athena and Apollo.
Athena is a very sweet grey mare, and Apollo is a stout little intact jack. After Apollo is gelded and has a behavioral exam he will be available for Adoption. His gelding date is September 24th. Apollo is 4 years old and a very active guy who will need to be adopted out to a home with another donkey gelding who likes to play.
Athena needs to continue to eat her groceries before she will be available for adoption as well. She came to us about 200 lbs. underweight and with a critically low Vitamin E level, which will need to be rechecked in another 60 days.
It’s been 5 weeks since their arrival and both have shown to be outstanding citizens, who love to be groomed and loved on. Athena is just a little over 15 hands and is just a baby at 3 years old. She has been learning ground manners while she’s been with us and  is an incredibly smart gal, and a quick learner.

Esme and Hojo are a very sweet miniature pair of donkeys who are here at the rescue with us due to their owner passing away. It’s always very sad when this happens but we are happy to be here as a safe haven for people’s donkeys, to ensure they continue to get the care they need and deserve. Hojo especially was very depressed when first arriving, we believe due to the loss of his owner. Hojo was also severely underweight due to his lack of grinding surface with his teeth and ability to chew hay. While Esme was dangerously overweight due to eating all of Hojo’s meals.

Since being here for over three four weeks now Hojo has gained an appropriate amount of weight, and Esme has lost quite a bit just by running around her dry lot with her friend. Hojo does have Cushings disease and is going to be put on medication to help manage this. His feet are also in rough shape due to the cushings, but we believe will continue to improve over time.
Both Esme and Hojo have had their dental, vaccines and their first hoof trim. Both these two cuties are senior donkeys in their 20’s and will be looking for their retirement home to love and dote on them. Both are great with kids and love ear rubs, to be groomed or to just sit and be talked to.

Welcoming Travis and Betsy! These two came from a neglect case in NJ where a sanctuary who was supposed to give them refuge, left them without adequate food or water. They are safe now and will be given the care and attention they have always deserved and needed. Both of them have had their hooves trimmed and will be seen by our vet before the end of the month. Travis, the Appaloosa pony is completely blind as far as we can tell and will most likely need at least one of his eyes removed surgically. Betsy is Travis’s seeing eye mule. She is very underweight and was very scared upon arriving, but has settled down very nicely. Betsy needs a dental exam/float, to be dewormed, and needs some serious groceries. We will also have her vitamin E levels checked as well since she’s having a hard time gaining weight. We suspect this will improve once her teeth have had some TLC. Once Travis and Betsy get healthy and sound they will be available for adoption. We realize they will probably be here quite a while due to Travis’s blindness, so we welcome anyone who would be willing to sponsor their stay with us. ❤️


Donkeys and Mules for Adoption

Merchandise Shop


MULE CROSSING: Differences Among Horses, Mules and Donkeys


By Meredith Hodges

After discussing this with my veterinarian, Greg Farrand from Fort Collins, Colorado, we both agree that since horses, mules and donkeys are all equines, it would be difficult to make any distinction among these three types of animals with regard to their vital signs: pulse respiration and temperature. They would all fall within the designated ranges below that are excerpted from my book, “A Guide to Raising & Showing Equines.” The only real differences would be with regard to each individual equine and not among groups of equines. There has not been any credible scientific study to be able to differentiate the different types of equine groups in this manner and I would venture to guess that it would be the same with all equines, including zebras and hybrids. Therefore, I believe that citing the vital signs ranges would be appropriate, but not citing medians (modals).

  1. Daytime rectal temp mule foal/yearling 37.5C-38.5C normal range
  2. Pulse at rest – adult mule; normal 26-40
  3. Pulse at rest foals 2-4 weeks; normal range 70-90
  4. Pulse at rest mule 6-12 months; normal range 45-60
  5. Pulse at rest mule 2-3 years; 40-50

Actual differences would be as follows:


Reactive-Flight reflex

Fragile health

More bulk musculature
(like a weight lifter)

Awkward on uneven ground

Round platter-type hooves

Longer slope to shoulders and hips

Limited stamina

Energy waster

Forgets what he learns

More reactive than intelligent

Neigh – exhale

64 chromosomes

Self-preservation not strong

Tolerant of humans

Expensive to maintain

Can have excessive vet bills

Constant hoof management needed

Cannot see their hind feet

Can only kick forward and Backwards

Colors strictly defined within the breeds

Mature at six years

Will fight if entangled

Low level training goes quickly,
but not necessarily remembered

Upper level training improves
generally at the same rate


Thinking & Reactive-freeze/flight reflexes

Tougher/more resistant to parasites
and disease

Predominantly smooth muscle with
some bulk (combination of
smooth & bulk muscle)

More sure-footed than a horse

Oval, narrow, more upright hoof
structure than a horse

Steeper shoulders and hips than horses

Incredible stamina

Energy conserver

Remembers everything he learns

Very intelligent

Neigh-bray or combination
thereof – inhale and exhale

Generally 63 chromosomes

Strong sense of self preservation

Suspicious, but very
affectionate toward humans

Cheaper to keep – more durable

Fewer vet bills

Tougher hooves – less management

Can see their hind feet

Can kick, forward,
backwards and sideways

More variations in color
contributed by both parents

Mature at eight years

Will wait to be rescued if entangled

Low level training take more time

Upper level training goes faster


Thinking equine-freeze reflex

Same as a mule (genetic contribution)

Predominantly smooth muscle

Most sure-footed

Oval, narrow, more upright
hoof structure than a mule

Steeper shoulders
and hips than  a mule

Virtually intolerant to stress

Most energy conserver

Remembers, but only
complies when he wants to

Most intelligent

Bray-inhale and exhale

62 chromosomes

Ultimate sense of

Generally, very affectionate
toward humans

Cheapest to keep – very durable

Least number of vet bills

Toughest hooves – least
management needed

Can see their hind feet

Same as the mule

Less variations in
color than the mule

Mature at eight years

Will break loose or wait
to be rescued if entangled

Low level training takes
the most time

Not necessarily interested
in upper level training

To learn more about Meredith Hodges and her comprehensive all-breed equine training program, visit LuckyThreeRanch.com or call 1-800-816-7566. Check out her children’s website at JasperTheMule.com. Also, find Meredith on FacebookYouTube and Twitter.

