DILLON, Mont., Jan. 29, 2016 – University of Montana Western Interim Provost Sylvia Moore announced today the addition of an instruction option to the university’s natural horsemanship program beginning in Fall 2016.
“This new option fulfills a significant need in the equine industry for properly trained and certified equine instruction,” Olie Else, equine studies chair, said. “It is important that we train the upcoming generation to observe and teach safe and effective horsemanship.”
“This exciting and important addition to Montana Western’s natural horsemanship degree greatly strengthens the program as a whole,” Moore said.
The curriculum, approved at the Nov. 19, 2015 Montana Board of Regents meeting, was developed by equine studies instructor Eric Hoffmann with assistance from Moore and Else.
“Montana Western’s Experience One (X1) program makes us the ideal institution to be teaching our future instructors” Hoffmann said. “Research suggests that hands-on experience translates into knowledge and is the number one identified need for learning and becoming an instructor.
“For example in one new course, ‘Practical Instruction of Handling and Haltering,’ students will go beyond just learning to work with young horses and will develop teaching techniques to transfer knowledge and skills to their own students.”
Montana Western is the only public four-year institution offering X1 where students take a single class at a time, three hours each day for three weeks, then move on to the next. The objective is to learn by doing in hands-on, real-world situations.
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 as a top priority.
"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 insure 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, Hoffman said. “There are jobs all around the world waiting for students who earn this degree. Our graduates will meet the highest standards of excellence.”
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.