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Getting to Know the Cowboys of Compton

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Though Compton, California, is usually associated with hip-hop heavyweights like Kendrick Lamar and N.W.A., it’s also home to an unlikely vestige of the Old West: cowboys. Dating back to the late 1800s, the unlikely broncobusters have a long history in the California city.

Ivory McCloud poses for a photo with his horse, Diamond, at his stable in the backyard of a home in Compton, Calif., on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016. "I've got 40 years in this, man," the 56-year-old horseman says. "My dad was a cowboy. I'm a cowboy. I grew up in Compton. I live in Compton and I've been training horses since I was a kid." (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Ivory McCloud poses for a photo with his horse, Diamond, at his stable in the backyard of a home in Compton, California, on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016. ‘I’ve got 40 years in this, man,’ the 56-year-old horseman says. ‘My dad was a cowboy. I’m a cowboy. I grew up in Compton. I live in Compton and I’ve been training horses since I was a kid.’ (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

 

In the Richland Farms section of the city, you can find men riding on horses down the street. The 10-block enclave, where the ratio of homes to horses is about 4 to 1, is still zoned for agriculture. In a city known for its gang violence, the horses can be a welcome escape. For Tre Hosley, that rings particularly true. The 23 year old competes on the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association circuit. Hosley learned how to ride in a corral formed out of three adjoining backyards, known as the Compton Jr. Posse Youth Equestrian Program. The nonprofit was formed by Mayisha Akbar in 1988 to help keep her kids out of trouble. Now, stories like Hosley’s are possible thanks to the work of Akbar and other volunteers.

Nathon Bonner warms up one of the horses in the Compton Junior Posse Youth Equestrian Program in Compton, Calif., on Saturday, June 6, 2016. Hundreds of people keep horses in their backyards in its agriculturally-zoned Richland Farms neighborhood and ride them on the streets around town, as well as at rodeos and other equestrian competitions across the country. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Nathon Bonner warms up one of the horses in the Compton Junior Posse Youth Equestrian Program in Compton, Calif., on Saturday, June 6, 2016. Hundreds of people keep horses in their backyards in its agriculturally-zoned Richland Farms neighborhood and ride them on the streets around town, as well as at rodeos and other equestrian competitions across the country. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Tre Hosley competes in a bareback riding event at the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo in Industry, Calif., on Saturday, June 16, 2016. "Gangsters turn into little kids when they see a horse," says the Compton, Calif. resident, recalling how he once rode one into the wrong neighborhood and was confronted by a handful of gang members who wanted to play with the horse. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Tre Hosley competes in a bareback riding event at the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo in Industry, Calif., on Saturday, June 16, 2016. ‘Gangsters turn into little kids when they see a horse,’ says the Compton resident, recalling how he once rode one into the wrong neighborhood and was confronted by a handful of gang members who wanted to play with the horse. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

 

If you haven’t already, watch Tre Hosley’s father, Andrew, describe life as a cowboy in Compton in a video interview at the top of the story. An upcoming documentary profiling a few rising stars in the riding world, called “Fire on the Hill,” is slated to debut later this year. Learn more about the film here, and watch the trailer below.