© 2014, 2016, 2019, 2021, 2022 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Saying Farewell


The following is from Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue:


Saying Farewell..

We hope everyone and their animals have been faring well through the crazy mood swings of mother nature this winter. Here in Acworth NH we have been battling the frigid temperatures, where we have had weeks on end of below zero temperatures. For us at the rescue it has been brutal. Brutal on us and our bodies, mentally, and of course for the animals in our care who are always our first priority.

Last Monday while doing morning chores and check ups we noticed one of our newest rescue additions, Andele was acting off. As most of you donkey lovers know, when a donkey who is stoic by nature seems off something is very wrong. We called our vet immediately to see Andele the mini donkey.
After examining her and doing an ultrasound on her intestines it was clear she was colicing but nothing that was a clear sign it couldn’t be fixed. Our vet took a quick blood test to see if she had any kind of infection going on in her body. This determines the severity of the colic. She did not have anything major going on.
Our vet then tubed her, which is where a small tube is placed up the donkeys nose and into their stomach to give them the fluid they need with electrolytes to hopefully clear the colic and get them hydrated.
In addition to this we gave her some IV fluids and some pain killers to help with her discomfort.
On the second day we came out to do chores, to Ann’s mule flat out laying down in her pen. Again we called the vet immediately and she came out to treat Gertie for colic.
For four days straight our vet came out every day to check Andele and Gertie and to administer medication and tube/ give IV fluids. We made mashes for them every day at least 3 times per day.
Andele seemed to be doing much better, she spent Thursday morning out in the pasture walking around with her companion Wally. she laid in the sun, wandered about in the woods and explored the snowy field together with her buddy.

Gertie also spent part of Thursday seeming to feel a little better, so we let her out in the pasture with her companions Sprocket, Gusto and Slick. (Her goat, horse, and mule companions.) It was good for her to get out and walk about while we observed her to make sure she didn’t eat anything bad for her.
Gusto and Slick put on quite a show for Gertie as she watched them on the hillside next to the barn. Both Slick and Gus kicked, galloped, bucked and tore up the field as the sun set behind them. My sister who had come to help with Gertie’s care watched with me in amazement as we both cried. Animals always know when something is askew. I think we all knew at that moment that that was their way of saying goodbye.Im not sure if any of you have seen the classic movie black beauty or read the book. But it was almost exactly like the ending of the movie where they ‘danced’ to say goodbye to one of their friends. What a privilege to witness.

That evening we said goodbye to Gertie and Andele as we released them from their earthly bodies, and ended their suffering. The colic they were battling was too severe and we did not want them to suffer any longer.
We know we tried our hardest with both of them, and they were so loved and adored. But somehow it does not ease the ache in our hearts that their absence has left. I don’t think I will ever see another sunset and not think of our sweet Andele and Gertie.

Andele’s vet bill alone added up to over $3,000 which we were able to pay thanks to all of your support, from buying things from our shop, to sending donations large and small it all makes a big difference. Thank you all so much.

We are heart broken over these unfortunate events but the rest of the animals at the rescue still need to eat and chores still need to be done morning and evening every day rain or shine. Thank you all for your ongoing support, and helping us to change the lives of donkeys and mules, even when sometimes we have a few very bad no good days.

Stay warm, spring is just around the bend!

Hannah and Ann

Gertie, Ann’s affectionate mule watching Slick and Gus run around in the field as the sun goes down.

Andele with her companion, Wally walking around the field enjoying some space and exploring.

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MULE CROSSING: In Appreciation of Mules


By Meredith Hodges

We have all heard the numerous negative myths about mules that abound, but have you ever thought of a mule as a hero, as an extraordinary member of our society? The mule’s history can be traced back to Biblical times, and in those days, he was known as the preferred mount of royalty. Given his ancestry, this should not be surprising. After all, is he not the offspring of the chosen mount that Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem? As Jesus was the Son of God, so is the mule the son of the chosen donkey. And he has much to teach us about ourselves and our world—if we could only learn to observe and listen carefully to what he is telling us. The mule can be a catalyst for health, happiness and prosperity, but we must learn to do our part in appreciation of him.

Although he is often confused with his sire, the donkey, the mule is the symbol of neither the Republicans nor the Democrats. During past political campaigns, certain Republicans actually declined to have their picture taken with a mule, because they were either ignorant of the difference between a mule and a donkey, or they were afraid that the mule would be mistaken for the Democratic Party’s symbol—the donkey.

As author Melvin Bradley notes, “Democrats in mule states have always been friendly to mule-loving voters. With a farm population of 25 percent of the total, votes from mule people could make a difference.”1As presidential candidate Harry S. Truman discovered, this was politically beneficial information and he used it wisely. Finally, on May 31, 1995, Governor Mel Carnahan signed a bill designating the Missouri mule as the official state animal.

When people are open and fortunate enough to be able to engage in intimate communication with the mule, they soon discover the redeeming and heroic characteristics of the donkey (that are naturally present in the mule). The donkey is the embodiment of various moral truths, which is why he is used as an appropriate hero in numerous fables. He possesses the ability to serve without judgment of his master. He is affectionate, thoughtful and humorous and carries his burdens without complaint. We are often dismayed by the true reflection of ourselves that we are destined to see while in his presence. The donkey is a creature of wonder and augury, and glimpses of these same characteristics can be seen in the mule. Although the donkey is the symbol of the Democratic Party, his effect on people is subjective and universal, and is not restricted to just one group.

