The program uses an innovative experiential approach to working with horses, turning a student’s passion for horses into a rewarding and successful career.
Equine studies majors also have the unique benefit of working with horses on a daily basis at a brand new facility, the Montana Center for Horsemanship, located just minutes from campus.
Natural Horsemanship majors must be admitted to the university and apply to the program. For more info click to download the application.
This four-year degree program gives students the opportunity to learn the skills of natural horsemanship and obtain a career in the many equine-related fields. Majors include:
This degree provides the information needed to start or manage an equestrian-related business.
This two-year degree is designed to provide students with a background for pursuing a career that draws on their passion for horses.
This two-year degree program gives students the opportunity to learn some of the skills of natural horsemanship and obtain a career in many equine-related fields.
Here are just a few great examples of equine studies courses at Montana Western. For a full course selection, please see the current catalog.
This course brings together the skills and knowledge gained in all previous natural horsemanship courses. The student and horse are now achieving a solid level of communication both on-the-ground and in the saddle. This communication continues to be more refined, and the high level of confidence and respect between the horse and the student becomes evident. Upon completion of this course, the student and horse have all the ingredients of mental, emotional, and physical collection that is the foundation of horsemanship. The solid foundation will enable the student and horse to progress into whatever facet of horsemanship is desired. In addition to mastery of the theory and ideology of natural horsemanship, students must also demonstrate their competency and mastery of covered techniques by their correct application of skills sets with their horse, both on-the-ground and under saddle.
In this course, students will consider, research and debate the pros and cons of current issues and ethical dilemmas that face the equine industry today. By applying learned business and management skills gained during previous academic classes, students will prepare to discuss each topic or issue in a fair and balanced way. Some topics to be debated: ethical breeding practices in regards to inherited conditions, ethics of cloning and freezing of semen and embryos, the return of horse slaughter and equine transportation to such a destination, shoeing vs barefoot trim, doping of show horses, race track issues of breakdown and drugging, soring of show horses, animal welfare, animal hoarding, abuse/neglect/abandonment of horses, mustangs, BLM management, capture techniques, disaster rescue or lack of it and others as time allows and needs arise. Legal issues and liability will be addressed. Students will research their topic to prepare for their presentation to include details on how the issue will affect the horse and owner and ethics involved in each situation. Further student evaluation will be obtained through written assignments, participation in discussions, lecture or Moodle for discussions, quizzes and exams. A discovery of an individual’s inventory of ethics held will evolve during discussions.
A degree in equine studies will prepare you for a career as:
Eric Hoffmann is the head instructor at La Cense Montana. He has taught the natural horsemanship classes at Montana Western since 2008. In the classes Hoffmann teaches you can learn the importance of getting your horses to work more willingly in order to accomplish a task or job. 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.
Hoffmann holds an A.A.S. in Equine Management and Training from Laramie County Community College. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Education from the University of Wyoming and a master’s degree in agriculture education from Montana State University.
Iola Else, Montana Western‘s accomplished rodeo coach, also brings her lifelong knowledge of and experience with horses to Montana Western‘s equine studies program. In addition to supervising natural horsemanship courses, Else teaches facilities management and young-horse starting and development. She is the campus’ liaison to the La Cense Montana ranch where the courses in natural horsemanship are conducted.
Graduating in 1980 from CSU and managing an equine only practice for 30 plus years has brought many different experiences to share with educating the students with real life equine care, health and soundness, and professional dental care. Having been both an equine veterinarian and a therapeutic farrier aids in the teaching about lameness and horse shoeing. Also trained by EAGALA to Level II in equine assisted psychotherapy brings yet another dynamic to the literal teaching arena.
Dr. Layne Carlson has been teaching equine science classes at Montana Western since 2009. Prior to then he owned and operated a very busy three veterinarian mixed animal practice in southwestern Montana for many years.
He 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 Kelly, D.V.M. graduated from Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010. She has been an associate in a large animal practice firm in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley since graduating, practicing primarily on horses. She has a broad range of skills and knowledge, and is always interested in new and challenging cases. From nutrition to hoof care to internal medicine and surgery, Kelly has treated horses, cattle, and small ruminants.
A Montana native, born and raised in Bozeman, Megan is excited to join the Montana Western faculty and bring her experience to the natural horsemanship program.
For more information about equine studies and the natural horsemanship program at Montana Western, contact Iola Else:
Business Building 218
To Support Montana Western's thriving equine programs, the University has established a partnership with the private, non-profit Montana Center for Horsemanship (MCH), a new equine facility for program instruction and boarding. Located only 1.5 miles from the main campus, the facility offers a comfortable, friendly and secure place for students and their horses.
Natural horsemanship majors must board their horses at the center. This will reduce the need for a truck and trailer, help students to maintain class attendance in poor weather, and foster a communal environment where the lessons taught in class can be discussed and practiced.
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.
Kolby Brown is a literature major at the University of Montana Western.
UMW grad Justinn Marshall was accepted into the University of Washington's regional medical education program.
Coming to Montana Western was part of fulfilling a childhood dream of becoming a doctor for Lindsey Densmore.
Marcus Williams came to Montana Western to play football and major in business administration.
Recent Montana Western graduate Taeler Rodriguez has been accepted to the University of Denver’s graduate program.