Bonds Ranch team member Zane Davis took home the top hand award at the 2020 Best of the West Ranch Rodeo in Fort Worth, Texas.

If you’ve ever been referred to as “a hand,” then you know it’s a welcome compliment in the horse world. Long used to describe a competent, intuitive cowboy or cowgirl, a hand is someone who sure enough knows his or her way around horses and cattle.

Of course, one of the highest titles a cowboy can earn is top hand.

“That’s the highest honor you can get,” says Zane Davis, who won this year’s top hand award at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo’s Best of the West Ranch Rodeo. “There’s a lot of good cowboys in here and a lot better cowboys than me, but I guess I just got lucky tonight. It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid. [And I] finally got to do it.”

A member of the Bonds Ranch team, Davis has been competing with the Saginaw, Texas, crew for three years. His solid performances in ranch bronc riding, ranch vet, double mugging and wild cow milking earned him a new trophy saddle, and, of course, some major bragging rights.

cowboy riding grey ranch bronc
Zane Davis riding a ranch bronc at the 2020 Best of the West Ranch Rodeo. Photo by Ross Hecox

Both the top hand and top horse awards are unique to ranch rodeo and are chosen by a qualified judge or judges who diligently watch each cowboy — and their respective cow ponies — to see whose performances stand out from the rest.

Davis was quick to point out his horse’s role in him winning the top hand award.

“The horse is everything” he says. “A cowboy’s only as good as the horse he’s riding. And this horse helps me out a lot.”

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