Switchender: Colby Lovell's and Kory Koontz's Abby

Colby Lovell’s backup head horse is just as good as Kory Koontz’s number-one heel horse.
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Colby Lovell’s backup head horse is just as good as Kory Koontz’s number-one heel horse.

The day before Colby Lovell and Kory Koontz roped at the Reno Rodeo this June, Koontz missed 10 of 12 steers in the practice pen aboard his dun, Remix, at the Corkill family’s Fallon, Nev., home. Disgusted, Koontz hopped on his partner’s third-string head horse to try to change his luck that day. He missed the first one that night, but he’s not missed too many since on the mare they call Abby.

KoryKoontz

Aboard Abby, Koontz won third at the Reno Rodeo, worth $6,338, then an additional $16,000 over the Fourth of July. Add to that the $2,559 Team Lovell-Koontz won with Abby on the head side at Vernal, Utah, and the 16-year-old grade mare has proved an invaluable asset to this Texas duo.

“The first steer we ran, I had no idea how to ride her or anything and I missed the first one,” Koontz said. “Then I roped five in a row. She was cowy and she shouldered just a little, and I picked her up to kind of just help her. But you don’t actually have to do anything like that. You just throw the reins down and ride hard to the steer. She rates and lets you rope. I roped five in a row really good on her, and I told Colby that’s what I should ride at Reno.”

Lovell had bought the mare a few months earlier as a back-up head horse from Boswell, Oklahoma’s Mike Bacon, who’d ridden her at everything from RFD-TV’s The American to the George Strait to the United Professional Rodeo Association’s Finals.

“I knew you could heel on her, but I didn’t ever think we’d end up riding her,” Lovell said. “I thought I’d be the one riding her. I won second at Guymon on her. And Annie got sore after Casper and we were up at Vernal the next morning. I didn’t have anything to ride, and she hadn’t had a steer headed on her since before the BFI and we were 4.4.”

With Lovell’s other two head horses sound, Koontz got back on Abby and the winning continued with a second-go-round win at the Cheyenne Frontier Days, worth $6,219.

“She’s forgiving,” Koontz said. “If I set her up for a fast shot, she lets me throw there. If I keep swinging for the second or third hop, she lets me go there. That’s consistent with all of my other good ones that I’ve really liked in the past that have been great horses. She’s listening to where I want her to go and what I want her to do. There’s not a lot of thinking involved. I know what she’s going to do, and it doesn’t matter if I’m wide, narrow, in behind, going around, anything.”

The fit makes sense to Bacon, who counted on the horse for everything from babysitting his young daughter to heading and heeling steers at some of rodeo’s biggest venues.

“She does look like one of Kory’s horses,” Bacon said. “You can run as many as you want on her. She’s cowy and has no cheat in her. She’s got a big heart. She can run, and she just loves it. She’s got a lot of attitude. I’ve headed on her, and she was the only one I had for a couple years. I felt sorry for her, I hauled her all summer. She still just wanted to keep going. I’m pretty proud of her I guess.”

Bacon bought Abby from his nephew as a 6-year-old. They’d headed a bit on her and she was well started heeling, and it didn’t take long for her to become Bacon’s number-one. She won numerous UPRA Head Horse of the Year awards with Bacon at the helm. He rode her on both ends for 10 years before parting with her when Lovell wanted her this spring. She was getting some age on her, so Bacon decided it was time to sell. 

“She doesn’t need any maintenance,” Lovell said. “I’ve seen her for years and I always wanted to try her. If you’ve got a good steer, she’s going to let you win every time.”

Lovell and Koontz will enter the WNFR eighth on the head and heel side. The team’s plan was to get things rolling in Reno and over the Fourth-of-July run, Koontz said. Eventually, Koontz couldn't deny that he needed to add the mare to his team permanently, and he bought her this fall. 

“I’d sure like to see her at the Finals,” Bacon said. “We miss her around here, but I couldn’t be happier than to see Kory winning on her.”

Abby by Kory Koontz
Feed: Strategy and Grass Mix Supplements: None Saddle: Tod Slone Leg Gear: Classic Pad: CSI Pad Bit: Myler