Can You Train A Zebra
 By Winniefield Park   •   1st Dec 2014   •   4,225 views   •   0 comments
Can You Train A Zebra

My cousin, who doesnít like horses, but sends me links to interesting websites and pages occasionally, sent this link: Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild. The photo shows a stately gentleman in a top hat, sitting in a high wheeled, uncovered phaeton-like vehicle hitched to a four-in-hand, three of which are zebras and one a pony.

Can you ride a zebra? They are gaited like a horse. They look much like a horse and those broad backs look comfortable to sit on. Well, Lord Lionel proved you can drive them. There may be a reason why that pony was along though. Turns out Rothschild had a bit of time getting those zebras trained. In fact, a few years after the famed photo was taken, one of Rothschild's grooms was killed by a zebra. There are photos and stories of zebras being ridden. But, theyíre not as common as those of horses, donkeys and mules. The Calvary of Schutztruppe rode out mounted on zebras. A few doctors and explorers used zebras for transportation. More recently, racehorse trainer Bill Turner was photographed riding his zebra.

Related: Zack The Show Jumping Zebra

There are some good reasons why we might want to ride or drive zebras. Zebras have a natural resistance to diseases in Africa that horses do not. They are not as fast as horses, but are reported to be very hardy. A greater public interest in zebras might help bolster the populations, because some types of zebras are endangered. And for those who like color, why settle for spots when you can have stripes?

One small problem with riding a zebra, at least in a saddle, is that their backs are shaped differently than a horseís. This doesnít mean you couldnít have tack custom made. But, we know thatís costly, and what if your experiment to train the zebra doesnít work out? You could ride bareback of course, but those broad round backs and quick reactions might make for a short ride. Most zebras are a bit small for the average North American rider too, although it depends on the species.

Horses and ponies have been selectively bred for centuries for the physical and mental qualities that make them easy to work with and use. This is the greatest difference between any domestic animal and a wild animal. Zebras are ruled by their instincts. Yes, a horseís flight response is quite strong. But a confident trainer can teach a horse to trust their lead. From all reports, this is much more difficult with a zebra. People who have tried to train them have found that zebras are much more likely to spook, bolt and panic. If a zebra is cornered, it is more likely to lash out and fight.

This was one thing Turner kept in mind. In addition to two hour training sessions, he made sure that the zebra was never reprimanded for unwanted behavior. A bad move on his part, and the zebra might quickly regard him as a predator. Apparently zebras can become quite aggressive. So while itís possible to train a zebra, it may take much more tact and time. Think of how quickly most people want to train their horses! Even Matthew Horace Hayes claimed he spent far longer training a zebra than he would a horse.

If you really want to ride a zebra, my suggestion would be to buy a sturdy white pony and a black stock marker. We turned my daughter's welsh pony into a zebra for a costume class. it was amazing how many people thought he was a real zebra, until the stock marker finally wore off.

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