Why Don’t People Ride Zebras?

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I know there are many out there who have probably seen the movie Racing Stripes and wondered why they don’t see more people riding zebras. There are actually several good reasons for this.

Why People Don’t Ride Zebras? Zebras can be very aggressive and dangerous towards people. Even very skilled equestrians find zebras extremely challenging to train and work with. Their fight instinct is very strong and they can bite and kick with ferocity.

While I haven’t worked with Zebras personally, I know people who have and they all agree that Zebra’s are not for the average person. Lets further explore why people don’t ride zebras.

Why Riding a Zebra is a Bad Idea

Zebra behavior is quite different than horse behavior. They are much more likely to react to anything they don’t like or don’t understand with aggression. In the wild Zebra have two options: fight or flight. In the wide-open grasslands, flight is the easiest and safest option.

When we put Zebra into confinement like small pens, paddocks, and even arenas, their ability to flee is diminished and their fight response can increase.

Zebra can be increasingly forceful just as fierce as they develop to maturity. There are many skilled equestrians that have trained zebras to ride. This experience is essential because it better enables the trainer to read the zebras body language and subtle responses.

Zebra Body Shape Makes It Difficult To Hold A Saddle

Another reason we don’t see Zebra riding very often is that their body shape doesn’t hold a saddle very well. A horse or pony typically has a prominent wither to help keep the saddle stable. A zebra, on the other hand, is built much like a donkey with a flatter back and mutton (flat) wither.

When we do see Zebra riding under saddle, typically a crupper or breaching is added to help keep the saddle securely placed on the Zebras back.

History of Domesticated Zebras

Walter Rothschild with his Zebra Driving Team
Walter Rothschild with his Zebra Driving Team

1891 – Matthew Horace Hayes, in “Purposes of the Horse” (around 1893), thought about the helpfulness of various zebra species. In 1891, Hayes claimed to have trained a developed, unblemished mountain zebra stallion to ride in two days’ time, and the creature was calm enough for his better half to ride and be captured upon.

1898 – In England, the zoological authority Walter Rothschild most of the time utilized zebras to draw a carriage. In 1898 he famously drove four of them to visit Buckingham Palace.

1907 – Rosendo Ribeiro, the first doctor in Nairobi, Kenya, utilized a riding zebra for house calls.

Since the 1900’s zebra have continued to be sought after and trained as novelty pets as well as for exhibitions and shows. Because of their flighty nature, they still have not been truly domesticated.

Can Zebras Be Crossed with Horses or Donkeys?

From numerous points of view, zebras seem like horses more so due to the fact that they look alike. Zebras have four legs, hooves, manes, swishy stories, and so on and look precisely like ponies with stripes. So, can they be crossed with a horse?

Can zebras and horses mate? Zebra and horses can mate and produce offspring. The resulting foal is called a Zorse. Typically, a zorse will inherit the color of a horse which will be overlayed with the black stripes of the Zebra. This striping pattern will be less pronounced in the hybrid. Zorse’s, much like mules, are sterile and cannot reproduce.

Here is a video I found on YouTube of a Zorse that was offered for sale. The video shows his stripes and how well he rides for his owner (it’s not my zorse and it’s probably already sold).

ZORSE FOR SALE! ZEBRA / HORSE GELDING, GENTLE BEEN USED IN WILD WEST SHOWS, WILL PONY CAMELS, TRAILS

Can zebras and donkeys mate? Zebra and donkeys can mate and produce offspring. The resulting foal is called a Zeedonk or Zonkey. Striping is passed from the zebra to the foal but is less pronounced. The zebra-donkey hybrid is typically sterile however, there are some cases of females being able to reproduce.

In this video, the light gray foal is a zonkey and the darker one is a zorse.

Zonkey and zorse sound they make

How Much DO Zebras Cost?

Zebras cost anywhere from $3,950 and up. The cost of a zebra can depend on its age and level of training. Females often sell for more than males and a trained zebra can easily be over $10,000.

Zebra hybrids are often priced more reasonably. You can sometimes find a zorse or zonkey available for sale in your local craigslist or on Dreamhorse.com. Again, pricing will depend on age, gender, color and training level.

Zebra Foal

Where Can You Buy A Zebra?

In order to buy a zebra you would have to first make sure you have a place to keep it. In addition, you would want to make sure you have a knowledgeable Zebra trainer that could help you with training.

While finding a place may be easy, finding a trainer skilled with Zebras isn’t. Sure, it can be done but for most people, it’s better to see them in zoos than to actually own one.

If you have your heart set on buying a zebra, there are four places I was able to find that have them available.

Related Questions

What is the plural of zebra? The plural form of Zebra is Zebra or Zebras.

Are zebras born with stripes? Zebra foals are born with their stripes. These stripes aid them in blending in with the herd. Each zebra has its own unique stripe pattern.

What is a baby zebra called? A baby zebra is called a foal.

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April

I've owned horses for 25 years and have a particular love for gentling wild horses (I've trained over 100). I write these articles to help others learn more about horses. If you enjoyed the article please take a moment to pin it to Pinterest or share on social media. It really does help!

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