Growing up in Compton, California wasn’t easy. In a town where one’s chance of being the victim of a crime is one in twenty-seven, our next BreyerFest guests faced many obstacles in their lives and could have easily taken a different path, like many others from their neighborhood.
But they didn’t.
In 1988, Mayisha Akbar founded the Compton Jr. Posse, which she used to get the children in her neighborhood of Richland Farms, including her nephew Randy, off the streets of Compton, out of trouble, and involved with horses. Over the years, the program grew, continuing to serve the children of Compton and fostering a sense of community responsibility and care for the world around them. These lessons shaped the lives of the members of the Compton Jr. Posse as they grew up and went out into the world beyond the streets of their old neighborhoods. When it came time for Mayisha to retire, a now adult Randy, and his former Jr. Posse members, returned to the ranch to take over the program and refresh it for the new generation of neighborhood kids.
In 2017, the Compton Cowboys were formalized as a community activist movement, but their mission with the Compton Jr. Posse remains the same – get kids from the neighborhood off the streets and involved with horses. When asked why he felt it was so important to connect kids in the local community with horses, Compton Cowboys’ founder Randy Savvy’s response couldn’t be simpler – “Horses are magical creatures, so great for the human spirit. They teach you so much and give you so much…Interacting with horses from a young age definitely shapes you to be a decent human being…”
Randy says that since he’s founded the Compton Cowboys, the group’s bond has strengthened like never before. They inspire each other to be the best people they can be serving their community, and they feel they are a part of a bigger calling to heal the world with their message of inclusivity and positivity. Add to this a prolific social media presence and their message can be spread further and faster than ever before, reaching kids from all over the world. “[We position] ourselves as cool people in the [equestrian] culture. That’s what gets kids excited – they see someone they can look up to and want to follow in their footsteps,” Randy says.
Though Richland Farms maintains its agricultural roots, the city of Compton has spring up around it over the last century, creating an interesting marriage between urban and rural landscapes. As a result of this juxtaposition of lifestyles, the Cowboys are often seen riding around town on horseback – running errands, out for pleasure, and meeting kids in the neighborhood to get them more involved. “It just takes patience and practice,” Randy says when asked about the work involved getting horses used to the urban environment. “Horses are smart and very trusting…so they acclimate relatively quickly.”
But being a Compton Cowboy is more than just being a “cowboy.” The group boasts multidisciplinary riders, including English riding athletes, musicians, a chef, and more. And while the most common breeds in their stock are Quarter Horses and Tennessee Walkers, their mounts are just as diverse as their riders. The common denominator, Randy says, is the group wants to celebrate “horses and our blackness as a part of it…it’s about finding your voice and contributing to the world.” As activists for social change, in addition to their work in the community, the Cowboys are working hard to uplift black equestrians who have been overlooked. Among these athletes is 16-year old Zoie Brodgon, a student from the Compton Junior Equestrians program, who is competing in show jumping with her horse Ninja and currently on an impressive winning streak. The Compton Cowboys hope that more students from the program can follow this lead.
Working to achieve this goal for their students, the Compton Cowboys are currently working on building out their Compton Junior Equestrians program, which includes both English and Western disciplines in after-school and extra-curricular programs, along with other kids activities. Creating these opportunities for kids in the community can change the trajectory of a child’s life, and the Cowboys recognize and are humbled by that achievement. Long-term, the Cowboys are hoping to establish similar ranches in under-served communities around the country, to make sure that as many kids as possible have the opportunities they had – to have their lives changed by a relationship with horses.
At this summer’s BreyerFest, the Compton Cowboys will be joining us live and cannot wait to show fans another side of the equestrian community – away from the show ring and straight from their facility in Compton. Randy says of the event, “BreyerFest is a great hub for all kinds of horse folk to connect with each other – it’s so unique and so cool!”
A complete schedule of BreyerFest’s live broadcast will be available closer to BreyerFest weekend, but if you want to support the work of the Compton Cowboys, you can learn more about their work here or here and support the Compton Junior Equestrians here.
Don’t have your BreyerFest tickets yet? General Admission and Limted Access tickets are available here!
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