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Odd One out of the Herd

Goat yoga raises money for charity

At+Grady+Goat+Yoga%2C+sophomore+Payton+Covelli+smiles+as+two+goats+approach.+They+continued+to+flock+around+her+during+the+event%2C+jumping+on+her+back+and+crowding+her+mat.
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Odd One out of the Herd

At Grady Goat Yoga, sophomore Payton Covelli smiles as two goats approach. They continued to flock around her during the event, jumping on her back and crowding her mat.

At Grady Goat Yoga, sophomore Payton Covelli smiles as two goats approach. They continued to flock around her during the event, jumping on her back and crowding her mat.

Alexis Perno

At Grady Goat Yoga, sophomore Payton Covelli smiles as two goats approach. They continued to flock around her during the event, jumping on her back and crowding her mat.

Alexis Perno

Alexis Perno

At Grady Goat Yoga, sophomore Payton Covelli smiles as two goats approach. They continued to flock around her during the event, jumping on her back and crowding her mat.

Alexis Perno, Business manager

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From the outside, Hat Trick Ranch in Thonotosassa seems like a typical rural settlement: cattle are raised, goods are sold and the Hat Trick Ranch Equestrian Center was just recently established. So what is it that keeps attracting visitors from across Florida?  

One might find their answer in the bleating calls of the goats, spread around on the hay laid out in a small, separated section of pasture. People of all ages are scattered on brightly colored yoga mats, and the yoga instructor can just be heard over the delighted laughs from participants. 

“We like to say that we didn’t invent goat yoga, but we perfected it.” Co-owner of Hat Trick Ranch and a founder of the Grady Goat Foundation Debbie Canton said. “The original goat yoga began in Oregon and has spread throughout the country, with farms and private individuals alike using this unique type of yoga class as an additional revenue source.  We are different, in that our event ‘Grady Goat Yoga’ is the only one we know of that is run as a non-profit foundation, with proceeds going to charity.”  

Grady Goat Yoga wasn’t just an idea that sprouted out of the blue. In fact, the concept, along with the foundation started in its name, was inspired after the birth of Grady, a goat born without the typical muscular strength and control goats are known for.  

“While other kids are typically up and walking and nursing from their mothers within minutes, Grady could neither stand, nor hold his head up,” Canton said.  

In order to ensure his survival, Debbie took it upon herself to give Grady regular massage therapy, supplements, and even bottle-feed him the first few days of his life.  

“Shortly before Grady started walking, I had already began to notice a cloudiness in Grady’s eyes,” Debbie said. “However, it wasn’t until he was strong enough to walk on his own that I realized he was blind.  This poor kid not only had trouble walking, but he couldn’t see where he was going.” 

Although Grady had enough vision to see nearby shapes within a few yards, it was enough to make life difficult. Then, Debbie discovered another challenge for the young goat. 

“Just when we thought life couldn’t get any more challenging for Grady, we started to notice he would often remain sleeping when all the other babies were up and playing,” Debbie said. “At first I just figured he was tired from his struggles to walk. But when we would pet him or pick him up, he was just as playful and full of energy as everyone else.”  

As it turns out, Grady was deaf- yet another disability life had thrown at him. But this didn’t stop him from taking life head on.  

“Despite his muscular, vision and hearing disabilities, Grady quickly became our most loving, affectionate, and joyful of all the babies born at Hat Trick Ranch,” Canton said. “It was his perseverance and zest for life despite his physical challenges that inspired [me] to create a foundation in Grady’s name in hopes of providing a way to support animals and inspiring children facing their own physical, mental, or economic adversity.” 

Grady Goat Yoga was created to raise funds to support local charities who also believed in this mission, such as the Florida Sheriff’s Youth Ranch, The Centre 4 Girls, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Lance McCullers Jr. Foundation, Paws for Patriots, High Risk Hope and A Kid’s Place Tampa Bay.  

“Our Saturday yoga classes are open to the general public, as are some of our Sunday classes,” Debbie said. “However, Sunday is quickly becoming the day of the week that we host groups and special events—many of which serve as fundraisers for other charities.” 

Although Grady passed away on Sept. 11, it is clear to see how his ability to conquer the challenges he faced and the inspiration he provides to others will live on.   

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