Ezekiel Mitchell doesn’t come from a rodeo family, nor did he have the right connections or money to learn how to ride a bull. So age at 14, he turned to the next best thing — YouTube and a makeshift metal bull that he used for practice.
Mitchell studied “how-to” videos on YouTube made by former Professional Bull Riders (PBR) star Dustin Elliott. When he finally rode a real bull at age 16 he decided then and there that cowboy life was the way to go. Seven years later, the 23-year-old became a professional Black bull rider playing at an elite level.
The new Snapchat “Life By The Horns” docuseries follows Mitchell on his life or death journey to become the best bull rider in the world and the first Black American to win the title in over 35 years.
“It’s been a huge blessing for me to be able to share a little bit of the world that I love so much, which is the western lifestyle, and also just to bring awareness to African American cowboys and cowboys in general,” Mitchell tells EURweb.com. “It’s something that needed to be done for a while, to try to push western life to the mainstream and let people know that you don’t have to come from the western lifestyle to enjoy it.”
“Life By The Horns” gives viewers an inside look at Ezekiel’s rise to success as a Black cowboy and his pursuit of winning the world title in the predominantly white sport of professional bull riding. He also hopes his series dispels myths and stereotypes about cowboy life.
“One of the biggest things that I wanted to accomplish was to let people how much we care about our animals and debunk stereotypes,” Mitchell tells us. “We’re not all walking around chewing tobacco. We’re all different. We’re all individuals. Some guys call themselves ‘weekend cowboys,’ so it’s interesting to see different walks of life and I wanted to share that.”
Mitchell’s natural athletic ability enabled him to burst into the Professional Bull Riding league within his rookie year, and at this point in his career he says “there’s nothing really to prove but not proving anybody wrong.”
“In the sport of bull riding it’s all about proving yourself. You’re only as good as your last ride or your last win. The more I’ve grown the more I’ve gained the respect of my peers in the locker room and the people around me. The people the follow the sport have grown to love me and respect me as a bull rider,” Mitchell says.
There’s nothing quite like having your idol pull your bull rope. PRCA World Champion Charlie Sampson lent a hand to Ezekiel Mitchell this weekend in Glendale. pic.twitter.com/GrBLEiF4mS
— PBR (@PBR) March 17, 2021
While he may be at the top of his game, Mitchell admits there are still many challenges he has to overcome. “Life By The Horns,” he says, is “going to show a lot of the mental struggles you have as a professional athlete and being on top of the world and being knocked down and back on top of the world and being knocked back down,” he explains. “It’s a constant battle within myself and some of the other characters on the show.”
— Good Morning America (@GMA) March 8, 2021
Has the young bull rider learned anything surprising about himself while watching his Snapchat series?
“The biggest thing that has surprised me is just how much my peers respect me,” Mitchell tells EURweb. “I didn’t know some of the ways that people felt about me. It kinda amazes me how people look at me. I love the people that are around me and it just gives me more reason to love everybody that’s around me.”
He’s also enjoying engaging with fans after new episodes drop.
“Social media has been important in my career and pushed me to a whole ‘nother level,” he says. “After every episode, I open up my Snapchat and I can respond to the people that would like to ask questions about the series. It is important to me to answer any questions, so far the response has been positive.”
And when it comes to his bucket list, Mitchell says he’s eying the ultimate prize.
“The pinnacle for every professional bull rider is winning the world title and that’s it in a nutshell. Right now, I’m just trying to enjoy the process and get there at God’s pace and not my own,” he says.
“One thing I’ve learned about this cowboy way of life is that once you’re in it, you’re a part of this family.”
Download the Snapchat app and check out the 10-episode docuseries “Life By The Horns” only on Snapchat’s Discover.