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UMW Places First at Road to the Horse & Idaho Horse Expo Colt Starting Competition

April 24, 2023

A team of students from the University of Montana Western’s Natural Horsemanship program placed first in the Idaho Horse Expo Collegiate Colt Starting Competition held April 7-9, 2023, at the Ford Idaho Horse Park in Napa, Idaho.

UMW Places First at Road to the Horse & Idaho Horse Expo Colt Starting Competition.
From left to right: Eric Hoffmann, Jacob Christenson, TaLyn Neville, Molly Jackson, and Dixie Christensen and John Meade from the Idaho Horse Expo. Photo provided by Road to the Horse.

Road to the Horse partnered with the Idaho Horse Expo to present this year’s competition, where three teams competed for a share of the $6,000 cash prize. Competing teams were from the University of Montana Western, Feather River Community College, and Treasure Valley Community College.

The teams worked with their colts in three hour-long round pen sessions. The finals consisted of a 40-minute timeframe that included 20 minutes in the saddling pen and 20 minutes to complete a list of rail work and obstacle components. Montana Western placed first with a total score of 1183.5, followed by Feather River with 1117.5, and Treasure Valley with 936.5.

Jacob Christenson riding UMW's colt in the final round of the Idaho Horse Expo Collegiate Colt Competition.
Jacob Christenson riding UMW’s colt in the final round of the competition. Photo provided by Road to the Horse.

“It was such an exciting event and learning opportunity for the students,” said Head Natural Horsemanship Instructor, Eric Hoffmann. “The competition allows for our students to learn from the horse, apply that knowledge to their daily lives, and use that experience in their future careers in the equine industry.”

The UMW Equine Studies Department, in partnership with the Montana Center for Horsemanship, offers the nation’s only Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Horsemanship with options in management, psychology, science and instruction, and was ranked among the “Best Equestrian Colleges” by 

The Montana Center for Horsemanship is the first and only equine center in the United States that is devoted expressly 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 Haras de la Cense in France. Mr. Kriegel is also co-founder of MCH, and has been involved in Natural Horsemanship for many years. The La 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.

To learn more about the University of Montana Western, please call 877-683-7331 or visit