Zebras are a part of the Equus animal genus, which includes horses and donkeys as well. As such, it’s no surprise if you have ever asked this critical question – can you ride a zebra, the very close relative of the horse?
You shouldn’t forget that zebras are wild animals, and they are not fit for domestication. In other words, people shouldn’t ride them – but the other part of the question is, can they?
Let’s find out!
Horses vs. Zebras: Why Don’t People Ride Zebras?
People don’t ride zebras because of three main reasons. The animal is hostile and aggressive. This is why domesticating zebras are not viable. Taming zebras could be an option, but they’re difficult to lasso due to amazing ducking reflexes.
The animal is too small for people to ride. Saddles, cargo, and people are too large for a zebra’s small back.
Can you ride a zebra? You can, but it’s something you don’t want to do!
Can Zebras be Domesticated?
Zebras can be domesticated, according to research and historical facts. One can also train the animal to carry goods and draw carriages. The consensus among safari guides and researchers is that the process of domesticating zebras is not humane.
People in Africa had a very good reason to try and domesticate zebras. The reason is the tsetse fly. A bite can cause animal trypanosomiasis in horses and cattle. Horses often die if they are bit by the tsetse fly.
Zebras are immune to the bite of this fly. Some theories suggest that the stripes of the animal deter the flies. Scientific research also showed that zebra odor repels tsetse flies. This is why Africa’s inhabitants saw the zebra as a viable domestic animal – it can survive the country’s elements.
There have been attempts to train and domesticate zebras. Everyone who did so decided that this was not a good idea. Zebras might be fit for carrying goods and drawing carriages, but riding them implies a lot of risks.
Are Zebras Faster Than Horses?
Zebras are not faster than horses. The fastest zebra species, Equus grevyi and Equus quagga have a top speed of around 40 to 43.5 mph. The fastest galloping horse reached a speed of 54.9 mph. This speed is uncommon. Racehorses can reach speeds of up to 44mph – but with a rider on their back.
The rider dilemma, if it can be called this way, is why zebras are slower than horses. At the same time, zebras might not excel at speed. The animal compensates for this in swiftness and the mentioned ducking reflex.
Another aspect to consider in this zebra vs. horse battle is stamina. Even though horses are faster than zebras, they can maintain sprint/galloping speeds for only about 20 seconds. Moreover, this applies only to racehorses. Standard horse breeds have a slower top speed and cannot hold it for as long as trained racehorses.
Zebras have the stamina necessary to outrun lions.
Can You Ride a Zebra Like a Horse?
A zebra can be ridden like a horse. The experience will be different, however. Zebras have flat backs. Common saddles will not fit them well. This causes discomfort for both rider and animal. The lower body strength is a big minus as well.
Is A Zebra A Horse?
Zebras are a part of the same animal genus as horses and donkeys. They are a different species and share only a couple of similarities with horses. A zebra is not a horse, and you cannot ride it like one.
Can Zebras Be Ridden?
The biggest reasons you cannot ride a zebra like a horse are the animal’s unpredictable nature and aggressiveness. The animal bites on almost every occasion and has a short attention span. It has one of the strongest kicks in the animal kingdom as well.
Few can tell the story and describe the experience of being kicked by a zebra. The kick of a zebra generates about 3,000 pounds (1360.7 kg) of force. Research shows that the kick of an adult zebra can kill a male African lion in a single blow.
This aspect alone makes riding zebras highly dangerous.
Petting Zoos Might Help You Answer This Question
Horses, donkeys, and ponies are all close relatives of the zebra. This is the main reason why every child and adult wonders if they could actually try riding a zebra when visiting a petting zoo. The answer is that you might, depending on the zoo you visit.
Petting zoos usually have only tame animals. The same applies to animal rescue shelters and circuses. The staff can help you fit a saddle on a zebra and mount it. Such a zebra ride will not feature galloping and high speeds.
Instead, the zebra’s trainer will hold onto the animal’s harness and guide it through an enclosed space. This might be the only chance to ride a zebra like a horse.
Why Is It Not a Good Idea to Ride Zebras?
It’s not a good idea to ride zebras because the weight of even one person can hurt the animal and its back. Also, you may be a tad uncomfortable. The zebra has to endure weight it has never experienced in its entire life, however.
The process of training and domestication is also harsh. The Zimbabwe Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management concluded that training processes are inhumane for zebras.
This statement came after about 20 years of attempts to train zebras for work. The department also stated that one would have to change a zebra’s natural instincts. This would be the only way to train or domesticate this wild animal.
Are Zebras Friendly?
Wild zebras are not friendly and very unpredictable. They have a short attention span. Even the slightest sign of domestication shouldn’t be trusted.
In short, it is not a good idea to ride zebras because they are unpredictable, unfriendly, and can hurt. Moreover, they do not have the skills and temperament fit for training, domestication, and interaction. Horses are social animals.
Top Reasons Why It is Not a Good Idea to Ride Zebras
- They do not have a social hierarchy. As a result, humans cannot lead a group of zebras, as the animal won’t recognize a leader;
- They tend to panic suddenly and randomly, depending on their surroundings;
- They do not have a pleasant disposition. Even while mating or near their trainer/tamer, zebras will often bite (both other zebras and people as well);
- They have a habit of biting and not letting go. If a domesticated zebra loses trust in its trainer and bites them, they’re in serious trouble;
- They have an evolved ducking reflex. If a zebra that you trained escapes its enclosure intending to run away, it is challenging to lasso it.
- Their backs are too small and cannot fit humans.
So, can you ride a zebra?
Yes, you can – but you shouldn’t. Zebras are smaller than horses but share the same body structure. So even though they have a flat back, they can still fit a rider. The only issue is that the rider’s weight would be too much for zebras to handle.
At the same time, their aggressiveness and unpredictability make them difficult road companions. If the relationship between rider and zebra breaks, the zebra can run off and leave its rider in the African desert. That if it doesn’t kick or bite them first, of course!
Do people ride zebras?
Like the ones found in zoos and circuses, tame zebras can be ridden for a limited period and at walking speed. This should be done by kids only, as the weight of an adult can cause injuries to zebras. People don’t ride zebras in the wild.