Yoga instruction at Willow Bend Ranch is a real hooves-on experience.
Pygmy goat youngsters wander among the yogis during the outdoor Saturday morning classes, and though some of the four-footed participants just chill and watch, instructor Zak Dylan said others prefer a more active role.
“They climb on your stomach during a back bend or on your back during a tabletop pose,” he said.
Adult pygmy goats weigh around 40 pounds, but the little ones — Spunky, Quincy, Angel, Sophie, Cookie and the lone male, Scout — were born in May and weigh only 12 to 15 pounds, about the same as a chubby house cat.
“They’re super friendly,” said Caroline Carpenter, who operates Jackson Hole Goat Yoga with her significant other, Korey Rasure. “They love to cuddle.
“Once they jump off you feel like, ‘Ooh, I just got a massage,’” she said. “It’s not just for the cuteness.”
To foster friendliness, yoga students are given bags of treats for the goats: animal crackers, Teddy Grahams and a licorice made of grain and molasses. Should the nibbling extend to people, that’s not a problem.
“Their front teeth are soft because they’re made for grass,” Carpenter said.
Goat yoga is new to Jackson, but it’s not a new thing. According to a CNBC report, it started several years ago in Corvallis, Oregon. Now it’s spread all over the country and can probably qualify as a craze.
That’s why Carpenter was surprised when she and her family moved here last spring and noticed an abundance of yoga classes but none with goats.
“I said, ‘How is it that it’s not in Jackson Hole yet?’”
Thus was born Jackson Hole Goat Yoga.
Carpenter and Rasure say it’s impossible not to have a good time going through your poses with “help” from the goats.
“We have some people who show up and play with the goats through the whole class,” Rasure said.
In such a laid-back atmosphere there’s no pressure to perform, said Dylan, who trained at Inversion Yoga in Jackson and works full time at a restaurant,
“It’s a little more approachable for some folks who might steer clear of a studio,” he said.
At the same time, a supercharged yoga practitioner will enjoy the experience, too.
“Absolutely,” Dylan said. “What’s so great about it is, for me, I tend to have an aggressive outlook toward my yoga practice.
“Having goats around is a good way to enjoy your yoga practice and not take it so seriously.”
At Willow Bend Ranch, Carpenter’s family raises wagyu beef and chickens.
Breeding and selling pygmy goats when they are adults is also part of the operation.
“They make great lawnmowers,” Carpenter said.
Meanwhile, the ranch makes sure it’s a good life for the goats. At night they stay in a barn, safely enclosed in a pen equipped with a slide and a picnic table for jumping on. During the day they get lots of attention.
The mama goats — Dottie, Honey, Queen, Pepper and Spicy — don’t participate in the yoga classes, but they are allowed to hang out close by so their babies don’t bellow for them.
Fred, the lone billy — and “daddy to them all” — stays in a pen by himself, though Scout is nearing breeding age and will soon join him.
“Goat Yoga is the perfect bucket list item,” Carpenter’s and Rasure’s website says. “Now here is your chance to check it off yours!”
For details on the classes see the box above.