A well-known figure in the rodeo community, Brenda Binion Michael of Amarillo, Texas, died July 27 at the age of 81 the PRCA reported in a press release.
In 2015, she was recognized with rodeo's Ken Stemler Pioneer Award "for her commitment to the ProRodeo Hall of Fame with her continued support of the Benny Binion World Famous Bucking Horse and Bull Sale, which benefits the Hall of Fame and youth educational scholarships."
Brenda was the third of five children born to Benny and Teddy Jane Binion. Benny is considered the driving force behind moving the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo to Las Vegas in 1985, according to the PRCA news release.
Horses and rodeo were Binion Michael's lifelong passions, a trait she shared with her father. She befriended a whole cross-section of the rodeo, cutting and ranching community, as well as many in her adopted hometown of Amarillo.
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Born in Dallas and raised in Las Vegas, she spent many summers in Montana at the Binion ranch in Jordan — where she eventually lived full-time. Michael attended Texas Christian University in Fort Worth to be near the heart of the cutting horse industry. She helped her family full-time in Montana before buying a ranch near Santa Rosa, New Mexico. She moved to Amarillo in 1969 and continued her ranching interests.
When she was 17, her father assigned her the job of registering all the eligible horses on his Montana Ranch with the American Quarter Horse Association. The job was more challenging than it might sound. "Daddy always ran at least 200 mares, so we had 10 to 15 stallions all the time," she told John L. Moore for an article in America's Horse magazine.
The Binion ranch stretched over 95,000 deeded acres in the badlands of eastern Montana, plus hundreds of thousands of lease land at different times the PRCA reported. The mare bands ran in pastures bigger than most people's entire ranch. They were untouched until they came in with their foals each year to be sorted while Brenda tried to read mares' ID brands and draw markings the PRCA stated in the release. It remained her responsibility until after Benny's death in 1989, well after she'd established a respected breeding program of her own in Texas.