The 2016-17 school year marks the beginning of the new equine instruction option for University of Montana Western natural horsemanship majors.
The equine instruction option was announced last February by then Interim Provost Sylvia Moore. The option was developed by Natural Horsemanship Instructor Eric Hoffmann with assistance from Moore and Equine Studies Chair Olie Else.
“This new option fulfills a significant need in the equine industry for properly trained and certified equine instruction,” Else said. “It is important that we train the upcoming generation of horsemanship instructors to observe and teach safe and effective horsemanship.”
Block one marked the first time the option has been taught to natural horsemanship majors. The first class, practical instruction of haltering and handling, required that students be hands-on in halter breaking six young horses donated by the local Holland Ranch. At the end of the class students taught techniques regarding horsemanship, safety and horse care to 12 cadets from the Montana Youth Challenge Academy.
In developing the program, Montana Western received feedback from the United States Equestrian Federation and American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) identifying a lack of instructors in the equine industry.
“This is a major step forward in the university’s efforts to provide quality personnel for the equine industry,” Don Treadway, former executive vice-president of AQHA, said. “The horse aficionado of the future will demand professionalism with their equine experiences and this program will train students to fill that need.”
The university also coordinated program development with the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) to meet the group’s certification requirements.
CHA is a non-profit organization that certifies equine instructors and accredits equine facilities. A certificate from the organization ensures an instructor has the experience, knowledge and the necessary skills to teach horsemanship.
The certificate also increases the employability of its instructors both nationally and internationally, Hoffmann said. “There are jobs all around the world waiting for students who earn this degree. Our graduates will meet the highest standards of excellence.”
“I feel very privileged to be in the new option area,” senior and natural horsemanship major Tess Turk said. “Having this hands-on experience has made me realize the time and effort required by instructors to safely and successfully teach horse-related skills.”
Montana Western is able to offer students classes with real-world experiences because of its Experience One (X1) program. Through X1 students take a single class at a time for eighteen days.
“The classes offered at Montana Western have fueled my passion to teach horsemanship and has already provided me with amazing opportunities,” Turk said.
Montana Western’s natural horsemanship degree offers option areas in instruction, management, science and psychology.
The program is a partnership with the Montana Center for Horsemanship, a state-of-the-art facility operated as a non-profit guided by board members including local ranchers and members of the community.
For more information about natural horsemanship at Montana Western, call 406-683-7331 or visit our website at UMW equine studies.
— Montana Western —