WRITTEN BY Kate Naylor
Hello! As a trainer of Natural Lifemanship, it is pretty likely that you will bump into me as you go through NL certification. I will be co-leading Fundamentals trainings, assisting in Intensives, and providing consultation for EPs and eventually, clinicians. This blog post is intended to provide an introduction to who you will be dealing with over the coming months and years!
I am a native Texan, growing up in central Texas in a very horse centered family. Both of my parents work with horses professionally – largely in the polo world, and so horses have been ever present in my life. Oddly enough though, I have never owned my own horse. As a child, I spent my afternoons and summers watching my dad play polo and my mother train and ride, caring for their and others’ horses, and hopping on whenever I could. As I grew older I became interested in various disciplines and sought out work-to-ride jobs in high school and college, leading me to practice eventing, dressage, and more polo. Only in my post graduate “adulthood” did I leave horses behind for a while, and I suffered. More than any particular discipline, I missed time spent outside with horses.
In the meantime, I graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelors in bilingual early childhood education, and had been teaching in dual-language programs in College Station, and then in Austin. It was in Austin that I decided to get my Masters in Counseling from St. Edward’s University, got licensed in Marriage and Family Therapy, met my husband and married, and discovered Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. So, to say my life is in Austin is perhaps an understatement – it is without a doubt my home now.
It was also here in Austin that I found Natural Lifemanship. I had been practicing family therapy in an office and was going stir crazy. Office life is not for me – small room, small window, office chit chat, sitting, sitting, sitting….. I was also missing horses, after the longest horse hiatus of my life, and needed to find my way back to them (without spending my entire paycheck on having my own). I began looking into horses and therapy and came across several options – EAGALA, PATH, and something a non-profit called Spirit Reins was doing called Natural Lifemanship. I tried EAGALA and PATH workshops first (admittedly, they were cheaper), but while both models offer good options, neither fit in well with my perspectives about doing deep, transformative psychotherapy. Then, I finally made it to Spirit Reins and a Natural Lifemanship fundamentals training. Listening to the trainers, I felt this combination of relief, excitement, and panic. “People who think like I do! This is so good! This is exactly the kind of therapy I want to do!” Which was quickly followed with, “Ah! I don’t want it to end!” By the last day of the training I was emailing Spirit Reins, begging anyone who would listen for a job – and, thankfully, a few months later, began work as a therapist and equine professional there. Since the summer of 2014, I have been working and training under Tim and Bettina – soaking up every word like a sponge, spending hours in session and in the round pen myself. The last two years have been some of the most challenging and some of the most enlightening of my life, growing personally and professionally – and never has my belief in Natural Lifemanship waivered. It is a powerful, comprehensive and effective model of doing therapy that translates across all spectrums; it has transformed my work and my personal life. It is a great joy to get to do this work, to get to play with people and horses for a living, and to teach others to do the same. With my background in teaching and family therapy, my heart lies in supporting parents, families and schools to live and relate in a thoughtfully connected way. I cannot wait for the future that lies ahead, and most of all, I look forward to our work together!