Why Don’t We Ride Zebras

Jennifer R. Povey
5 min readSep 6, 2022
Photo by Jeff Griffith on Unsplash

We ride horses, donkeys, and mules. Zebras are closely related, so why have they never been successfully domesticated?

The answer is at once simple and complicated.

But I’ve Seen a Zebra Being Ridden

Individual zebras are sometimes trainable. However, the majority of zebras are actually too small to ride. This is of course exacerbated by the fact that they haven’t been selectively bred to be ridden. We’ve made our horses ridable.

Zebras are more useful for pulling carts. Lord Walter Rothschild drove a four in hand of zebras to Buckingham Palace.

So, yes, zebras can be trained. What they can’t be is domesticated.

Photo by Greg Flessing on Unsplash

Why Can’t Zebras Be Domesticated?

It boils down to a very simple and very complex difference between horses and asses (it’s an ass until it’s domesticated, then it becomes a donkey ;)) and zebras.

The tl;dr: Zebras aren’t asses, they’re assholes.

When Europeans colonized Africa they wanted to domesticate zebras because zebras, being a native species, were immune to…



Jennifer R. Povey

I write about fantasy, science fiction and horror, LGBT issues, travel, and social issues.