I’ve kind of done this post before, but it’s been a while, so I can update some more.
This is the sale picture of a yak living in on a cattle ranch that I went to look at in January of 2014:
It honestly still makes me wonder why I even bothered. She wasn’t very far, so I think my main thought was, we might as well go look. She was friendly and cuter in person, but my god was she a PITA. The owners actually had to tie a piece of bailing twine through her bit to keep her from putting her tongue over it.
When she first came home to me her coat looked and felt like a brillow pad. She had been living in a pasture with no shelter, eating cow hay, and never being groomed. Good food, biotin, and
lots of occasional grooming, let her summer coat grow in smooth and golden:
The tongue thing continued to be an issue and I started riding her in a double bitless bridle (a sidepull for steering and a hackamore for brakes). By January of 2015, we were using a bridle (although with a lot of issues) and had started doing some jumping:
In April of 2015, we attended a dressage clinic for mules with Laura Hermanson. I ended up leaving Nilla there for a month of training and this is what she looked like before and after:
We started taking regular dressage lessons, did a 15 mile intro to endurance ride, attempted a 25 mile ride but pulled when Shasta was injured, entered our first show and then tried cross country at our second schooling show.
The tongue thing continued to plague us, but Nilla generally continued to improve. By the end of September we won our first HT and at the beginning of October finished our first 25 mile endurance ride.
In November, Nilla broke her leg kicking it through a trailer door and we regressed. By January, she looked better than the yak I bought off a cattle ranch, but barely.
We had some more time off due to my own elbow injury and when we started back up, Nilla wasn’t so much a fan of dressage anymore. Not to say she ever was, but she was definitely worse. We nonetheless continued working on things. Nilla finished her second 25 mile endurance ride at Weaverville and won Best Condition. From a broken leg to Best Condition in less than a year.
In August we did our first multi-day event and Nilla was amazing. She behaved throughout dressage, breezed through XC like a pro, and saved us in stadium for 3rd place!
It just took almost three years, but Nilla has gone from pasture yak to this, and I think that’s pretty impressive.
Jaw droppingly impressive transformation.
For my next trick I shall transform an actual yak into a riding cow.
Your tenaciousness with Nilla is inspiring!
I <3 Nilla – she has come so far with you!!
Her progress is unbelievable! Kudos to you to finding a diamond in the rough and turning Nilla into such a solid citizen and impressive competitor!
Beautiful- love your updates!
Huuuuuuuuge difference here!
I really think you’ve done an amazing job with her
Incredible! So much dedication on your part, but it’s obviously really paid off! She’s so pretty now, I had no idea she started out as a yak 😉
It’s hard to believe just how bad she looked before.
Wow… pasture yak for sure! I didn’t even recognize her!
All that yak hair really hides a lot.
Wow the Yak didn’t look like her at all. Congrats on the pretty amazing transformation!
I didn’t even recognize her either!! WOW
What a huge change!! Congratulations on all your hard work!
Absolutely loved reading through this, you have done such an incredible job with her!!!
Thanks. She’s really come along.
I absolutely love this entry! The progress and determination are amazing, and the photos are a great visual. You should be very proud of all you’ve accomplished, and I look forward to seeing where you go from here 🙂
Thanks so much! She’s made great improvements so far and I hope we continue changing for the better.
I love seeing pictures of her jumping. She’s such a cool mule, and you’ve done a great job with her so far!
She loves jumping and wishes we could just do that.
Love this transformation! Nilla is still adorable as a yak 🙂
She’s cute in a stuffed animal sort of way, not so much in a someone would want to ride that way.
I can’t lie, that first picture doesn’t even look like Nilla! If she didn’t have such distinct coloring, I wouldn’t believe you!! LOL
I know, right? I look at that yak picture and wonder what the hell I was thinking, but obviously it worked out for me.