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Alumna Melanie South Instructs Students in Natural Horsemanship Program

January 14, 2020

Melanie South graduated from the University of Montana Western in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Natural Horsemanship and Business. In fall 2019, she began her role as an instructor, teaching courses in the Natural Horsemanship program in Dillon, Mont.

Montana Western offers an immersive block scheduling program known an as Experience One, where students take a single course at a time, three hours each day for 18 days before moving onto the next.

South enjoys the immersive benefits that block scheduling provides for students, especially in Natural Horsemanship classes. South explained that when students work with their horse every single day for several hours each day, they are able to see progression quickly and learn more efficiently. She taught two first year horsemanship classes during the fall semester and also assisted in the sales preparation class.

The Montana Center for Horsemanship (MCH) is the first and only equine center in the United States that is devoted to promoting ‘Natural Horsemanship.’ With its stables, arenas, riding areas, and instructors, the center serves as the primary facility and progressive teaching resource for Montana Western’s Natural Horsemanship BS curriculum.

The MCH teaches the ‘La Cense Method,’ which was developed under William Kriegel, owner of La Cense Montana and Haras de la Cense in France. Mr. Kriegel is also co-founder of MCH, and he has been involved in Natural Horsemanship for many years. The Le Cense Method is a progressive, step-by-step process that blends the best of traditional horsemanship training with the art of training and riding horses—all in a manner that works with a horse’s behavior, instincts, and personality. Taking a positive and respectful approach, the La Cense Method gradually builds trust, and frees the horses to be confident in all they are asked to perform.

South’s interest in horses goes back to her childhood. At the age of 10, South took horseback riding lessons while growing up in Menifee, Calif. This experience inspired South to later develop a passion for natural horsemanship, and become a teacher herself.

“To me, Natural Horsemanship means working with horses in a partnership and there are a lot of ways to get things done. It focuses on making the right things easy for the horse, so that those behaviors become natural over time,” said South.

She previously taught private horseback lessons, but enjoys revisiting introductory components of horsemanship while being an instructor. “It is interesting to break down the things I do by habit and seeing how that helps students learn with their horse,” South said.

According to South, the Natural Horsemanship program is impactful for students due to the combination of many individuals, businesses and organizations in the community who contribute extensive effort and time to ensure the success of the program.

The Fourth Annual Colt Challenge and Sale is scheduled for Mar. 27 – 28, 2020. The event will be held at La Cense Montana, located at 4600 Carrigan Lane in Dillon, Mont. and features students in the program with colts donated from area ranches who demonstrate the skills and training they have cultivated with their horses over the past year. This exciting culminating event, held each spring, raises funds that go back into the Natural Horsemanship program to support student scholarships.

For more information about the Natural Horsemanship program, please visit the Montana Western Equine Studies Department website or call 1-877-683-7331.