Zebra VS Horse Size – How Different Are They?

Last Updated on March 3, 2022 by Urska

At first glance, it’s easy to think zebras and horses are similar, even zebra vs horse size can be close, but they are quite different in many ways. The horse and the zebra belong to the same genus and family, which explains their comparable characteristics. Let’s explore these two beautiful creatures that draw admiration from people around the world.

Zebra vs Horse Size

  • Zebra Size – Let’s dive right in and look at the size of the horse and zebra. Zebras are smaller than horses unless you start to compare them with ponies. Zebras stand anywhere from 10 to 13 hands, depending on which one of the three species they are part of. The smallest zebra species is the Burchell’s, which averages around 10 hands tall. The Burchell’s is a plains zebra with broad stripes on its body. It has smaller ears than its cousin, the mountain zebra.
  • Horse Size – A horse is an equine that stands over 14.2 hands, with the largest breeds reaching the dizzying height of 20 hands. Even the smallest horse is bigger than a zebra. But as you can see, the zebra is closer in size to a pony.
  • Donkey Size – A donkey is more comparable to a zebra when it comes to looks and size than a horse. The average donkey stands at 11 hands tall. They have larger ears than both the horse and the zebra.
Zebra vs Horse Size

Zebra vs Horse Weight

Now that we’ve seen the height difference between the zebra and horse, it is easy to conclude that:

  • Zebras Weigh – They weigh less than horses. An adult male weighs between 700 to 990 pounds. Female zebras are smaller weighing between 400 to 570 pounds. The newborn zebra foal weighs only 65 pounds.
  • Horse Weigh – The average horse weighs between 900 to 2000 pounds. Female horses will generally weigh less than stallions, but the specific breed has an effect on this. A gelding (castrated male) can weigh the same as a mare of the same size. The average horse foal weighs around 100 pounds. Pony foals are born at a weight similar to a zebra.
  • Donkey Weight – The average weight of a donkey is 500 pounds. Taking weight into consideration, a donkey is the smallest of the three animals. A donkey foals weights between 19 to 30 pounds.

Zebra vs Horse Size – Growth Rate

Zebras reach their full height by two years old, quicker than a horse. A typical horse will not reach its adult height until age four or five. Some horses mature slowly, not reaching their full height until age eight.

Both zebras and horses continue to grow physically after reaching their full height for three to four years. During this period, they will develop muscle and put on weight. 

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Zebra vs Horse – Similarities

  • The zebra and horse belong to the Equus genus, of which the donkey is also a member. You may notice that a donkey actually looks more like a zebra than a horse. They have similar manes and tails, with much less hair than a horse has.
  • They all have similar hooves made of keratin. The zebra and the horse are both herd animals with similar wild behaviors. For example, the entire herd will never lie down to sleep at once, as some must stay alert for predators.
  • Additionally, the head of a horse and zebra are both long with eyes located on the sides. While the mouth contains forty to forty-two teeth that both animals use for grazing. 

Difference between Zebra and Horse

  • Both the zebra and horse can gallop at high speed, their main defense for escaping predators. As far as which one is faster, the horse wins out with tops speeds of 55mph reached. Zebras can reach 40mph.
  • Zebras and horses communicate with movements and sounds. However, a zebra is capable of more sounds than a horse. One that might catch you off guard is a barking sound that you could confuse for a small dog. 
  • They can neigh like a horse and hee-haw like a donkey.
Difference between Zebra and Horse

Temperament

Even though zebras are pretty darn adorable, their temperaments are much more aggressive than a horse. Despite their relatively small height, a zebra is quite dangerous, so don’t be fooled by serene scenes of them grazing on the plains.

A zebra has an extremely powerful kick that it will use to attack predators. They will even join together to use this kicking power. A zebra will also kick another zebra to death in a fight for dominance. 

A zebra is much more likely than a horse to attack anyone or anything that gets close enough to make it feel threatened. Horses evolved in a less aggressive environment. The zebra is native to Africa, where it contends with many large, dangerous predators, making it more alert and aggressive than horses.

Domestication of Zebras

The aggressive nature of the zebra did not make it a good candidate for domestication. Not only can a zebra kick incapacitate a lion, but their bite is also ruthless. They never showed any want to interact with men.

While the occasional zebra has been domesticated to some degree, they do not make good companions for humans. They are too unpredictable and have very strong survival instincts.

Breeding a Horse to a Zebra

It is possible to breed a zebra and a horse together. The foal of this mating is called a zorse if the sire is a zebra and the dam is a mare. If you reverse the parents, the foal is called a hebra.

The resulting foals from this cross often have the color of the mother and feature zebra stripes. A zebra can also breed with a donkey, which produces a zonkey.

A zorse inherits many temperament traits from its zebra parent. While aggression is softened by the horse parent, these hybrids are extremely difficult to train.

Conclusion

It’s apparent that despite the initial similarities between a zebra and a horse, the two have many differences. When it comes to zebra vs horse size, horses are much bigger in height and weight. However, even though horses are much bigger, they have much more amenable temperaments. It is this difference in temperament that led to horses becoming one of the favored companions to man.

If you have any questions, pop them in the comments below.

Can zebras gallop?

Yes, just like horses zebras can walk, trot, canter, and gallop. They are not as fast as horses and will gallop at a slower rate, though.
Zebras are from the horse family and are found in Africa. The zebra has a strong, sturdy body with a long neck, muscular legs and powerful hindquarters. They have good hearing, vision and smell and can run at speeds up to 42 mph (68 km/h).

Do zebras bite?

Yes, zebras do bite. They are known to be aggressive and even dangerous. They are capable of killing each other in a fight with their powerful kicks. Zebras were also documented killing lions in self defense and attacking and biting people who approached too much. They developed this abilities to be able to escape and defend themselves from different predators, mostly big cats such as lions and tigers. 

Why can’t you ride a zebra like a horse?

Zebras are very difficult to domesticate and can be quite aggressive and hostile. Because of their ducking reflex is also very difficult to catch them with lasso. However, it is possible to ride them but only a few people achieved that so far. Mostly because of their unpredictable nature and fondness of kicking and biting, but also just because of their conformation that is a bit different from the one of horses, they are very very difficult to ride. But if you are lucky enough and manage to ride one, it is definitely an experience like no other. 

Are horses stronger than zebra?

Horses are in general taller and heavier than zebras. But does that make them stronger? Depending on situation. Some horse breeds were specifically bred to be able to pull heavy loads and help with heavy farm work while others have been bred for agility and speed. On the other hand, zebras developed very good fighting and kicking techniques in order to protect themselves from predators. A zebra can deliver a 3000 pounds strong kick that can knock out the lion. That’s pretty strong, right?

Which is faster zebra or horse?

Horses can run faster than zebras. Zebras are in general smaller than horses, with shorter legs which is already a disadvantage for the running speed. Horses are built for speed and have longer legs and bigger muscles. This means that when horses run they can use their larger muscles to move faster than zebras. Zebras can run as fast as 42 mph (68 km/h), while the fastest horses can reach up to 55 mph (88.5 km/h)!

Can zebra mate with horse?

Yes, a zebra and a horse can mate. The offspring is either a zorse or a hebra. To get a zorse, the horse’s female parent must be a zebra. A zebra female can only produce zorses. To get a hebra, the horse’s female parent must be a horse. A horse female can only produce hebras. This is not the only hybrid, though. Zebras can also mate with donkeys and in this case the offspring is called zonkey. However, this kind of mating is not common and normally only happens with human intervention.

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