Experience One engages students and faculty in actively exploring the knowledge, purposes, and practices in every field of study.
The Equine Studies Department at UMW offers the only Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Horsemanship in the U.S., with options in equine management, psychology, science, business and instruction.
The courses taught in the Equine Studies Department combine real-world experience and the knowledge of working with a horse’s mind. In this department you will be challenged to use the skill of problem-solving and also be taught the ability to succeed in the equine industry. The option areas are designed to target areas that students have selected as career paths. Courses provide the knowledge and confidence one needs to enter the industry.
In order to be successful in this program, students will need to be dedicated to learning and have an unprecedented passion for horses. Students will not just be driven to reach their academic goals but also their life aspirations. You will make life-long connections through fellow equine students, department professors and internships that will help you on your road in the equine world. Over 70% of the students in this program are from out-of-state and the program has one of the highest retention rates on campus. For the student looking for more of an adventurous journey, oversea internships and study abroad programs are being developed.
Students in the Natural Horsemanship program are taught the “La Cense Method,” which was developed under Mr. William Kriegel.
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.
Natural Horsemanship majors must be admitted to the university and apply to the program.
To apply to the University of Montana Western and begin your journey with Natural Horsemanship, visit our Admissions webpage today or call 1-877-683-7331.
To apply to the Natural Horsemanship program, click to complete the online application.
Iola Else, M.S.
Iola “Olie,” Else has been involved with the Equine and Natural Horsemanship Program since its inception and first classes in 2000. Olie is the campus liaison for the Montana Center for Horsemanship and La Cense Montana. Else meets with new recruits and is the primary advisor for Natural Horsemanship students.
Robert Chesterfield has been an instructor at La Cense Montana and taught natural horsemanship classes at Montana Western since 2016. As a graduate of the program, Robert is able to understand the student’s perspective, with the ability to explain concepts in a way students can truly comprehend.
Eric Hoffman, M.S.
Eric Hoffmann is the head instructor at La Cense Montana. He has taught the natural horsemanship classes at Montana Western since 2008. As a student of Hoffmann’s you will gain the confidence and knowledge that will give you readiness for a future career in the equine industry.
What Equine Studies Students Have to Say
“I like the program because it teaches us new methods in a unique subject.”
-Rachel Nelson, Natural Horsemanship with management option
“The hands-on learning experiences combined with instructor one-on-one time allow you to gain a large amount of knowledge in a short period of time.”
-Daisy Coulson, Natural Horsemanship with management option
“Being able to attend class with your horse is amazing.”
-Dana Armistead, Natural Horsemanship with instruction focus
“The students learn so much from the in-arena demonstrations.”
-Anna Ashmore, Natural Horsemanship with management focus