Robert Chesterfield, Natural Horsemanship instructor, taught students from France at La Cense Montana in Dillon, Mont. while Eric Hoffmann and Ava Duncan, also Natural Horsemanship instructors, spent part of their summers teaching in Europe.
Chesterfield worked with exchange students from Haras de la Cense, the home of the “La Cense Method” of Natural Horsemanship developed under William Kriegel. In addition to Haras de la Cense, Mr. Kriegel is also the owner of La Cense Montana and co-founder of the Montana Center for Horsemanship, where students at Montana Western are also taught the “La Cense Method” of Natural Horsemanship. Each summer, around ten French students spend three months at La Cense Montana to work with Montana Western Natural Horsemanship instructors.
During their time in Montana, the students learn about halter breaking, colt starting, working cattle, and horsemanship. Chesterfield’s instruction in Natural Horsemanship along with experiencing a real-world working cattle ranch is a unique opportunity for the participants. The knowledge they gain in Montana is taken back with them to France and then incorporated into their own approach with horses.
“My top priority while teaching was to help them grow in their ability to problem-solve and be able to combine that with their previously learned skills,” said Chesterfield.
Eric Hoffmann, along with two Natural Horsemanship students, Tess Turk and Lorrie Ann Smith, spent two weeks teaching horsemanship lessons and clinics throughout Germany.
The first clinic was held at the Five Star Ranch in Bad Sassendorf, Germany, and the second clinic was held at Jomm Ranches in Großwallstadt, Germany.
From groundwork to flying lead changes, Hoffmann, Turk, and Smith were busy from dawn until dusk. “It was a huge learning experience for me,” said Smith.
The American Quarter Horse Association and the Deutsche Quarter Horse Association made this opportunity possible for Montana Western Natural Horsemanship students.
Natural Horsemanship instructor Ava Duncan stayed in France for two months, staying at the Haras de la Cense, located six miles outside of Paris. She was assigned various lessons to teach in groundwork and riding. Duncan started colts, trained young horses, and taught a horsemanship clinic during her time in France.
“It is an incredible learning experience to see the same mindset of ‘educate the horse,’ with a totally different goal in mind. In Montana we are usually preparing a horse for a job on the ranch, but in France we might be preparing a horse for a jumping or dressage competition,” said Duncan.
Montana Western offers the nation’s only Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Horsemanship with options in equine management, psychology, science and instruction. UMW also offers a Bachelor of Science degree in equine management and associate degrees in equine studies and Natural Horsemanship. ThoughtCo.com, an online education resource, also ranked UMW among the “Best Equestrian Colleges” nationwide.
The Le 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.
For more information about Montana Western’s Natural Horsemanship program, please visit the Equine Studies Department website.