PLAINFIELD, NJ - When you think of Plainfield, the word cowboy isn't something you would typically associate with the Queen City. At least not until you learn about the Crazy Faith Riders of New Jersey, an African American faith-based riding club.
TAPinto Plainfield recently sat down with Richard Anderson, known as Crazy Horse, and JR, whose real name is Louis Thompson. They said in the early days they would ride around Plainfield and in Watchung Reservation. Then they started participating in the city's annual 4th of July parade, and JR estimates they have ridden in 25 parades here in town to date.
Crazy Horse said the club was founded after some of them were introduced to a trail riding organization in 2006. The Federation of Black Cowboys in Brooklyn, NY sponsored a prayer breakfast event that was followed by a trail ride. Pror to starting the ride, the clubs in attendence were announced. Keith Brown, Virginia Cowboy, and Oswald Marshall, dubbed Desert Horse, yelled out, "We are The Crazy Faith Riders of New Jersey," naming the club on the spot.
"Basically what we found out was that there were trail riding clubs, African American trail riding clubs, all over the United States that we knew nothing about. We thought we were an anomaly." They learned that almost every weekend different clubs sponsor a trail ride, and cowboys travel far and wide to attend.
There is a demand to increase membership in the Plainfield group, currently with about 12 members, but they don't take just anyone with a horse. "You don't have to have your own horse, but you have to show dedication," Anderson said. The group keeps their horses in rough board situations. "Rough board means that we are responsible for having to take care of our horses. We're paying for a space, but we have to clean the stalls, buy the food. Which is the best situation because it allows you to spend more time with your horses."
The Crazy Faith Riders of New Jersey partner with local organizations like D.A.R.E. and Officer Ronald James to work with children in Plainfield. JR said he has brought horses to a cookout at Richmond Towers to meet the seniors. The riding club also has a large family-friendly affair with Plainfield children the first weekend in August at Round Valley Youth Center in Hunterdon County.
On Saturday, September 14 the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo will come to Trenton for two shows. The Bill Pickett rodeo, Crazy Horse said, is the pinnacle of rodeos for the African American community.
"What we find at these rodeos is that there are a lot of kids, so we want to get as many kids from Plainfield to come down and experience this," Crazy Horse said. He added they will look into partnering with the schools and churches, and bringing seniors, too.
You can catch the Crazy Faith Riders this Thursday when they march in the Plainfield 4th of July parade that kicks off at 10 a.m. on East Front Street.
All photos were taken by Brian Branch-Price. His work focuses on portraiture, reportage and fine art photography. He began his career as a freelancer for the Washington Post, and worked for the Associated Press in Trenton. He has worked with folks from Ebony magazine, GM, Ford Motor Company, The National Urban League, The Positive Community Magazine, Zuma Press Images, and The Washington Post Magazine. Learn more at www.brianbranchprice.com.