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.