Natalie Riggs is a certified Equine Guided Educator (EGE) and Yoga Therapist who brings nearly two decades of practice and intensive study to her clients. In the world of equine therapy, EGE is recognized as an experiential learning approach that provides the opportunity for participants to discover valuable information about themselves and the way they interact with others through the 'eyes of a horse'. As an EGE facilitator, Natalie provides the bridge between the participant and horse; facilitating their interactions and drawing out and interpreting the horses’ responses and how they relate to the participants’ behaviors. This Equine Education team of horse and human encourages participants to become actively involved in their own learning as they move through a series of activities with the horses and the other workshop participants. Natalie’s prior professional experience working as a communications consultant for Fortune 500 companies and her personal experience as an equestrian and owner of an equine therapy horse give her a unique perspective and skill set that benefits her clients and workshop participants.
When working with her Yoga Therapy clients, Natalie incorporates both Hatha and Kundalini yoga traditions to create an embodied and therapeutic experience for her clients. Most recently, Natalie has designed a yoga practice on horseback for clients that would like to combine the benefits of Equine Therapy and Yoga Therapy. ‘Yoga on Horseback’ is an offering unique to Natalie that focuses on balance of both the physical and emotional qualities within us all. Partnering with horses in yoga poses allows for increased connection to one’s breath and the centered nature of horses…Equilibrium bliss. Natalie and her equine partner (a chestnut mare named Sophie) are currently offering Equine Therapy and Yoga on Horseback workshops and private sessions at a stable near Escondido Beach in Malibu, CA. When not at the barn, Natalie can be found working one-on-one with clients or leading women's groups in her Yoga Therapy practice at her home, Shakti Ranch, in Malibu.
Sophie is a chestnut colored mare that stands at approximately 16.1 hands in horse talk or ‘pretty big horse!’ for those not in the equestrian world. I adopted Sophie nearly 4 years ago from an equestrian that was competing in hunter/jumper shows on a local level. As much as Sophie’s prior owner loved her, Sophie just wasn’t quite measuring up to the requirements at horse shows. Namely, that a horse should be able to change their lead following a jump. Now this is all probably more information than you might need to know in order to assess Sophie’s qualities as a therapy horse; but I want to share this with you to illustrate the nature of my relationship with Sophie and how she came to be my partner in Equine Guided Education. Prior to me, Sophie had a series of owners and ‘jobs’. Although I do not know all of the details, my feeling is that she worked with children at times and had owners who loved her deeply. Sophie has a solid sense of self and to that end has established herself as a lead mare in the barn where I stable her. But what is really most important to know about Sophie is that she is a highly attuned and sensitive horse. Like all horses, she is a prey animal; with the very nature being attuned to the environment and receptive to energy. However, what I have noticed with Sophie over the years is that not only is she receptive to other’s energy, she has a beautiful ability to alchemize other’s energy into a more grounded and calm space.