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MCH Announces 2021 Recipients for Equine Icon and Lifetime Achievement Awards

August 5, 2021

The Montana Center for Horsemanship, Equus International Film Festival, and the University of Montana Western have announced this year’s annual Equine Icon and Lifetime Achievement Award winners, Dr. Temple Grandin and Iola "Olie" Else.

The 2021 recipient of the Equine Icon Award, Dr. Temple Grandin, is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University and a pioneer in improving the handling and welfare of farm animals. Dr. Grandin is a world-renowned animal behavior scientist and active consultant for the livestock and ranching industries. The Equine Icon Award was established several years ago by the Equus International Film Festival to recognize an individual for their dedication to the well-being and welfare of equines.

“Dr. Grandin personifies a commitment to the wellbeing of all living beings. Temple’s ground-breaking work is based on how she sees the world as an individual with autism. Her scientific research and knowledge of animal behavior have been and continues to be an inspiration to many and her work has greatly improved the lives of those with autism,” according to Janet Rose, Director of Development and Communications with MCH and founder of Equus International.

The Equine Icon Award will be given to Dr. Grandin following her second keynote on Friday, September 10, at the Montana Center for Horsemanship, during the three-day conference, Of Horse, Human and Nature.

The Montana Center for Horsemanship and the University of Montana Western will also honor Iola “Olie” Else, Chair of Equine Studies at Montana Western, with the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award. Else has been a professor, rodeo coach, friend and mentor to thousands of young people – students and others, over many years.  She is dedicated to horsemanship education and to the bond between horses and humans. According to William Kriegel, co-founder of the Montana Center for Horsemanship, “Iola Else has made significant contributions to the world of equine education and natural horsemanship. She has dramatically improved the lives of many students as a valued mentor, teacher and friend.”

Else has been involved with the Equine and Natural Horsemanship Program since its inception nearly two decades ago. She served as Montana Western’s Rodeo Coach and Faculty Advisor for over thirty years and was named National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association Coach of the year in 2004 and 2018. She is the only woman to have won this award.

“Olie Else amazes me on a daily basis with her passion and energy for equine education and the care and support she provides to the students and all those involved. She is definitely deserving of this honor and I am thankful for her tireless contribution to the success of Montana Western,” said UMW Chancellor, Michael Reid.

Else was inducted into the Montana Pro Rodeo Hall and Wall of Fame in 2018 and the 2019 Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame. She serves as Department Chair of Equine Studies while continuing to teach. Else is the campus liaison to the Montana Center for Horsemanship, meeting with new recruits and serving as primary advisor for Natural Horsemanship students. She is also faculty advisor to the Young Farmer’s and Rancher’s Club and the Associated Students of UMW. She is passionate about agriculture and ranching.

The Lifetime Achievement Award will be given Saturday evening on September 11 during the Equus International Awards Ceremony and film screenings on the campus of the University of Montana Western.