If Compton is mentioned, you might think of the home of gangsta rap, a rough part of Los Angeles, and violence like in the Universal Studios movie, “Straight Outta Compton.”
Decades before new sounds like rap and gunshots, the area was known for grain production and dairy cattle. Even in these modern times, elements of the Old West can still be found.
Andrew Holsey has always considered himself a cowboy, but he won’t be found out on the range. The urban cowboy can be found making his own trails, mostly through streets because it’s safe, not only from traffic, but also violence and gangs.
Halsey says his horse gives a welcome distraction to those living in one of the roughest neighborhoods in the country.
“I could take off right now and ride through 10 or 12 gang neighborhoods and they will all have the same reaction,” said Holsey. “I go through all of them and get a warm welcome.”
On warm nights, Holsey and other Compton cowboys continuing a tradition dating back decades in the part of LA once known as Richland Farms, a 10-block neighborhood zoned for agricultural use.
“A lot of people are surprised,” said Myron Lumpkins, a Compton cowboy. “They don’t know the horses are here. The kids love it.”
To help the community stay connected with the horses, the Compton Jr. Posse trains youth in equestrian and leadership skills.
“Almost every time I come out here, I see there’s cowboys walking down the street with their horses,” said Zoie Noellebrogdon, a member of the Compton Jr. Posse.
The intersection of urban and rural is still very much alive.
“It’s really interesting that you still see our cowboys here, and it’s not wavering,” said Mayisha Akbar, founder and executive director of Compton Jr. Posse.