Hotel provides comforts for those in saddle

By Brett Hoffman | Published Wednesday, May 15, 2019

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While attending a horse show or a rodeo, a competitor can fall into making time consuming drives within the host community.

They pull onto the fairgrounds, unload their horses and place them in the stalls. Then, they drive to a hotel and move their luggage to the room. They also make trips to local restaurants and may take in some type of entertainment while in town.

But at the South Point Hotel in Las Vegas, which is owned by Michael and Paula Gaughan, a competitor can do all that in the hotel. The South Point Hotel features a state-of-the-art equestrian center with an arena and grandstands for fans, 1,280 stalls for the horses, and designated areas for trade shows and exhibits. There also are 11 restaurants, a spa, a spacious swimming pool, movie theaters, a bowling facility and other forms of entertainment.

Most of the equestrian performances at the arena are non-ticketed events and competitors and fans can watch the action on TV in their hotel room.

“Most people say they never see their truck again once they pull in and unload,” said Paula Gaughan in a recent interview at the South Point Arena and Equestrian Center where she was heading up an annual show that was sanctioned by the National Cutting Horse Association. “I don’t care if it’s team roping or cutting or whatever. Once you unload, that’s it.”

The Gaughans’ careful attention to detail and customer service has been noticed. Their South Point Arena and Equestrian Center has received the League of Agricultural and Equestrian Centers 2019 Facility Of The Year award.

Paula Gaughan is a longtime cutting horse rider who learned about the needs of horse show competitors from her own experiences on the road. She said her husband, Michael, an avid rodeo fan, bought into building an equestrian center that keenly accommodates competitors’ needs.

The facility hosts a variety of events such as basketball tournaments, but the majority of the shows are equestrian or rodeo events. In December, the arena was the site of the lucrative Ariat World Series of Team Roping.

Paula Gaughan produced an NCHA show there in February. The Professional Bull Riders conducted a post-season show in November. Former world champion Tuff Hedeman produced a bull riding show in March.

Michael Gaughan said some type of horse show or rodeo competition was conducted on 43 weekends within the past year at the facility.

“This place was primarily built for equestrian events,” he said.

One high-profile cutting horse rider who faithfully attends Paula Gaughan’s cutting horse shows at the South Point Equestrian Center is Lindy Burch of Weatherford, who in 1980 became the first woman to clinch the NCHA Futurity open division title in Fort Worth.

“It’s probably the most elite facility that we have, that I’ve been to,” Burch said. “I think it’s fabulous. I don’t think there’s another venue like it. It’s completely climatized. You can come any time of the year. Your horses are comfortable and you’re comfortable. The Gaughans are fabulous hosts. They do everything they can to make you feel welcome.”

The Gaughan’s daughter, Katie Banuelos, a cutting horse competitor, said the staff makes a big effort to welcome competitors after a tiring drive to a show.

“It’s nice to have a bellman come and get your stuff, unload it and get it up to your room,” she said. “It’s just so convenient.”

Las Vegas rodeo

During the past weekend, some of the top PRCA competitors competed in the Las Vegas Days Rodeo at the Plaza Hotel’s new Core Arena in downtown Las Vegas.

The 2017 world champion Ryder Wright clinched the saddle bronc riding title with a score of 87 aboard Son of Sadie.

The other winners at the $74,038 rodeo were all-around cowboys Clint Robinson and Rhen Richard ($1,914 in tie-down roping and team roping each); bareback rider Wyatt Denny (86 points on Jitter Bug); steer wrestler Dakota Eldridge (4.1 seconds); team ropers Colton Campbell and Dalton Pearce (4.9); tie-down roper Kalai Nobriga (9.9); barrel racer Darby Fox (16.920; and bull rider Trent Jacobson (85 on Amigo).

Mineral Wells rodeo

The Mineral Wells PRCA rodeo also drew world class competitors. The 2015 world champion Jacobs Crawley of Boerne won the saddle bronc riding with an 86 on Snidely Whiplash. Four-time National Finals qualifier Adam Gray of Seymour clinched the tie-down roping title with an 8.8.

Daylon Swearingen, a Georgia cowboy, clinched the bull riding title with a 91 on Market Garden and the bareback riding title with an 85 on Ankle Biter. He also snared the all-around title.

The other champions were steer wrestler Chance Howard (3.7 seconds), team ropers Kaleb Driggers and Junior Nogueira (4.2) and barrel racer Jill Wilson (15.67).


Four-time PRCA world champion bareback rider Kaycee Feild is recovering from a head injury that the Utah cowboy sustained during the finals at Rodeo Austin March 30. Feild made an 87-point ride on Nutrena’s Killer Bee but was injured moments after the whistle. The 32-year-old cowboy suffered a skull fracture, an inline fracture of his jaw and inline fracture of his nasal cavity. He was treated at Dell Seton Medical Center in Austin and was released April 2. Feild, who leads the 2019 bareback riding world title race with $115,965, said he might began competing again in August.

“I went to a brain doctor (at the University of Utah April 28) and I had great results,” Feild told writer Tracy Renck. “There was no sign of any injury. He told me that I could get back to working out and being active but to go 50 percent and take lots of rest… I have been working out every day and I feel really good and confident.”


The traditional Santa Rosa Roundup Rodeo in Vernon, a PRCA show, is scheduled for this weekend. Each performance begins at 7:30 p.m.

Brett Hoffman, a Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame member, has reported on rodeos and horse shows for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for more than three decades.

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