Spots ‘N Stripes Ranch

What is a Zorse? What is a Zonkey?

What can you do with a Zorse? What can you do with a Zonkey?

How is a Zorse Different than a Horse? How is a Zonkey Different than a Donkey?

How is a Zorse or a Zonkey Trained?

The Zorse and Zonkey

Horses of a Different Color

What is a zorse?

A zorse is a cross between a zebra stallion and a horse mare. The zorse takes the color or dominant color gene of the mare and the zebra sire gives it stripes Zorse Color Info . Photo Album A hebra is a cross between a zebra mare and a horse stallion – the rarest. Horse stallions as a general rule do not like to breed zebra mares. Zebra stallions usually must be raised in a special environment to breed horse mares.

What is a Zonkey?

A Zonkey is a cross between a zebra stallion and a donkey jennet. The zonkey takes the color or dominant color gene of the jennet and the zebra sire gives it stripes. The zonkey is generally more easily bred for than the zorse as the donkey and zebra both communicate behaviorally using very similar language, whereas the horse language is somewhat different than the zebra's. Zonkey Color Info . Photo Album

At Spots ‘N Stripes Ranch we are preparing to breed for two hebra foals in 2003, for 2004 babies, along with several miniature zorse, miniature zonkey and full size zorse babies. We breed zebras, with our preference being Grant’s and Grevy’s. We are looking forward to breeding the world's first miniature zorses, and hopefully, will have two or three on the ground for 2004. We will be breeding 3 full size quarter and paint mares in 2003 for 2004 foals. We will be breeding one miniature donkey for a mini zonkey, and one standard donkey for a standard zonkey.---Our animals are almost always sold in advance---so inquire soon!

What can you do with a zorse or zonkey?

A zorse and zonkey can be trained to do all the things a mule or donkey or horse can be trained to do, including trail riding, jumping, driving, and western or english riding.

You can show your zorse or zonkey at many open horse shows. Some shows have zorse and zonkey classes. A few mule and donkey shows are gradually increasing their classes to include the zebra/donkey hybrid, zebra/horse hybrid classes. Soon we will establish photo shows where all zebra, zorse, and zonkey owners from all over the world can participate as if they were at an actual horse show.

How is a zorse different than a horse and a zonkey different than a donkey?

(besides the obvious)

The attitude, smarts and personality of a zorse and a zonkey is much like a mule or donkey. If you know how to train a mule or donkey, you know how to train a zorse or zonkey.

A zorse and a zonkey have a longer flight/fight range, meaning they are more cautious in general than a horse or donkey, and will run away from perceived danger more abruptly than a horse or donkey will. When cornered and stressed, they will defend themselves more abruptly than a horse or donkey will. They are a prey animal, like the horse, but their instinctive prey behaviors are sharper than that of most horses, but they are comparable to wild mustangs. However, once trained, mustangs are just like regular horses, where zorses and zonkeys are still half zebra. After several generations of human contact, the horse mares relay a more relaxed prey/predator reaction around humans to their offspring. As zorses and zonkeys currently are most always first generation domestic on the zebra side, they display a more defensive instinct than a horse or dokey baby would. However, with proper imprinting right from birth, a zorse or zonkey baby can appear much like any horse/mule/donkey foal very quickly.

How is a zorse or zonkey trained?

Anyone who can train a mule or donkey can train a zorse or zonkey that has been imprinted properly as a foal. Proper imprinting is so important. I don't mean touching a foal all over, picking up its feet, kissing it for awhile, then turning it out to pasture for a year, and expecting that it will remember you and pick up where you left off when it comes in from the back forty as a yearling or two year old. Imprinting means teaching the foal respect from day one, and continuing to train for respect every day or every couple of days during the time that foal is nursing, then continuing the training right on through 'til its time to get on the animal's back. If you train the young colt or filly for respect, to respect you as its leader, it will respect you right on through. A note here: bottle babies show little respect for their human 'mothers', just like they show little respect for their natural mothers. Bottle feeding does not make a respectful and obedient animal. Working with the animal on a daily basis, teaching it to give to you, teaching it move away from you, to lead, to pick up its feet, to lunge, to handle equipment, ropes, blankets, etc. all over its body, and to stand quietly for you when you say "Whoa", to stand quietly for a bath, to stand quietly with its head down for you to put the halter on and take it off is what gains you respect. Those are all the things that should be done with a baby, and should be started on day 1 of its life or as close to that as possible, especially a zebra zorse, or zonkey! If you are in a situation where you are obtaining a nursing baby and are not taking the dam, get that baby drinking from a bucket right away. It is a very easy thing to teach them to do. There are directions on almost every mare's replacement milk product. If you can't figure it out, or the directions are not there, call or e-mail us and we'll help you out. Horse trainers who have never trained a mule or donkey will need a little extra help in training their zorse or zonkey. Learning the zebra side of the zorse or zonkey is imperative to training one.

