Jan 29, 1989
El Paso Times
If there is a small Texas or New Mexico town with a rodeo arena, Clarice Hedeman has been there. Her husband, Red, has seen a few, too.
The El Pasoans have participated in a few rodeos, but their journey through every dot on Texas and New Mexico maps has been for their sons – Tuff and Roach.
Tuff and Roach are no longer kids. But they are sill rodeoing – Tuff as a 25-year-old bull rider, Roach as a 27-year-old clown and bullfighter. They do their traveling on their own these days.
Each has been successful enough to make a good living at what he does. And Tuff will be riding in the 60th annual Southwestern International Livestock Show & Rodeo at the Coliseum. In short, the two have made quite a name for themselves. And those are a pair of pretty unique names.
Well, actually, it’s not Tuff and Roach. It’s Richard Neale and Gary Eugene Hedeman.
Laughing, Clarice Hedeman said, “People are always asking me if those are their real names. Do I look like an idiot? Think I’d put that on their birth certificate?
The names, though, have been around almost as long as these two young rodeoing Hedemans.
Tuff got his nickname after a run-in with a pickup door. A neighbor slammed a door on the youngster’s hand. When the man went around to get in, he noticed the lad’s hand still in the door. “Does it hurt?” he asked. The boy nodded yes. “Are you gonna cry?” The boy nodded no. The nickname went from Tough Nut to Toughie to Tuff when entered Cathedral high school.
Gary became Roach when, at around age 3 or 4, he spent some time with a family friend. The man brought him home and said, “That boy gets into everything. He’s just like a … cockroach.” His nickname was shortened, too, when he entered Cathedral.
Choosing rodeo for a career is not a soft way of making a living for either Hedeman. But Mom and Dad don’t worry. They grew up around horses anyway.
Red Hedeman was born n Denver and lived all over Colorado.
“My real name’s Henry,” he said. “But I know people who’ve known me for 25 years who don’t know that. No big deal. People jut always called me Red.”
Red Hedeman has been around race tracks most of his life. He has trained horses, owned them, worked as a veterinarian’s assistant, helped a horse dentist. He’s been working at Sunland Park since 1959.
Clarice Hedeman was born on a ranch in northeast New Mexico, near Farley.
“My granddad was a rancher and my folks were ranchers,” she said. “I started running barrels when they first started doing that. I rode cutting horses, showed cattle a lot. I was a bookkeeper for a number of years. I worked t Sunland, La Mesa, and Raton race tracks.”
Seven children and 32 years later, the couple still enjoys horses, the track and rodeo.
Having a pair of sons in harm’s way is not exactly some people’s idea of a relaxing way of life. But worry?
“No, I don’t really worry,” Red said. “It sure beats a lot of things they could have been doing. Oh, you’re concerned, but I’ve never been really upset. You see ‘em get into a trap sometimes, but you’ve just kinda gotta hump it up and watch how they get out of it.”
Clarice said, “I don’t worry, either. Some fool down here’ll run over you while you’re getting the mail outta the mailbox. The thing I worry is they have to do so much driving – up into Canada, all over the country, and sometime you can get a little ding-y doing all that driving.
“But I just figure they know what they’re doing – in the rodeo and away from it. They were raised in it.”
And raising a pair of future career rodeo performers can put a lot of miles on Mom and Dad’s car.
“It was fun,” Red said. “Oh I missed a good bit of it, ‘cause I had to work on weekends.”
Clarice said, “I loved it. We’d take off on Friday night and come back on Sunday night. Sometimes we’d have to leave earlier. Other times we’d have to come back on Monday. And in the summers, goodness, we were all over the place. I put 27,000 miles on our car in three months one time.”
“It’s your kids and that’s what their thing was,” Clarice said.