BRAINJAVA Links Compton Cowboys to Winter Equestrian Festival During Black History Month

February 28. 2024

By Sarah Eakin for Wellington International

As Black History Month draws to a close, the mission of focusing on the African American community lives on in an outreach program far from Wellington but with strong ties to the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). The Compton Cowboys extend opportunities to the disadvantaged youth of the fabled Los Angeles neighborhood and is aided in its endeavors by partnerships with BRAINJAVA a new major partner of WEF.

Randy Savvy, founder of Compton Cowboys, has seen firsthand the positive results horses can bring to a location that stacks the odds against those who live there. “In the hood, you do not grow up with nature,” he said. “And you can easily get into a zombie mode mentally, and this results in living in negative energy. The environment can drag youth into a messed up life without them even realizing it until it is too late.”

Local young people are drawn to the example the Compton Cowboys set in the area, and by the relevant manner that they communicate to their audience on social media. “They want to be around us because it is full of love, and hard work that is fun, fulfilling and rewarding,” Randy said.

“A child without any purpose or value in themselves is lost. We get the kids in our community into nature, teach them about ranching, teach them to care about something beyond themselves. Nature provides the love of life. Not only the horse’s life, but your own life. When you value another life, and take care of a life, even a plant or vegetable in a garden, it allows you to flourish and look in the mirror to take care of yourself also.”

The Compton Cowboys’ roots go back to 1988 when Randy’s aunt, Mayeisha Akbar, grew up watching westerns with his grandfather in Southern California. Later, as a realtor, she stumbled upon a farm in the middle of Compton and it spoke to her. “She had always dreamed and wanted to be a Cowgirl,” Randy said. “She did it. She laid the foundation for a community program and ran it for over 30 years - like a family backyard that everyone came to. It was safe and kind."

Randy took over the project five years ago upon her retirement and has focused on building a brand around the ranch and his passion for music and being an entertainer, performing at events, festivals and even parades in Los Angeles to showcase the Compton Cowboys. “Music is a reflection of everything I do,” he said. “It inspires me, being a cowboy, being what I talk about in music and lyrics. Art imitating life and life imitating art."

An amalgamation of music genres is what Randy calls ‘Street Country’ born out of his childhood love for country music as well as hip hop and soul. “It is a combination of the life I grew up with,” he said. “I am a cowboy, a rancher on the land with my family and friends, but half of me has big city attitude,” he said.

Horses remain at the core of the Compton Cowboys' mission and it is not solely the discipline of ranching, as they also collaborate with western and rodeo outfits, show jumping and horse racing. Last year, they launched a show jumping barn in Thousand Oaks, CA, and their partnerships with BRAINJAVA and 1/ST Racing - another WEF partner - have been instrumental in this type of growth.

“Similar goals align people to find each other and collaborate,” said Randy. “Our show jumping program in California has recently had one of our riders now on the UCLA Equestrian Team. We have ambitions to grow our English Show Jumping Program for African American youth, to find Black youth the resources for the sport. Our goal would be to nurture the earliest stages of a potential Olympic rider.”

An ambitious man, Randy’s aspirations go further still. “I am a cowboy at heart,” said Randy who has spectated at grands prix events throughout California. “My dream would be to produce a cross-discipline horse show in our community in South Los Angeles at the SOFI Arena. I dream big!"

BRAINJAVA was a seamless fit as a partner for Compton Cowboys. Lisa Ellis, herself an African American, is Chief Executive Officer of BRAINJUICE, the company behind BRAINJAVA.

Randy sees the brand message as similar to his own for multiple reasons. “First of all, it’s functional and natural,” he said. “We teach healthy living to our community. We have urban, organic farming at our ranch. If we are going to preach it, we should live it also. Also, BRAINJAVA has invested in branding its products with the equestrian community. Their mantra is one we can all say: Be Mindful, Be Present, Turn on Your Brain. There are so many positive metaphors in that.”

The burgeoning attention paid to Black History Month is not lost on Randy. He cites the growing interest in the Black Cowboys - and Cowgirls - as well as Native American influence and the impact of their cultures as, “Exciting, but long overdue. These unsung heroes and the accurate heroes are important to retain as legacy, and continue to restore the accuracy of American history," he said. "Our mission is simple: The streets raised us, horses and ranching saved us.”