Some very special animals and some very special people can be trained and do the training and accomplish much with an animal that has not been imprinted, but every one of those people I have spoken with say, "Can you just imagine how much more I could have done had I been able to start the animal when he/she was a baby?"

Taking home a zorse, zebra or zonkey which has not been imprinted but left wild on the range is like taking home a wild mustang, only more extreme in all the initial reactions to you. Be aware of the history of your animal – and try to purchase from a reputable breeder who imprints at birth and trains up until it's time for you to take the animal home. At our ranch we initially obtained nothing but wild zebras, both Grant's and Grevy's, as well as a wild zonkey, before we started breeding our own, so we know what we are talking about here!

Now, if for some reason the breeder has not been able to accomplish proper imprinting, and you are taking home an animal that has pretty much been left to its own devices for a year or two, you simply have to do the same thing you would have done with that baby, but don't expect the compliance that a baby will give you. You are now dealing with an animal that has already established its place in a herd, (or 'zeal', if a zebra 'herd')and that animal is used to some give, but certainly, also some 'take'. So you will need to be safe first and foremost, and simply set out to accomplish more today than you did yesterday, and plan on accomplishing more tomorrow than you did today. If you do that, you will be on your way to a trained animal. The speed of getting the animal trained is not nearly as important as doing it right. (See Zipper, who was never lunged or had a saddle on til this year at the age of 10, when we purchased her.)

Much worse than taking home an untrained fully grown zebra, zorse or zonkey, with the task ahead of training from scratch, is the animal that has been incorrectly imprinted, or incorrectly or pseudo trained that has become an animal with negative or dangerous behaviors or habits that have to be undone before the animal can move forward in its training. Those animals must be trained to execute correct and safe replacement behaviors for the current unsafe or incorrect behaviors, and that is not necessarily an easy or a simple task. That task should only be assigned to those who know natural zebra behavior very well. It is not any different than a novice horseperson trying to take on a problem horse; it would be doubtful if they would ever have the problems worked out, and they certainly could be injured or the animal could be injured in the process of trying things that 'might' work.

Today’s ‘NEW’ (not really new, just finally excepted and preferred) method of horse training, (more natural communication with the animal) is much closer to the way mule and donkey or knowledgeable zorse people have been training forever. Proper and most successful trainers learn the same communication skills and behaviors that the animal has, then speaks to the animal in its own language, using behaviors that the animal already understands. In this way, the animal thinks less of you as a predator, and more as another horse, zorse, etc.

Because of the strong natural instincts (or smarts) of the zorse, training must never become an issue of forcing the animal to do a particular behavior.

The way to train your zorse is simply to give the animal a choice of ‘A’ behavior or ‘B’ behavior, and let the animal choose which behavior it would like to execute. You allow the animal to base its decision on certain consquences that result from choosing either ‘A’ or ‘B’. Yes, it is that simple. Simple, yes, but easy, well, that depends on the person doing the training, and just how insightful they are. Timing and technique are essential to training, which is just about like any task that is done well. Ask a mule person what I mean.

It doesn’t take any more patience to train a zorse than a horse, it simply takes technique and an understanding of the animal’s thought patterns, of how the animal thinks.

So, simply put, muscling the animal into submission is not an option in training the zorse, as it is not in training the donkey, mule, zonkey, or zebra (and shouldn’t be in training the horse). All of these animals are much stronger physically than the horse, and all of them will out-muscle you any day of the week.

That is what horse trainers are just learning about horses that the mule and donkey people have always known; that manhandling (Ok, ok, or womanhandling, or is it personhandling? I know...strongarming, muscling. How is that?) is not a necessary part of training.

You must create an atmosphere to encourage the animal to decide to communicate with you and accept you as its leader, not as a predator. Then it will learn and accept whatever you want to teach it, with mutual respect. This is the only way you will train a mule, donkey, zonkey, zorse or zebra. It is also the only way you will get out the utmost willingness out of a horse. Speak their language, and then they will be happy to learn yours.

So what does all this mean? Well, it means when you purchase a mini or full size zonkey or zorse from Spots ‘N Stripes Ranch, that you will ‘set-a-spell’ and learn how to communicate with your special new charge. We recommend several trainers now (hard to do in years past) who train correctly, and we highly recommend that you purchase their videos and books, (before you get your precious animal) or go to their seminars to learn how to communicate with your equine. We also welcome you to the Ranch for a little one-on-one. We are preparing a VHS/DVD training for the zorse/zonkey enthusiasts and will have it available through our site as soon as its ready.

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