By Victor Ochieng
The Federation of Black Cowboys, a group of horse-riding enthusiasts operating out of an 11-acre Cedar Lane Stables in Queens, has]ve been providing a platform for Blacks interested in the sport. The group was founded 18 years ago with the aim of preserving Black people on the American frontier as well as helping get kids off the streets. FBC’s accomplishments over the years are amazing, having worked with people of different age groups, ranging from those in their 70s to a 22-year-old horseshoeing enthusiast.
But even with its great works, its future remains bleak. After the sudden and untimely death of six of its horses in 2012, it went into serious financial troubles that threaten its existence. Besides, its membership has dwindled and it’s also losing its stables license this coming August.
“Riding makes you feel free. It’s in your heart,” Arthur Fulmore, 68, a member of the group told ABC. “Being a cowboy means being good and honest with people, and being straight up.”
The current membership of the FBC stands at 18 and they’re committed to rewriting the group’s history and keep Black people in the game. Besides working to uphold the legacy of the Black people who headed West, they’re also actively involved in working at the grassroots level to share the love of horses in a bid to help keep kids out of the streets.
They do this through several different activities, including organizing school visits, rodeos and varying programs for young people. The organization “uses[s] the uniqueness of horses as a way to reach inner-city children and expose them to more than what they are exposed to in their communities,” the group’s president Kesha Morse said to the Village Voice.
“When children see us with the fringe jackets and the boots, that stays with them for life,” said Morse to ABC.
Growing up, the 67-year-old got impressed watching her father riding horses at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, sparking in her love of horses.
Unfortunately, FBC’s financial challenges are here and they’ve got to find a way to deal with it. After the group lost their six horses, they were compelled to shut down. The city had demanded for a renovation of their stables yet they didn’t have enough money for that. The city went ahead and placed the group’s license for grabs.
A nonprofit known as GallopNYC, which pairs therapy horses with people with disabilities, is set to take over the Cedar Lane Stables in August this year after they outbid FBC. Although the nonprofit will be taking over the stables, FBC will be allowed to keep their horses at the stable, albeit at a fee. Still, nothing is clear about the future of the organization.
The challenges have pushed the group’s leadership into a membership recruitment drive, which is mainly targeting young people. They’re also trying to share their long standing values of patience, kindness, and hard work with them.