I’d like to share one of my favorite stories, illustrating the mule’s legendary endurance and great heart. According to author Walter Rickell, “When General George Custer made his campaign into the Black Hills in early 1870, Buffalo Bill led him the first day as his guide. Custer and his staff were on their finest horses brought from the east, and they were prancing and ready to go. Suddenly, Buffalo Bill appeared on his little grulla Comanche mule, Mouse. Cody paid no attention to the way the officers ridiculed him and the mule—Cody had ridden Mouse before and found he could run a good lick, but his strongest point was his endless endurance. Custer, noting it was Cody’s intention to ride the mule, called a halt and informed him it was no time for pranks, that they had to travel fast, and Mouse could never stay out of their way. Cody said nothing, touched Mouse with his spurs, and led off, the column following. By the early afternoon, in terrific heat, the horses were lathered, and Cody had to stop several times for the column to catch up. The general was surprised that, at camping time that night, Mouse was still in the lead. Custer tried to trade his fine horse for the mule. Cody rode Mouse back that night over the same trail.”2

Mule stories from the past are numerous in this great country of ours. The number of mules (and horses) in the U.S. peaked in 1919, at 26.5 million. The United States of America was quite literally built on the backs of its mules—they pulled supply wagons in the cities, forged west with the early settlers across the vast prairies, packed hunters’ gear in the mountains, plodded underground with the coal miners and plowed the Southern cotton fields. They have participated in war alongside our brave soldiers, and have found their place in the field of entertainment. They even helped with the excavation of the Pasadena Rose Bowl.

After the onset of the Industrial Revolution, the number of mules in the U.S. declined, and in 1967, there were less than ten thousand. But happily, in recent years, renewed interest and public awareness have sparked a steady increase in the mule population.

Those who work with mules know that interacting with them can keep a person healthy and happy. The typical mule person gets up early in the morning to feed and water his mules, and then goes back to his house for his own breakfast. Then it’s back to the barn to harness or saddle up and make way for the day’s activities with the mules. There is much to learn from a mule in every interaction, and if he isn’t doing what we want, then we probably haven’t asked the right way. When we do, he complies and, in the process, teaches us about real patience, love, respect and good manners. There is no more loyal friend and companion than a mule. As the old mule skinners will tell you, you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. You either get along with them or you don’t—there’s no in between with a mule.

Obviously, I have one of the worst cases of “Mule Fever” ever suffered! But then, here I am—older, wiser and without any broken bones due to my association with mules. In fact, I can say my life was saved by one of my own mules. I was on my mule, Mae Bea C.T., leading a group of four trail riders on horses up a switchback in the Rocky Mountains, when the trail began to get very narrow. It was 100 feet straight up on the right and 100 feet straight down on the left! I could not see very far ahead because the two-foot trail wrapped around a huge boulder and blocked my forward vision. As I rounded the boulder, with the horses right on my rear, I was faced with a trail that disappeared into a wide landslide of small rocks. I couldn’t go forward and, with the horses directly behind on the wider part of the trail, I couldn’t back up. The horses could turn around where they were, but I couldn’t. I waited for the horses to get turned around, and then indicated to Mae Bea C.T. that I wanted a tight turn on the haunches. She sat her rear back on her haunches and swung her front legs over the 100-foot drop in a smooth and effortless 180-degree turn, facing next in exactly the opposite direction. She then stopped and waited for my next cue to lead the horses safely back down the trail. I shudder to think what could have happened had she been a nervous horse.

“Mule Fever” happens when you find yourself hopelessly involved with a mule…or many mules! Suddenly, there is no other equine that will do. Many people liken a mule to a dog, but dogs are unconditionally faithful and submissive, whereas the mule challenges your soul. He innocently challenges you to be the best (or worst) person you can be—more like very young children would do. You might as well be tangling with an elephant if you don’t learn how to correctly ask the mule to do what you want. Most folks end up just dangling at the end of a lead rope or hanging on for dear life during a runaway—if they are lucky enough not to get dumped on the ground and possibly stomped on or kicked! If a person finally learns what a mule has to teach, there cannot be a more reliable, intelligent and loyal friend.  At the end of a day spent with mules, one is tired, but it’s a good tired. The activity has increased circulation throughout the body, making the body tired and the mind alert. This makes for a good night’s sleep, and the next day, the cycle begins again—with joy!

Although the therapeutic value of the mule goes back as far as his own history, the idea of intentionally using mules for actual therapy did not come until much later. One of the most successful therapeutic stories involving mules is that of the Vision Quest Wagon Train. Vision Quest founder, Bob Burton, had a dream to use mules and the discipline and hard work of a real wagon train to help troubled kids. So, in 1976, the first Vision Quest Wagon Train was launched. In this life-changing program, 36 at-risk teens were required to spend one year traveling with six mule-powered wagon teams that went south in the winter and north in the summer. During the journey, the kids learned positive social skills and responsibility in caring for themselves and for their animals, with a solid success rate of 60 percent. (Mules really do make the best teachers!) Today, plans are being made on Facebook for a Vision Quest Wagon Train Reunion in 2012. Clips of the Vision Quest Wagon Train journeys can be seen on YouTube.

In 1985, an attempt was made by the Lynchburg Mule Trader’s Association, supported by the leadership of the Jack Daniels Distillery and U.S. Representative Jim Cooper, to designate October 26th as Mule Appreciation Day, in commemoration of George Washington’s receipt of Royal Gift, America’s first mammoth jack, from the King of Spain. Jack Daniels itself sponsored the first Mule Appreciation Day to gain publicity and support for the petition, which was passed by the House of Representatives by a substantial margin, but failed to pass in the Senate. The bill was later sent to a referral committee, where it languishes today. (Leave it to Congress to get our half-ass half-passed!) However, the spirit of mule lovers is undaunted—Mule Appreciation Day rose from the dead and has been celebrated ever since, even without the blessing of Congress. We red-blooded Americans love and appreciate our mules. Gratitude and appreciation are never outdated!

To learn more about Meredith Hodges and her comprehensive all-breed equine training program, visit LuckyThreeRanch.com or call 1-800-816-7566. Check out her children’s website at JasperTheMule.com. Also, find Meredith on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

© 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2019, 2022 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

1The Missouri Mule: His Origin and Times, Volume II, by Melvin Bradley, Curators of the University of Missouri, page 353.

2The Misunderstood Mule, by Walter Rickell, Reproductions West, Burbank, CA, 1976.

1 Copy

MULE CROSSING: Reflecting On Longears


By Meredith Hodges

The contributions being made by mules and donkeys today are more numerous than they have ever been before and we should give thanks that we still have these Longears touching our lives and making them full!

When the age of automation arrived, many mules, donkeys, and horses were put out of work. Mechanical alternatives were taking their places in the fields, in the coal mines, along the canals and even in the mountains. Horses made a somewhat smooth conversion of use to modern day recreation, but it was not as easy for the mules and donkeys. The history of mules and donkeys was never that well documented. Literally thousands of books have been written revering the horse for his contribution to the building of great societies and cultures. However, a lot of the things attributed to the horse were actually done by mules and donkeys! It does not surprise me that by 1966, mules and donkeys were on the decline. Their uses were no longer critical to development and growth of society.

