Join-Up International is a California non-profit organization (tax ID 77-0459889) founded by world-renowned horse trainer Monty Roberts. Join-Up International is dedicated to promoting gentle, effective alternatives to violence and force in both equine and human relationships. In 2012 Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, became a patron of Join-Up International and the Board is deeply grateful for the encouragement we receive from both her and the many persons who believe in the mission of Join-Up International.
Join-Up International needs your support to fund our programs like Lead-Up California and Horse Sense & Healing. You can make a once-off or monthly donation to Join-Up International using PayPal or credit / debit card by clicking the Donate button. Contact us to learn more or to make an offline contribution.
The Monty Roberts Story
“I was born in the saddle, first riding in front of my mother as she taught students to ride. I won my first competition at age four on Ginger.
My father trained horses in the traditional way, 6000 years of methods handed down generationally, often violent and rarely fair to the horse. He expected me to follow in his footsteps and so I was also violently disciplined in the only way he knew how, through pain and force. I vowed to seek better methods for my horses.
I first learned to listen to horses while observing wild mustangs in Nevada at the age of thirteen. Sent there to round up horses for the Salinas Rodeo Association’s Wild Horse Race, I spent hours silently watching the feral horses interact with each other,” says Monty.
Monty Roberts soon realized horses use a discernible and predictable body language to communicate, to set boundaries, show fear and express annoyance, relaxation or affection. In a moment that would change his life, Monty understood that utilizing this silent body language would allow training to commence in a much more effective and humane manner, encouraging true partnership between horses and humans. ‘Join-Up’ would become the foundation of all his work with horses and later people, too.
“A good trainer can get a horse to do almost anything. The great trainer can cause the horse to want to do it.” ~ Monty Roberts
Now in his eighties, Monty still travels the world demonstrating gentle, more effective ways to train horses and people together. “I have been fortunate to receive an MVO distinction from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and we maintain a friendship since 1989, when she first requested I demonstrate my methods with her horses. The MSPCA honored me with George T. Angell Humanitarian Award, of which I am very proud,” says Monty.
Monty Roberts’ autobiography The Man Who Listens to Horses has sold six million copies which still astonishes him. “It seems to have touched a chord with people who know that horses and people are experiencing violence and seek better ways to communicate,” he says.
His Dually Halter has revolutionized the direction away from violence, to help the horse seek a better understanding of how to intrinsically learn to partner with people and accomplish harmony in training.
“My life’s goal is to leave the world a better place than I found it, for horses and for people, too.” ~ Monty Roberts
Join-Up is the title Monty Roberts has given to the body of his work with horses without violence. To define Join-Up, however, requires a narrower view of the term. Join-Up is that moment when the horse decides that it is better to be with the person than to go away. Join-Up can be achieved with all horses of any age or background. It is as effective on wild mustangs as it is on the gentle child’s horse.
The practice of Join-Up is a commitment to a path that two species travel together in search of commonality, friendship and survival. The process has no time constraints; it has no definable beginning or end. The process does not begin when you arrive at the barn to meet your horse; it begins when you wake up in the morning and exists even as you sleep.
Join-Up is based upon a communication system creating a bond rooted in trust and an environment of cooperation. It must be nonviolent, non-coercive and can only be accomplished if both partners have willingly entered the process. To gain Join-Up with your horse, it is necessary to step into his world, observe his needs, conditions and the rules that govern his social order.
“The horse is a quintessential flight animal. When pressure is applied, he will almost always choose to flee rather than fight.” ~ Monty Roberts
Monty Roberts has won 11 world championships in the show ring, across disciplines. His violence-free methods do not sit at odds with competition but, in fact, create break-through performance by creating a willing partnership. Olympians such as Will Simpson in Show Jumping and Charlotte Dujardin in Dressage admire and use Monty’s non-violent methods. Some of the world’s top trainers have had Monty work with their most challenging horses to overcome behavioral issues.
The fact is that to train violence-free one can achieve a far higher degree of excellence than forceful training, and can take far less time to do it. Horses will perform closer to their optimum levels when they do it because they want to, rather than when they are forced to. It is scientifically sound to make this assumption for the flight animal. Traditional ways of starting a horse with his first saddle and rider can take upwards of 6-8 weeks, while Monty’s methods can take a fraction of the time without the loss of trust.
Join-Up methods rely on horse and trainer establishing a bond of communication and trust. “You must somehow understand that we as horsemen can do very little to teach the horse. What we can do is to create an environment in which he can learn.” Monty says, “We hear that ‘actions speak louder than words,’ but generally we do not live by it too successfully.”
The principles found in Join-Up offer valuable tools for all other work. Riders, trainers, veterinarians, vet techs, farriers, barn managers – virtually anyone handling horses.
“Equus has been my teacher, my friend and my provider; he can be yours.” ~ Monty Roberts