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Why Riding a Zebra is a Bad Idea: Exploring the Challenges of Owning and Handling Zebras

Why People Don’t Ride Zebras

Zebras are intriguing creatures that have captured human fascination for centuries, with their striking black and white stripes and lively behaviors. However, despite their beauty, zebras are not typically ridden like horses or donkeys.

So why is this the case? In this article, we explore some of the reasons why people don’t ride zebras.

Zebra Aggression and Danger

Zebras are native to Africa and are known to be wild animals that can be very aggressive and dangerous. According to experts in zebra behavior, these animals have a strong “fight or flight” instinct that can turn violent if they feel threatened.

This makes it extremely challenging for equestrians to work with zebras, as they have to handle them with great care and patience. Additionally, zebras have a natural defense mechanism that involves kicking, which can cause serious injuries to anyone who is on their path.

The zebra’s legs are incredibly powerful and can cause significant damage to both animals and humans alike. This can be a severe risk for anyone attempting to ride a zebra, particularly someone who isn’t experienced in handling these animals.

Difficulty in Training Zebras

Training a zebra is a challenge that requires a lot of skill and patience. Zebras have different behaviors than horses, which make it problematic for equestrians to train them.

For example, zebras tend to be easily spooked, which can lead to unpredictable behaviors like running off or bucking violently. Additionally, zebras are known to be very stubborn and independent animals, which make it harder to establish a rapport with them.

In contrast, horses are domesticated animals that have been bred for thousands of years to work with humans. They have learned behaviors that make them a natural fit for domestication, like accepting human touch and handling.

In contrast, zebras are not bred for domestication and don’t have these learned behaviors. As such, training them to be ridden like horses is a challenging task.

Zebra’s Fight or Flight Instinct

The fight or flight response of a zebra is one of the main challenges faced by equestrians. When faced with a threatening situation, zebras can either run away quickly or fight off the threat, using their powerful kicks.

This makes it very hard for equestrians to control zebras or keep them calm, particularly when they are being ridden. Additionally, the fact that zebras are social animals makes it challenging to isolate them from other zebras, which can make them very anxious and stressed.

This leads to unpredictable behaviors, making it harder to control them and, ultimately, increasing the risk of danger to both the rider and the animal.

Why Riding a Zebra is a Bad Idea

Riding a zebra might sound like a fun idea, given their impressive appearance. However, there are several reasons why riding a zebra is a bad idea.

Difference in Zebra Behavior

As discussed earlier, zebras have different behaviors than horses, which make them much harder to ride and handle. Zebras are wild animals that can be very aggressive, unpredictable, and independent.

They have a strong fight or flight instinct, which means they are always on high alert and ready to react to any threat. This behavior is in contrast to horses, which have been bred to be domesticated and have learned behaviors that make them much easier to handle.

For example, horses are social animals that are used to being around humans, whereas zebras are not.

Zebra Body Shape and Saddle Stability

Another reason why riding a zebra is not recommended is the body shape of these animals. Zebras have a very different body shape than horses, which makes it challenging to find a suitable saddle that fits them properly.

A saddle that is too tight or loose can cause discomfort to the zebra, leading to unpredictable behaviors like bucking and running off. Additionally, zebras have a shorter back than horses and a unique gait, which makes it harder to balance when riding.

This means that the rider can easily fall off or lose control of the animal, which can lead to severe injury.


In conclusion, while zebras might look majestic and appealing to ride, the challenges of handling and training them make it unsuitable for anyone who isn’t a professional equestrian. Additionally, the differences in their behavior and body shape make it harder to find suitable saddles and balance when riding, making it a risk for the rider and the animal.

All in all, it’s best to admire zebras from a distance and appreciate their natural beauty without the risk of getting hurt.

3) History of Domesticated Zebras

Domesticated zebras are not a common sight. However, their history reveals that zebras were put to various uses in the past.

Matthew Horace Hayes, a British cavalry officer, was one of the first people to domesticate zebras. He used them as transportation animals in the late 19th century in South Africa.

Hayes reportedly trained his zebras to wear harnesses and reins, and he would ride them across rugged terrain. Walter Rothschild was another notable figure who promoted the domestication of zebras.

Rothschild was a British zoologist who bred zebras at his private zoological gardens in the late 19th century. He bred several species of zebras and even attempted to breed them with horses.

Another individual who attempted to domesticate zebras was Rosendo Ribeiro, an Angolan plantation owner who lived in Southern Rhodesia. Ribeiro reportedly trained zebras to carry his belongings and would ride them for short distances.

Zebras were also used for various purposes in circuses and fairgrounds, providing a novelty factor for spectators. In the early 20th century, zebras were occasionally kept as pets by wealthy individuals or put in zoological gardens for exhibition purposes.