In 1967, concerned Paul and Betsy Hutchins founded the American Donkey & Mule Society, designed to spark the fires of interest in these longeared animals. The A.D.M.S. quarterly journal continues to remind the American public of all the extraordinary things that had been accomplished in history by donkeys and mules. They plowed the fields, pulled the covered wagons and worked in the coal mines. They pulled barges on  the canals and packed munitions for the military. They built the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Wild Bill Cody rode a mule named Mouse that put General Custer’s fancy Thoroughbred to shame over long distances and rough terrain. The crowned heads of Europe rode mules as a statement of class and Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a small and humble donkey! Although the horse was revered and given the credit, mules and donkeys were always right there, too – strong, steady and humble!

Thanks to Paul and Betsy Hutchins, we have been reminded of Longears’ great legacy and there are those, including myself, who would find a way to appreciate their efforts and would help to make donkeys and mules an important part of modern-day society.

The American Donkey & Mule Society today offers a wide variety of programs that include Longears of all sizes, breeds, types and uses. The A.D.M.S. journal is still published quarterly and is growing with the industry, keeping folks abreast of new and innovative uses for the Longears of the future. It serves as a record of accomplishment. The A.D.M.S. registry ensures a more traceable ancestry than has ever before been possible. Many different A.D.M.S. award programs insure that outstanding individuals are recognized for their diverse accomplishments, and books and literature have been compiled and made available to anyone who wants to know more about these unusual animals. A.D.M.S. has inspired the formation of local clubs and groups that share in this interest and the result is evident in art, jewelry and other Longears products and events. The A.D.M.S. has given our children an alternative in equestrian sport that is interesting, challenging and unique in spirit.

Mules and donkeys are becoming the equine of choice in many areas today. The California Sierra Nevada Pack Stations are populated with mules trained to take tourists on pack trips through the scenic mountain areas. The only equines safe enough to carry tourists down the steep rocky trails at the Grand Canyon and at Molokai are mules! Hunters are using mules as riding and pack animals due to their incredible strength, endurance and intelligent nature. They can handle rougher terrain and adverse weather conditions better than can the horse. Donkeys are finding new uses in guarding sheep from unwanted predators. Mules and donkeys are used in handicapped riding and driving programs, and molly mules are being used for embryo transplant. Third world countries are being educated in the care and feeding of their donkeys and mules to enhance economic growth. Mules and donkeys have even become viable 4-H projects for young people who enjoy the challenge. We are finding that there are actually very few things these longeared equines can’t do!

Skeptic that I am I have always attempted to find the limitations of these incredible individuals. Here at the Lucky Three Ranch, we continually challenge our mules and donkeys with new and innovative tasks. They have continually met these challenges with success! With each new success, our mules and donkeys have brought many new and wonderful friends into our lives, making life full and very rewarding. To this day, I am still amazed when an animal has met his challenge and accomplished what I have asked. I suppose part of me would still like to believe that if they could have done all these things, then they would have already been done. But I can see now that that isn’t necessarily so. Need has a lot to do with it. No one ever NEEDED an upper level Dressage mule before! But I did!

Lucky Three Sundowner worked at Third Level Dressage after winning the World Championship in Reining at Bishop Mule Days in 1984. He exhibited play patterns that evolved from his training that would undoubtedly contribute to his success as he moved into Fourth level Dressage. His crazy play patterns looked very much like the Spanish Riding School of Vienna’s, “Airs Above the Ground!” Lucky Three Mae Bea C.T. clearly showed that you can do a variety of things well on a mule – whether it was against horses or other mules and with, or without the bridle!

Mules give new meaning to the word VERSATILE! That is not to mention that they can be a loyal friend and companion as well when trained correctly. Then there was Little Jack Horner who defied all the laws of “Donkeyhood!” He was accomplished in Western Performance classes including Reining and Gymkhana, Driving and Obstacle Driving, Second Level Dressage and he jumped in formal hunter style over four feet in exhibition at Bishop Mule Days and got a Specialty Award for his effort. He was the sire of some of the most athletic mules in the world today.

Since we have yet to find any serious limitations in these Longears’ ability, at the Lucky Three Ranch we concerned ourselves with documenting these three unique successes. Training Mules and Donkeys: A Logical Approach to Longears is a book documenting the training techniques we have used that led to the ultimate success of our mules and donkeys. It will was first released in May 1993 and was revised in 2013. As far as I know, it is the only book of its kind with training from foal to adulthood and has subsequently been supported by more books, DVDs and television shows and our extensive and comprehensive website at www.luckythreeranch.com. The intent is always to help mule and donkey enthusiasts to get the best from their animals and to avoid the common pitfalls that would sour an otherwise stimulating and rewarding experience with Longears. It just goes to show that MULES CAN DO, AND DONKEYS, TOO! Seeing IS believing and dreams really CAN come true!

To learn more about Meredith Hodges and her comprehensive all-breed equine training program, visit LuckyThreeRanch.com or call 1-800-816-7566. Check out her children’s website at JasperTheMule.com. Also, find Meredith on FacebookYouTube and Twitter.

© 1991, 2016, 2021 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Save Your Ass Rescue Newletter



The following is from Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue:


What Does It Take to Save Your Ass?

It seems as though the hot topic on donkey groups in social media is: “What do I feed my donkey?” We get asked about donkey nutrition a lot so we would like to share a little bit about what it takes to rehab donkeys and mules in need from a rescue’s perspective.

As a rule donkeys are very easy keepers because they are browsers, which means they require walking long distances for very little food. A lot of donkeys in the US are overfed, which is just as negligent if not more so than a donkey coming to us underweight. There are a large number of risks when a donkey is overweight; their liver or kidneys could fail, they could become hyperlipemic, they could founder, and/or get laminitis. It is more natural for a donkey to be thin than it is for a donkey, who is desert species, to be fat. Over the years we have had to euthanize animals due to complications from obesity. If you are reading this and thinking “oh my gosh my donkey is a chunky monkey!” don’t panic, you’re not a terrible donkey owner! We are strong believers in meeting people where they are. We can’t be upset with people who simply do not know. That’s why we are writing this and constantly trying to educate people on proper donkey welfare.

