Are Zebras Faster Than Horses? (Explained for Beginners)

by Chukay Alex
Updated on

When considering which animals would resolve his mobility crisis, no doubt, the early man considered the size and power of the animals. It’s no surprise then that the cheetah despite between the fastest land animal didn’t make the cut nor did the hare.

Hoofed animals were chosen for their reliability, speed and power. 

Of those hoofed animals renowned for their speed, somehow, Zebras although meeting all the aforementioned criteria remain largely wild and undomesticated.

Could they have been faster than others in their family line that has been successfully domesticated by men such as Horses, and Donkeys?

The answer is simply no. Zebras are not faster than Horses! We have facts backing up our claims in this article. Enjoy!

Are Zebras Faster Than Horses?

Are Zebras Faster Than Horses

No, Zebras are not faster than Horses.

While the fastest species of the Zebra, the Grevy’s Zebra can reach speeds of 64 to 70 Kilometers per hour, it is still a slow figure when compared to the horse which can get up to speeds of 88 kilometers per hour. 

If there’s such a thing as an animal being born to run, the Zebra would fit into that category.

Barely hours after they are born, these African equines are already ready to gallop.

Its ability to run almost immediately after birth is not farfetched- it lives in an unforgiving environment where predators are always on the prowl and ready to swoop in at any given time.

Even with all of this in mind, horses are faster than Zebras.

Here is an article I wrote on can zebras eat meat?

How Fast Can A Zebra Run Vs. How Fast Can A Horse Run?

While a Horse can run as fast as 88 kilometers per hour, a Zebra can only run as much as 70 Kilometers per hour.

These figures make the horse the faster of the two equines.

Perhaps, the structure of the legs of both animals aids them in their acceleration.

During a race, there are moments where the limbs of both equines are airborne. Yes, that’s just how fast they are.

Even though of the two equines, it would seem that if there’s such a thing as an animal being born to run, the Zebra would fit into that category.

This rationale is because barely hours after they are born, these African equines are already ready to gallop.

Its ability to run almost immediately after birth is not farfetched- it lives in an unforgiving environment where predators are always on the prowl and ready to swoop in at any given time.

Even with all of this in mind, horses are faster than Zebras.

Still, it’s a classic example of the deceptive nature of “appearances” because despite there being less documentary of horses fleeing from their predators, as is the case with Zebras, the former is faster as records have shown.

Are Zebras Stronger Than Horses?

There’s no wrong answer to this one as the answer is determined by several factors. Let’s consider just a few:

Body and build

Zebras generally have stockier bodies which presuppose that they have more muscle density than horses.

Generally, horses are built for sport or sprinting and not fighting or kicking. Zebras live in the wild and have had to adapt their bodies and techniques to ensure their safety.

Just as is the case with humans who usually grow stronger by overcoming adversity, Zebras live in a dangerous habitat.

A place where they are always on the run as doing otherwise would mean certain death for them.

As such, Zebras can be tougher than horses (especially domesticated ones)  and have much more endurance as their lives usually depend on it. 

Habitat:

The fact remains that horses have been domesticated by humans and engaged in carrying out activities that do not necessarily involve the use of strength or brute force.

This probably explains why according to most zoologists, the kick of a Zebra has much force than that of a Horse.

Horses may keep out of irritation, Zebras kick to wring free out of the grasp of predators who aim to end their lives.

The difference between the strength of a horse and a Zebra could probably be best illustrated with that of a tamed lion used in shows and that of a wild African lion.

So, if the comparison was between a wild or feral horse and a Zebra, no doubt, the Horse would trump the Zebra.

Task:

If the task is to carry a human, the horse no doubt trumps the Zebra.

To its demerits, the Zebra has a flat back and not as much power to bear the burden of a human’s weight.

Where the Zebra fails in this regard, the horse proves to be the ideal animal for riding.

Also check out this article I wrote on why do zebras attack their young

Can A Zebra Run Faster Than A Donkey?

Yes, a Zebra runs faster than a Donkey.

Donkeys are much slower than Zebras and can only run as fast as 24 Kilometers per hour.

Perhaps, sacrificing their speed for strength, they are universally renowned for their ability to carry loads more than twice their body weight and hence, the title “beast of burden”.

For instance, you even hear of sayings like “the last straw that broke the camel’s back”, but have you heard such a thing about the donkey?

These beasts of burden may not be as fast as the Zebra, but they are useful in hauling luggage.

Why Don’t We Ride Zebras Like Horses?

Believe me, we have tried. And just as much as we have tried, we have failed.

Some link our failures to domesticate Zebras to the circumstances surrounding their evolution.

Predominantly of African origins, Zebras grew accustomed to being chased, hunted and killed by large apex predators and as a result in order to survive the scourge, they have had to become more aggressive.

However, excerpts from history reveal that we have tried to ride Zebras like Horses.

For example, between 198 to 217 AD gladiators were recorded as having had their chariots pulled by Zebras during the reign of Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.

In English during the late 19th Century, Zebras were trained and tamed by a zoologist by the name, Walter Rothschild, and driven to Buckingham Palace.

Reports indicate, however, that he was wise enough not to ride on them due to their small size and aggressive disposition. 

Conclusion

In this article, we didn’t limit our scope to which is faster between Zebras and Horses.

The answer to that particular quandary is pretty straightforward- Horses. We also delved into comparisons using another bar- strength.

And we have seen that it largely depends on certain factors. We have also sought to make clear that the Donkey is in no way a close competitor to the Zebra when it comes to speed.

However, we have shown that what the Donkey lacks in speed, it has made up for in strength and resilience- characteristics that have earned it its title as a “beast of burden”.

Finally, we addressed the “Elephant in the room”- if Zebras and Horses have so much in common, why is it that only the latter is ridden by men?

In conclusion, nature is filled with beautiful creatures. And no doubt, the Zebra with its white and black coat is one of them.

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About the author

Chukay Alex

Chukay is a season writer and farmer who enjoys farming and growing plants in his backyard farm. When he is not farming you can find him at the nearest lawn tennis court, hitting a mean backhand down the line.