Zebras in exhibitions played an interesting role, as they often incorporated them into a range of performances to attract crowds. These shows would have trainers perform various tasks on zebras, from riding them to having them perform tricks that would amaze the audiences and leave them wanting more.

These exhibitions made a significant impact on people’s views of zebras, with many individuals becoming quite fascinated by them. Despite these efforts to domesticate and exhibit zebras, they did not become a common part of human life like horses or donkeys.

4) Can Zebras Be Crossed with Horses or Donkeys? The answer to this question is yes, zebras can be crossed with horses and donkeys.

However, producing offspring from these pairings is challenging, as zebras have a unique genetic makeup that is incompatible with horses and donkeys. One of the most well-known hybrids is the zorse, which is created by mating a horse and a zebra.

Zorses are bred for their novelty and unique appearance, with striped legs and some zebras’ distinct coloration. Despite their distinctive appearance, zorses are generally infertile and tend to exhibit unpredictable behaviors.

Another hybrid is the zeedonk, which is created by mating a zebra and a donkey. Zeedonks are a crossbreed, so they have a varying combination of donkey and zebra characteristics.

Zeedonks are typically more common than zorses, and they are often used as pets or work animals in parts of Africa. Another hybrid that has been created is the zonkey, which is created by mating a zebra and a horse.

Zonkeys share similarities with zorses, with striped legs and a combination of horse and zebra characteristics. While zebras can be crossed with other equines, it is not recommended.

These hybrids can have physical problems, such as issues with their spines or digestive systems. Additionally, these hybrids are often infertile, and if they do produce offspring, the odds are high that these offspring will also be infertile.


While domesticated zebras are not common, history shows that many people have attempted to domesticate and exhibit them for various purposes. Although zebras can be crossed with horses or donkeys, it is not recommended for their well-being and health.

These hybrids can exhibit unpredictable behavior, health issues, and infertility.

5) Zebra Cost and Availability

Zebras are fascinating creatures and a rare sight in many parts of the world. However, for those interested in purchasing zebras, there are a few things to consider when thinking about cost and availability.

Zebra pricing can be influenced by various factors, such as the animal’s age, gender, and level of training. Younger zebras that are not yet trained can be less expensive than older, trained animals.

Additionally, males can fetch a higher price than females due to their size and strength. The cost of a zebra also depends on its breed and the geographic location.

Prices can range from $4,000 to $10,000 or even more, depending on these factors. However, it is essential to factor in the ongoing cost of maintaining a zebra, such as feed, veterinary care, and shelter.

Furthermore, zebras are not widely available for purchase. They are a regulated and protected species in many countries.

One option for purchasing a zebra is through a reputable breeder or dealer. Some breeders offer zebra sales, and there are also specialized dealers that trade in exotic animals.

Lonesome Bull Ranch in Texas is one example of a breeder that sells zebras. They offer a range of zebra breeds, including Grevy’s zebras, mountain zebras, and plains zebras.

Another example is Zebras R Us, which is located in Oregon and offers various zebra breeds, including Burchell’s and Grevy’s zebras. Schreiner Farms in Missouri also has an international reputation for breeding highly awarded zebras.

Rarity Acres is another reliable source for purchasing zebras. They provide a variety of breeds and offer customized services tailored to the client’s unique needs.

It is essential to purchase zebras from reputable sources to ensure that they have been bred and cared for correctly and legally.

6) Zebra FAQs

Zebras are incredible creatures with specific characteristics that set them apart from other equines. Here are some frequently asked questions about zebras:

Q: What is the plural of zebra?

A: The plural of zebra is “zebras.”

Q: What is a baby zebra called? A: A baby zebra is called a foal, just like a baby horse.

Q: Do zebras have the same stripe pattern? A: No, each zebra has a unique stripe pattern.

A zebra’s stripes act as a form of camouflage, helping to protect them from predators. Zebras are fascinating creatures that require specialized care and attention.

However, for those who are interested in purchasing a zebra, there are options available, such as purchasing from reputable breeders and dealers. In any case, it is essential to do your research and understand the cost and care requirements that come with owning one of these exotic animals.

In conclusion, while zebras may seem appealing to own, their aggressive nature, difficulty in training, and unique body shape make them unsuitable for riding, handling, or keeping as a pet for most people. In addition, zebras are an exotic species protected by laws in many countries, making them challenging to obtain legally.

When considering owning a zebra, factors such as cost, availability, and reputable sellers must be taken into account. For those who are interested, there are reputable breeders and dealers who offer various breeds of zebras.

In sum, owning a zebra requires thorough research and proper education to ensure the well-being of both the animal and the owner. FAQs:

-What is the plural of zebra?

Answer: The plural of zebra is “zebras.”

-What is a baby zebra called? Answer: A baby zebra is called a foal.

-Do zebras have the same stripe pattern? Answer: No, each zebra has a unique stripe pattern, which acts as a form of camouflage to protect them from predators.

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