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Hold your horses: 'Hometown cowboy' preps for first season with Austin's new pro bull riding team

Central Texas native Ezekiel Mitchell is competing with Austin's first professional bullriding team this year. (PBR/Twitter)

Ezekiel Mitchell mounted a bucking bull for his new professional team for the first time on Saturday—but as a bull riding veteran, it wasn't his first rodeo.


"I know the dangers of the sport already," Mitchell said. "The biggest thing is is that we know what can happen, so I just try to worry about all the good that could happen (instead)."



A native of the small town of Rockdale, located about 60 miles east of Austin, Mitchell never thought he'd ride for a team close to home until he signed as a free agent to Austin's first professional bull riding team, the Austin Gamblers, right before it buckles up for its first season this summer.

"To be a part of the first Austin Gamblers team 45 minutes from where I grew up is pretty extraordinary," Mitchell said. "I feel like I'm still home here... and I'm still the hometown cowboy."

Mitchell will represent Austin among 11 other world-class riders—including two-time World Champion Jose Victor Leme—as the team embarks on the first iteration of the PBR Team Series this year. The series features eight elite teams from across the South set to compete in 10 tournament-style competitions, including a three-day tournament and western lifestyle event at Austin's Moody Center Aug. 26-28.


Mitchell says people of all backgrounds should attend the event, which will be the new center's first pro sporting spectacle.

"You don't have to be from the western lifestyle to enjoy bull riding," Mitchell said. "It's a very fun sport, and in my opinion, I think it should be one of the biggest sports in America."

Mitchell and the team will saddle up for one more preseason event on Friday and Saturday in Tryon, North Carolina before the circuit's first season begins July 25-26 in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

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