Ivan McClellan is a photographer and storyteller who shares the day-to-day lives and adventures of black cowboys and cowgirls. For this piece, McClellan spent time with Korey Jones and his East Austin trail riding club, The JamDine Boyz. There, he captured moments of community, history, and fun.
On a set of rickety lawn chairs in the front yard, Korey and Big George played a game of dominoes. “How do you like that!” said Big George as he slammed down the double six. A crowd gathered around and raucously commented on the game as Korey and Big George went back and forth for 40 minutes. Ricky, the owner of the house, barbecued burgers on the grill, and smoke wafted down the block. A horse in its trailer across the street anxiously kicked at the door. “Miss Daisy, cut out all that noise,” said Korey loudly, and the horse stopped. Over the next few hours, riders gradually showed up to the house with horse trailers in tow. They walked around and greeted everybody there, then sat down for a burger and a beer.
They are all members of the JamDine Boyz, a trail riding club that formed two years ago in East Austin, Texas. "We all grew up together. Everybody else had a club, so I decided to start my own," said Korey Jones. The club meets up every Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting, and rides horses on trails and roads around Austin. These trail rides take all day and are as much about barbecuing, dominoes, and conversation as they are about horse riding. They carry a long tradition of black horse riders in East Austin who have built community and passed down their skills for generations. Despite displacement and gentrification, these historic communities continue to thrive, serving as an essential part of the area's cultural identity.
Korey learned to ride from his aunt at age 7 on a black stallion named Dee Dee. "You think of stallions as all wild, but Dee Dee was gentle and well mannered. A perfect horse to learn on." His interest in horse riding kept him out of the streets and from getting into much trouble. Many young men and women in this community succumb to gangs, drugs, and violence, but the western lifestyle offers them an alternative. "If it wasn't for these horses, who knows where I'd be," said Korey.
Korey started a farrier business and is known for his skills trimming and shoeing horses. "I was wearing out shoes every other week, so I taught myself how to do it, then I started a business." He hopes to continue riding and shoeing horses until he's old and can't do it anymore.
Words and Photos by Ivan McClellan - @eightsecs