Join-Up and Lead-Up Reach Vulnerable Youth to Create Leaders through Workshops with Horses

Newsdate: Mon 27 February 2017 – 6:20 am
Location: SOLVANG, California

On February 18, 2017 Lead-Up International officially launched in Solvang, California at Monty and Pat Roberts’ Flag Is Up Farms. Lead-Up International, a program of Monty Roberts’ Join-Up International, brought their development team from Guatemala lead by founder Catherine (Katie) Cunningham accompanied by Mindy Grantham who administrates the program and Ricardo Pokorny, Katie’s husband. 

Teaching nonviolence through working with horses

Teaching nonviolence through working with horses

Lead-Up International is an original and compelling Leadership Program which aims to reach vulnerable youth and create peaceful leaders through workshops with horses.
© 2017 by Monty and Pat Roberts New window.

Ten instructors were certified by Join-Up International to impart Lead-Up workshops in nine different countries. Lead-Up workshops will now be available in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

These instructor certifications mean that Monty Roberts will be reaching more vulnerable youth than ever before and creating peaceful leaders around the globe.

"Lead-Up International is an original and compelling Leadership Program which aims to reach vulnerable youth and create peaceful leaders through workshops with horses.” Katie Cunningham told a sold out crowd at the fundraising demonstration and dinner held at Monty and Pat Roberts' home. Cunningham is the founder, a lifelong horsewoman and promoter of equine and human welfare.

The Lead-Up program is based around workshops with horses in which participants ages 15-22 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.

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. They 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.  

Monty Roberts Certified Instructors traveled from across the globe to be trained and receive a specialty certificate to hold Lead-Up clinics in their areas. From the United States, Courtney Dunn was certified. From England, Chris Morris and Caron Whaley received their certification.

From Hungary, Csilla Csaszar was certified. From Austria, Martina Hoebling was certified. From Brazil, Miguel Lupiano was certified. From Ireland Caitriona O’Meara was certified. From Germany, Denise Heinlein was certified. And from Australia, Caroline Jennings was certified.

Also attending was Jerry Sparby from Minnesota who can help support the California courses as a therapist. Debbie Roberts Loucks has been strategic for Join-Up International to help organize the smooth development of this program to take it global.

Monty 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 recognized Catherine Cunningham in 2012 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.

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

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