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Why We "Circle Up"

Not that long ago, humans were more connected. We were more aware of how much we needed each other.

Humans have lived in “herds” for thousands of years — communities, big or small, that have provided us a safe haven for sharing resources and leaning on each other for support and fellowship. Even in these highly technological times when self-sufficiency is the norm, we still long to be connected. It’s how we truly thrive.

When we stray from our herd and stop practicing the basic elements of community-building and trust-growing, our groups and relationships suffer.

Through meaningful experiences and intentional conversation, we can reclaim and revive this simple but essential part of our human story.

Circle Up’s model of Natural Leadership and experiential learning with horses integrates human psychology, animal behavior, and natural systems to offer a unique approach to personal and professional development.

Resources for Crisis and Rapid Change During The Pandemic

Are you or your group needing extra support right now, but you aren’t quite sure where to start? Does it feel disorienting and nearly impossible to create a new daily routine or to find your balance point? Here are some ways Circle Up can offer support:

We come from diverse backgrounds with distinctive life stories, a wide range of expertise, and, at times, hilariously different leadership styles!

Yet, we share a common message and mission:

It’s time to wake up your Natural Leadership and more deeply experience your life.

We believe in the power of awareness, the gifts of authentic relationship, and the necessity of trusting community.

We call it Natural Leadership and we’ve walked every mile of this work ourselves.

Why We Work With Horses

See yourself through the eyes of a horse, and you see your true nature.

Our starting point with any group is with our horses. Simply put, horse work is our assessment tool. While more traditional approaches can be valuable to how we understand ourselves and each other, few are so immediately transformative.

Our equine-assisted activities (non-riding) allow the horses to teach you and show you parts of your leadership that need more room to play.

As prey animals, horses possess exquisitely attuned emotional systems and they are able to pick up on the ever-changing nuances of mammals’ internal workings as they assess for safety. The cohesion of the herd is at the heart of the group’s survival.

They rely on a radical commitment to awareness and to an ever-present feedback system flowing through their herd. This unique sensing system allows the horses to read each other and their environment so they can detect danger and look for opportunities to rest in safety.

It also allows them to read us and to notice the places where we are blocked. Because so much of our innate power is trapped in our thoughts and often self-defeating scripts, our truest desires are just out of our reach.

This is an opportunity to get honest AND gentle feedback from your equine teachers and coaching and support from your human facilitators.

You will leave a Circle Up experience with an open channel of your authentic power ready for you to bring into your world.


Beth Killough

Head Cowgirl, Owner

A life-long cowgirl, writer, professor, and a licensed psychotherapist, Beth has 20 years of experience working with people to awaken their innate leadership gifts so they can live and work with more authentic relationship and connection.

Beth is a seeker and a truth-teller who brings heart and humor into her work. She is gifted at finding The One Question that needs to be asked and using her cowgirl courage to ask it.

Beth owns Take a Chance Ranch in Morgan Hill, California where Circle Up hosts workshops. The ranch also hosts women’s events, recovery groups, weekly meditation with Dhammakaya monks, horsemanship events, and art programs.

Beth and her human family live on the ranch with an ever-growing menagerie of animals who support her and her work.

Our Team

Tami Thompson

Core Facilitator, Horse Expert

Taylor Peterson

Core Facilitator, Outdoor Leadership Expert

Andy Robson

Circle Up Austin Director and Operations Guru

John Christy

Core Facilitator, First Responder and Recovery Expert

Amy Hublou

Core Facilitator, Horse Expert

Allison Scott

Event and Workshop Coordinator

Lucia Brizzi

Facilitator, Improvisation Expert

Eric Killough

Facilitator, Meditation Expert

Diane Hunter

Core Facilitator

David Hott

Facilitator, Outdoor Leadership Expert

Venerable Ekkasak Aggasakko

Dhammakaya Monk

Join the Natural Leadership School

Graduates of our online training program are invited to work with Circle Up. Now enrolling...

Working with the Fires of Fear

While wildfires rage across the west, the elections, pandemic and societal unrest have fueled a fire of fear in our households, work teams, virtual classrooms, and neighborhoods. In my latest column, I share how we can tame these internal fires as we continue to battle 2020's inferno of upset and trauma.

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READ on MomsRising

Humanly Possible with Bryan Kramer

Learning to Continually Shift with Beth Killough
Humanly Possible with Bryan Kramer is a podcast that reminds us being imperfect humans is our greatest competitive advantage and where guests share stories about small shifts that make an epic difference. Beth shared with Bryan how we can tap into our natural awareness as human mammals for a wealth of information about how to take care of ourselves and operate with others. We chatted further about how we're all learning together to continually shift. Listen at


Work and the Future with Linda Nazareth

What Can Animals Tell Us About How to Work Better?
Are there things that animals can tell us about how to cope with work stress and ultimately how to work better? Beth joins economist and host Linda Nazareth. In this episode, they discuss how human beings are mammals, but mammals who do not do a good job of being attuned to their own needs and acting on them. At a time when many of us feel that our lives are not completely in control, it may be time to take a cue from that and see if there are ways that we can express our needs in the workplace and ultimately get to a place where we are both happier and more productive as a result.


