For Taos Muncy, the comforts of his New Mexico home are hard to pass up.
Born, raised and still residing near Corona southeast of Albuquerque, Muncy is a ProRodeo cowboy who makes his living on the rodeo trail.
He’s a two-time world champion saddle bronc rider who has qualified seven times for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo over the last eight years – the only year he missed the finale in Las Vegas was because of an injury in 2008. Traveling the country in search of rodeo gold is his dream job, but being on the family ranch for an extended time is, too.
“Time goes too fast, so you’ve got to enjoy your family as much as possible,” said Muncy, who lives on the ranch with his wife, Marissa, and their daughter, Marley, 3, not far from his parents, Blaine and Johnnie. “My family’s pretty tight. That’s the one good thing about rodeoing; I might be gone for 10 days tops, but when I’m home, I’m with them.
“In rodeo, we’re all one big family. It’s a great lifestyle.”
Muncy also is part of another team, “Riding for the Brand” of Tate Branch Auto Group, which has dealerships in Carlsbad, Artesia and Hobbs. It’s a great New Mexico bond, which also includes other ProRodeo greats: eight-time world champion tie-down roper Roy “Super Looper” Cooper and two of his sons, Clif and Clint; team ropers Jake and Jim Ross Cooper; and steer roper Marty Jones – all have ties to New Mexico.
“Tate is a big New Mexico rodeo fan, and that’s really neat,” Muncy said. “It’s an awesome team to be part of.”
He is “Riding for the Brand” proudly. As the No. 4 bronc rider in the world standings, he’s off to a hot start to the 2015 season. His goal, as always, is to win his third world championship. In order to do that, though, he needs to finish the regular season among the top 15 to secure his eighth NFR qualification.
In Las Vegas, though, cowboys and cowgirls will battle for an unprecedented purse, with more than $26,000 paying out to go-round winners all 10 nights.
“The season’s going pretty danged good,” said Muncy, who has earned more than $30,000 so far this season. “I haven’t set the world on fire, but it seems like I’ve been real consistent. I’ve been placing and winning checks. As long as I’m making money, I’m happy.”
Money is vital. In addition to paying bills and covering rodeo expenses, money also equals championship points. The contestants in each event who earn the most money at season’s end are crowned world champions.
“I’m tickled,” he said. “My goal every year is to win the world (title), but if I stay in the top five all year, I’m really happy. I’d like a fighting chance when I get to the finals.”
That’s the benefit of having great sponsorship agreements. In his association with Tate Branch Auto Group, Muncy has more than a relationship with a New Mexico business. He has a true partnership and, like anyone who uses the southeastern New Mexico auto group, can take advantage of all the incentives available.
“Taos is a great champion and a great representative for New Mexico, and we’re excited to have him among our ‘Riding for the Brand’ team,” said Joby Houghtaling, the director of operations of the Tate Branch Auto Group. “He can utilize Warranty Forever, a Tate Branch Auto Group exclusive warranty that covers the drive train of any vehicle purchased at one of our dealerships that has less than 75,000 miles.
“We are happy to be involved in rodeo, and we offer discounts to members of all the rodeo associations, whether they’re in the PRCA, the WPRA, college or whatever. We’re committed to rodeo and the cowboys and cowgirls in the sport.”
That works great for any rodeo contestant, like Muncy. He’s spending time at home taking care of duties on the ranch that must be done. He returns to action Friday, May 1, at his ol’ college stomping grounds in Guymon, Okla. He attended Oklahoma Panhandle State University in Goodwell, just 10 miles from the Guymon rodeo arena.
In fact, he claimed the 2007 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association saddle bronc riding championship while part of the Panhandle State rodeo team. Later that year, he won his first PRCA world championship, becoming just the third cowboy in the history of the game to win a college title and the gold buckle in the same discipline in the same season, joining bull rider Matt Austin and all-around cowboy Ty Murray.
“Guymon is pretty much a hometown rodeo for me, because Corona doesn’t have a ProRodeo and the closest ProRodeo to my hometown is two hours away,” Muncy said. “I still get nervous when I ride there, because I know they’re all watching me … all those great cowboys I looked up to and wanted to be like.”
The Oklahoma Panhandle has a grand history in the game, with 12 world championships earned by cowboys who have ties to the region once known as “No Man’s Land.”
“All those guys helped me quite a bit,” he said. “I could ride broncs, but I wasn’t good enough to do it at this level until I got there and worked with those guys.”
When he’s done with the Guymon rodeo, he’ll return to Corona and handle the tasks around the ranch before committing to the big summer run. Now 27 years old, he understands the importance of taking care of business every time he prepares to ride.
“I don’t do a lot of extra stuff to stay in shape, but I try to stay active,” Muncy said. “I stay plenty active when I’m around the place, because I’m usually running around here pretty good. If there’s stuff on my riding that I need to work on, I’ll dang sure get on my spur board or get on practice horses to keep tuned up.
“When we get to the summer run, especially over the Fourth of July, it helps me a lot when you’re getting on broncs every day. That’s when you feel the best. When you’re riding broncs, you’re using muscles you don’t ever use any other time.”
It all adds up to him living a lifetime of dreams.
“I’ve wanted to be a cowboy as long as I can remember, since I was probably 2 or 3,” he said. “I figured out you could ride animals and get paid. I always thought it would be cool to get on broncs or bulls or calves or sheep. I played football and basketball and other stuff, but all I’ve ever wanted to do was be a cowboy.”
He’s pretty good at it.