If you would like more info on getting your donkey to a healthy weight, visit https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/what-we-do/knowledge-and-advice/for-owners/feeding-your-donkeys The Donkey Sanctuary is great resource for donkey care!

We do all the major medical and behavioral procedures for the donkeys and mules that come in so when they get adopted they have the best possible start in their new life. When you adopt a donkey or mule from us, all the routine care has been done so the new owner doesn’t have to worry about anything besides bonding with and enjoying their new long eared friend/ friends. Secondly we do this so the new owners are aware of what they are getting into ahead of time. This is very important to us as Ann and I are animal owners ourselves, and we understand that one has to be practical when it comes to adopting a large animal into your care! It can be overwhelming for first time owners so we do our best to give them and the adoptee guidance in the right direction.

We have talked a lot about our process of taking in animals so I’ll keep it short and sweet. When we take in a new donkey or mule we let them settle in first and foremost. When we feel they are stable enough and not stressed or anxious we have our veterinarian out to give them a health check up. This includes getting their routine vaccinations, dental exam/ dental work, and if any abnormalities are found we have blood work and/or tests done.

Then we call the farrier to have their hooves trimmed and get them on a schedule for every six to eight weeks.

Since a lot of animals come to us in varying conditions, we mimic the environment, and feeding care they have been getting in their previous home, to reduce stress related issues such as colic. Once they are settled in we make a feeding plan for them depending on their condition. Typically this consists of switching them over to a mineral supplement. We use California Trace mineral Supplement, and first cut hay in slow feeder hay nets. Donkeys need to be fed small amounts, frequently.

Since we are a non-profit and are always in need of donations we believe it is important to share with our amazing supporters where your donations are going, transparency is very important to us.

This is what it costs us to take in a pair of standard donkeys from the time they arrive at the rescue until the day they are adopted. This is a generalized tally as it would be totally different for a 1200 lb. 30 year old mostly toothless draft mule! We had quite a few of those those in 2019. A pair of standard donkeys if healthy and trained, stay at the rescue an average of 3-4 months before being adopted. What do you think the total cost of their stay which includes all their routine vet work, vaccinations, dentals, health check ups, health certificates, having their blood sent out for a coggins test, worming, hay, supplements, a salt block, shavings and farrier trims, would be? This does not include emergency vet calls or medications that they may be on. For two standard size donkeys who are here for four months, the cost for us to get all of their routine care done is $1,158.08! If you’ve seen our adoption fees, you know that we do not make money from adoptions. The adoption fee helps us, yes. Our primary goal is to get the donkeys and mules healthy and happy, and making love matches between long ears and humans; which makes it all worth it.

Raise a glass and toast yourselves, you amazing ass saving supporter!

We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts, and we wish you all a wonderful new year full good health and happy brays.


Hannah, Ann and the SYA Team


Click here to see our animals for adoption!

Hobie and Walton Update

Hobie, the once wobbly little donkey is feeling fierce and full of life as of late. If you are in the pen with him, he is sure to follow you around, right at your heels. His favorite thing to do is to is sun bathe when the sun is just right in his stall overhang, and of course, breakfast.

Walton has also been full of life lately and was allowed access to the big field to play with his next door pasture mate, Vinny. Walton took advantage of all the space and trotted the entire perimeter, and then cantered back to all of his friends. He had a blast! Where Walton once had cuts, and open festering wounds, he now has new healthy skin with little baby hairs growing in. <3

Some of things we are in always in need of to continue their healing process can be found below.

-Chopped Alfalfa
-Vitamin E (Elevate)
-Purina Senior
-Hay nets with 1&1/2 inch holes

Thank you all for your kind thoughts for these two amazing equines!

“We should never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world.”

-Ruth Bader Ginsburg


SYALER eNewsletter


The following is from Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue:

July, 2019

Ears the news…


I apologize for the lapse in newsletters. For those of you who do not visit us via FaceBook, you don’t know what has been going on here so I will begin with an update.

In April we took in six donkeys from a sale barn who came to us very, very ill. Our vet prepared us for the fact that they might not all make it. The donkeys  were diagnosed with  influenza and another virus. One of them, only a baby herself, aborted her foal. Two weeks after that the mules who were not even near the donkeys, came down with strangles. (The donkeys did NOT have strangles) The whole farm was put in quarantine. We beefed up our bio security big time; hazmat suits for all, foot covers, gloves, bleach to clean EVERYTHING anyone touched. Foot baths outside every entrance to every barn, and a change of suits; clothing EVERY time we changed locations.

I am happy to report that the donkeys have all recovered. After being brought up to date with vaccinations and having their hooves, which were in horrid condition trimmed they will soon be ready to be adopted.  We have negative test results on three of the mules, and two more will be tested next week. Hopefully they too will have negative results and be ready to go to new homes.

This ordeal has been incredibly stressful emotionally. It has seriously impacted our financial footing as well and it’s not over yet. We have incurred close to 9,000 in vet bills. We have been blown away by the amazing generosity of our loyal supporters.  If not for this wonderful group of people I don’t know how we would have made it through this. I don’t have the words to adequately express our gratitude.

I would be remiss if I did not thank our amazing vet Kristen Clapp and uber technician Remington Morancy; they have been phenomenal. Thanks to State Veterinarian Steve Crawford for working with us as well.  Of course super star Hannah Exel stepped right up to the plate and did whatever needed to be done. The help of our part time worker Kim Nelson and our Farm Fam pal Pomme took a bit of the load off as well. Wonderful SYA  volunteer Pam Kissel willingly dressed in hazmat gear to make sure all the animals got groomed and some cuddle time.  Those suits are like a wearable sauna. NOT FUN.  In the thirteen years of running the rescue I have never had to deal with anything like this and hope to never have to again!

I hope to get back on track with regular newsletters.




President & Shelter Manager



SYALER eNewsletter


The following is from Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue:

November 26, 2018

Ears the news…

The snow is gently falling and I am looking up from my computer to see mules eating their hay out in the pasture. It’s so peaceful and makes my heart feel very full. I am fortunate to be able to do what I do. I would not however, be able to do it without the help of our team of thoughtful and generous donors. Yeah, it’s that time of year once again, when I need to reach out to ask for help to meet our year end fund raising goal.

