He has too many bumps and bruises to count and his journey has been anything but stable. But don’t ever consider Ricky Ringer’s life a tragic tale. According to Ricky, bull riding has been very good to him and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

Born and raised in Davie, Florida, Ricky came from a troubled past. His father walked out on his family and when he tried to return, the relationship between father and son was strained and beyond repair.

Ricky was out on his own at 15 years old, but he had already found solace in bull riding. The eight-second duel of man versus beast was his emancipation and Ricky was successful early and often. Prize money earned in the arena was adding up and a chance to make the pro circuit was in sight. But despite all his success, Ricky could never win a championship and with the rigorous schedule came a heavy price. Ricky suffered many injuries, including a horrific incident where his face was crushed in 2010 which nearly ended his career.

Now at age 39, Ricky realizes his time is running out. His body is constantly in pain as over two decades of bull riding has taken its toll. Despite all the broken bones and permanent scars, he has no regrets on what he’s put his body through. Along with his son, Lil’ Ricky, and fellow rider Ernie Courson, Ricky is giving it his all in what could be his last shot.

He did not find success on the pro circuit and the opportunity at stardom has long passed him by, but Ricky continues to ride and is determined to chase that elusive title or die trying.


I’ve often wondered why bull riders continually subject themselves to punishment. Why do they keep riding after all the broken bones and surgeries? I understand it’s their passion, it’s their obsession. But there always has to be an underlining story.

For Ricky Ringer, it was his outlet. At 15, he was literally out on his own; his relationship with his father forever strained. And although the partying and drinking steered him in a different direction, away from bull riding stardom and a chance at fame and fortune, Ricky never let it control his life. He never wanted to become his father.

Artistically, I wanted to take this story beyond the bright lights of the arena where the bull riders take center stage in front of an audience. My desire was to show what goes on beyond the chutes and behind the gate. I wanted the viewer to see the dark side of this grueling sport; the rider’s psychological warfare and state of mind before mounting the bull and the agony or ecstasy after each ride.

Most of the rodeos we attended were not the big pro circuits. The winning purses were not an extraordinary amount of money and there wasn’t thousands of dollars in sponsorship money; nor were there a multitude of fans waiting to get autographs or even a picture. It’s just the rider, with his competitors or on his own, who walks away – barring injury, of course – and lives to fight another day.