COMPTON (CBSLA.com) — Long before NWA put Compton on the map as the birthplace of “gangsta rap,” it was a cowboy town – a tradition that continues today.
Andrew Hosley takes every opportunity to saddle up and let his horse canter on the streets of Compton.
“I have a regular 9-to-5 job, but I’m a cowboy,” Hosley said. “I always considered myself a cowboy.”
Compton doesn’t have much in the way of green space, much less horse trails.
“It’s very urban. I mean, we kind of make our own trails, there really aren’t any cut-out trails really, and we kind of just go through streets that we know we can be safe,” Hosley said.
The city is best known as the home of gangsta rap, with some of the roughest neighborhoods in the country. But the horse provides a welcome distraction to its most hardened residents.
“I could take off right now and ride through 10 or 12 gang neighborhoods and they will have the same reaction,” Hosley said. “’Ah man, what’s up, that’s cool homeboy.’ I go through all of them and get a warm welcome.”
Hosley is not alone when it comes to Compton’s historic love for horseback riding. In a part of Los Angeles once known as Richland Farms, the Compton Jr. Posse trains youth in equestrian and leadership skills.
“A lot of people are surprised. They don’t know the horses are here. The kids love it,” cowboy Myron Lumpkin says.
Zoie Noellebrogdon, a member of Compton Jr. Posse, says, “Almost every time I come out here, I see there’s like cowboys walking down the street with their horses all tacked up and ready to roll.”
The 27-year-old program was established to give inner-city youth an alternative to the lure of gang and drug lifestyles, reaching back to the days when Compton was farmland.
“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. “It’s not a dying way of life.”