The event was held at the MCH, which is located right off of Hwy. 91 S., 1.5 miles from the Montana Western campus at 757 Horseman Way in Dillon, Mont.
The event began with student-guided tours, followed by a celebration of the success and future plans for the MCH, with Master of Ceremonies Beth Weatherby, Chancellor of the University of Montana Western, providing opening remarks to around 100 guests in attendance. Four guest speakers shared their excitement and passion for what the center adds to the Dillon region and to the opportunities it provides for students and the community.
Clayton Christian, Commissioner of Higher Education of the Montana University System, addressed the crowd with fond memories of the area, including the fact that his grandmother was one of the first graduates from Montana Western in the 1920’s.
Mike Cooney, Lieutenant Governor of the State of Montana, also had a familial tie to the region’s history. His great-grandfather, a member of the Poindexter family, donated the original 10 acres of land so it could become the Montana Western campus. His son also attended the university and was inspired to go into education during his time at Montana Western.
William Kriegel, co-founder of the MCH, was excited to share the plans for the Phase II fundraising expansion, which include the construction of a conference center including a much-needed veterinary room, classrooms, and other flexible conference spaces.
“This will be the first conference center in the county to provide further opportunities for the community of Dillon to be a destination for equine and agriculture related conferences and conventions,” said Kriegel.
Tess Turk, one of Montana Western’s natural horsemanship students, shared her enthusiasm about the program and the center with the audience.
“I never thought that all of this could be built in my time here at Montana Western, and I’m excited to see what the future holds,” she said.
The Equine Studies Department at the University of Montana Western offers the nation’s only bachelor of science degree in Natural Horsemanship with options in management, psychology, science and instruction, and was recently ranked among the “Best Equestrian Colleges” by ThoughtCo, an online education resource.
The MCH 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.
“Montana Western’s block scheduling program, which allows students to focus on one course at a time, provides an ideal structure to teach horsemanship, as it is comprised of real world experiences and supplies day to day consistency,” said University of Montana Western Chancellor Beth Weatherby.
The MCH teaches the ‘La Cense Method,’ which was developed under William Kriegel, owner of La Cense Montana and Haras de la Cense in France. Mr. Kriegel is also co-founder of MCH, and he 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.