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MCH and UMW to Host Packing & Outfitting Mini-Symposium

September 29, 2020

The Montana Center for Horsemanship, an international equine education and event center to advance horse-human education and natural horsemanship, headquartered in Dillon, Montana, with co-host, the University of Montana Western, present a one day Packing & Outfitting mini-symposium on Saturday, October 3.

The fall program features presenters from the US Forest Service and the renowned Nine-mile Pack String, Backcountry Horsemen, an emergency medicine equine veterinarian and a presentation on bear safety with stock in backcountry, along with Natural Horsemanship educators, trainers, and students.

Presentations and demonstrations with horses and mules will focus on the rich history, skills, practice and hands-on experiential learning and training that have made packing and outfitting in America’s backcountry and wilderness possible, for recreation and for the professional industry. A tentative featured speaker is Montana’s renowned outfitter and recipient of numerous awards, Smoke Elser.  Elser, who is in his 80s and still active with horses and mules, has worked the backcountry for more than 50 years. He has trained and guided thousands of individuals and groups including the U.S. military, Special Forces, corporate CEOs, and worked with hundreds of mules and horses in the most remote, wild areas of the American West.

The event will follow all current health guidelines and regulations including mask wearing, practicing social distancing and limiting the number of attendees.  Coordinator Janet Rose says the mission of the Center is to advance horse-human education through natural horsemanship and thinks of these new programs as representing the true “Icons of the American West. The way natural horsemanship is taught at MCH, is the foundation of everything that we do with the horse.  We are developing programs and events to advance that vision.” Rose adds that the newly expanded Center, which is currently under development, is an education center to support hands-on learning, research, and training. The Center will host future events including conferences, workshops, and other symposiums, enabling people to advance their knowledge of horse-human interaction and well-being. Rose says this first event of the season will have tables, booths and welcomes new sponsors. The University of Montana Western is co-host of this symposium. Triple Crown Feed, the historic Andrus Hotel, Horse Haven Montana, Gallagher electric fencing, the USFS and Backcountry Horsemen are among the event’s sponsors.

William Kriegel, President of the MCH board and founder says, “It’s a Center that facilitates learning with the horse, through our relationship with the horse.  We are building a Center to promote and advance education and research. It’s unique in the U.S. In France, we established Haras de la Cense, Europe’s leading equine education center and we hope MCH fills a similar, education niche in the U.S.”

The Montana Center for Horsemanship is also home to the nation’s first and only Bachelor of Science Degree in Natural Horsemanship, in partnership with the University of Montana Western.

The one day Packing & Outfitting mini-symposium on Saturday, October 3, begins at 9:30 a.m. and runs until 4:30 p.m. To learn more, register or sponsor, contact MCH at 406.925.3270 or signup online at

Registration is $20 in advance or $25 at MCH but advance registration is advised; and again, masks are required. To learn more, visit