Mexican rodeo canceled at South Point arena

A planned Mexican rodeo that drew harsh criticism from animal rights advocates has been canceled after Clark County commissioners’ decision to not temporarily relax the ban on roping horses by the legs.

The cancellation will cost the South Point Arena & Equestrian Center and the local economy, but no estimates were available Friday night. More than 15,000 people had been expected to attend the event in the hotel-casino’s 4,500-seat arena.

Commissioners in a split 3-3 vote Tuesday rejected a four-day moratorium in September that would have temporarily overturned a ban and allowed participants in the World Series of Charreria to rope horses by the legs.

The county’s ordinance, more stringent than state law, doesn’t allow roping by the legs even if the equine isn’t tripped and the intent is only to catch and release it.

Steve Stallworth, general manager of South Point, confirmed Friday that the event has been canceled. World’s Best Charro Events, an El Paso, Texas-based organization, had planned to rent the arena for the rodeo.

“We thought it would be a nice event for our community,” Stallworth said. “Certainly, we never anticipated the backlash. At the end of the day, the community has spoken.”

Stallworth noted that South Point had no financial involvement in the event aside from renting out the arena space.

Charro Events announced the cancellation on its website Friday, citing the county ordinance as the reason.

“We apologize for having to cancel with such short notice, but it’s not in our hands to continue with this event,” the statement said.

Horse roping drew droves of opponents and supporters to recent commission meetings. Opponents expressed concerns to commissioners about the potential harm the practice poses for horses.

Supporters, on the other hand, argued that the horses are valued and that the purpose is only to catch and immediately release the horses, not trip them.

Toby de la Torre, chief executive officer of Charros Federation USA, said his organization’s rules include a suspension and a $1,000 fine that goes to charity if a horse is intentionally tripped during a rodeo.

The California-based organization promotes and works with charreria events throughout the United States, including the canceled one.

Commissioners could end up relaxing the regulation. They plan to form a working group to collect comments.

De la Torre said he looks forward to working on the issue and hopes to see a charreria event in Las Vegas.

Contact reporter Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-405-9781.