Horse News

Equine Photographer Makes Connection with Tibetan Yaks

Source: Story and Photos by R.T. Fitch ~ president/co-founder of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Little lost Yak finds comfort in Terry Fitch‘s Arms

Terry Fitch up close and personal with Tibetan YakLast summer my wife, Terry, and I trekked across Outer Mongolia on horseback in a quest to view and observe the re-introduced, primitive wild horse, the Takhi. (As featured in the May issue of Horseback Magazine. and in TrueCowboy Magazine)

This summer we are in Tibet, the second largest horse culture in the world behind Outer Mongolia, where we have spent a week on horseback and another week in a 4-wheel drive in an effort to reach Base Camp at Mt. Everest.  (Which we finally made on the 27th, another “Bucket List” quest completed)

Yak Baby Seeks ShelterWhile trekking on horseback we stayed with and lived amongst multiple Tibetan nomads in an effort to learn more of their love and reverence for the horse (they don’t eat their best friends, either.)  But by a strange twist of fate we learned more about their coveted Yak than we did about the horses. In fact, Yak poop is a revered commodity and we now know more about Yaks and their dung than we ever wanted to know before…in fact, there is a book in the works as we have stepped into yak dung, sat on yak dung, slept on yak dung, helped to dry yak dung, cooked food on yak dung and probably have eaten yak dung so please feel free to consider us your resident subject matter experts (SMEs) on yak dung.

Terry and Yak calfWith that all said, both Terry and I became somewhat enamored by these woolly, sure footed servants to the Tibetans and one little guy found his way into Terry’s heart.

One morning, while spending the night in a nomad’s shack, we were awakened by a little yak calf who had lost his mother and wandered inside for comfort.  For a few brief moments it bonded with Terry and would not leave her side.  But the nomads took great care in taking the little guy back out into the herd and eventually reunited the calf with his mother.

So today we give you a brief glimpse into a special moment where Terry and the little yak have a conversation about his plight.

Trust me, there is much, much more to follow.

18 replies »

    • We used Yak butter and watched how dried yak milk is made…more to come in the way of photos. But the main function was the management of yak poop…it is even used for decoration and I am not kidding about the book…it may be a departure from several issues but it will be entertaining to say the very least.


    • Which baby is adorable — Terry or the yak? Both, right!?!

      Hmmmm, didn’t nature intend for yak’s milk to be drunk by the yak mama’s yak child?


  1. I don’t know about anyone else but I was just mins from leaving to go visit my sister and my knee buckled. I iced for an hour–can you say COLD!, have taken pain killers and now am on standby to see if I can get a late start.

    I really needed something warm and fuzzy this morning. This fit the shoe most perfectly. And darn you even got to base camp at Everest! That’s a bucket list fav of mine too!

    There’s a whole slew of 8000 meter mountains–did you get to see any of the other peaks or visit their base camps? There’s something Lhotse–that you access via the trail up Everest. And K2 which is the deadliest mountain on this planet. K2 is just a wee bit shorter in height than Everest.

    In this hemisphere we have Denali (mt. McKinley). They say 20,000 ft at Denali is equivalent to 23,000 ft at Everest because of ocean and wind.

    I’m a couch mountain climber. I love to read about Everest etc. you are SSSOOOOO lucky! I’m so jealous!

    Sorry to have gone way off here. I love what Ed Viesturs said in his books. “Getting up is optional, getting down is mandatory”. When I went hiking with my sister and I found mysel even slightly challenged I reminded myself what Ed said. I took it one step at a time. It was a very freeing moment when this body managed going downhill and I didn’t fall or cry or make a scene cause I got scared.

    I don’t know if you’re back from your travels. I hope either way you had a marvelous trip and traveled safe.


    • What a surprise, MArgaret, I am a couch climber too! You know your mountains. When I was younger I did some bouldering and knew some of the Exxum Guides in the Tetons. What I love is how good the ladies are now and they do it all just like the guys.


    • Too good ….a couch climber

      Guess I’m going to be a couch Yak whisperer after reading this great article

      Thanks R.T. and Terry ~ enjoy your wonderful trip !


  2. Okay just read your comment about the yak butter. I’m guessing they don’t have electricity so you make butter the old fashioned way with a hand churn. That’s the best! I use to help when I was very little making butter that way. But I also helped milk the cow. Aw RT you reminded me of good memories. Thank you.

    Is yak dung similar to bison in that it burns pretty hot? Properly dried and cured it shouldn’t smell. I know it sounds bad but this is what our forebears used for cooking fires and heating homes etc.


  3. “Much more to follow” …no doubt about that and I’m sure you’ll make it very interesting. (-: Thanks for sharing Terry’s experience with the adorable little yak…so cute. (-:


  4. Is it done differently in Tibet than in dairies here? They don’t take the calves from their mothers or slaughter the yaks do they? That is my objection to the dairy process here.


  5. To fully understand why it is I am here and where I just came from… at 16,500 foot elevation there is nothing. Rock, ice and yaks. The yaks are everywhere and the Sherpa use the dung as fuel for their fires. The air is permeated with the smoke and dust from this fuel source. We wear cloths over our nose and mouth and I believe hacking, spewing and nose picking to be the number one pastime in Nepal.


  6. Like the new look~~had to go out and come back in ~~thought I was in the wrong place at first.
    It has a fresh-new-modern-udated feel-to it-now it will take me a while to get used to manuvering it`, you keep us on our toes~~~~~~~~~~Good Job.


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