Launch of Groundbreaking Methods to Reduce Violence

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In 2017, Lead-Up International will officially launch in Solvang, California, at Flag Is Up Farms during the week of February 13. Lead-Up International, partner of Monty Roberts’ Join-Up International, recently announced that the journal ‘Human Animal Interaction Bulletin’ has published a report by Dr. Judith Gibbons and team with scientific evidence of reduced violence and abuse toward horses and people through the Lead-Up Program. Lead-Up International is an original and compelling Leadership Program that aims to create peaceful leaders through workshops with horses. 

The Lead-Up program is based around workshops with horses in which participants are introduced to humane ways of handling and interacting with horses. Participants discover non-violence and non-aggression for themselves through interactions with horses and principally through the experience of Join-Up with a horse, the non-violent training system designed by Monty Roberts author of The Man Who Listens to Horses. Convinced there must be a more humane and effective system to train horses Monty created Join-Up, a consistent set of principles based on the horse’s inherent body language and herd-behavior. The result of Join-Up is a willing partnership based on mutual respect and trust.

Roberts has been recognized by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who acknowledged his work by honoring him with the Royal Victorian Order and who is also Patron of Join-Up International, the 501 c 3 non-profit formed to educate people in these concepts. The Queen has also recognized Catherine Cunningham, Founder of Lead-Up International for her efforts to reduce violence in Guatemala. Queen Elizabeth is following the development of this program for the humane treatment of animals and trust based relationships with humans.

“The Lead-Up Program helps participants learn how to improve their self-awareness and regulate their body language and emotions through specialized interactions with horses and specifically through the embodied experience of Join-Up. Participants intrinsically learn that violence is not necessary and that they can be powerful yet peaceful leaders through self-awareness and better control of body language and emotions,” said Katie Cunningham, Founder, lifelong horsewoman and promoter of equine and human welfare.

The Lead-Up team has been developing the program since 2012 and has partnered with global organizations and local NGOs in Guatemala who have expressed the growing need to reduce violence in the communities they serve. Their team is international and varied in their talents but have in common the desire to take these groundbreaking methods to the world. 

February 10-12, the Horse Sense and Healing program of Join-Up International will be again providing an experiential clinic for Veterans and First Responders exposed to traumatic stress. Join-Up International is a California non-profit organization (tax ID 77-0459889) founded by world-renowned horse trainer Monty Roberts. Join-Up is dedicated to promoting gentle, effective alternatives to violence and force in both equine and human relationships. Roberts' unique and gentle method of using the horse’s own language to achieve breakthrough results is revolutionary, but not magical. Communication is a gift all have and it can be practiced and developed.

“My goal is to leave the world a better place than I found it for horses and for people, too.”—Monty Roberts

Join-Up International seeks to foster the adoption of skills among a greater audience, insuring their preservation for generations to come. Join-Up concepts have helped abused women and children, and their abusers, too, as well as special needs children, youth at risk, prison inmates, foster families, children and adults with a history of abuse and war veterans.

Lead-Up International is seeking Founding Members to help launch a broader campaign to share these workshops with more organizations, people and horses. For more information about the program or to schedule a presentation, write to katie@join-up.org.

Community and family violence are endemic in Guatemala. Lead-Up evaluated the effectiveness of a horse-handling program to reduce violent attitudes and aggressive behavior. Eighteen community members who worked with horses in their daily lives (16 men, 2 women, ages 15 to 58) participated in four weekly sessions of embodied experiences with horses. The program taught Monty Roberts’ Join-Up®, a method of non-violent handling, as well as desensitization of horses to feared objects. Compared to the pretest, on a posttest participants were less likely to endorse violent attitudes with respect to wife-beating, corporal punishment of children, and physical punishment of horses. Their horses also were less reactive to the owner’s approach. Female relatives reported that following the program participants provided better care for horses and were calmer and less aggressive with other people. These findings imply that an equine-facilitated program shows promise for transforming communities in which violence is prevalent. Research study can be accessed at http://www.apa-hai.org/human-animal-interaction/human-animal-interaction-bulletin/.

Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin 2015, Vol. 3, No. 2, 37-55 “Before, he fought every day with the horse and with me”: Reducing Violence in a Guatemalan Community through a Horse-Handling Program, Judith L. Gibbons 1, Catherine A. Cunningham 2, Leslie Paiz 2, Katelyn E. Poelker 1, & Marco Antonio Montufar Cardenas 3 

1 Saint Louis University, 2 La Ronda Equestrian Club, & 3 Fundación Equinos Sanos Para El Pueblo

MONTY ROBERTS first gained widespread fame with the release of his New York Times Best Selling book, The Man Who Listens To Horses; a chronicle of his life and development of his non-violent horse training methods called Join-Up®. Monty grew up on a working horse farm as a firsthand witness to traditional, often violent methods of horse training and breaking the spirit with an abusive hand. Rejecting that, he went on to win nine world's championships in the show ring. Today, Monty's goal is to share his message that "Violence is never the answer." Roberts has been encouraged by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with the award of the Membership in The Royal Victorian Order, as well as becoming Patron of Join-Up International. Other honors received were the ASPCA "Founders" award and the MSPCA George T. Angell Humanitarian Award. Monty is credited with launching the first of its kind Equus Online University; an interactive online lesson site that is the definitive learning tool for violence-free training.