Horse Sense & Healing

Life-transforming workshops with veterans and first responders

For over a decade now Monty Roberts’ Horse Sense & Healing has been helping Veterans, police, fire, first responders and their families overcome their daily challenges of dealing with the symptoms of posttraumatic stress (PTSD). Like the horse, a flight animal, these heroes have found it difficult to trust again. The three-day program involves working closely with horses, including Monty’s globally acclaimed Join-Up® process. Over the three days, participants and horses develop a special bond built upon mutual trust and respect.

Join-Up is an effective tool to help participants rediscover themselves through the eyes of the horse to deal more effectively with emotional trauma, anti-social behavior and withdrawal, anger, stress, combat stress and posttraumatic stress.

Monty Roberts’ methods demonstrate the deeply healing power of establishing a trusting relationship with horses without the use of force, causing a partnership with the horse. After three transformational days, participants can better understand how to control their anger, confront painful memories, cope with real-life situations and move on with their lives and relationships.

Results from our four-year science trial, published in 2020, show breakthrough evidence of the effectiveness of Horse Sense & Healing in helping participants overcome the effects of posttraumatic stress. Participants had been deployed to 15 different conflict zones on their last tour of duty, most commonly Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam. This is the first completed study of an animal-assisted therapy program to report statistically significant, clinically meaningful results.

“We have been working with persons suffering from PTSI, over the course of six separate workshops each year. The results are coming in, and the outcome is fantastic. We have people laughing and getting back to a normal life who have been afflicted with PTSI for upwards of 35 years,” says Monty Roberts. “All the way from Vietnam to Afghanistan, your local Police Station to the Ambulance Driver these injured heroes come home in a terrible state and need our help to reconnect with their communities. The horses are doing their work with incredible efficiency.”

Learn more about Horse Sense & Healing’s story below or use the links for quick section-access.

The Horse Sense & Healing Story

When Discovery Channel inquired about filming a documentary of Monty Roberts’ work, we thought it would be about horse training. But back in 2010 there was a growing concern in the military community that Post Traumatic Stress was a cause for the suicide rate of 22 deaths per day in the United States.

Horse Sense and Soldiers was released on the Discovery Military Channel in September 2010 and the phones at Monty’s office began ringing asking for a program as seen on the documentary to help veterans and their families cope with the effects of Post Traumatic Stress. Monty Roberts and his team immediately began creating a program with input from counselors and doctors who were experienced with Post Traumatic Stress – and Horse Sense & Healing was born.

The Horse Sense & Healing program has been helping veterans, their families and now first responders too, overcome past emotional injuries and learn to trust, communicate emotions and build resiliency to cope after deployment. Like the horse, a flight animal, these heroes have found it difficult to trust again. The military developed boot camps to train for war but very little is done to re-train our service personnel to reenter domestic environments.

The center of the experience of these free resilience-building workshops is achieving Join-Up® with a horse. Join-Up is a form of communication between a horse and a human, based on a body language of gestures, like signing for the deaf. Leading up to the Join-Up, many skills of emotional control, focus exercises and breathing are shared. Learning why the horse is a uniquely qualified species to help heal, the participants leave Flag Is Up Farms with a sense of peace and hope.

Monty Roberts Horse Sense & Healing for veterans and first responders

Application Process

Veterans and First Responders dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Injury are welcomed and encouraged to apply for a future Horse Sense & Healing workshop.

Participants are selected by a committee. There is no charge to the participant for the program, including two nights’ accommodation and all meals. Participants are housed at Restoration Oaks Ranch – a beautiful, spacious farmhouse located a few miles away in the Santa Ynez valley.

Individuals are welcome to bring a spouse, child (16+) or significant other to attend the workshop with them.*

*To comply with current Covid-19 regulations, groups will be limited to a maximum of 8 to 10 participants. 

To apply, please fill out the form below (indicating which dates(s) you will likely be able to attend) or contact us for further information.

Monty Roberts Horse Sense & Healing with Veterans
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The Results of Our Science Trial

Monty Roberts, our founder, is known all over the globe for his work to end violence used in the training of horses, and with people. Horse Sense & Healing uses a combination of his groundbreaking horsemanship, and its parallels to Motivational Interviewing, to provide Veterans with tools to overcome past emotional injuries and learn to trust, communicate emotions, and build resiliency to better cope after deployment.

Monty Roberts has been encouraged by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England with the award of the Membership in The Royal Victorian Order. The Queen also honored him by becoming Patron of Join-Up International in 2012.

In May 2020 results from our four-year science trial were published. Data was collected over 3 years in this prospective, non-interventional, single center study. The results show breakthrough evidence of the effectiveness of Horse Sense & Healing in helping participants overcome the effects of posttraumatic stress. Participants had been deployed to 15 different conflict zones on their last tour of duty, most commonly Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam.

Participant assessments were made at Baseline, Day 3 and Day 85. The study found “score changes in post-traumatic stress symptom severity at Days 3 and 85 show a clinically meaningful improvement that is higher than comparative clinical literature assessing pharmacological interventions.” This is the first completed study of an animal-assisted therapy program to report statistically significant, clinically meaningful results.

Further details about the study can be found here. Please contact us for further information.

Monty Roberts Join-Up at Horse Sense & Healing - violence-free training with willing partnership

Horse Sense & Healing II

In August 2021, the first Horse Sense & Healing II program was successfully piloted at Flag Is Up Farms. Horse Sense & Healing II is a two-day follow-on for returning Veterans to further assist them with overcoming the challenges faced by those with posttraumatic stress.

Horse Sense & Healing II provides participants with further tools needed to reduce their symptoms, improve their quality of life, and re-build their relationships through the combination of the healing power of inter-species communication with horses, and the effective application of Motivational Interviewing to provide participants insight into their life choices, habits, patterns and other behaviors.

The program will be available to qualifying participants from early 2022.

Help Us Change Lives
Monty Roberts Join-Up at Horse Sense & Healing - violence-free training with willing partnership

About Join-Up®

While tracking wild mustangs in Nevada as a boy, Monty Roberts observed a nonverbal communication between the horses, a silent language he would later call “Equus.” Monty incorporates “Equus” into his nonviolent training approach called Join-Up®.

Monty Roberts first developed Join-Up to stop the cycle of violence typically accepted in traditional horse breaking. Convinced there must be a more effective and gentle method, Monty created these consistent set of principles using the horse’s inherent methods of communication and herd behavior. The result is a willing partnership in which the horse’s performance can flourish to its full potential, rather than exist within the boundaries of obedience. These principles are valuable tools to understanding what motivates horse behavior and increasing effectiveness in any application.

Monty Roberts Join-Up at Horse Sense & Healing - violence-free training with willing partnership

“If I can help people learn that violence is not the answer, how gratifying that is and how incredible.” ~ Monty Roberts