Sunday, March 15, 2020

Heart 2 Heart Ranch in Idaho: Mules and Much More

March 16 2020
by Merri

They are a familiar sight on our local Idaho/Oregon endurance trails: Heart 2 Heart ranch mules, carrying young (mostly) girls who are smiling and laughing as they cover the miles.

Trinity and Jeff Jackson's mules of Heart 2 Heart ranch in Parma, Idaho, have long played an essential role in the Matthews-Jackson families. The long-eared equines work their magic in developing healing bonds with children with disabilities - both mental and physical - and their families.

Trinity's dad Warren has trained or re-trained the Heart 2 Heart mules to make them suitable mounts for Trinity's program. They are used for arena and trail riding and lessons and sessions, and for endurance, rodeo, and parade mounts for Trinity's 'kids.' The idea of the ranch started and came together in the summer of 2009, beginning with 5 kids. Over 11 years, Heart 2 Heart's program has grown to where Trinity has a waiting list. In 2019, last year's roster had 39 kids, working with 16 mules.

Every kid starts one-on-one in the arena with Trinity and a mule. "In the lessons, they're learning how to ride mules, but they're also learning balance and coordination," Trinity said. "Every kid has their own program. I figure out what their goals are, what I see they need; and we put a plan together for them." The plan may just include assisted riding on an older, dependable mule for the more frail children, or advanced riding in competitions, depending on the physical and/or mental needs of the kids. Over time, Trinity matches up the kids with the mule that suits them best; the more experienced endurance riders have to be able to ride all of the mules.

In addition to her full-time teaching and coaching jobs, the ranch is a full-time job also, though it's busiest in the summers, when school is out. "It's a labor of love," Trinity said. Her family - dad Warren, husband Jeff, their 3 girls, sister Jill, and in-laws - have been involved since the beginning. And the entire community supports her program and shows up for the year-end awards in November, which is outgrowing the community church's meeting room.

Heart 2 Heart ranch's story and mules are featured in the March 2020 issue of Mules and More magazine. That's Irish, a 16-year-old Thoroughbred mule in the lead on the cover, at the Autumn Sun Pioneer endurance ride near Gooding, Idaho.

The March issue of Mules and More magazine is available at:

You can find out more about Heart 2 Heart at

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