We had many sick animals over the course of the year, requiring numerous vet visits and a lot of prescription and non-prescription medications. We have had our two big draft mules Nellie and Luke here for a year now and they sure do put away the groceries! We are all happy to see them in excellent body condition and good behavioral health. We know the perfect home will come along for them and we are more than happy to have them here until it does.

Due to these facts we need YOU to help us now, please. Our fund raising goal for this year is $35,000. This amount will ensure a barn full of hay and plenty of grain and supplements. It will allow for routine veterinary calls as well as an emergency should one occur, and to just keep up with the day to day expenses of running a rescue; vehicle maintenance, repairs to buildings and machinery, little things, like ensuring we have a professionally cleaned porta potty for visitors! There is so much involved and like all things the prices of what is needed keeps going up.

You will be hearing from me frequently in the upcoming weeks as I ask you to please check under those couch cushions, raid the piggy bank, and do what you can to help us meet our goal. Thank you!



President & Shelter Manager







P.S. — The donkeys need YOU!  The mules need YOU!  Please take part in helping us reach our goal!!  You can make your gift donation right now by using the donate button in the left column!!!


SYALER eNewsletter


The following is from Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue:

October 26, 2018

Ears the news…

What a difference a day makes….waking up to snow on the ground was a surprise. The donkeys and mules were lined up so their bodies were like solar panels; all soaking in the warmth as the sun rose in the sky.

I am happy to say that in the twelve years I’ve been placing animals through the rescue, only twice have I had to reclaim animals from the home in which I had placed them. Since close to 400 animals have been placed in homes in that time frame I am able to take it in stride, though I cannot say it does not bother me greatly. Upon doing a site visit to a home which agreed to make changes necessary to provide what two draft mules would need recently, we sadly found that not only had the changes not been made, but the animals condition was not acceptable, so the decision was made to take them back. This is not a pleasant experience for either side. Although unpleasant I will do what needs to be done as I am first and foremost an advocate for the animals in my care. I will work with potential adopters by offering advice, suggestions, and even hands on help if needed, but if adopters are not going to abide by the rules and regulations stipulated in the adoption contract they sign, I will do whatever is necessary for the wellbeing of the animals. Thankfully this does not happen often as it very stressful for all involved. I am happy to say the two we brought back are doing well and are ready to be adopted.

We have quite a few animals available for adoption right now. The two draft mules who came back are a sweet bonded pair. We have several donkey pairs as well as two single mules. All of them would be very happy with a family to dote on them. I love having them here but know they will be so much happier with their own people.

I am looking forward to attending my sixth annual Donkey Welfare Symposium at UC Davis Vet School next weekend. I love the opportunity to be around like minded people who want to learn how to best care for their animals. The chance to learn from veterinarians, equine dentists, farriers, behaviorists many of whom work in third world countries on the donkeys there is an amazing experience. It’s a blast to hook up with friends whom I see only at this venue, once a year.   I will get home and have a couple of weeks to prepare for Equine Affaire which is another fun gig to look forward to and at which I hope to see a lot of you.

The water heaters have been pulled out of storage and electric tea pots at the ready for preparing hot mashes as the weather changes. I hope all of you and your long eared buddies are having a wonderful fall and that the winter will be kind to us all.



President & Shelter Manager








SYALER eNewsletter


The following is from Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue:

July 28, 2018

Ears the news…

It’s hard to believe that July is nearly over. Time flies!

I’m happy to report that adoptions have FINALLY started picking up. It was slow going for a while. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to when an animal will be chosen. I am pretty fussy about where the animals go and will not adopt out a singleton donkey unless they will be going to a home with an existing donkey. I will not adopt donkeys or mules to be used as guardian’s so I am sure both of those policies eliminate a fair number of potential adopters.

Our little Esme’ went to her new home this last week as did Zelda and Sassy. John Henry, our big, beautiful clown of a mule has found a SUPER home with a donkey and a horse as companions. Luke & Nelly and Oliver & Nellie have moved to their new homes recently too. Hope and Ivy’s new home is almost ready for them.

Our annual calendar photo contest has begun!

Submit your photos of your favorite Long Ears for the 2019 Save Your Ass Long Ear Rescue Calendar Photo Contest!

New for 2019–No entry fee! You may submit three photos per email address, free of charge, but if you can, please consider donating a bale of hay –only $5.00– to our longear friends at the rescue when you submit your entries. Entries close August 20.

Click here for Entry requirements and instructions.

Email any questions to Joan Gemme at syacalendar2019@gmail.com.

All photos that fit the requirements for content, quality, and size will be included in the calendar, and the favorites of our volunteer judges will win the coveted month and cover locations!

We can’t wait to see your best shots of your long ear friends! We hope to have the calendar available at our annual show, which will be held on October 13th at the usual spot, Millot Green in Alstead, NH.

Volunteerism takes on many forms. I am very grateful to friend, and volunteer Andria Elliot for being my travel buddy on transport missions. I do not feel safe transporting alone, “just in case”. It’s great to have a co-pilot to help spot wildlife crossing, work with GPS, and generally oversee my driving! We are on the same drink coffee, find restroom schedule, so it works out great!

Mike Dunham deserves another shout out as well as he continues to work patiently with the animals, teaching them new skills to make them more adoptable. I would be remiss to leave Hannah Exel out of my thanks as she has been studying hard and has become such a wonderful trainer. I am so proud of her and the work she is doing. SYA is so lucky to have her. Annie Kellam is still spoiling the animals rotten…thankfully! I am grateful to all who help.

If anyone locally wants to help out we sure could use help with “manure management” a few days a week. Yeah, I mean scooping poop! It’s really quite contemplative work and gives one a bit of a work out! If you are interested please contact hannahexel@icloud.com if you would like to help.

A huge thank you to all who are members of our Take A Long Ear to Lunch program. Your support is so very important and helps us enormously. We are grateful!!!

