Zane Davis placed third at the 2022 World’s Greatest Horseman riding Rubys Radar. He didn’t actually start training cow horses until he was 32. Most of his background had been at the racetrack and in the rodeo world. After starting hundreds of colts, he ended up watching a cow horse competition and was drawn to it but wasn’t sure how to get started.
Interestingly, at one point, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) contacted him to start mustangs in front of crowds. He then began to travel with Monty Roberts, who wrote the New York Times Best Selling book The Man Who Listens to Horses. He was the rider in the Roberts’ clinics. This exposed him to a whole new horse world.
At a clinic in Gainesville, Florida, a lady approached him needing help with a horse that had a bucking problem. Roberts was too busy at the time so they asked Davis to help. He liked working with problem horses and went to the ranch where the woman worked. Once he got there, he was offered the job of starting 70 other horses by the owner, Sandy Seminik.
Davis then went out on his own to train cow horses. Since then Seminik has had horses in training with Davis including the 2009 Snaffle Bit Futurity Champion Reymanator. Davis did not work for any trainer. He learned by reading books, watching videos and reining trainer Dee Craig helped him figure out reining. He also watched people at shows to see what they were doing.
“There are things I learned doing it the way I did…There were things I learned about how a horse thinks that I never would have learned if I just grew up in a show environment.”
He made the 2007 Open Snaffle Bit Futurity Finals and was introduced to Don Murphy who taught him how to go down the fence. He said Murphy has helped him more than anyone else.
Some of Davis’s accomplishments include: 2021 NRCHA Derby Champion, 2020 NRCHA Futurity Co-Reserve Championship, 2019 Reserve Champ World’s Greatest, Multiple times World’s Greatest Horseman and Futurity Finalist, 2015 NSHA Futurity Champion, 2014 NRCHA Hackamore Classic Open Champion, 2014 Stakes Open Reserve Champion and 2009 NRCHA Futurity Champion.
Davis owns and operates his training business with his wife, Holly. The couple has three children: Zayle, Dawson, and Presley.
What is your training philosophy?
“When we are given stewardship over animals, we have an obligation to give them the best life we can. We have an obligation to make them the best they can be. If we make them as good as they can be, it assures them a good life. Because people take good care of things that bring them joy. Not every horse is going to be a champion, if we can we can get it as well trained as it can be, we certainly do that horse a lot of favors in its life.”
What have been your best memories?
“With horse training it’s not always about the victory because there are so many variables in a reined cow horse. You can have a really good show and your horse performs to the best of his abilities and still not win. Sometimes you won’t have a great show and still win. WGH was a good example, the horse didn’t make a single mistake and I did and we didn’t draw a very good cow down the fence. I was extremely pleased with that performance… I thought that Run for a Million was a good run and most of my family was there for it… It was a fun, easy trip and my family got to be there for it. That is a highlight for me.”
What inspires you?
“I didn’t know I wanted to be a horse trainer until later in life. I remember when I got that first set of colts…I was just completely consumed by it. I would do it for free all the time. I had all kinds of free horses out there. I was so excited to train just because I wanted the opportunity to train. Nothing in my life made me want to do something that much… I would get up every morning and do it for free if I could.”
Can you teach feel?
“If you work hard at anything you’ll develop it. And just like anything else, some of us are born with natural capabilities that are greater than someone else’s.”