Batwing Chaps fly as the rider lays back. His death grip holding firm while his free hand works to maintain balance as the beast bucks. The mere G-force throwing the Bull's weight in full twist, turns and thrust all seems easy as the sound of the horn indicates a full ride by the professional Bull Rider. Often the rider's grips may fail, balance lost and sometimes cinch ropes refuse to release. Riders become hung up as their body is tossed around slung from side to side of the bulls back. Each second is an increasing risk of injuries. Gored, trampled or crushed, the riders risk becomes in the faith of GOD and the Bullfighter.
Justin Clark is one of hundreds of Professional Bullfighters who puts his life on the line for those Cowboys. While they perform the art as Rodeo Clowns entertaining the crowds, they also run to the aid of each Bull rider preventing further risks as the work to get the attention of the bulls focus that prevent the bull from turning back onto the rider, or the release of a rig which becomes hung-up were the rider can not get free with out help. Even in the best of rides, the risk can turn fatal. These Rodeo Clowns expose themselves to the greatest dangers in order to protect the cowboy earning the term "BULL FIGHTER."
Justin Clark tells us his story in a modest demeanor, "I have been a bullfighter since 1998 and professional (PRCA) since 2002. There have been many turns and twists along the way many of which have involved injuries and bouts of humility. The greatest treasures I have obtained from rodeo are the friendships and adventures. The desire to fight bulls has not wained, but through wisdom has grown. The future of my career is in the Lords hands and I look forward to what that future beholds!"
Justin is a strong athlete born in 1973 in the small ranching community of Collbran, Colorado. "Raised around livestock helped me develop a sense of "savvy" for livestock," Justin explains.
In high school he participated is sports lettering in football, basketball and track. After several endeavors he decided on a career in law enforcement in 1997 employed with the Eagle County Sheriff's Office as a patrol deputy. However, in 1998 he tried his hand at bullfighting and became "hooked". After attending a couple of bullfighting schools, he joined the Colorado Professional Rodeo Association (CPRA) and participated in many freestyle bullfighting events. In 2001 he was chosen to work the CPRA Finals and succeeded in obtaining his Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) card.
Justin not only credits the good lord with his success, but credits his wife, Tammy. Justin shared with me, "Tammy has been my greatest encouragement, supporter and critic. She has the ability to not let my head get too big and also encourage me through the lowest of times. She's helped nurse me through numerous injuries, been a driving partner, and boss. I couldn't do this with out her love and full support. "
I asked Justin what would be his most remarkable stunt as a Bullfighter. He indicated that it is all very exciting. However, after some thinking Justin replied, "Performing in my hometown, I mounted the Bull backwards. As we exited the shoot, the bull bucked in a straight line dash towards the opposite end of the arena. About half way down, the buzzard sounded and I jumped off landing on my feet. That was the only time that ever happen." Justin indicated that the journey working Rodeo's has been fulfilling. The excitement between man and bull is only half of it. "There is a great reward signing autographs and meeting wonderful people along this path. Great friendships made and an enjoyment coming back each year seeing those friends once more. That probably has been the greatest reward in this career" Justin said.
Story by Roger Edison