Enjoy the duration of the sauna like conditions and remember to hug your long ears…



President & Shelter Manager









Swiss Bulletin PHOTO Nr 1 2018

Mule Finds at Theodul Pass


Swiss Mule Magazine 2018-1

This article is written by Elke Stadler and from my friend, Josefine, editor of the Swiss Mule Bulletin in Switzerland! Since we share a love for Longears, we like to share each other’s respective mule historical experiences with our friends and fans. I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did! Thank you so much, Josefine! In the future, we look forward to more news from Switzerland in support of Longears:

The Theodul Pass

The name is derived from St. Theodul, the first known Valais bishop from the 4th century Walser German, it is called Theodul Yoke. From the 16th to the end of the 18th century it was called Augst Valley Pass (Augst = Aosta, Latin Augusta Praetoria), later, until the beginning of the 19th century, simply also called Valais Pass, then Matter Yoke. The special feature of the glaciated pass is its great height: 3,295 m above sea level (as of 2009). It is located in the Valais between the Matterhorn and the Breithorn. The pass, which crosses the border between Italy and Switzerland, connects Zermatt in the Matter Valley with Breuil-Cervinia in Valtournenche.

No other Alpine pass of comparable importance is higher than 2,900 m above sea level. The Theodul Pass has always been an important crossing point in the Valais Alps. A stone axe found in 1895 comes from Brittany and dates back to the Neolithic period (4000 to 3500 BC). It suggests that the pass was already in use at that time. Near the top of the pass, a Roman coin treasure dating from the 1st to 4th century AD was found. You can see it today at the Alpine Museum in Zermatt.

The Mule and the Theodul Pass

The Theodul Pass was probably commemorated with mules from the Roman period, possibly as early as the end of the late Iron Age. The oldest evidence for the use of mules in the Theodul Pass region can be found in late-medieval text sources that report on trade relations between the Matter Valley and the Aosta Valley. The “horses” repeatedly mentioned in this article can only be mules. From the early 20th century onwards, the use of the mule for the transport of goods over the Theodul Pass, represented only a rarity in view of increasingly difficult climatic conditions and the emergence of a modern transport network.

Dangerous conditions at the glacier pass 

The historic pass consists of two sections: From Zermatt to the edge of the glacier a path on the grown soil; from there to the pass, as a rule, a track across the glacier. As a glacier pass, the transition to those altitudes in which passability is highly dependent on climatic conditions is sufficient. Daily fluctuations (hard snow, soft snow), seasonal influences (summer, winter, avalanches) as well as climatic changes over the centuries have an impact here.

The crossing of such a high pass was not safe for humans and animals. In the oral tradition of the Matter Valley there are numerous stories and legends that tell of mishaps of traders or farmers accompanied by their mule. In Zeneggen, for example, it is said that a farmer who went out with two mules to get wine in Italy got caught in a storm. The mules, who are known for keeping calm in all situations, came back to the village on their own and vice versa, while the owner, who was believed dead, followed a few days later.

Mule bone finds and a whole skeleton

The mules whose bones have been found in the pass region since 1985 did not have that luck. However, its skeletal parts are direct witnesses to the important role played by the animal, which is important for Alpine culture, in the regional economy. Even though the mules are known to us as indispensable human helpers until the transport connections of the mountains, little is known about the beginning of mule maintenance in Valais.

Until the discovery of a complete skeleton on the ice surface in the eastern area of the Upper Theodul glacier in autumn 2013, bone remains, i. e. individual fragments, were salvaged exclusively from the areas cleared of the ice. Most of the pieces come from the eastern edge of the Upper Theodul Glacier. From 1985 to 2013, 247 equine bones were collected, including 122 pieces belonging to the same individual.

At archaeological sites, remains of the bones of equidae are a rarity, and their identification also fails due to the extreme difficulty of distinguishing donkeys, horses and their hybrids (mules) from skeletal parts, which are usually isolated and fragmented. With the exception of the fully preserved mule skeleton discovered in 2013, every single piece of bone remains discovered in Valais was definitely assigned to a hybrid. The discovery of the complete skeleton can therefore be regarded as the first reliable evidence of mules in Valais. The Upper Theodul Glacier, was systematically prospected for the first time in 2010. This is part of a project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation for the archaeological study of glaciated pass crossings between Valais and Italy.

In autumn 2015, the youngest find, belonging to a mule, was found in the interesting search area like a brown jellyfish on the ice: woven cords of a mule saddle sewn into a fine piece of leather. What will the melting glacier release in the coming years?

The archaeological discovery of the Theodul Pass is inseparable from the retreat of the Upper Theodul Glacier and the alpine, and tourist development of the Zermatt Alps from the second half of the 19th century onwards. Many objects were accidental findings of tourists. The oldest finds date back to Roman times. The numerous mule bone finds bear witness to the movement of goods and persons, which is regularly mentioned in textual sources. Up to 10,000 year old finds, in the immediate vicinity of the Theodul Pass and the Upper Theodul Glacier, indicate a prehistoric ascent of the pass. In the future, a more targeted archaeological investigation of the Theodulpass area will be possible thanks to the research project of the University of Freiburg i. Ue., which was completed in 2014 and calculates archaeological suspected find areas.

An ice free mule saddle made of cords and leather.

Sources: Mules and rock horses: animal bone remains, In: Providoli S., Curdy P. and Elsig P. (2015) 400 years in glacial ice. The Theodul Pass at Zermatt and his “mercenary”; NZZ: Glacier archaeology, stories from the freezer, Caroline Fink; www.ivs.admin.ch  ; https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodulpass

BIG Day of Giving: What Can Your Donation Do?


The following is from All About Equine Animal Rescue:

It’s Finally Here!!  The BIG Day of Giving!!

This event started at midnight and goes for 24 hours. This is a great opportunity to give local now and show the country that our region is #1 as the most generous community on this national day of giving!

This year, our goal is to engage at least 200 donors and raise $10,000 to help us FILL THE BARN to help support our feed and care costs! 

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The Veterinarian’s Role in Equine Abuse Investigations


The following is an article from The Horse.

The Veterinarian's Role in Equine Abuse Investigations

Photo: Courtesy of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Veterinarians must know how to properly document findings and avoid destroying evidence while still putting the horse’s welfare first.

How a veterinarian goes about examining and treating allegedly abused horses can mean the difference between a successful or unsuccessful case against the owner. He or she must know how to properly document all findings and avoid destroying evidence while still putting the horse’s welfare first.

