Zebra vs Horse — What Are The Differences?

Zebras are known for their unique striped pattern and fast speed. Although not a domestic animal, zebras are majestic and a favorite animal for many. They share some physical similarities with horses which brings up the question: what is the difference between the two animals?

You’ll be surprised to know that although they come from the same family, they are not the same. There are some distinct differences between zebras and horses. This doesn’t only include their looks but also their personality and behavior.

In this article, we will discuss the main differences between these members of the Equus family. So if zebras are your favorite animal, keep on reading!

Zebra vs. Horse Differences

Here are some of the main differences:

Size

When it comes to size, zebras are much smaller than horses. Zebras can grow up to over 5ft and be as heavy as 900 lbs. Horses, on the other hand, can weigh over 1000 lbs and grow as tall as 7 ft.

Although zebras are smaller, they can grow more in length as compared to horses. Zebras have a much leaner body type, similar to that of a donkey or a pony. Their body grows wider around the rump area.

Horses have three different body types called ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph. Mesomorph horses are usually used for athletic sports and riding.

Personality

Zebras may be smaller than horses, but their personalities are larger than life. This has a lot to do with the fact that they aren’t domestic animals. Since zebras are prey in the wild, they tend to be quite aggressive towards humans.

Horses are much calmer and easy to train. Years of domestication have made the horse a wonderful pet. Some horses may even get frightened if you approach them.

Zebras are also quite stubborn and cannot be tamed as easily as horses. They aren’t as human-friendly either, so we wouldn’t advise keeping them as pets.

Color

This is another major difference that sets these animals apart. Zebras are known for their black and white stripes that form unique patterns. If you look closely, you can see that most zebras also have brown stripes.

The reason for their unique color serves a purpose. It helps them camouflage so that it’s easier for them to escape the predator. Zebra stripes also keep them cool and keep bugs away.

On the contrary, horses may have different coat colors, such as black, grey, and tan. Some horses even have patterns on their coats, like spots or patches.

Physical Difference

There are many physical differences between zebras and horses, one of which is their mane. Horses have long flowing tails and manes with silky hair strands.

See also  18 Mind-Blowing Facts About Zebras

This gives horses their majestic look, and their mane colors vary. Zebras have a shorter mane that has a bristly look to it. A zebra’s mane also sticks outwards rather than having a flow to it.

Another physical difference between these animals is their ears. Horses have shorter, more angular ears. Zebras, on the other hand, have long ears that are rounded on the top.

Speed

You may think zebras are faster animals, but this is far from the case. Although they can run up to 40 mph to avoid prey, horses have a faster running speed. Horses can run 50 mph and above, depending on their breed.

This is mainly because they have longer legs and a much more muscular structure. Horses have also been bred for centuries to run faster and are used for various sports. 

Since we’re on the topic of speed, zebras have a unique way of running. They run in a zigzag pattern, making it harder for predators to catch them.

Check out the most stunning horse breeds in this amazing video!

What Do Horses And Zebras Have In Common?

We’ve talked about their differences, but what do zebras and horses have in common? Here are a few similarities between these Equus animals.

Herbivores

Both these animals have a diet consisting mainly of grass and other plants. They also have a similar digestive tract that allows enzymes to be absorbed effectively. Their stomachs are also smaller in size, which is why they eat small amounts at a time.

Hooves

Another similarity between these animals is their feet. They have one toe, called a hoof, made from keratin. It is hard and allows them to run fast without breaking easily. Horses require horseshoes to protect their hooves.

Prey

Although horses are far bigger than zebras, they can also be prey. But this isn’t a typical occurrence since most of them are domesticated. Both these animals tend to live in herds and protect each other. In fact, they stay alert while other members of their herd sleep.

Sleep

Did you know that zebras and horses both sleep standing up? While they can sleep lying down, it can get uncomfortable for them after a while. Laying down is also not recommended since their body is quite heavy and could damage their organs.

A Zebra vs. Horse: Natural Habitat And Habits

Lastly, let’s discuss how these animals act in their natural habitats.

Zebra 

Despite being prey animals, zebras are quite skilled when it comes to escaping their prey. Not only can they run fast, but they have quite a powerful kick too. Their kick is strong enough to kill a lion!

Their stripes serve a purpose in the wild as well. Other than being a camouflage, it is a natural insect repellent. Their stripes can cause blood-sucking flies to become confused, keeping the zebra safe from pesky bugs.

See also  Do Lions Eat Zebras

Although mostly found in the savannas of Africa, these animals are distributed throughout the area. Some even live in the grasslands, while others prefer the mountains. But what do these animals eat in their habitat?

Since zebras are herbivores, they live on a diet of plants. Thus mostly consists of grass but can also include bark and leaves. Members of the Equus family are known as grazers.

This is because rather than eating, they graze on grass. Another cool thing about zebras is that their herds change frequently. They are also known to change their companions.

Horse

Horses can exist in the wild and can be domesticated as pets. One thing that sets these animals apart is their large eyes, which are bigger than most mammals. These eyes are useful because horses have great vision that allows them to see all around them.

This helps them avoid danger and stay focused while they run. Horses tend to live in areas full of grass, like meadows, pastures, and grasslands. Like zebras, horses also graze and can put away quite a large amount of food.

Not only do they eat grass, but they chew cud as well. Domesticated horses can be fed other things like pellets. These pet horses are quite gentle and obedient once they are trained.

Can You Ride A Zebra?

Although it is not impossible, it is best not to ride a zebra. Unlike horses, zebras have flat backs and weaker lower backs, making them harder to ride. Not only will this harm the animal, but it may also harm you.

Zebras can also become quite hostile towards humans approaching them. If you try to ride a zebra, you might just get thrown off! 

Lastly, they are way smaller compared to horses. A saddle would not fit on a zebra’s back, nor do they have the strength to carry a full-grown human. 

It’s best to leave the riding to the horses!

Why is it a bad idea to ride a zebra? Find out in this video!

Conclusion

Each of these animals is unique in its own way, making them so majestic. The main similarities between zebras and horses are their hooded feet, diets, teeth, and herding tendencies. No wonder some people think the two animals are very similar. 

Now that you know the differences as well as the similarities, let us know whether you’re team horse or zebra!

Photo of author

Susan Dorling

I am a pet expert with years of experience working with a variety of animals. From dogs and cats to birds and exotics, I have a deep understanding of their unique needs and behaviors. I am dedicated to helping pet owners provide the best care for their furry friend.