Communities of Waco: The Waco Knight Riders
By Louise Henderson
When I mention that I am a part of a trail riding group, most people are not sure what trail riding is really about or what a trail riding group does. For most people the first responses is “Oh, you ride horses and wear boots and a huge Texas belt buckle covered with rhinestones!” Well, some of that is true! But, being a part of the Waco Knight Riders these past two years has given me a new perspective about what trail riding is all about. It’s about being a cowboy or cowgirl; it’s about family and community.
Yes, like you might expect, you will see people who wear a large white cowboy hat and a red button down shirt with the name “Big L” on it. But what you might not know is that thanks to the Waco Knight Riders, you can find Big L and the rest of us pretty much all over Waco doing some type of community service. We have been known to do anything from raising money to prevent domestic violence, to wrapping toys to give away for Christmas, to visiting those in the hospital. If you look, you can find a Waco Knight Rider giving back to the community.
Usually we are in the East Waco area hanging out in the field in the iron steel wagon talking about club business. We might be discussing what our next community project will be. Or we might be talking about how we are going to work with and support other local trail ride groups like “Most Wanted” or “Waco Is My City Riderz.” For example, last December we worked with the Waco all Female club who had a dance just for kids. Our outreach is not limited to just here in Waco. We have traveled to other cities all over Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. It’s funny. When a Waco Knight moves, we tend to sprout up where ever they go like we have in Dallas and Louisiana.
I think that is what drew me to this group, their activism in the community. I appreciate that no one person is bound to just wait on the rest to go and do anything. Each member is encouraged to pursue something in the community to live out our motto to GIVE back.
As I was writing this I started wondering what the attraction to this club is. I mean, yeah, the button down pressed shirt with the two horses is cool, but what makes others want to be a Waco Knight Rider?
So, I asked a few of the club members what made them want to join and be a part of this group. DeeDee, who just joined the group not too long ago, mentioned the high standards and moral character required to join and continue as a member. She said, Big L, Donnell, Rita and the rest of the members came to West during the big explosion all in their red shirts passing out water, and blankets, and food. “That’s what drew me to them and how they conducted themselves no matter where they are.” Another thing I like, she said, is that she always feels comfortable talking and laughing with “the Three Wise Women,” Rita, Darlene and Donnell. “To me they are the mothers and enforcers of the group with Big L as President and Cowboy Dre planning the next big thing to do as far as community.” This community riding club is always out participating in parades, donating school supplies, participating in the MLK March every year. You see the Knight Riders all over Waco being a part of the activities in Waco. There aren’t too many things we haven’t participated in as far as civic service. We held a day for youth to learn about the first black Buffalo Cowboy and even taught the young people how to ride and to become the next Trail Boss which is a big deal for trail riders.
For me, I came from Dallas six years ago. My Children and I really didn’t know anyone here. I saw through a mutual friend how the Waco Knight Riders always had kids with them no matter where they posted pictures. I thought that is what I want to be a part of, and that’s how I want my family to be active in the community together.
And so, two years later, I have been in a group where I have traveled to Houston, Bryan, Hearne, and other places to see other trail ride families and make new friends. We all travel together. Don’t get me wrong. Like most families we have our bumps and hardships, but I have learned that you can pick your family. You can pick the ones that you call your brother or sister. I have been privileged to call these people my family these past two years! I have also learned about myself. I have learned that I have the capability to be whatever I want to be with the confidence and support of those that love me. Even my daughters have learned what it means to wear a Knight Rider shirt to school. When their friends ask about riding club they can say it is more than just about horses, it about the love of our community and being active.
Louise Henderson has four daughters — one at Texas A&M (Elizabeth), two at University High School (Rachel and Naomi) and one at Cesar Chavez Middle School (Rebecca) — and puppy named Rico. She and her family have lived in Waco for six years and are very active in our community. She is a member of the Junior League of Waco, NAACP of Waco, and Waco Knight Riders. She graduated from McLennan Community College with an Associate’s Degree in Child Development and is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Child and Family studies at Tarleton State University. She loves Taco Tuesday at Rosas Café and volunteering in Waco. She is the founder of the Central Texas Divas, a social club for women and young girls to empower and educate about them about self-improvement and our community.
Whether it’s playing trumpet in the “Friday Band” at MCC, playing board games at King’s Landing, or riding with the Waco Knight Riders, one of the wonderful things about Waco is that there are lots of ways to find community here. Where do you find community in Waco? Would you be interested in writing about it? If so, let us know. Email AshleyT@actlocallywaco.org. If you have an idea for a post. You could be seeing your own picture on this page!