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JACKSONVILLE, Texas – Staring danger directly in the eyes is just part of the job for Clay Heger and Jake King.
Individually, each man is a great asset to Pete Carr Pro Rodeo, a Dallas-based stock contractor that produces nearly 30 events a year, including the Tops in Texas Rodeo, set for 7 p.m. Thursday, May 18-Saturday, May 20, at Lons Morris College Arena.
Together, though, they are a life-saving tandem; as bullfighters, they use their athleticism and animal savvy to keep everyone safe. It is their primary positions to work in unison to help distract the bulls after a ride and make sure every person in the arena remains out of harm’s way.
“I couldn’t ask for a better partner than Jake,” said Heger, 29. “He’s someone I know is going to be there in tough times, when every bull is a wreck and nothing is going good. He’s going to always have a smile on his face.
“It’s a great partnership; it’s like a family.”
It’s more than mutual admiration. By working together at so many events a season, Heger and King have a solid bond.
“Working with Clay makes my job easier than it’s supposed to be sometimes,” said King, 26. “He’s dang sure going to be in the right spot. It’s good to work with someone like that.
“If you have two guys giving their all and in the right position, it makes the work easy. It’s almost like a contest between each other. Who’s going to be the one in the spotlight.”
Their time in the spotlight is limited. Ideally, quality bullfighting goes relatively unnoticed. Though they wear bright clothes and greasepaint, they want to stay under the radar and keep everyone safe in the process.
“I’ve been around it all my life,” said Heger, a two-time nominee for Bullfighter of the Year in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. “It’s just part of growing up in my family, who we are. It’s about being a cowboy.
“Now the more I do it, the more I fall in love with it.”
It takes a special mentality to make it work, and Heger and King have that and much more. They can handle almost any duty necessary to make sure things go off well at each rodeo. Their behind-thescenes labor is mixed with the one of the hardest working crews in ProRodeo.
“There are a lot of quality people that know what they’re doing,” Heger said of the Carr crew. “Everybody knows how to put on a rodeo, and we all know what we need to do in a timely matter that is entertainment-based so we can put on a fast, smooth rodeo. We can all jump in at any role and make it happen.”
“Working with that crew is like playing football for the Dallas Cowboys,” he said. “They’re all professionals, and there is no mediocracy. We are the team to make it happen. Everybody picks each other up and wants the best for everybody.
“Getting to work with an outfit that is second to none makes everybody step up.”
That’s why cowboys and fans alike flock to Pete Carr Pro Rodeo events.