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Horse Yoga with Ashley Flowers

Two horse in the field at the MSSPA in Windham, Maine

If you haven't been to the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals or MSSPA, you HAVE to check it out. If you've never done horse yoga (who has??), here's your chance.

The MSSPA, located on River Road in Windham, provides shelter and rehabilitation to horses that have been neglected and abused. Originally founded in 1872, they have been saving horses for over 150 years! The work they do is incredible and worth seeing in person. The MSSPA has a summer open house on June 23rd from 10am to 2pm. They will be offering lawn games, food trucks and visits with the horses. For more info, link to their website here.

Barn and horse pasture at the MSSPA in Windham, Maine

Moving on to horse yoga with Ashley Flowers. I first met Ashley back when I had a kids movement studio in the West End of Portland...somewhere around 2016. She was friends with one of our studio co-owners, Cayce Lannon, and we were all part of an entrepreneurial business group that met to discuss boring things like taxes and bookkeeping. The good food and company made these mundane topics enjoyable and although I only attended a handful of meetings, I remember Ashley as down-to-earth, fun-loving and good-humored.

We reconnected at an REI event recently and of course, she hasn't changed at all. Ashley invited me to one of her horse yoga classes and I promptly accepted the invitation. I'm always up for a new adventure and my sister-in-law also works at the MSSPA, so it feels good to support the farm - a portion of horse yoga proceeds go directly back to the MSSPA.

young boy looking at horses through fence at the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals in Windham, Maine
Henry on a visit to the farm in 2019.

The class I signed up for was on Mother's Day, so of course I brought my mom. There were somewhere close to 15 participants...mostly moms and their daughters. Ashley greeted us, then told us we were free to spend some time looking at the horses before class. This one warmed right up to my mom.

After some time with the horses and quick introductions, Ashley led us to our outdoor yoga space - a grassy area between two horse paddocks. You won't actually be doing yoga with the horses, but alongside their fenced in area.

The class was for a range of abilities and Ashley offered many variations of each pose, telling us we should basically do whatever we wanted. As a person who likes flexibility and making my own decision, I appreciated this open approach. Ashley used humor and poetry throughout class, striking the perfect balance between too much and too little instruction.

My favorite part of class was any time a horse walked alongside the fence, right near me. I could feel it's massive presence and hear the soothing sound of it's exhale. Unbelievably calming, restorative, and powerful. Here was my view during class.

Horse yoga at the MSSPA is offered once a month. The next class is on Sunday, June 9th at 11:30am. For a full schedule of Ashley's upcoming classes, including: goat yoga, park yoga, stand up paddle board yoga, and virtual classes, link here.

I hope to attend one of Ashley's goat yoga or SUP classes next. I'll report back after I do and hope you get to experience the MSSPA and outdoor yoga with the horses!

yoga instructor at the MSSPA in Windham, Maine
Ashley Flowers at the MSSPA.


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