All Inductees

Neal and Kay Gay

Rodeo Couple

Neal Gay’s first introduction to horses came sometime in the 1930s when his mother walked to a nearby race horse barn and bought a pony for her son. By the end of the century, Neal had won a place in rodeo history and in the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame for stock contracting. His path to success from 1946 until 1963 included saddle bronc, bull riding, and bulldogging. During this period, Neal drove between rodeos with fellow competitors, making lifelong friends, such as sixteen-time World Champion Jim Shoulders. At the age of 18, Neal married for the first time. He later married again, became a father, and continued to rodeo. When the mother of his sons Pete and Donnie died of leukemia, Neal’s life as a rodeo competitor ended, and he began raising his two young boys.

In 1957, the old Mesquite Rodeo Arena came up for sale. Without funds, Neal approached his friend Jim Shoulders for backing, and Shoulders, along with several others, invested. What once was an open area with few seats is now a comfortable stadium with television coverage and luxurious skyboxes where rodeo enthusiasts can enjoy the sport. The rodeo business was very risky. In fact, Mesquite Championship Rodeo showed no profits for thirteen years. With remarkable tenacity, Neal took on more partners, convincing them that the Mesquite property alone would eventually pay off, and it did.

In 1956, Neal married Kay, who became an instant mother to his two young sons. Kay also gave birth to their third son, Jim. All three sons have made their marks in professional rodeo. Pete is a three-time Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier and plays key roles during each rodeo performance. Don is the all-time world bull riding champ and calls the action on the rodeo’s TV broadcasts on Fox Sports Net SW. Jim is a former Texas high school steer wrestling and bull riding champion, helps in the day-to-day operation of the R after G Rodeo ranch north of Terrell, and is the general manager of weekly rodeos.

While Neal continued to work several jobs and take on more partners in order to keep the Mesquite Championship alive, Kay designed shirts and chaps for the pickup riders and glittering costumes for the flag girls. Kay’s duties include training barrel racing horses, horse breeding, and overseeing the stable of gentle riding horses essential in the operation of weekly rodeo operations. During Mesquite’s six-month season, she is also the rodeo’s secretary.

In 1993 Neal was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, honoring his 49-year commitment to rodeo. Neal took his place in the Hall of Fame alongside his son, Donnie, becoming the first father-son honorees in the Hall’s history. In 1994, Kay received the Tad Lucas Memorial Award for her long-time involvement in rodeo. In 2003 both Kay and Neal were inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame and will be celebrating their 49th wedding anniversary this year.