Robert Chesterfield has been an Instructor at the Montana Center for Horsemanship in partnership with the University of Montana Western, teaching natural horsemanship classes since 2016. A graduate of the program himself, Robert understands the student’s perspective, affording him the ability to explain things in a way that students can truly comprehend. Before teaching at MCH/Montana Western, Robert worked on ranches and started colts in Montana. He has also gone down the show road with a cutting horse trainer throughout the Southwest. The experience that Robert gained from this, he says, has shown him the importance of putting the horse first and learning to be willing to change yourself in order to help your horse. Robert’s goal in the classes he teachers, is to help students build a working relationship with their horses, giving them a chance to succeed in whatever direction they choose to go in the equine industry.
The instructors at the Montana Center for Horsemanship are uniquely qualified to teach Natural Horsemanship, with decades of experience shared among them. They work with students and horses on an individual basis to determine the most effective and enjoyable learning methods and opportunities for both.
Melanie is the newest Natural Horsemanship instructor and most recent addition to the natural horsemanship team at the Montana Center. Melanie graduated from UMW with a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Horsemanship with a Business minor and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with an Equine Management minor. Melanie is originally from Menifee, California but has become a big part of the Dillon community, since 2010. Growing up riding horses, Melanie has always enjoyed giving horsemanship lessons and working with the [eople and the general public. She strives to teach her students, to lead by example and encourages her students to learn from failure with perseverance. Melaine also tinkers with showing cutting horses in her free time and enjoys spending time on the river with her husband. It is rare to see Melanie without a smile on her face and she is excited to be part of the Montana Center for Horsemanship/University of Montana Western Horsemanship team.
Eric Hoffmann is Director of Horsemanship and head instructor at the Montana Center for Horsemanship. He has taught natural horsemanship classes at MCH and Montana Western since 2008. In the classes that Hoffmann teaches, students learn the importance of getting their horses to work more willingly with them, in order to accomplish a task or job. As a student of Hoffmann's you will gain the confidence and the knowledge that will give you optimum readiness for a future career in the equine industry or a range of equine fields. Hoffmann holds an A.A.S. in Equine Management and Training from Laramie County Community College. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Education from the University of Wyoming and received a Master’s degree in Agriculture Education from Montana State University.
Iola "Olie," Else has been involved with the Equine and Natural Horsemanship Program since its inception nearly two decades ago. Else served as UMW'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.
Under Else's direction, UMW was a national rodeo power and had seven National Champions and many top ten finishes at the College National Finals. Western Rodeo was a Big Sky Region power. Olie was inducted into the Montana Pro Rodeo Hall and Wall of Fame in 2018 and the 2019 Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Else retired from coaching duties in 2018 but is now Department Chair of the Equine Studies Program and continues to teach. She is also campus liaison to the Montana Center for Horsemanship, meeting with new recruits and serving as primary advisor for Natural Horsemanship students. Olie teaches Introduction to Equine Studies, Herd Behavior and oversees internships and student thesis presentations. Olie is also faculty adviser to Young Farmers and Ranchers and her club won the Presidential Award. She is passionate about agriculture and raises cattle and horses.
Dr. Layne Carlson has been teaching Equine Science classes at UMW since 2009. Prior to this, he owned and operated a busy three veterinarian mixed animal practice in Southwestern Montana for many years. Dr. Carlson brings real life experience to the classroom and provides "hands on" opportunities for the students. His students perform necropsies, palpate and artificially inseminate a mare, learn about equine dentistry, perform lameness exams and practice equine bandage application along with many other procedures applicable in the equine world.
Megan is a 2010 graduate of Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine. In 2010, she joined a mostly equine veterinary practice in Corvallis, Montana and worked as an Associate Veterinarian in the practice for 5 years. Megan moved to the Dillon area in the fall of 2015 to take a position at the University of Montana Western as an Assistant Professor of Equine Studies. She is honored for the opportunity to be part of Montana Western's equine education program and to bring practical experience to the students.