Have you ever been out in the urban neighborhoods of New Orleans and been shocked to see a young black man riding a horse? As they gallop by, you are left with many questions: Where did they come from? Is it legal to ride a horse in the street? Or did they ride in from the country? Some riders are asked if their Horse was some tourist rental fad. In disbelief that these young black men are Urban Cowboys, they would call around inquiring about renting a horse to ride themselves. Sorry, it’s not going to happen.
Maybe you were dancing along the streets during a Second Line and noticed a group of men riding their horses up and down the neutral ground ( the “median-” You know, that little strip of land in the middle of a road.) and thought what horses have to do with the Second Line. Tourists aren’t the only ones with these questions. There are plenty of New Orleanians who do not know the whole story of how these young men can saddle up and ride through our neighborhoods as if they were in the Wild Wild West.
These Urban a Cowboys are not the same as the Policemen you see on Bourbon St with their horses, they have similarities, but they stop at men riding and training horses. Instead, the Urban Cowboys’ lifestyle is rich in culture and tradition, fueled by the lifelong bond between a man, his son, and other men.
Me and Officer Ace The Horse
For as long as I can remember, the existence of horses in my community was as ordinary as someone walking their dog or seeing stray cats. I never realized the oddity until one Mardi Gras when I was younger. An out-of-state family member was scared to walk in the same direction as the horses and complained about the horse poop in the street. I couldn’t believe she was afraid of a sweet horse. Horses do not bark at you, and they don’t bite, scratch, or run after you like a mad dog or crazy cat; I thought she was deathly afraid.
It would surprise you that more people are afraid of cats and dogs than horses in New Orleans, and I believe it’s because of their owners. Unlike dogs, you never hear of a horse breaking loose, chasing people onto the roof of cars, and biting them. Horses get spooked, mainly by the actions of others, loud noises, and so on. But their owners are quick to settle these gentle animals, and if needed, they wouldn’t bring the Horse out in public.
I was officially introduced to horses around the age of 15 by my cousin’s Michael father; he kept horses and dogs as pets. So if you wanted to visit, you had to interact with the animals, and I am crazy about animals. Michael, he’s gonna get mad with me, but back then, we called him Mike Mike because he was a junior, but now we call him Mike, and he is known as Dat Ghetto Cowboy. Mike was on horses before he could sit up on his own. His father is from New Orleans with country roots. They own property and livestock in both the city and country. This access exposed a whole new whole to our side of the family, and I’m grateful. Being around animals in nature was nothing like going to the zoo with my parents for the pony, camel, and elephant rides, but this was different more of a learning experience, making you appreciate Mother Nature.
I remember going to my Auntie’s house and being greeted by a beautiful big brown-eyed horse being led into the back of the truck in just enough time to feel their pretty long mane and tail. I could see Mike Mike loading up with his Daddy, and it made me feel proud to have a young male relative raised just as they had over the years. He would grow up to be a fantastic well-rounded man. You get the best of both worlds with Mike, or is it three? Lol. He’s a Country Man, a Suburban Business Man, and an Urban Roughneck and God-Fearing Man! I could go on and on, but it’s time for me to introduce you to Mr. Dat Ghetto Cowboy and hear about the life of a New Orleans Urban Cowboy!
This is merely an introduction, but we will be back with more of the history of Mike’s life and adding more Urban Cowboys!
I hope you enjoy his pictures and videos!
The Nola Chic ⚜️
Everybody say they work hard until they run across an ole country man…. toss some square bales jad roll a few round bales for free and call me in the morning. #Datghettocowboy
The Nola Chic: Hey Cuzin, wondering if you could give me some information on the New Orleans Cowboys? When did you start riding? You’re not even 30 years old yet, and from what I can remember you were a baby lol.
Dat Ghetto Cowboy: “I was I lil pup I say about 10-12 years old maybe earlier.”
The Nola Chic: Who introduced you to horses? Let me rephrase that who introduced your Dad to riding?
Dat Ghetto Cowboy: “You’ll have to ask my dad, who introduced me to them along with dogs. I own 2 Tennessee walkers, and my family owns plenty. lol, We have more than our 40 acres and a mule.“
Being around horses is one of the best things in the world. Thanks pops!
The Nola Chic: Do you know how long this tradition has been going on?
Dat Ghetto Cowboy: “The history goes back further than we know of or can recount. I have known of it all my life, and so did my Dad.”
The Nola Chic: Do you know how it came to be or why you all ride or is it just like a tradition? “We do it because they did it before us?”
Dat Ghetto Cowboy: “I’ll ask my dad, but yeah, it’s tradition, baby. Our people rode, and now we ride. I love it. Everyone I know loves it. As my post reads. Everybody doesn’t ride, but dammit, I know they like to see us out, scared and all.”
“My dad was riding in a club in his 20s, and they started a club in 1997, the New Orleans Cajun Cowboys. So, I will keep it going and open chapters and promote my brand, which is Dat Ghetto Cowboy. And let them know to always keep it ahunnit grand! I also have a foundation, but we can run that another day lol.“
Young and jazzy. Couldn’t tell damn self anything at all. Lol. #Datghettocowboy
The Nola Chic: What are your horse’s names and how many do you own?
Dat Ghetto Cowboy: “The old man who will step yah heart out is Redman, like the known rapper, and he’s a ladies man. Then there is The General, aka Big Pete. The ages are 18 and 1
The Nola Chic: I imagine it’s costly to own and care for a horse. Do you get a subsidy or pay to ride in parades and other events?
Dat Ghetto Cowboy: “All I know is that we own horses where the grass isn’t surrounding us, and we take to the streets!”
“Managing horses can be very costly and time-consuming. But you lay down and decide and stick with it, but it isn’t much in time and at times, meaning that you don’t have to be rich to own a horse or more. Just take care of your responsibility once you decide, as with all things in life. I get up early to take care of my animals, just like if I lived on the farm. Some have to go out to the stables in the city before they go to work. But we all do it because we love it!
The Nola Chic: What was the name of your Dad’s organization, and do you belong to his group now that you move? Do y’all pay dues like other Social and Pleasure Clubs in New Orleans?
Dat Ghetto Cowboy: “Our organization is the new Orleans Cajun Cowboys. Once I get settled with this little newborn, we all will reach out to any and hopefully every other organization with horses or not assist with fundraising and ect.”
“Some organizations pay, but honestly, I do it for the love and the culture.”
“Shout out to The Dirty South Riders and Homie in California, Platinum Stallions.“
The Nola Chic: Has the gentrification of New Orleans affected the riders? Like the population of New Orleans has been severely altered since Katrina and how New Orleanians are continually being forced out of the Urban neighborhoods, do you think this will decrease and affect the tradition? For example, you moved to Atlanta.
Dat Ghetto Cowboy: “It has in a major was, but where there’s a will, there’s away.”
“Nothing will stop us from riding!”
The Nola Chic: Wow! It’s that simple, but that’s New Orleans people for ya! “Nothing will stop Us!”
Dat Ghetto Cowboy: “Yes, Cuzin, like I said, I do it for the love and the culture!”
The Nola Chic: What’s better than being a cowboy?
Dat Ghetto Cowboy: “Ain’t nothing like it!“
Where I’m from, people dont expect us to be more than what they see, which is folks out the hood who want to play ball or become a rapper…as u can see, we do a lot more than expected!! #Datghettocowboy