Taylor Munsell Made a “Monster”

Once an emaciated 2-year-old, “Monster” is now one of breakaway’s most recognizable and iconic horses, thanks to 2022 Reserve World Champion Taylor Munsell.

Taylor Munsell's bay horse, Monster.
Taylor Munsell's bay horse, Monster. Courtesy photo.

Monster transformed from 2-year-old ugly duckling into short, stout, powerhouse with a wicked score and stop, piloted by 2022’s equally talented Reserve World Champion Breakaway Roper, Taylor Munsell.  

The 17-year-old horse first came into Munsell’s life through a sale barn 15 years ago and played a large role in transforming it, turning her into a ProRodeo breakaway roper that finished No. 2 in the 2022 WPRA world standings with $90,844 in earnings.  

Monster and Munsell’s rodeo momentum first began in 2018, when they advanced to the College National Finals Rodeo and won the BFI breakaway, earning an invitation to the American Rodeo the first year they included breakaway. In 2019, they finished No. 2 at The American and won the CNFR, winning just shy of $100,000 in a single year. 

As Munsell moved into the ProRodeo world, Monster was there. In 2021, they earned more than $30,000 throughout the season and qualified for the NFBR, where they raked in $21,421 and finished the year with $57,896 in winnings.  

“I tell people that Monster paid for everything. I tell them he owns my rig, my truck, my place and the sorrel horse I ride now. I owe it all to him.”

Taylor Munsell

The magic of Monster 

Every breakaway horse has a personal style, and Monster is no different. His small stature means Munsell always has a clear look at her calf, and his hard-driving shoulders pull him out of the box in a smooth motion.  

“He’s little, but he’s long-backed and long-strided,” Munsell said. “His shoulders are huge and he’s super easy to rope on. He stands in the box like a statue. You can ride him forward, back him up, turn him around. He’s light in the bit, you can see how much you want, or you can pull all the way across the line, and as soon as you drop your hand he’s going to run. He’ll be at a dead run and shuts it down hard. He’s one that, if the ground isn’t good, he’ll hurt himself stopping. He just gives 110% every time.” 

Munsell recounted times she’s roped sub-2-second times in go-rounds at events and chased calves to the back fence to catch in the short go. No matter what, Monster is game.  

“He has the most personality of any horse I’ve ever seen,” Munsell said. “He pins his ears and snaps at horses, but he never bites them, he just wants to scare them. If you’re a woman, he’ll search your pockets for treats and nibble on your fingers. If you’re a man, especially an intimidating man, he’ll bow up like ‘I can take you.’” 

Monster’s problem with men was something he came with as a 2-year-old, and Munsell’s had to keep it in mind ever since.  

The origin of Monster 

Circa 2008, Munsell’s dad Rusty—who is an auctioneer—watched a skinny, bay gelding be led through the sale ring. He was guaranteed broke but was too underweight to ride. Monster didn’t garner a single bid, and Rusty purchased him for $200 in the alleyway behind the ring because he liked his papers. (Monster’s papers were stolen out of a truck years later, and nobody remembers his registered name or prior owner’s information). 

“My dad told me, ‘I bought a horse you’re going to want.’ And when I looked at him, I told him I didn’t want him,” Munsell said. “I think I was 12- or 13-years-old. He was super skinny, ugly and I said, ‘No way.’ Once we got some weight put on him, Monster was still so little that I was the only person small enough to ride him. He’s still not grown at all height-wise—we think he was stunted because of how poor he was when he was 2 years old. He just got wider.” 

Taylor Munsell hugs her breakaway horse, Monster

Monster was in such bad shape when they brought him home that he nearly died from a bought of strangles. From there, Monster had a laundry list of injuries: T-post through the jaw, nearly cut off his right front foot in a metal feeder, and flipped over the neighbor’s fence in the pasture, “laying his chest open.” 

At some point, Munsell said she started riding him to keep him out of trouble in the pasture. She says it was a good thing he kept getting hurt because it gave her family time to see his talent. Munsell made a trade with her dad to make good on Monster’s $200 cost—mini pony training—and they began to put on the miles.  

A day in the life 

Monster doesn’t go as much as he used to. Munsell said that, with his hard-stopping habits, his body doesn’t hold up as well on overnight hauls. Now, he’s saved for the winter rodeos.  

“He is turned out in the large home pasture in Harmon, Oklahoma, and he gets caught up every day to eat his special grain and supplements,” Munsell said. “I owe him everything.” 

Taylor Munsell stands alongside Lex Christie and his family after winning a total of $73,000 at the RFA Waco Breakaway Slot Roping.
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