"Dressage, paired with a solid understanding of the horse's natural responses and the ever-present notion of 'I have time' offers a wonderful way to build a trusting, joyful and athletically successful partnership between horse and rider."
Katja's special mission is to illustrate how knowledge about horses' psychology, anatomy and their natural response system enhances the application of classical dressage principles on the ground and under saddle. The training process of horse and rider is one of consistent, non-coercive, clearly defined and positively reinforced communication.
"A tense or tired horse cannot learn anything. Trust and relaxation is the beginning of all training. It is the rider's job to help the horse relax, learn and enjoy each step in his/her development."
Katja's goal is to evoke the rider's and the horse's "Funktionslust," the joy of doing what one does best at any given moment. In the horse's case, the joy of experiencing his/her mental and physical capacity to his/her fullest degree will mean an increase in wanting to work with the rider, because each step toward a new level of performance is fun, enjoyable and constantly leading toward an increased sense of lightness.
"I love helping horses and people to truly bring out the best in each other."
Training programs set up for the individual horse's and rider's needs include riding/training along natural and classical dressage principles, long-lining, building physical and mental strength, gently reshaping undesirable behavioral patterns, mental and physical rehab, trauma treatments, handling untouchable horses as well as guiding owners towards a continuously happy and successful relationship with their horses.
for Horses and People
Katja Elk's Gentle Solutions training methodology is about honoring the unique bond between horse and rider.
It's about using non-violent techniques and the understanding of equine and human psychology and physiology to improve performance and horsemanship.
It's about utilizing groundwork and the principles of classical dressage in ways that will enhance any discipline, breed and level of development.
It’s about being in the Here and Now, about enjoying every moment of togetherness only horses and riders are privileged to experience.
DRESSAGE & GROUNDWORK
Mobile Training Service:
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Santa Ynez Valley & surrounding areas
Become more confident as a person and as a rider.
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Horses and Humans:
Life Coaching Reinvented
"Katja has such a uniquely positive and productive process in her teaching that every lesson feels like a huge boost to my skills. As a 3-day-eventer, I used to have a fear and disdain for Dressage. With the combination of her training my horses and then educating me to ride them harmoniously we now have absolute joy in the process and outcome of our training.”
— Sally Luke, 3-Day-Eventer, Owner Newport Farms, with Cooley, Irish Sport Horse, Lucky Monkey, Holsteiner, and William, Irish Draft Horse
“Katja has extensive knowledge of classical dressage. She is a kind and non-judgmental instructor who is gracious with dialog and communication. Katja's interactions with horses are always respectful and kindhearted. She is a great example of the higher standard of how trainers and instructors should interact with horses and students.”
— Carol Leifheit with Pursey, Thoroughbred
“My young horse started looking at lessons and work in an entirely new way since we started working with Katja. She taught me to first connect with my horse (in each lesson) and then we were able to start working on more complicated moves because we had better communication and trust. Katja is a special trainer and my horse loves and respects her.”
— Isida (Isy) Gruzdera, Junior Rider, with Philip, Arabian-Welsh
“Katja teaches classic Dressage and horsemanship with an emphasis on creating a healthy psychological partnership between horse and rider. Her training aims to develop athletic and harmonious movements under saddle (a rather extensive topic), which allows riding teams to develop to the top of their potential. ‘Classic horsemanship’ might sound boring, but there is absolutely no riding success without it. Katja is authentic and doesn't fall back on training shortcuts that often eventually create issues like stiffness, souring, and ‘shutting down’ (or worse). If you have the wisdom to give you and your horse an authentic foundation built on trust and communication, then the sky is the limit on your riding enjoyment and success. Katja addresses ambitious goals with patience and traditional philosophies.”
— Carolina Starin with Asgard’s Impact (aka Spidey), Westfalian WB
“Katja Elk sets a gold standard for the horse world with a rare blend of knowledge, expertise, and professionalism interlaced with a heart-centered approach to horses and humans that truly transforms lives. Her generosity of spirit and commitment to sharing her gifts as a trainer and educator are unequaled. I am eternally grateful for my good fortune in knowing Katja. I’m sure my horse is too.”
— Elizabeth Kaye McCall, Author, Journalist, Media Consultant and original Horse Industry Liaison for Cavalia with AAI Mikaail (aka Raj), Egyptian Arabian
“Katja Elk saved me. I had experienced a traumatic injury from a horse accident and had completely lost my nerve. My Thoroughbred gelding, a high-energy former racehorse, was becoming more and more difficult for me to handle. While we had spent many joyous years trail riding after his retirement from the track, I no longer had the confidence in myself or him to dare to even ride him in an arena, let alone take him out on the trail. Just leading him from the paddock to a field for turnout became an out-of-control experience as he reared and spun around on the line, challenging me with every step. Katja’s expertise working with people and horses who have experienced trauma healed us. We started over at the beginning in our relationship. Katja patiently showed me by her example how to become a trustworthy leader again. Step by step, I was able to recover the wonderful loving and trusting relationship I had with my horse. Groundwork and long-lining were essential tools. Learning to quiet my own inner chatter and anxiety and pay attention to what my horse was expressing, learning to perceive his nuanced responses to my movements and even thoughts, brought us the greatest gift anyone could ever have given. As I recovered my confidence, he recovered his confidence and trust in me. Thank you Katja, I’ll never forget what you did for us.”
— Bonita Sargeant with Flash, Thoroughbred
"Katja is so intuitive and gentle. She has a deep understanding of the equine mind. Her approach to teaching is based on patience, kindness and relationship building. She teaches you to listen to what your horse is saying, and in doing so, allows you to really develop a bond based on trust and mutual respect. She has been an integral part of the process of gentling and training my young, very apprehensive mustang who, under Katja's mindful eye, is blossoming into a lovely dressage prospect. She is a joy to work with.
— Susan Weber
with Daisy, Mustang
"My journey with Katja started almost 2 yrs ago when I was having issues with trying to train my 8 yr. old gelding Jax, on my own. We were heading for disaster when she stepped in and started us on a road to success in dressage both on the ground and under saddle. With her lifelong experience training horses and riders, and her outstanding abilities as a life coach, Katja is knowledgeable, kind, and very effective at supporting equine and human endeavors — the perfect combination for progressing in this demanding discipline. Jax and I both look forward to our lessons and owe all our progress to her, she is a wonder and pleasure.
— Patti Chambers
with Jax, American Quarter Horse
"Katja is amazing. She not only understands and wants the very best for your horse but also for your partnership with you and your horse. She provides a great mix of ground and saddle work. I don't just consider her my trainer but also my friend."
— Erin Zobel with Chance, Oldenburg/Paint
"Katja is a wonderful instructor who always puts the needs of the horse first. She uses gentle, positive training methods and an understanding of both horses and humans to help both develop in a fun and enjoyable way. My horse and I have been able to achieve more than I ever thought was possible. I highly recommend her.
— Kathy Salazar with Rudy, Thoroughbred
"Katja Elk has a wonderful, warm presence, lots of patience and experience with horses, and brings emotional coaching training for us humans! Highly recommend giving her a try!"
— Chris Druis with Lil Bit and Ollie, American Quarter Horses
Dressage & Groundwork
for Horses and People
Training, Lessons, Clinics, Workshops, Retreats
Fire season is all year long. Have your horses ready to load into your trailer when time is of the essence!
Located in Central California, Katja Elk, German Dressage rider, horse trainer, instructor and clinician, offers to share her knowledge with horse owners and their equine companions, specializing in gentle training solutions for horses of all ages, breeds and training levels.
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Santa Ynez Valley & surrounding areas