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Daily Inspiration: Meet Patricia Griffin-Soffel

Today we’d like to introduce you to Patricia Griffin-Soffel. Them and their team share their story with us below:

It was October of 2016 when Patricia Griffin-Soffel heard about an urgent wild mustang rescue operation in South Dakota. A once successful rescue had suffered problems over their 17 years, but worst of all they put no controls over breeding. Now the horses were reportedly dying from starvation and neglect. A once manageable herd grew from 500 to 900 with predictable consequences. Becoming aware of this tragedy forever changed Griffin-Soffel’s future. When she was told the fate of these horses was to be sold at auction to kill buyers, it was not an acceptable solution for her. She and her husband, Michael Soffel, knew they had to change the course of the journey for these horses and therefore became the foundational financial contributors to the efforts that changed not only the fate of the horses but the lifetime purpose of this couple.

Patricia and Michael had sold their Silicon Valley tech-enabled services company just a year earlier and now were among the first to bring significant funds to the rescue effort. With little experience in the horse rescue world, Patricia was fortunate to find an experienced and successful ally to work with. Neda DeMayo, founder of Return to Freedom, was fluent in the language of rescuing horses. This instant team pledged that no horse would be left behind. When they stepped forward with a real financial commitment and a plan that made sense, it got the attention of the ASPCA, The Humane Society of the United States, and other private parties who matched some of the funds. Griffin-Soffel’s substantial contribution to this project helped enable the launch of the largest successful rescue in the country to date. A necessary lawsuit successfully took title of the horses and put them in the very capable hands of Elaine Nash, founder of Fleet of Angels, who rallied a team of volunteers and dedicated over a year of her life to adopt out every horse.

This experience opened Griffin-Soffel’s eyes to the unthinkable possibility of the American mustang becoming extinct in just a few short decades. With the BLM’s new roundup schedules and ignoring the laws that provide federal protection to these national icons of America, something needed to be done.

Patricia and Michael founded Sweetbeau Horses in March of 2017 to begin a rescue and training operation for wild mustangs. Starting with 25 of the rescued herd, they launched their 501 c 3 organization in Creston, CA. These mustangs are being trained for adoption and are again finding their joy. “There is gratitude in the eyes of every horse that came to us for a new chance at happiness, and we won’t let them down” says Griffin-Soffel.

This non-profit is dedicated to saving and training our nations wild mustangs and finding forever homes in the domestic world.

In addition, Sweetbeau will continue to be an active advocate by generating awareness, education, training programs and adoptions to help wild horses thrive in a domestic environment. The long-range goal for Sweetbeau Horses has always included equine therapy and retreat for PTSD victims.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The single most consistent challenge has been finding the right training talent to work with the wild mustangs. Trainers are like artists. They each have their own methods, tools and techniques of training. Some techniques are traditional and some are unique. In addition, each trainer has their own decision trigger when to move to the next phase of training. Training is all subjective and can change day-to-day. Coming from Silicon Valley where we had clear deliverables, defined project scopes, mapped out processes, chartered milestones, etc. we were very astute on executing our plans to achieve the established goals within budget and timelines. Jumping into the horse training world, we’ve had to completely revamp our interview process, ask a lot more in-depth technique and emotional questions, request hands on demonstrations generally over multiple days and drill down deep with reference checking. Even after all of this due diligence, it’s still a challenge to find the right talent.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Sweetbeau Horses is a non-profit with a mission to Save-Train-Adopt wild mustangs. We only use gentle and natural horsemanship methods to train our mustangs and we train at a pace that is comfortable for both trainer and horse. Our goal is to heal their minds and hearts and earn their trust. Our focus is to ensure they will never be harmed again and give them as much as a wonderful and productive life in the domestic world as we possibly can.

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
Neda DeMayo – introduced us to the plight of the American mustang. As the founder of a very successful mustang sanctuary (Return to Freedom), she shared many of her own experiences and practices on setting up and running a non-profit. Neda was very helpful when it came to bylaws, back office operations (insurance, donors, networks, key groups to engage with), contracts & releases, events, service providers and dos & don’ts with the Board. She been a very valuable resource since our beginning. Elaine Nash – another successful founder (Fleet of Angels) was very instrumental is getting us our first herd of 25 mustangs. Sharing her first-hand knowledge of the workings on the ground with a team. Key factors in moving a herd over hundreds of miles.

Joe Pat & Tammy Baldwin – their support and assistance has been and continues to be invaluable to us. These are our ranch neighbors. They took us under there wing and taught us all about ranch life / living. They assist us with the infrastructure needed to support wild mustangs. As we were beginning to ramp up, they already had the knowledge, equipment, tools and service providers that could assist us. They were and continue to be a tremendous asset to us. In addition, we are only on the ranch 50% of time, so they are our eyes & ears when were off property.

Karen Tillman, Gina Rayfield, Nicole Ricci – each has a unique set of skills from entrepreneurship to executive leadership to marketing and all are proficient horse woman. The value of their emotional support, sound boarding, brain-storming, event assistance, fundraising, marketing help has been tremendous to us.

Wild Horse Photographers – there have been many (Kisa, Melissa, Susan, Maria, Mellany, Kimmerlee, Darlene, etc.) who have shared their experiences seeing our mustangs out in the wild. Giving us a glimpse into who each one of them were prior to arriving at Sweetbeau. What trauma they experienced either in the wild or being rounded-up and their roles in their bands or families. This has given us a small peek into each mustang’s situation to help them heal their minds and hearts.

Sponsors, Donors, Volunteers – many wish to remain anonymous… we are blessed to have all of them and we certainly could not do any of our work with each and every one of them!

Contact Info:

Image Credits
RJ Stein Photography Kimerlee Curyl Photography Ondrea Hidley

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