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The Short Story

I am a certified Martha Beck master life coach. I’m also a horse trainer and often work with horses to help people understand their true nature as energetic beings, find their callings and realize their most joyful lives.

I love seeing people raise their windhorse — raise their energy to stay in balanced harmony with the world — and blossom into who they are truly meant to be. 

Using my background as a life coach and former art/creative director in the entertainment industry, my work as a horse trainer and facilitator of equine-assisted retreats, as well as my in-depth studies of many current thought leaders (Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, Peter Levine, Thich Nhat Hanh, etc.), I humbly offer a variety of services (private coaching sessions, themed gatherings, corporate retreats, etc.) to individuals and groups.

The Longer Story

Growing up in Germany I started riding at the age of five, and horses have played a major role in my life ever since. The German history, culture and some of the people who influenced my life throughout my first 26 years gave me some strong flavors to taste, some of them tremendously beautiful, funny, creative and loving, some of them disturbingly violent and sobering, all of them great lessons in life that contributed to shaping the person I am today.

I went to art school in Kiel, Northern Germany, trained horses on the side, worked in clubs, interned in design studios, completed my studies to become a graphic designer, married an American producer/director, moved to San Francisco and started working as an art director in advertising specializing in medical products and services. Years later, I moved to Los Angeles, continuing my work as an art director and creative director for Disney, Paramount and other entertainment companies. After many years of working non-stop, riding horses, traveling the world and a fading marriage, my health started to fail. I returned to Germany for a year of hospital stays and loving care provided by my beloved circle of family, friends and horses, was introduced to a Japanese form of energy work (Reiki), and finally came back to the living with an great sense of gratitude for life and its many wondrous ways.

In 2001, after my recovery time in Germany, I returned to California to live and work at Monty Roberts’ Flag Is Up Farms in the Santa Ynez Valley for several years. I was fortunate enough to learn how to work with mustangs and behaviorally challenged horses, to do horse demonstrations and tour inter-nationally with Monty and his crew, to become an instructor for his methods and to teach at his learning center until 2005.

Eventually, I moved on to working as an independent horse trainer focussing on Dressage, natural horsemanship and groundwork. My mission had become to provide gentle training solutions for horses and people based on the classical principles of Dressage and the horses’ natural response system. You can find out more about that part of my life at www.gentlesolutionsdressage.com

Over time, I came to realize that offering humane, compassionate and motivating horse training was only part of the equation. The other part had to do with the fact that I often felt ill-equipped to handle the often negative reactivity and agenda-driven behaviors my human clients would display around their horses. I had always felt a strong aversion toward overly competitive behavior in humans, especially when it compromises the horses’ wellbeing. So, trying to offer better guidance to both horses and people, I started to look for ways to educate myself and to learn more about the nature of the human mind. This was the time when I discovered life coaching. 

In 2014, I accepted an invitation to live and work at renowned life coach, bestselling author and spiritual teacher Martha Beck’s ranch in Arroyo Grande, California. While completing the educational program to become a certified Martha Beck master life coach, I enjoyed co-creating and facilitating a number of equine-assisted retreats at Martha's facility which allowed me to see the human nature in a whole new light. 

In 2018, I returned to the Santa Ynez Valley to continue to expand on my work with horses and people. This time I felt better equipped to support and guide both humans and horses in a more balanced manner. Interestingly, it seems that the trickle of people on similar journeys who are joining me on this path of discovery and renewal is starting to turn into a river. 

I am currently offering my services as a life coach and horse professional to help people wake up to a more alive and whole-hearted life path. I've also also been finding my way into writing essays, blog pieces and have a couple of books in the works.
Copyright © 2020 Katja Elk. All rights reserved.
‘Don't ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you feel alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.’   ~Howard Thurman