UMW News Bureau
Experience One's block scheduling allows equestrian students to truly connect with the horses they work with.
Ross Miller has a passion for horses. It started as a hobby that eventually led him to pursue a very unique college degree in equestrian studies at a very unique university. At the same time Miller began to consider how to make his passion a more significant part of his life, the University of Montana Western added the country’s only four-year degree in natural horsemanship to its curriculum.
“When I first heard about Montana Western adding a natural horsemanship degree, I was very excited,” Miller said. “Initially the school offered their classes in the traditional way, then they added Experience One, and what a difference that made.”
Experience One is Montana Western’s unique class scheduling system in which students take only one class at a time. This allows students to devote their entire attention to the one subject they study. Students at Montana Western take one class, three hours a day for 18 days then they move on to their next class. This “block” scheduling encourages students to go beyond reading or hearing lectures to truly experience their education. Because students experience one class at a time, Montana Western calls it’s system Experience One (X1).
Miller’s story is just one from hundreds of students who are experiencing their education at Montana Western. The equine studies program at Montana Western offers both associate and bachelor degrees to students who are interested in equine-related careers.
“Experience One is a particularly good fit for natural horsemanship students,” Miller said. “Coming from a background of horses and horsemanship, I can really see the improvement in the horse when you get to work with them every day for 18 straight days. They retain everything that you teach them. It is a much smoother progression for the horse and the student.”
When asked what he likes about X1 specifically, Miller said, “Experience One works very well. Students are able to stay current in their class. You don’t forget what you learned the previous week. Going 18 days straight is nice. You finish one course and move on to the next.”
At Montana Western, the Experience One philosophy is simple: smaller classes, hands-on learning and face-to-face interaction with professors is the best way to learn.
“One of the major advantages of Montana Western is the smaller classes,” Miller said. “The professors are easier to get to know and easy to get ahold of if you have any issues. If you are having trouble in the class, they are ready, willing and able to help. That one-on-one relation with our professors and students is something the larger institutions don’t have. At Montana Western, all students have the opportunity to develop invaluable relationships with professors. In our smaller classes, students get to know each other while working in groups. It is a much more learning-friendly atmosphere you won’t find at a much larger university.”
Montana Western Assistant Provost Brian Price agrees.
“With block scheduling, experiential learning and low student-to-faculty ratio, we have created at Montana Western just about the best possible circumstances for learning that exists in higher education,” Price added.
Montana Western offers a broad range of equine related degrees, including a bachelor of arts in biology with veterinary science emphasis. Miller said the bottom line is that equine studies students at Montana Western learn by doing and are actively experiencing their education in horsemanship. For more information about the equine studies degrees at Montana Western, call toll free (877) 683-7331.