Photo Credit: SOOFA
SOOFA: A Black-Owned Atlanta Ranch Using Horseback Riding As Meditation
Darryl Fletcher has dreamed of having a Black-owned Atlanta ranch for more than 20 years. He knew the great impact a horse could have on youth, and he longed to create a space where young people could learn how to handle anxiety, fear, and anger issues.
When he acquired his land in Fairburn, Georgia, the name SOOFA – an acronym for Stretch Out On Faith Again – was inspired by his life experiences and entrepreneurial ventures. Some were successful, but others were not.
Despite the challenges, he never quit.
“The name simply is to inspire people,” he told Travel Noire. “Maybe you tried something before and you need a little bit of encouragement to stretch on faith and try it again.”
Fletcher’s program has grown to help more than youth. He has created an environment along the Chattahoochee River where people, of all ages, can ride horses along the trails. It’s a therapeutic experience where riders can reflect, overcome anxieties, build confidence, and become better communicators.
“We make sure that a person has a connection with the horse they’re riding. We make sure they are comfortable riding that horse, and once we get them saddled, we’re building their confidence because a horse is very in tune with a person’s emotions,” he adds. “When you’re excited or sad, the horse can feel it. Our experience gives you a glimpse of what we call ‘Equine Assisted Learning Therapy’ to help you be mindful of your emotions.”
SOOFA’s experience is bigger than being able to ride a horse. It’s about gaining the necessary tools and mindset to apply in everyday life. Not to mention, it’s a Black-owned Atlanta experience.
Inspired by young people, Fletcher is currently looking to expand. His team has located more than 100 acres of land to build out the ranch to cultivate the land for agricultural efforts.
“The newer generation has become very impatient because of technology. It has given them everything instantly,” said Fletcher. “Our vision is to teach them how to develop and establish goals through agriculture. If you give them seeds and show them how seeds germinate, you now begin to understand what it takes to accomplish a goal. It’s not something that you just wish for. It’s something that you actually have to strategize and be disciplined for.”
You can learn more about SOOFA and its mission here.