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Barrel race honors Posse Arena legend

November 19, 2019
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Pretty much since the Lee County Posse Arena opened in the early '60s, Terri Brantley was a fixture there. She ran barrels at a very early age, competed at the arena her entire childhood and even helped her own daughters become barrel racers as well, hauling them throughout the country so they could chase a dream.

Unfortunately, Brantley suffered from pulmonary arterial hypertension, a disease for which there is no cure, but can be controlled if detected early enough.

Brantley would still go to the arena, parking her car in the back end of the arena where the roping events are held and watch the jackpot races, the Cracker Day Rodeo and more from there, since she was unable to walk from the parking lot across the street because of her disease.

Article Photos

Rylee Butler and her horse, Frenchette, makes a turn around a barrel during the Terri Brantley Memorial 4-D barrel race at the Posse Arena on Saturday.

Photo Provided

Brantley died last year, but her memory remains. On Saturday, 163 riders competed in the first Terri Brantley Memorial 4-D barrel race at the Posse Arena.

The event featured $2,000 in added money in a 4-D format, with prize money given to the top overall rider and the top four who finished a half-second, full second and two seconds behind.

The race was also sanctioned by the Women's Professional Rodeo Association, with money won at this event counting toward the world standings, though the race, with no dress code, was not as formal as most are.

Jenna Brantley, Terri's daughter, said the proceeds from the event would go to research and clinical studies to find a cure, and that there was no better place than the Posse Arena to hold it.

"My mom was an avid horse lover. We traveled the entire country riding and just lived for this. When I was away at college, she still came here," Brantley said. "The disease she had is incurable, but can be managed if detected soon enough. It affects the lungs and heart and fluid begins to fill up in the lungs and around the heart."

Jordan Brantley, the youngest daughter, was manning the Chest Foundation table to make people aware of the disease. She talked about the disease and her mother's fighting spirit.

"There is a research facility to find a cure instead of it being a place that treats the disease. It's like cancer in that it can hit anybody," Jordan said. "My mom was a fighter, for sure. I think everyone looked up to her and saw her as an inspiration because she was so involved with barrel racing."

Amy Stevens-Watters, was a longtime friend and a participant in the event. She said she lived for barrel racing and her three daughters.

"I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for her. She kept the motivation going. She was an important figure in the Posse Arena and rodeo throughout the state," Stevens-Watters said. "You could rely on her for anything. She supported you through work or any problem you had. She was there for you. When she got sick, it was a real tough time for her."

Benicea DeBillo, who grew up with Terri, said she came to the arena when it moved here, and called her the truest friend you can have.

"She wanted the best for all the kids and did everything she could for a kid who had a horse and wanted to ride," DeBillo said. "The families she grew up with were all dedicated to keeping their kids on horses. She was raised in the community and thrived in it."

Margo Crowther and her horse, She's Packin' Fame. were the overall winners, bringing home close to $1,000. Crowther said Brantley helped her make her rodeo dreams a reality.

"Terri was an inspiration to all of us. She was a supportive person and her daughters are my good friends and she grew up with my parents. She always encouraged me in my rodeo journey," Crowther said. "She told me to hit the road and go for it. She was so positive. I loved her."



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