By Eric Butler, Freedom Correspondent
All of the contestants for this year’s High Plains Junior Rodeo Association Finals are from either New Mexico or Texas. But Lane Hedeman comes from such an interior portion of the Lone Star state that he might be considered an outsider to those based in either eastern New Mexico or west Texas.
But Hedeman’s got skills, a bit of flair and a rodeo lineage almost no one can beat.
The son of famed bullrider Tuff Hedeman, 16-year-old Lane participated in the calf-roping event on Tuesday at the Curry County Mounted Patrol Arena. With dad watching from the side, Lane had the best time (11.57) of the 12 contestants in the morning slack competition of the 13-15 age group.
The Hedemans annually make the trip from their home in Morgan Mill, just north of Stephenville, Texas — a city about 50 miles southwest of Fort Worth.
“It’s a good rodeo, good people,” said Lane Hedeman, who estimates he’s been coming to the HPJRA Finals for “about five or six years.”
“We come out here just because it’s a great association,” Tuff Hedeman added. “They’re very well run. The livestock, in terms of the calves and steers, are always of the highest quality. It’s a long way, and there are some associations a lot closer, but this is just a great association. They do a tremendous job.”
The elder Hedeman should know. Tuff Hedeman is a four-time world champion bullrider — three with the PRCA and once, in 1995, when the PBR was a fledgling organization just finishing its second year of existence.
As far as advice to his son, who recently celebrated his 16th birthday, Tuff knows that Lane has interests beyond just rodeo.
“There’s a lot of things he enjoys sports-wise,” Tuff Hedeman said. “I’ve always encouraged him to do everything. He’s played every sport. He really likes to play basketball, he’s on the golf team, and he played football when he was younger. He goes to a high school now that’s a small school — they don’t play football.
“I just encourage him to do something he has a passion for. This may or may not be it. My advice, whether it’s rodeo or anything else, is pretty simple — just get up everyday and give it everything you’ve got. The people who are successful are the ones who work the hardest and really want it more than anybody else.”
Lane Hedeman, who fellow competitors teasingly call “Hollywood” because of the sunglasses he wears, said he isn’t quite sure what he wants to do a few years down the line — when he’ll be too old for events like the HPJRA Finals.
“I don’t know yet,” he said. “I’m just having fun doing (rodeo). If you want to do it (professionally), it’s a lot of practice. If not, you can just have fun.”
Tuff Hedeman, who tenaciously clung onto the toughest bulls in his heyday, got a little good-natured ribbing himself when he fell from a horse on Monday at Mounted Patrol Arena as rodeo organizers were preparing for the first day.
“I got bucked off, yeah,” Tuff said. “The parents were running through the team-roping steers and I was on my youngest son’s horse and he just bucked me off. I guess he wasn’t warmed up. There was a big mud puddle out there, the only mud puddle out there, and I landed right in the middle of it.
“Everybody got a good laugh and I’m a little stiff today, but that’s all right.”