Join-Up International Celebrates a Quarter Century of Service

Join-Up International Celebrates a Quarter Century of Service

Join-up International, a First Responder healing program using horses, experienced an exciting year for the cause. In addition to celebrating 25 years of service this month, Join-Up International programs have exponentially increased the number of equine-assisted programs from six to fourteen annually, helping over 120 Veterans, first responders and at-risk youth find healing through their ground-breaking programs with horses.


Come ride along with me! Get your riding the SLO County Trails Hotsheet to get started and join the SLO Horse News Herd!


Monty and Pat Roberts founded, Join-Up International (EIN 77-0459889) as a A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 1997. Join-Up International promotes gentle, effective alternatives to violence and force in both equine and human relationships.

Danny listens to the horse Photo Credit: Sharon Jantzen Photos


The mission focuses on Veterans, first responders, at-risk youth and other vulnerable populations helping them find healing. This is expertly done through the experience of Monty Roberts’ globally acclaimed Join-Up® and other equine-assisted activities.

But it’s not all good news . . .

America’s first responders are in crisis!

Did you know, American first responders are significantly more likely to die from suicide than in the line of duty? [Source: Ruderman Foundation]

Untreated post-traumatic stress (PTSD) is also the leading cause of death among U.S. Veterans, with an average of 22 suicides per day. [Source: US Dept of Veterans Affairs]

Researchers (Boffa et. al, 2017) have found that “elevated levels of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) were associated with a higher likelihood of thinking about suicide and/or having a history of suicide attempts.”

Join-Up International – Changing and Saving Lives since 2010

At Join-Up International, the equine-assisted programs for Veterans and first responders with post-traumatic stress have been changing, and saving, lives since 2010.

In May 2020, results from a four-year scientific study into the effectiveness of our Horse Sense & Healing program (for Veterans and first responders) found that it, “showed more effectiveness in reducing PTSD symptoms 85 days post-workshop than pharmacological interventions (when measured with the same quality of life scores)”.

Stories from Join-Up International Participants

The effectiveness of Join Up International is demonstrated through the many stories received from the program’s participants:

“This was a life-changing moment for me. I honestly was so impressed with the benefits, how this could and was life-changing for me. I have had different therapies for numerous problems in my life but [this] was by far the best for life changes.” – Participant, October 2021

Every little bit counts!

While great strides have been made in serving the Veteran and first responder community, there is still a lot to accomplish. Support is needed to continue to increase the number of Veterans and first responders served each year.

Plans have been laid to increase program numbers from 55-60 to over 160 Veterans and first responders served each year. This goal will be achieved by increasing the number of annual programs from six to 16+ in 2023.

Join-Up International Needs Your Support

Donation dollars go to work in this scientifically-backed cause:

All donations are tax-deductable

» $4,750 will fund 50% of the costs of one of our life-changing equine-assisted programs for 10 to 12 Veterans and/or first responders, and their supporters.

» $950 will fund the costs for one Veteran or first responder, and their supporter.

» $475 will fund 50% of the costs for one Veteran or first responder, and their supporter.

» $200 will fund 50% of the costs of our volunteer stipends, or 100% of our program administration costs.

All donations, no matter how big or small, go directly to supporting our vital equine-assisted Veteran and first responder programs.

Send your support with a one-time or monthly online donation through a Donor box portal or by sending a check to Join-Up International, PO Box 246, Solvang, CA 93463; or with a corporate-matched donation through Benevity (applicable to employees of North American corporations).

Sending the Horse Photo credit: Sharon Jantzen Photos

Sponsor a Therapy Horse

As Monty likes to say, “the horses are the therapists” in these programs. It takes a special horse to have the patience, temperament and willingness to connect with a wide range of different people of all levels of ability, backgrounds and personal struggles, on an ongoing basis.

“We call these horses GEMs: Generous, Empathetic, Motivational, says Simon d’Unienville, Executive Director of the programs, “The GEMs in our Join-Up International programs are mostly off-the-track Thoroughbreds that help our program participants work through a series of trust-building exercises to help them overcome trauma, improve relationships, have better self-regulation and emotional intelligence, regain confidence and be more willing to open up and ask for help.”


For a small monthly (or once-off) tax-deductible donation, people can help support the ongoing costs for one or more of our program horses. Supporters receive quarterly updates about the horse(s) they support.

Leave This World a Better Place for Humans and Horses

A Better Place for Horses and Humans Photo Credit: Sharon Jantzen Photos

Join-Up International, Inc promotes gentle, more effective alternatives to violence and force through educational courses and programs. Each program imparts Monty Roberts’ concepts of non-violent, trust-building communication. Horses are the vehicles and examples for this learning process. Join-Up International’s intention is to leave this world a better place for both horses and humans.

The Monty Roberts’ Horse Sense & Healing program is a resilience-building workshop for veterans, police, fire, first responders and their families. The three-day program involves working closely with horses. The individuals and horses develop a special bond built upon mutual trust and respect. Join-Up offers everyone an effective tool to rediscover themselves through the eyes of the horse. This self-awareness exercise deals effectively with emotional trauma, anti-social behavior and withdrawal, anger, stress, combat stress and even Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI).

In addition to the Chairman of the Board, Pastor James Stretchberry, other members are Ed Seaman, Debbie Loucks, Mike Hollis, Audry Nafziger, Jerry Sparby, Dr. Jorge Moreno, Dr. Cherylynn Lee, Supervisor Bob Nelson, and Nick Odenath.


For more information about Join-Up International, see Guidestar (https://www.guidestar.org/profile/77-0459889)

Contact Simon d’Unienville, Executive Director, on 805-325-8414 or programs@join-up.org to learn more.


Photo credit: Sharon Jantzen Photos

Get going! Looking for trails to ride in SLO County? This hotsheet will get you going on a few of the top rides. Get this delivered to your e-mail and join the SLO Horse News herd to stay up-to-date on herd happenings. Click here > SLO County Trails Hot Sheet to get going!

Written By
More from Guest Author
Exclusive Educational Event & Trade Show : SLO Horse Expo 2019
Get ready for food, fun, shopping, entertainment and education! Free Admission to...
Read More

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.