The Hard Ride: Black Cowboys at the Circle 6 Ranch

Directed by Alan Govenar


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Details: The Hard Ride: Black Cowboys at the Circle 6 Ranch 1996, 16mm Film and Video, 26:38, color, Produced by Documentary Arts, Inc., Directed by Alan Govenar, Cinematography by Robert Tullier, Edited by Andrew Dean, Production assistance by Kaleta Doolin

The Hard Ride is an intimate look at black cowboys as they gather for a rodeo and dance on the 40 acre Circle 6 Ranch in Raywood, Texas (between Houston and Beaumont). A dirt road leads onto the ranch, where all of the structures, including a frame house, rodeo arena, and barn, are hand-wrought. A.J. Walker, his wife Pam, and his son, Anthony, are preparing for the monthly rodeo. This rodeo, which draws from the surrounding communities, is very much a family operation.

Black cowboys drive their horsetrailers onto the ranch. A.J. Walker reveals that as many as four generations of cowboys are involved in this event. Before he and his father started this ranch fifty years ago, Walker himself had worked as a cowboy on white-owned ranches in this area of southeast Texas and because of the racial discrimination against black cowboys, he decided start his own rodeo.

In the film poignant stories and songs, as well as foodways, crafts, blues, zydeco, and cowboy poetry evoke the unique ways this community has combined Anglo-European traditions with distinct African-American perspectives.