Value through Vulnerability Podcast Episode 132: Guest Beth Killough

The Value through Vulnerability Podcast (boosted by HumansFirst) and sponsored by Aequip is dedicated to helping put the human back into humanity. Guest Beth Killough chats with hosts, Mike Vacanti and Garry Turner, about how humans have a unique moment in the COVID Crisis to use the unprecedented pressures we are facing to wake up, adjust, and transform how we are leading our lives and how we are showing up in our communities.

Click the link below to listen, or READ THE TRANSCRIPT HERE.

Value through Vulnerability


How Animals Can Help You Handle Stress, Anxiety: A BBC Report

Beth Killough joins Alison van Diggelen on her podcast, Fresh Dialogues, to discuss equine therapy and how working with animals can improve our resilience and well being.


From Chickens to llamas, Cow Palace sheltering animals displaced by Bay Area wildfires

As part of the rescue efforts, Beth Killough of The Circle Up Experience is temporarily housing 40 horses whose owners were forced to flee their homes in the California fires at Take a Chance Ranch.

READ the Article

California Wildfires: Bay Area ranchers and shelters rush to save hundreds of animals left behind

Usually The Circle Up Experience at Take a Chance Ranch is hosting online and in person leadership and consulting programs, but right now the ranch is housing more than 40 evacuated horses as the region fights wildfires.

READ the Article

Awareness as a Super Power to Manage Life's Fires

Practicing “pressure awareness” is a game changer in how we lead and show up for our children, spouses, and others. Humans don’t play with pressure, engage with feedback, or adjust until we hit overwhelm. Natural Leadership Awareness is about embracing and honing that mammal part of ourselves, so we have more self-care tools and better relationship strategies. 

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READ on MomsRising

Ag State of Mind with Jason Medows Podcast

Focusing on combating the mental health crisis in agriculture, join Jason Medows as he delves into the topics that are hard to talk about.

"Really exciting episode today with Beth Killough of the Circle Up Experience. Beth is a lifelong cowgirl who has combined her love of horses with her love of improving people's mental health into a great approach. Beth uses horses to help humans return to their natural state of being by interacting with horses. Horses can help us learn so much about our natural, primitive selves. At the end, Beth and I switch gears a bit to talk about each of our past battles with alcohol. We are both several years sober and we talk about the struggles and joys that this journey has brought each of us. Incredible episode with an incredible woman."

Click the link below to listen, or DOWNLOAD A PDF TRANSCRIPT.

Ag State of Mind Podcast

BBC World Service Health Check with

Alison van Diggelen from BBC World Series Health Check interviewed Beth Killough of The Circle Up Experience to report on how horses on the Take a Chance Ranch in California are helping people with anxiety and depression – following an improvement in symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder when equine therapy was used on military personnel.


How Beth Killough creates connections and communities...

There are ways to have a healthy work environment, even while working remotely.

Click the link below to read the article, or READ THE PDF.

Silicon Valley Business Journal

READ the article

Wrangling the COVID-19 Labor Divide

Now more than ever humans, women especially, need to wake up and utilize our Natural Leadership instincts and skills inherent to us as mammals including signals, sensations, and sensors about well-being and needs. We must return to the human-animal, the inner mammal, we lost as we became busy adults and parents.

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READ on MomsRising

The Find Your Awesome Podcast hosted by Kelsey Abbott

Kelsey Abbott is an intuitive Human Design Reader, a Certified Professional Coach, and Instigator of Joy. Kelsey helps spiritual adventurers remember who they are and why they’re here so they can uplevel with ease. 

"A life-long cowgirl, writer, professor, and a licensed psychotherapist, Beth helps people awaken their innate leadership gifts so they can live and work with more authentic relationship and connection. Listen in as Beth shares stories from the ranch and her own life to teach us about true leadership."

Click the link below to listen, or download a PDF transcript.


Nature's Medicine: A Virtual Wellness Experience

Allowed Podcast with Dr. Caneel Joyce

#11: Horses, Herds and Human Animals

In today's episode, we talk with Beth Killough from The Circle Up Experience. Beth teaches about natural leadership, humans as animals, and how people respond to pressure. She will also discuss the four types of awareness, that whether we are conscious of it or not, actually guide us in our daily lives.

Listen on Allowed

The Circle Up Experience Taps into the Human, and Hooved, Animals...

This isn’t the typical corporate culture training, with stuffy PowerPoints, dry lectures, and the dreaded “trust fall.” Instead, it features a bucolic, indoor/outdoor setting with horses, cattle, dogs, and other furry and feathered friends.

Read on Gilroy Life

Uncovering Hidden Beliefs

That bright and clear morning as I drove to Take A Chance Ranch, I could not have predicted what would happen to me that day.

Read on Medium

Four Reasons These Entrepreneurs Have Horses For Partners

Choosing your partners and staff is the most important job every entrepreneur has to manage to run a successful business. 


Don't Horse Around with the Chocolate

Gary and the crew head to Morgan Hill, California to talk with Beth Killough and Susan McCusker, the founders of The Circle Up Experience, a horse assisted leadership and team building program. Start Up Experience PBS | Ep: 6 (Video)


Seeing in a new way

"When we see ourselves through the eyes of a horse, we are seeing ourselves how others see us."


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