Horse folk are contentious and argumentative. Ask two equestrians if X is correct, and you will get three answers. One of the answers will be, "The other two are dangerous, ignorant methods" or "X is not true horsemanship."
Oone of the most contentious groups are those around "natural horsemanship" -- the general idea is that the handler behaves in a manner consistent with the horse's nature. (For my money, Tom Dorrance was the genuine article, but there are a host of others: discussion group, discussion group, John Lyons, Ray Hunt, Parelli, Parelli, Roberts, Bob Miller, LessIsMore, ....the list goes on. Explore for yourself.
Well, the Universty of Montana-Western will now be offering a 4-year bachelor of science degree in natural horsemanship. Should be interesting, as they are outsourcing the actual hands-on, horsehandling part to a person who is not part of the academic system.
What would happen if there was a religious schism? That is, if Pat Parelli excommunicates William Kriegel? Would the "natural horsemanship" degree still be valid? How does the University ensure that Kriegel maintains his instructional integrity?
Board of Regents Approve Natural Horsemanship Degree
Friday, March 18 2005
The Montana Board of Regents of Higher Education formally approved the University of Montana-Western proposal to award a Bachelor of Science in Natural Horsemanship with two options, Natural Horsemanship Science and Natural Horsemanship Management. The unanimous decision was made at the Regent’s March meeting in Helena on March 17. The degree will go into effect in the Fall of 2005.
"This degree program builds on Western’s established expertise and associate level degrees in Natural Horsemanship and Equine Studies,” said UM-Western Chancellor Richard Storey, “The program is unique in the nation and will allow Western to attract students from across the United States and beyond."
As is the case with its A.A.S. degree in Natural Horsemanship, Western has developed a collaborative agreement with La Cense Montana, which provides the equipment, facilities and horse trainers for the field portions of this degree program.
“I am very happy to hear of this announcement,” said William Kriegel, owner of La Cense Montana. “The partnership between La Cense Montana and UM-Western is very important. For the first time in America, there will be a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Horsemanship.”
"Graduates of the program will not only be actively engaged in the local, statewide, and national equine business community but will also be involved in the internationally-recognized discipline of natural horsemanship,” said UM-Western Provost Karl Ulrich.
This method of equestrianism incorporates an understanding of Horse Ethology, (i.e. horse behavior) in order to create a more sophisticated working relationship between human and horse. The natural horsemanship method is quickly becoming the international standard by which horsemanship is judged. The creation of a university-accredited program, developed in collaboration with industry, will ensure, for those who wish to pursue a career in natural horsemanship, the existence of an internationally recognizable credential.