The Heyteyneytah Project is a result of the talents and generosity of Stanford Addison, his horse trainers, his extended family and his
community and their work on the Addison Ranch on the Wind River Arapaho / Shoshoni Reservation near Lander, WY.
Stanford has developed a non-forceful method of horse training based on keen observation of horse behavior which engenders mutual respect
and cooperation between horse and trainer.
As Stan describes it: "This approach preserves the spirit of the horse. It builds respect with them
and builds trust so that they want to listen to us because they know we won't hurt them."
SUMMER HORSE TRAINING CAMPS
REGISTRATION / SCHEDULING
The mission of the Heyteyneytah project is to promote respect amongst all beings, preserve traditional Arapahoe spiritual and cultural practices, and to enrich the lives of of at-risk youth of the Northern Arapahoe and other peoples. Through cultural exchange, nonviolent communication and the challenging of human boundaries, we seek to honor the differences among racial groups, physical abilities, age groups, spiritual beliefs and between humans and animals. Through the use of Stanford Addison's nonviolent horse gentling technique, and other methods, we aim to support the development of self-knowledge, self-esteem, mutual respect and healing.
Please contact Stanford Addison at 307-332-3813
for more info.
STORIES OF PARTICIPANTS' EXPERIENCES:
Stanford Addison's technique for instructing horse-training is much more than just superb horsemanship. Being paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair
for the past twenty-one years has given him the opportunity to hone his observation skills to a keenness that seems extra-sensory. This is a skill most
of us will never attain since we're too busy being active to practice quiet sitting and watching for such long lengths of time.
In only moments of studying a behavior pattern he is able to discern the root of the situation or problem. Then, he applies solutions directly at the
sources of non-acceptance or non-performance that translate to an individual, experiential level. Even when dealing with severely traumatized horses and
people alike, like myself.
When I met Stan I had been badly burned and disfigured four years before in an explosion and fire. I was somewhat physically handicapped and unable to
perform in my life's occupation as a carpenter, and too blind to read and go back to school. I was so emotionally and psychologically scarred by my
appearance and inabilities that I had become reclusive, despondent and heart-broken.
I had been raised on horses but it had been twenty years since I had been on an un-broke horse. He gave me a fairly easy horse to start out with and when
we finished, the horse was doing great but I was needing something more and Stan knew it. So he found a damaged horse for a damaged man.
He was a young quarter-horse stud raised on open range who had killed the older stud and won the herd. So he knew how to fight to the death.
The owners brought him in to be gelded and broke to ride by trainers other than Stanford. During this time he was beaten until he became deadly
viscious and no one could get near him without getting attacked. It took us two summers but through Stan's guidance a horse and man healed each other.
Those ranchers got a good horse back and I got my life back.
I've seen many trainers of these so called "new" horsemanship clinics claim lineages of horsemanship back to their great, great, great, grand-daddies
busting broncs as cowboys in the old west. Stan's lineage goes back to the 17th century. When his Plains Indian forefathers learned to capture and commune with wild mustangs as they did with all nature, not bust, break nor even subdue horses into submission.
These Indian techniques, attitudes and experience, are all permeated by a solid foundation of deep spiritual belief. They have been slowly modified in
the handing down from father to son over the generations, resulting in the very modern, humane version Stan applies in his clinic.
The result is a method of safety and consideration for both the horse and rider. Even non-riders can begin here and within hours be enjoying themselves on
the back of a horse no one but themselves has ever rode before. The self-confidence and ensuing self-esteem that this one event can instill is literally
My primary draw to Stanford was not the horses, although I like horses and I have a fair bit of experience with them. I was drawn to him for his shamanic depth.
My two years living in a shamanic-based culture in Africa, experiences on the Navaho and Hopi reservations, sweatlodges with Wallace Black Elk and others helped me recognize the level of authenticity in Stan's spiritual work and practice. Stan holds the shamanic essence more than anyone I have met. And, he has no hubris about it. He is humble, yet knows his strengths and lives into them fully.
Two years ago, an Arapaho friend of mine requested that Stan dedicate a sweatlodge to me. My experience is that most truly deep spiritual experiences come when you least expect them, so I was grateful that the lodge was being arranged, but not expecting much. What actually happened was very moving for me. I "popped orbits" into a much wider, stronger, more integrated view of the personal issues I was working on.
And just in case I wasn't paying attention, the Spirit Realm arranged for a powerful tap on my shoulder. As I was driving home from the reservation back to Boulder, I took a wrong turn which put me on a road spur which goes 45 miles out into the sagebrush scrub and dead-ends. My tank was on empty, because I knew I could get gas--if I was headed in the right direction. My car went about 70 miles on fumes.
When I made it back to town, amazed, I saw the choice: I could either be really mad that I just added nearly 2 hours to a 6 hour drive, or I could be really grateful that I didn't have to spend the night out on that lonely road in my car. The message was about going forward in my life with gratitude.
I spent the rest of the journey brainstorming ways I could help Stan "extend his reach" (so to speak) to help him share his many gifts.
