Apart from the distinguishable stripes and mohawk of a zebra, you have to admit that zebras and horses do look undeniably similar. They look so much alike that many people wonder if zebras can actually mate with horses.
Can a Zebra and a Horse Mate? Yes! Zebras and horses can mate with one another and successfully produce offspring.
Thanks to their genetic similarities, it is scientifically possible, albeit rare for a horse and a zebra to mate. As a result of this possibility, zebra-horse crosses really do exist in today’s world.
Not all pairings between a horse and a zebra are successful and when they are, the resulting offspring is almost always unable to reproduce themselves.
The more you know about zebra and horse crosses, the better you will understand how it is entirely possible to see a zebra-horse hybrid in the real world or even at a farm nearby.
What is a Zebroid?
Zebroid is the term used to describe the offspring of a mating between a zebra and any equine animal.
It can be with a horse, pony, or donkey. Due to their unique genetic blend, Zebroids will have aspects of both zebras and the other equine.
Zebroids tend to be easy to work with and train, but can retain some of the wilder personality of their zebra parent. They are almost always sterile and cannot reproduce with any other animal, regardless of whether it is a zebra, another zebroid, donkey, horse, or pony. The first recorded zebroid was born in 1815 after a zebra stallion was bred with a chestnut-colored Arabian mare horse. (source)
How are Zebra and Horse Pairings Possible?
Horses and zebras come from the same Equidae animal family and the subgenus Equus. Both animals exist within the same subgenus and thanks to their unique evolution, they are able to successfully mate with one another.
They are able to produce offspring in many of the matings, although not all them are successful. (source)
Can a Zebra Stallion Mate with a Horse Mare?
A zebra stallion can mate with a horse mare as long as the height dynamics make it possible. This is the most common successful pairing between horses and zebras.
Human intervention in form of artificial insemination may be necessary since most horses and zebras are not interested in one another.
The offspring between a zebra stallion and a horse mare is called a zorse, zebrule, or zebra mule. These offspring, regardless of what you call them, are almost always sterile and unable to reproduce with any animal. (source)
Can a Horse Stallion Mate with a Zebra Mare?
Although it is entirely possibly for a stallion horse to successfully mate with a zebra mare, it is extremely rare. Again, human intervention may be necessary as horse stallions are usually not willing to mate with a zebra mare, but there are always exceptions to almost any rule in the animal world.
The resulting offspring is referred to as a either a hebra, zebret, horbra, or a zebrinny. (source)
Can Zebras Mate with Draft Horses?
Zebras can mate with draft horses, although the physics would definitely play a role in functionality. Artificial insemination performed by a licensed veterinarian or breeding professional may be the only option.
There has been successful breeding between zebras in captivity and draft horses in the past, so it is definitely possible. (source)
Can Zebras Mate with Ponies?
Zebras can certainly mate with ponies!
In fact, that was one of the first zebroids intentionally created in the late 1800s. Zebras were bred with ponies and the zebroids were used for weapon transportation purposes.
The offspring created from a pony mare and a zebra stallion mating is called a zony! How cute is that?
Ponies can be various sizes, so the zony’s size will depend on the size of the pony that mated with the zebra. (source)
Can Zebras Mate with Mini Horses?
While zebras could scientifically mate with a miniature horse, it is not recommended and if it happened, it could result in several complications. In truth, miniature horses are typically too short to safely breed with most zebras.
Miniature horses stand only 38 inches tall or shorter. Mares usually are on the shorter side of the spectrum.
Zebras can be between 43 inches and 58 inches tall. The difference in size could result in reproductive issues for the smaller miniature mare. (source)
Why are Zebroids Sterile?
Zebroids are usually sterile because of their chromosomal mashup.
Male zebroids are always infertile, while there has been a single case where one female zebroid was reportedly fertile. She was successfully bred with a draft horse and she produced a live zebroid foal.
Basically, since zebras, horses, and donkeys all have a different number of chromosomes, when they are bred together it creates a healthy hybrid animal.
The problem comes with the reproductive organs and since the animals chromosomes are essentially mismatched, it creates a unresolvable problem. (source)
What do Baby Zebroids Look Like?
Zebroids will have a unique appearance that combines the aspects of both their parents, so it really depends on what kind of Equus animal the zebra was bred with.
They will have the distinguishable zebra striping that sits on top of the inherited horse or donkey’s base color and pattern. Zebroids tend to look more like their horse or donkey parent as opposed to the zebra.
If a zebra is bred with a piebald, roan, or appaloosa horse, the result can be a zebroid with striping on the solid colored areas and no striping on any solid white areas.
Zebroids that have a donkey parent will probably have the distinguishable dark dorsal stripe down their back. (source)
Do Zebras and Horses Mate in the Wild?
Although zebras and horses can technically mate, it does not mean that they mate in the wild.
Though it is genetically possible for it to happen, they would both have to be living in the same vicinity in the wild.
Then, unique circumstances would have to prevail because even then, the two different animals would not interact in a friendly manner.
Most zebra and horse pairings occur in domesticated, captivity situations.
Sometimes, a horse and a zebra that are kept in the same enclosure will mate. Other times, human intervention is needed to help the process along, in the form of insemination. (source)
Can You Ride Zebroids?
You can ride zebroids!
Unlike zebras, zebroids tend to behave more like domesticated horses or donkeys and are usually much easier to train and handle.
Zebroids do tend to have slightly more temperamental behavior than a horse or donkey, but not as bad as a wild zebra.
Most zebroids were created so that they would be easier to ride because zebras are not a very domesticated animal, even when raised in captivity.
Zebroids may need a little extra work and a patient trainer, but it is possible to ride a zebroid. (source)
While it is still very rare to see in person, zebra and horse crosses do exist and they are gorgeous! Some farm owners in your area may even own one, you never know!
Thankfully, they retain their identifying stripes from their zebra lineage, so they will be easy to recognize. Zebroids may be sterile and unable to reproduce, but that does not make their existence any less intriguing and amazing.