Black-owned Atlanta ranch offers horseback riding therapy

Black-owned ranches are becoming more common in American farmland, and one ranch in Atlanta stands out from the crowd by using horseback riding as a form of meditation.

Daryl Fletcherproud owner of Stretch Out On Faith Again, or SOFA in short, created space for youth as a means of therapy by riding horses along the trails on his nearly 100-acre lot in Fairburn, Georgia.

For more than 20 years of his life, Fletcher dreamed of organizing an estate that would improve the mental health of his community, knowing firsthand the effect caring for a horse can have on young people. The black-owned nonprofit was launched in August 2020 with the goal of equipping people of color with the proper tools for emotional growth while exposing them to another form of therapy.

Through multiple entrepreneurial ventures, some ending in success and some not, he was eventually inspired to teach mediation techniques to ease issues of anxiety, fear and anger.

“The name is just to inspire people,” Fletcher said. Black Journey. “Perhaps you’ve tried something before and need a little encouragement to exercise faith and try again.”

SOOFA offers equine-assisted therapy to encourage self-reflection, confidence and learning to manage communication around challenging mental health issues.

“We make sure a person has a connection to the horse they are riding. We make sure they’re comfortable on that horse, and once we’ve saddled them, we build their confidence because a horse is very in tune with a person’s emotions,” explains the founder. “When you are excited or sad, the horse can sense it. Our experience gives you insight into what we call ‘Equine Assisted Learning Therapy’ to help you become aware of your emotions. »

SOOFA’s mission encompasses not only the development of mental well-being, but also the teaching of riding skills. The Chattahoochee River serves as a guide for cyclists to reset their mindset and immerse themselves in nature while learning to meditate so they can then apply the exercises in their daily lives.

“The new generation has become very impatient because of technology. He gave them everything instantly… If you give them seeds and show them how seeds germinate, you now begin to understand what it takes to achieve a goal. It’s not something you just want. It’s something you really have to strategize about and be disciplined about,” Fletcher said.

Clyde P. Johnson