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© Jeremiah Ariaz

Louisiana Steppers

Artist: Jeremiah Ariaz

Project: Louisiana Trail Riders

Description: Black trail-riding clubs date back to the eighteenth century in South Louisiana, and provide an opportunity for Creole families to gather and celebrate in distinct communities of riders. To emphasize the cultural importance of these clubs, photographer Jeremiah Ariaz cites folklorist Connie Castille, who asserts, “for many of Louisiana’s black men, the horse is still associated with freedom, independence, work and respect.” To Ariaz, groups like the Louisiana Steppers, Good Ol’ Boyz, and Stepping-In-Style Riding Club represent a vibrant and lasting subculture of Louisiana, especially in contrast to the recent national backdrop of hostility toward young black lives in America, from the tragic killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida to the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, where Ariaz is from. The images in Louisiana Trail Riders are full of camaraderie and grace, where the horse persists as a symbol of strength, mobility, and shared identity. Collectively they depict a more triumphant vision of Southwest Louisiana, one of “joy, pride,” and, Ariaz writes,  “familial intimacy, particularly between fathers and sons who are taught to care for and ride horses from an early age.”

Eyes on the South is curated by Jeff Rich. The weekly series features selections of current work from Southern artists, or artists whose photography concerns the South. To submit your work to the series, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Jeremiah Ariaz

Jeremiah Ariaz is an associate professor at Louisiana State University. Louisiana Trail Riders is currently on view at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. A monograph of the work is forthcoming from UL Press. Additional information can be found at