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Fainting Good Fun

Goat yoga provides laughter and relaxation

Here in Kansas City, lots of people talk about Patrick Mahomes being the G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time). And while Chief’s fans will be cheering him on this fall, there are some other goats out in Lee’s Summit that are pretty cool, too! 

Sheila Patten and her family operate Falling Down Ranch, home to about 15 Myotonic goats, a.k.a. fainting goats. In the spring of 2014, Sheila and her daughter Mya started a new adventure. Mya, now 20 years old, says she stumbled upon a lady who had a bathtub full of baby goats at a state fair in Texas and she was hooked. Sheila says, “The goats found a way into our hearts.” They purchased two bucks and three does.

Goat Yoga was born two years later as a fundraiser for the Lee’s Summit High School Broadcasting group and has been steadily growing in popularity since then. In the early spring of each year, Sheila turns her garage into a maternity ward and up to 15 baby goats (kids) join the ranch. Sheila only keeps 1-2 kids each year to help grow the herd. Until the baby goats find their forever homes, Sheila loves sharing them with the community through goat yoga.

“Everyone needs to experience GOGA! All ages and all levels of fitness are welcomed. GOGA is when humans are attempting yoga poses while baby goats are running around and on top of you. It’s a win-win. Human participants get the health benefits of stretching and breathing, while also benefiting from animal therapy,” explains Sheila. 

“I believe mental health has a close tie to physical health, something that is important when understanding the impact of goat yoga sessions.” 

She continues, “Sometimes at GOGA, I just watch and listen...people are laughing and smiling and talking to the goats. I want to bring smiles to people’s faces, and I want them to forget about any issues that they might be facing in the real world. It’s pretty hard to take yourself or life too seriously when there are baby goats involved. It’s a great way to break from your normal mindset and relieve stress.”

Falling Down Ranch also offers adult and kid birthday parties, bachelorette parties and goat happy hours in the fall. Sheila will provide the tables, chairs, bales of hay and the goats. Guests can bring their own food and drinks and spend an hour feeding, brushing, and snuggling with the goats. Hugely popular, Sheila says these spots fill quickly and often sell out.

Sheila is also considering a new trend: special deliveries called GOAT-A-GRAMS. Great for birthdays, retirements, anniversaries or any special occasion, the goat brings the recipient a gift and an unforgettable memory. A GOAT-A-GRAM can be personalized with add-ons such as flowers, candy, or balloons.

As an employee of Lee’s Summit R7 School District, Sheila is fondly known as “the goat lady.” She has brought the goat kids to local elementary schools as incentives for fundraisers where principals and teachers must “kiss the goat,” as part of 6th grade clubs and to summer school sessions. “The students are so interested in the goats. I let everyone pet and hug them before returning to their classrooms.”

Sheila acknowledges that while raising goats is work, she looks at it more as a hobby than a chore. The goats are family pets to the Pattens. Sheila says there are so many parallels between goats and dogs: the goats know their names, can be housebroken, wag their tails out of contentment, and are very social. 

Despite its name, Falling Down Ranch is really about building people up and helping them feel good. To learn more about Falling Down Ranch and their goat experiences, please follow them on Facebook.

Fainting Goat Facts

  • They get their name from a genetic condition called myotonia congenita, which causes their muscles to briefly stiffen after they are startled

  • Female goats are pregnant for 5 months and almost always give birth to twins or triplets

  • Kids (baby goats) can begin “fainting” at 2-3 weeks

  • Adult goats will learn not to fall when startled and instead walk or run with stiff legs

  • Goats have horizontal eyes which allow them to see in several directions at once

  • Each goat has its own unique voice (bleat)

  • They are herd animals and must have companions or become depressed/mean

  • It is a myth that goats eat everything, though they do explore with their mouths

  • Fainting goats can be registered as therapy animals

  • Goats are clean animals and avoid rain and mud

  • Goats are smart and can be housebroken

  • Fainting goats originated in Tennessee and are an endangered breed