When I did the 4-day Heyteyneytah program, I realized that the work with the horses is just as much of a prayer as the sweatlodge. When working with a horse using Stan's method, Stan can read you. His perceptions are sensitive and artfully communicated.
For me, the issue was trust ... learning to trust the outcome, whatever it is.
Stanford is unusual in his dedication to make his work open to people of all races, especially the sweatlodge, which is often closed to non-Native Americans.
Much could be said about the sweatlodge as a spiritual practice. For me, the important thing is that one is humbled by the heat, then prayers are shared openly in a circle. It is a very beautiful, intimate way to pray that softens boundaries between people, making it next to impossible to deny our Oneness.
The culture on the reservation is akin to Third World culture--perhaps even more so because it is right here and the contrast can be shocking. Like crossing any cultural bridge, the potential for growth is enormous. And, it can be challenging, even difficult.
It is also important to know that the work with the horses can be dangerous. The cute little palomino I worked with surprised us all by bucking me off a good one. Be aware: this is like an adventure sport--more like kayaking or rock climbing than knitting or bridge. You may want to bring a helmet.
However, the experience of contacting this beautiful golden creature, communicating with her, and getting to saddle, bridle, and ride her were thrilling and expansive for me.
Come prepared to stretch yourself in more ways than one.
I never wanted to train or break horses. I never had much luck with animals. I grew up in London and their owners generally kept the dogs inside. All the dogs I ever met bit me. I went horse riding in Ireland at my grandmother's farm. It was an old cart horse borrowed from the next farm. It was fun for a while then the horse got bored and bolted, galloping away to a distant farm with me on it. I cried every step of the way. My next few adventures with horses were as a teenager and very much the same. They could be grouped under the general title of "the horses that tried to kill me". They were good fireside stories for my children and bored friends.
I heard somewhere that the fears you do not conquer in life you will surely have to face in the moment of death. In the mountains of Wyoming in the summers of 1996 and 1998 I had overcome many of my fears, yet I knew I still had to overcome my fear of large animals. So that was one of the reasons I was now about to step into a corral with a wild, untrained horse that could, quite possibly 'try to kill me".
Stan started to set up the corral for "gentling down the horse" as he called it. He was not a horse whisperer. He didn't even like the term. "Just be good to the horse and he'll be good back to you." In fact he seemed to spend most of his time watching and listening rather than talking. For every occasion Stan had some little trinket of advice for me; to get me to the next stage. Right now the next stage was getting the horse in the ring and me in there with it. I'm not sure which would be more difficult.
Stan talked me through two busy days of horse gentling until I got onto the saddle and walked the horse around the corral a few times. I had done it. The horse never even kicked or spat at me, or "tried to kill me." I would like to say it was easy, because in one way, with Stan coaching me it was. But on the other hand I had some serious fearful mind barriers to pass through. So it also was one of the most difficult few days of my life.
I also learned a great deal from the experience. I can attribute this to Stan. I learned that we depend too much on words in this world. Most of our communication with the horse was non-verbal. I learned that how we are, what we are thinking and feeling is transmitted to animals. My lesson from this is that it is also transmitted to humans. I recalled all those uncomfortable moments in life when I "knew" something was going on, yet the verbal communication was incongruent.
"I don't like that horse" Stan said of a ranch hack that was tied up by the house. I had never heard Stan talk harshly of anyone or anything till this moment so I waited for the thought to continue. " We didn't train this horse. They did it on another ranch. When they trained the horse they beat all the spirit out of him. He's got no energy for life. My horses can't wait to be ridden; they have plenty of get up and go." I immediately flashed to my own life. People had always been trying to beat me down. I was always being criticized for my high-spirited lifestyle and attitudes. This was a huge realization for me.
I had never put a bridle on a horse before, and with this horse, a wild horse, I now had to. I also had to put a bit in it's mouth, again a first. This called me to find a great trust in the wild horse and myself. I realized in the process that fears are a very selfish act. Neither the horse nor anyone else around would benefit from the fear. Being fearful is being totally self-consumed. I had criticized others in my life for being self-consumed, fear was just one of my ways of being so.
Stan supervised each step of the horse gentling process. Once I had the horse accepting one stage in the process I would feel both elation and relief. My immediate instinct was to leave the corral victoriously and go smoke a cigarette (I don't even smoke). Stan cautioned me on this"If the horse is ready to progress, then keep progressing. The horse is ready to learn, keep going. He'll tell you when he's not ready. And don't take too long with each stage or the horse will just get bored and irritable. You see how they behave when they are irritable." There have been many times in my life when I had experienced this myself. I remember learning the alphabet at age five and having to repeat it again and again. I remember starting to tune out the teacher and the classroom, and getting a little irritable myself.
Working with these large animals, especially with Stan as coach and ringmaster, is a humbling yet heartwarming experience. In the final analysis I'm not sure if it s the horse that gets "gentled down" or the horse trainer. It is the kind of experience I could recommend to anyone. I give Stan Addison, his family, and his horse ranch my highest possible recommendation. April 17, 2000