As a young kid, Justin Mosser always knew he would be a truck driver when he grew up. He spent his entire life around trucks with his dad, David, who is still an independent owner operator. He has loved trucks since even before he can remember riding along with him, and has been around cow-hauling since before going to college.
When he was about 12 years old, in 7th grade (as well as he can remember), Justin read a book that changed the course of his life forever. The book was called “When The Legends Die” by Hal Borland, and it sparked the adolescent’s interest in all things rodeo. It was an interest Justin’s mother, Spring, was NOT on-board with however, and it took the young man another two or three years to convince her to actually let him give it a try (he described it as “wearing her down” more than anything else)!
His first forum was steer wrestling in youth rodeo, which he did for a couple of years, while working on mom to allow him to progress up to bareback horses, otherwise known as bronc busting, at age 15. Justin stayed with this sport up until his freshman year in college when he sustained a shoulder injury. During this time, unbeknownst to his mother, Justin had begun a career he wildly loved – being a rodeo clown.
One day, when at a rodeo where mom wasn’t present, there was a shortage of these very necessary elements for the rodeo and volunteers were requested, so Justin stepped-up and never looked back!
In talking with him about this part of his life, he will tell you there is nothing else quite like it. He loved it so much, in fact, he continued doing it for the better part of 20 years!
Being a rodeo clown in America is a very different and risky business – Justin is literally a bullfighter. He even carried a card issued by the PRCA, the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association, which made him a professional bullfighter. He still wears a belt buckle he won as such from the APRA, the American Professional Rodeo Association, in 2009, which is a regional association in the northeastern United States.
Fighting a bull, according to Justin, involves a lot more than you may think. He says you learn to read the bull, to “engage with them,” and “offer yourself as a better target than the cowboy.” He told me they don’t use any type of props or tools, just their own bodies (hands, arms, etc.), to lead those angry bulls away and back into the chutes.
Yes, he has suffered injuries – many of them over the years. The injuries are why, in fact, he had to retire from his passion three years ago, or believe me, he’d still be out there doing it! People have asked him most often, “Doesn’t it hurt when they hit you?” His answer… “Of course it hurts – if I don’t get knocked unconscious – which I have been more times than I can count.” Justin has suffered countless broken ribs, dislocated both thumbs, fingers, has no ACL in either knee after numerous knee injuries, but the most painful injury he ever sustained was biting through half his tongue after being tossed airborne by a bull, then caught again before he hit the ground and tossed again. After landing on the ground, he realized that he had bit through his tongue.
I asked him if he wasn’t a special kind of crazy to want to keep going back for more, but he didn’t think so. Justin assured me that he still loved it and would go back right now if his knees would let him. One of his friends from the rodeo told him that he had decided that Justin and his rodeo clown buddies were very “different” from most people in that their instincts were backward – when most folk’s instincts tell them to run away, theirs tell them to step right out there in the middle of the mayhem, to put themselves right between a snorting bull and a cowboy. I’d have to agree. Rodeo clowns, it seems, are sort of the “first responders” for cowboys.
I first met Justin last year at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY and have watched him build and develop his beautiful and amazing 2004 Peterbilt 379 “Cowboy Logic” into a 1st place winner at this year’s event. He is an unassuming, humble and friendly young man. He told me that showing his truck is helping him replace the feeling he used to get when he rodeoed. He is regaining that drive and motivation, and has a new purpose in his life that makes him proud (he had felt a sense of loss when he was no longer able, physically, to pursue the passion he adored so much).
“Cowboy Logic” shows his pride, and if you are fortunate enough to see him on the road pulling his 53’ tandem Wilson cow trailer (what else, right?) between his home in Millersburg, PA and Green Bay, WI, you will see what I mean. Justin is an independent owner operator, putting over 139,000 miles on his truck last year. It was customized by LowLife Customs at Montana Peterbilt, where they did all of the restoration and paint work, custom turn signals and door panels. Equipped with a 550 Cat 6NZ, an 18-speed transmission, 3:36 rear gears and a 70-inch stand-up sleeper, this cool rig rides around in style on a 280-inch chassis.
Justin recently got engaged to Sharron Gerker of Butler, PA and they plan to get hitched in September of 2018. Now, if he would just stop “clowning around” and get serious, he just might get somewhere. Using “Cowboy Logic” (like the name of his truck), I’ll end with this good piece of advice: “Don’t squat with your spurs on!”