“We had these horses to keep pulling us enough away from the streets... to give us a different outlook on things and we eventually transitioned our minds from the streets to the horses.”
The Compton Cowboys (and one cowgirl) may sound like a dreamt-up group, but it’s very much a reality. This group of childhood friends saw horseback riding as an opportunity to move past the stereotypical tropes surrounding their city, as an alternative to the more toxic environments around them. They chose to redefine themselves and to challenge the public’s ideas of Compton.
As the Cali sun says its goodbyes, we set out from Los Angeles towards the infamous Compton ranch. Everyone is buzzing as we chat about the evening ahead. We had got the call from Randy - the managing member of the Compton Cowboys - to pull up and hang out with the whole gang literally the night before, so we could only imagine the mad energy we’d get to experience between this community.
When we arrive, there’s beers on ice and music blasting through speakers. You can hear the thud of hooves on the concrete as the whole gang and community spill out from the ranch onto the street. There are only truck and street lights filling up the streets with a warm glow.
“I love the energy of my city… I breathe easy, I feel better, I love driving down my street. Compton has a very specific kind of energy - you know - it’s a Compton attitude. You know, they think it’s this crazy ass, fucking place when it really ain’t that. Shit happens everywhere, but no, Compton’s just dope as fuck, it’s beautiful as fuck. And it’s important for us to redirect this narrative of what Compton is.”
At the heart of the collective is friendship, trust and empathy. The energy between the group and their horses is undeniable and this purity has clearly made an impact in the city’s overall community. The sight of cowboys in Air Jordan’s, riding around the city, or at a drive-thru, has got the expected attention; they’ve been exposed to their fair share of surprised looks and even paparazzi-like experiences. But at the end of the day, past the attention and notoriety, the group represents something that will never get old: community.
Directed: Kesang Ball
Shot: Sam Blenkinsopp & Kesang Ball
Photography: Sophie Jones
Edited: Toby Heard