“I just have to thank you for that amazing lesson today. I hope I can internalize all I learned. I felt as if it propelled Haviland and me onto an entirely new level. You are so amazing—every time I say I want to work on something, you come up with the perfect exercise, and I leave feeling so productive and fulfilled—what more could I ask for?"
— Lindsey Reed
“I just got back from the WEG in Kentucky and watched the most amazing dressage one could imagine. I watched clinics with expectations of each level. I asked questions, the trainers asked me questions back about my training. The responses were 'sounds like you have a very good trainer'. I glowed, for I knew that.”
— Susan Roehl
"I just loved to see you ride my horse, Khlassic, today. I practiced the giving with the shoulder moving forward and fluttering the legs on the ride home today and was totally impressed with her willingness and absence of resistance. My back injury really impacts riding but she was still easy and happy."
— Lynette Hubert
“Katja Elk has a very special gift when it comes to teaching others about the sought-after connection we all yearn to feel with horses. A rare breath of fresh air, Katja exudes an authentic, patient and clear manner in the midst of a challenge. Whether it's a rider on his way to reach a state of oneness with a horse, a frightened horse who has yet to reach it's true potential, or a fellow trainer who would like to discuss a variety of approaches to reaching top form, Katja gently holds a space and respect for each individual’s journey. She sees beyond the usual perspective and stumbling blocks that can turn the equine experience into a chore. Instead Katja transforms these stumbling blocks into clear stepping stones to a new level of success. Katja Elk is a very rare teacher indeed, and I'm honored to watch her spread her message to the equestrian community at large.”
— Koelle Simpson
“I am a 52-year old amateur dressage rider who has been riding dressage on and off since the age of 40.
My horse is an 8-year old Percheron/Thoroughbred mare named Willow Bay. I purchased her as a three-year old from a local trainer in Los Olivos CA. It is well known in the horse world that a beginning rider should never buy a young horse but.... I purchased Willow because it was the only way I could afford a ‘quality‘ horse, AND I hoped and assumed the risks would be mitigated as both horse and rider would be in constant and supervised training. Willow Bay's personality is good-natured and willing to work, forgiving of mistakes by the rider, and she is a good school horse. She loves people but is a very ALPHA mare around other equines. She is very sensitive to new stimuli, environments, activity, etc and needs a calm and confident rider to be her partner. When Willow senses fear in her rider, she will "take over the situation" and protect herself as she sees fit.
Willow Bay and I spent the first two years of our "together" lives (Willow was age 3-5) with a local trainer in San Diego, CA. The training and the environment were not conducive to horse or rider and resulted in a spooky horse and a fearful rider. After three serious falls with injuries to the rider, Willow Bay was moved back to the facility from where she was purchased and I subsequently began my and Willow‘s training with Katja Elk there as well. A very long and slow rehabilitation program began.
Two years later, I had rebuilt my confidence and Willow Bay has become a cheerful 8-year old well-schooled horse who steps through her paces with a willing attitude and without spooks.
After our rocky start together, it was an uphill battle for me to believe that I could ride and that Willow was a good partner for me. Katja's love of horses and her deep understanding of them opened the door for me to see Willow in a different light and, once understanding her better, I've become a better owner, rider, and caregiver. Katja treats each horse and owner like they are her only clients, giving them her undivided attention, and works with each horse in a very personal way, teaching or rehabilitating as needed. Katja is an unending source of information about horses, riding, training, care, and rehabilitation; and she articulates these concepts clearly and kindly to her students and her equines in training.“
“Katja is warm, gracious, generous and focused. She KNOWS what she is seeing and what the horse is feeling. It is a special treat to have her gentle and accurate instructions so I can really learn how easy it can be.“
— Rhodie Johnson
"I was a student of Katja Elk‘s at Flag Is Up Farms. Katja has a positive, radiant energy that is contagious to humans and horses alike. I watched her working day after day as she built the horses' trust through fun, noncoercive learning experiences."
— Giulia Zanone Orth
What people say about working with Katja...
"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
"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. It was 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 knowledgable, kind, and very effective at solving equine and human behaviors — 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
"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
"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