Nicole Eller, DVM, a Minnesota-based field shelter veterinarian with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Field Investigations and Response team, described the veterinarian’s unique role in animal crime scene investigations during her presentation at the 2016 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 3-7 in Orlando, Florida.

First, she reviewed the basics of evidence identification, collection, and preservation. “Evidence is generally defined as anything that can demonstrate or disprove a fact in contention,” said Eller. In equine abuse investigations, this can include anything from photos of a horse’s injuries or body condition to the moldy hay in his feeder.

Veterinarians must view these cases through the lens of someone looking for and collecting evidence. As the equine expert, the veterinarian will recognize key pieces of evidence that other investigators might overlook.

Eller then described the four phases of processing an animal crime scene.

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There Are 100 Million Working Horses, Donkeys & Mules in the World– We Want to Help Them All


The following is an article from The London Economic.

There are 100 million working horses, donkeys and mules in the world. They are the tractors, taxis and engines that power developing economies, working in the construction industry, carrying food and water, and transporting goods to market. It’s estimated that each animal can support a family of six, so around 600 million people’s lives are supported by a working equine – 8% of the world’s population. Without healthy working horses, donkeys and mules, they wouldn’t be able to put food on their tables, send their children to school or build better futures for themselves and their families. However, it’s estimated that more than half of these animals suffer from exhaustion, dehydration and malnutrition as a result of excessive workloads and limited animal health services

Brooke is an international charity that protects and improves the lives of working equines. The UK based charity works to deliver significant and lasting change, even in some of the world’s most challenging areas. Their teams concentrate on training and support for owners of owners and handlers, as well as local vets, farriers, harness makers and animal traders to improve standards of care. They operate in 11 different countries, and fund small projects in others. Brooke also conducts research, and works with policy makers to make overarching changes to the way governments tackle working equine welfare.

One of the countries that Brooke works in is Kenya, a country with almost 2 million donkeys. Around 50% of people live below the poverty line, so these animals support many people’s lives in both urban and rural areas, transporting food and fuels. Brooke has been working through local partners in the country since 2011, and opened an office in Nairobi in 2013, with programmes stretching from Turkana County in the North to Kajiado in the South. The work focusses on bringing communities together to make donkey welfare a group priority, with a financial focus.

©Brooke/Freya Dowson.


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How You Can Help Stop Horses, Camels and Other Animals Suffering On Your Holidays


The following is an article from Wander Lust.


“You don’t have to be very bright to see if an animal looks like it’s on Death Row,” says Jeremy Hulme, Chief Executive of animal welfare charity SPANA. “If you’re looking at a horse or mule, and it’s head is down, it’s looking thin and its bones are sticking out, it’s obviously not right. If it’s limping, you know it’s got problems.”


Most savvy travelers are now clued up on how animal experiences, from elephant rides to tiger temples, might be harmful to animals. Less attention is paid, though, to horses, donkeys, mules and camels put to work in the tourism industry, which is why SPANA has launched a Holiday Hooves campaign.

Thousands of animals are used in travel experiences, from camel rides and horse-drawn carriages to mules carrying gear on expeditions. The animals are often essential to their owners’ livelihoods, but in some cases are cruelly treated, neglected or kept in poor conditions.

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Brooke Beats the Odds to Help Out Two Million Working Equines


Equine charity Brooke has met its goal of reaching two million working horses, donkeys and mules in a single year.

The ambitious goal to reach this vast number of working horses and donkeys to relieve their suffering and improve welfare through training, research and treatment was set almost six years ago.

It is estimated that at least 100 million equines are supporting more than 600 million people in the developing world. The majority of those animals are suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, malnourishment, crippling injuries, lameness, and/or contagious diseases, nearly all of which can be prevented with proper training for their owners.

Measuring the impact of its work is a key focus for Brooke. In 2016, in Nepalese brick kilns where Brooke works the number of animals with eye problems fell by 42%. In Brooke projects in Nicaragua the number of severely underweight animals was reduced by 31% and Brooke Pakistan reduced by 16% the number of animals in their coal mine projects with severe wounds. In the UK, Brooke now has 30 community fundraising groups passionate about raising money for the cause, and almost 10,000 new supporters have jumped on board this year alone.

“Reaching two million horses, donkeys and mules in a year is one of our proudest achievements,” said Chief executive Petra Ingram said.

“We’re so grateful to our donors for enabling us to offer support to so many animals. This success paves the way for the future of Brooke. By 2021 we want to reach even more working horses, donkeys and mules in the greatest need. And we want to ensure that Brooke makes a lasting difference to animals’ lives – so they continue to benefit for generations to come.”


US donors had also contributed to the year’s success, through its American fundraising affiliate Brooke USA.

Brooke USA Chairman Dr David Jones said the organisation would rely on its donors in coming years “as we strive to expand and reach our next goal of five million animals each year by 2021.”

In a huge milestone for Brooke’s global animal welfare and advocacy work, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) announced this year the first set of welfare standards for working horses, donkey and mules. Furthermore contribution of working equines to food security was officially recognised by the UN in livestock recommendations formally endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS).

“This means that the needs of countless horses, donkeys and mules who have laboured for so long without recognition can no longer be ignored. They’re on the international agenda – giving Brooke a hard-won opportunity to reach more of the world’s 100 million working equines than ever before,” Ingram said.

Heralding this new chapter, Brooke launched its new brand in 2016, including the new strapline “Action for working horses and donkeys” to create instant understanding of the charity’s work and the role of animals in the everyday life in a world where fewer than 20% of people have access to a motor vehicle.

Brooke currently works primarily India, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Egypt, Ethiopia, Senegal, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and has pilot projects in several other developing countries.

Brooke appointed five new trustees including three from countries where it works, helping to bring it closer to the communities that rely on working animals.

Brooke’s new overseas trustees are CEO of Change Alliance in India, Belinda Bennett, CEO of Emerge Africa Ed Rege, based in Kenya, and Cheikh Ly, from Senegal, a veterinary school full tenure professor. The UK trustees are Graeme Cooke, the UK’s Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer and former Veterinary Director of the World Governing body of Horse Sport (FEI) and Sarah Arnold, a specialist trust and estates solicitor.


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