Hey, Bartender! How About Another Round?
There’s been a familiar four-legged face out on the professional rodeo trail in the early going of 2024. His name is Bartender, and he’s the blue-roan badass Colby Lovell won the world on in 2020.
Colby Lovell holds his hat raised in celebration while riding Bartender at the 2020 NFR.

There’s been a familiar four-legged face out on the professional rodeo trail in the early going of 2024. His name is Bartender, and he’s the blue-roan badass Colby Lovell won the world on in 2020. Two-time Champ of the World Kaleb Driggers has been at the wheel since cracking Bartender back out at Odessa in January. Why would Lovell, who’s home ranching and raising a family, let a buddy borrow his heart horse? Easy answer if you know anything about the heart that beats in this cowboy’s chest.  

“I’m not rodeoing, and I know how much that horse loves it,” said Lovell, 36, who’s been busy building a beautiful place on old family land on the Trinity River near Midway, Texas, which is about 20 miles from Madisonville. “Bartender’s just been turned out in my pasture, and my little girl (Colby and Kassidy’s Jewel is 10 now) has been loping him around the barrels. Driggers got ahold of me and asked about him, and Kaleb’s one of the guys who’s a businessman and really takes cares of his stuff. 


@Colby Lovell can even out-heel the pack on his 2020 World Champion Head Horse, Bartender. 😮‍💨 Coverage presented by @resistol1927. #TeamRoping #Cowboy #RopingTok #ColbyLovell #HeelShot

♬ original sound – The Team Roping Journal

“Driggers knows what that horse means to me, my wife and my little girl. I trust Kaleb, and he’s going to do whatever it takes to try and win the world. Some guys want to beat a dead drum. Not Kaleb. He’s always looking for the next advantage, and Bartender’s one of the few turnkey head horses out there. He’s been there and done that, and doing the best job requires the best tools. Seeing Kaleb ride Bartender gives me that feeling that I’ve still got a dog in the fight—like I’m still competing in a way.”

Bartender’s 15 now. The only thing that’s ever stood between him and the Head Horse of the Year conversation is his lack of papers

“I got Bartender about five years ago, when he was 9 or 10, from Roper Goodson, who lives around Antlers, Oklahoma,” Lovell said. “Wyatt Muggli (Lane Frost’s nephew) told me about the horse, and got me in touch with Roper. The Goodsons were kind enough to bring him down for me to try. I ran a couple steers on him, and wasn’t crazy about him. We went to lunch, and Roper’s dad, John, told me to run a couple more on him.

“I put my bridle on Bartender after lunch, and ran four or five more steers. It started shaping to a different feel. They let me ride him at a couple ropings and a rodeo that weekend, and after the first two steers at the first roping, I told them I wanted him.”


“Bartender just tries so hard,” Lovell said. “He’s one of those horses that can be a little rude in the practice pen. He’s a colder-blooded type horse, but that makes him tougher. It makes him to where he can take that highway, and be the only horse in the trailer.”

He’s not registered, but Lovell says it’s his understanding that Bartender’s bloodlines trace back to Jim Brinkman’s world-famous Pitzer Ranch in Nebraska. Bartender stands a stout 15 hands and 1,250 pounds. 

“There are so many things that make Bartender great, like how strong he is from the back of the box,” Lovell said. “He can really run, and he’s strong doing it. He’s got a great stride. It’s one of those that hits the ground great, and carries your head loop. It’s natural on that horse that you feel like you can throw at any moment. Bartender’s great on the bigger M-brand steers out on the road—bigger-framed steers that have bigger strides and bigger jerks. He can handle it. 

“Bartender’s a big old stout, pretty horse. The more you run on him, the better he gets. And he tries so damn hard. Bartender loves his job, and he has so much expression and eye contact running to the cow. You can just see how much focus and determination he’s got to give everything he’s got for you. When Bartender leaves the box, you can tell he’s only thinking about one thing, and that’s catching up to that cow as fast as he can.”

The way Lovell sees it, the gold buckle on his belt belongs to Bartender. And he hopes his unicorn helps Driggers win his third one. 

“I rode Bartender the two years I roped with Paul (Eaves), in 2020 and 2021,” Lovell said. “When I won the world on him, Bartender was the only horse I rode on all but maybe three or four steers. There’s not very much that horse hasn’t won at the big rodeos and ropings. When Cade Rice won the Futurity the last two years, Bartender’s the horse I was helping him on. Bartender is just a winning son of a gun. He’s done great for me, and I hope he does just as great for Driggers.

“It does not matter where you ride Bartender. You can ride him in a round robin, at the NFR or go run 110 steers on a day you just need to outlast every horse there. Whether you’re at Salinas or the NFR, he’s just going to catch up faster and make your job easier.”

Lovell has no intentions of selling Bartender. Make no mistake what this horse means to this cowboy. 

“Bartender gave me what everybody chases,” Lovell said. “Without Bartender, I would not have won the world. I’ve spent a lot of time with that horse. He’s docile and gentle, but to watch how much he brightens and perks up when he gets to the rodeo made letting Driggers ride him an easy decision. Bartender wants to get closer to everything that happens at a rodeo—the fireworks; all of it. He’s older and wiser now, but he’s stayed as true as one can after going this long. It’s because he loves it so much.

“Bartender is a badass horse. I’ve raised my own dogs for 24 years, and I’ve had three good ones. My oldest dog, Blue, got to where he could barely go. It could be a blizzard, snow or a tornado, and he would go until he couldn’t go any further. There were times I had to carry him out of the woods. 

“I buried Blue right under the gate where I drive the cows over him. That way, he can be barking at them for the rest of time. Bartender will be buried down there by the cow lot someday, too. And that’s probably where they’ll bury me.” 

We’ll get to see Lovell at some of the big ropings this year. But he won’t be riding Bartender, because he’s all-in on his commitment to Team Driggers.

“I hope Driggers rides him all year, and wins the world on him,” Lovell said. “I won’t be riding Bartender this year. I just want to support what Kaleb’s out there to do. I think Bartender’s been one of the best horses in recent times, and I know Driggers is the best header of my generation. I hope I’m sitting there watching the 10th round at the Finals in December with a cigar in my mouth.” 


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