Yoga Enterprise

Meet the Colorado Hiker Battling PTSD With Therapy Goats

“],” filter “: {” nextExceptions “:” img, blockquote, div “,” nextContainsExceptions “:” img, blockquote “}}”>

Jim Naron and his goat Brutus were hiking Mount Falcon in Colorado one day when Naron spotted a trail runner and their unleashed pit bull approaching them. Naron knew Brutus tended to be ashamed of dogs and led him to some rocks above the path to get out of sight.

The trail runner passed them but her dog caught her scent and stayed behind. Naron, who has post-traumatic stress disorder due to childhood experiences, panicked. Although he doesn’t mind pit bulls, he says he was nervous about what could happen if it tried to follow Brutus. He called once to the trail runner, then more urgently

Later that day, when Naron considered the encounter, he found that he had learned something from Brutus’ reaction to the situation. While Naron had reacted with fear, Brutus had remained quiet and calm until the woman put her dog on a leash and continued her run.

“It taught me that I needed to be more attentive and kinder to dog owners in my responses,” says Naron. “That requires putting aside my fear, and that takes work.”

Naron regularly takes goat walks as part of a program called Goat toursthat he created as part of his goat yoga business, Rocky Mountain Goats Yoga. Naron and his son Jimmy founded RMGY in 2017. Naron was interested in working with goats because they were among the earliest domesticated animals, and he admires the way they relate not only to their herd and natural environment, but also connect with people.

“They have been our friends and companions for a long time,” says Naron. After starting RMGY, he created a new program that focused on Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) and worked with a farmer to raise a herd of therapy goats from birth.

After training the goats to walk on a leash, Naron started Baby goat gram, a service where he brings goats to a recipient to play or run around in the neighborhood.

Goat Walkabouts offers both public and private walking tours at Jeffco Open Space in Jefferson County, Colorado and the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs. Each “easy to moderately difficult” hike offers space for up to eight hikers. Hikers can join a public walking tour for $ 35 Eventbrite or book a private walking tour for $ 50 per hiker on the organization’s website. Naron also offers Free PTSD walks for members of recognized PTSD organizations and therapy groups.

Naron says hiking with a goat is a basic experience that can help with symptoms of PTSD.

As prey, goats can become hideous on the way. Walking with these goats allows participants to recognize this fear and take on the role of protector, which increases the confidence of the participants.

Next, Naron hopes to turn Goat Walkabouts into a nonprofit, separate from RMGY. Often, Naron says, people see something like goat yoga as a silly fad. He wants to establish goat walkabouts as a more serious form of therapy that will stay here.

“We want to show people that this is more than a novelty, it is an effective therapy,” says Naron.

For Naron it is gratifying to see how the participants reconnect with nature and themselves by walking with the goats. So many people, he says, look at nature and see it as something separate from itself. But when he walks with goats he sees that he is connected to the rest of nature.

“I’m really able to get back to nature and don’t see it as a false or fear-inducing experience,” says Naron. “I’m out there in the Colorado Rockies. With a goat! It’s incredible.”

Related Articles