For Black cowboys – from inner-city Philly to small-town Texas – horses and riding are a way of life

‘The Basketball Game.’ Ron TarverPhotographer Ron Tarver grew up in Fort Gibson, a small town in Oklahoma where horses, cattle and Wrangler jeans were embedded into the rhythms of everyday life. His grandfather was a cowboy admired for his roping abilities, and many of his family members owned ranches in the area.

But he wanted, he told me, “to get away from horses,” and in 1983, he landed a job as a staff photojournalist at the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he found himself drawn to a range of subjects, from storefront churches to star jump-ropers.

Then, in the early 1990s, he photographed North Philadelphia’s drug culture, spending periods of time living in heroin dens and crack houses. Burned out from the despairing subject matter, he decided that for his next undertaking, he wanted to do something that would lift his spirits.

Sometimes he’d be walking around in the park, and he’d see a

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