Four Mile Historic Park is buzzing louder than usual, and not just because of the on-site beehives.
The Denver park on July 4 debuted a new goat-yoga program designed to lure visitors to its 12 acres of animals and historic structures in Cherry Creek. And it’s working.
“There been a lot of excitement around it the past two weeks,” said Briana Gonzales, director of programming and engagement at Four Mile. “We had 72 attendees on that (first morning) and had to separate them into two sessions. … That also made it a more pleasant experience for the goats.”
Four Mile’s half-dozen Nigerian goats — born the first week of June — are being raised on-site by Rocky Mountain Goat Yoga, which has dominated the metro area’s embrace of the trendy activity for the last four years. Until now, however, few events took place at historic, public locales.
“They basically offered a piece of their land to raise the goats, so we’re in a partnership together,” said Jim Naron, co-founder of Rocky Mountain Goat Yoga, via phone as he grazed his tiny herd at Four Mile this week. “I’ve been out here taking care of these kids because they’re all orphans who were rejected from their mothers.”
That means Naron and his trained farmhands need to feed the kids every few hours, including hay and bottle-feeding, and graze them each morning and night. Naron carefully watches their health and exercise regimen and, after learning how to do it himself, has been teaching staff at Four Mile how to give the goats shots.
The classes are another savvy idea from Four Mile, which also brought back its Shady Grove Picnic Series this year. Based on early reactions, Gonzales thinks the summer programs will translate into a sustained increase in visitors at the site of Denver’s oldest standing structure (now the Four Mile House Museum). She also hopes to book out goat-yoga events far beyond the summer months.
It’s not the only wellness programming at the park: Refresh Studios offers traditional yoga classes each Saturday morning from 9 to 10 a.m., and monthly Full Moon Meditation sessions. Each lasts about an hour and takes advantage of Four Mile’s well-tended grounds — which also includes a trio of horses, roaming chickens, Angora goats and Kunekune pigs from New Zealand.
The new baby goats sleep in a barn with the horses, Gonzales said, and were only as big as loaves of bread when they arrived.
“Every single day I have to go out and say hello to them. How can I resist?” said Gonzales, whose favorites are Cecil, a scrappy fighter who lost vision in his left eye from a birth injury, and Mr. Business, a charismatic fawn. “I hate to have favorites, because they’re all characters.”
Classes are $30 each, and the next session starts at 8 a.m. on Saturday, July 17. Rocky Mountain Goat Yoga splits the profits with Four Mile differently depending on the type of event — from public yoga sessions to private gatherings. Gonzales hopes to add site walkabouts with the goats for people who aren’t into yoga, and future children’s programming, such as reading books to goats.
RMGY co-founder Naron said he also wants to increasingly use his goats as therapy animals once they’re too big to gently hop on peoples’ backs.
“We’re making sure they have a long-term life goal that doesn’t involve exploiting them, but actually give them jobs that complement their likes,” he said. “When they’re kids, they naturally have an instinct to climb and ride on their mother’s back, so they see us as human parkour courses.”
After that phase is over, Naron said, he will take his goats on private and public hikes, including what he calls “PTSD” hikes, or therapy hikes.
“Some people are intimidated by horses or dogs, because they have teeth,” he said. “But goats are vegetarians and only have teeth on their lower jaw. They don’t usually come on too strong, and ours are trained to interact with humans. … Why we didn’t put this combination together before four years ago, I have no idea.”
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