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What is the difference between a horse and a zebra?

Clearly visible physical differences

The zebra and the horse, both mammals of the Equidae family, are in fact very different! The zebra, whether mountain, plain or Grévy, is first of all recognizable by its coat with a unique pattern and color: black and white stripes. A horse will never be able to have this characteristic. The coat of the horse is most often simple, of a solid color, or composed, that is to say with several colors or irregular spots.

Another distinction is their tail: that of the zebra is solid, not that of the horse. The latter also differs by its speed much higher than that of the zebra. The horse can run at more than 88km/h while the zebra can only run at a maximum of 65km/h. Their weight and size are quite similar, it all depends on the species. The largest of the zebras, the Grévy's zebra, measures between 1.45 and 1.90 m but Burchell's zebras measure 1.30 m. The zebra weighs between 350 and 450 kg. The horse measures an average of 1.65 m. Its average weight is 500kg, but can vary from 300kg to 1200kg for certain so-called heavy breeds such as the Shire breed for example.

Geographical distribution

Their life expectancy is also almost similar. The zebra would live on average until 35 years and the horse between 20 and 35 years. One of the important differences is their geographical distribution. The zebra lives more in wooded and open savannahs, plains or in mountainous regions. Its natural habitat is usually in Africa. The horse lives in the meadows or the fields but also in the forests, the deserts or the mountains if we include the wild horses.

and a way of life that differs

Their diet also differs. The horse feeds on fodder such as hay or straw, grains such as corn or oats, grass and plants, concentrated feed and certain fruits and vegetables. The zebra, which is a herbivore, eats grass, fruits, leaves, roots, and more specifically "grasses in the wet season and leaves and bark in the dry season".

Regarding the reproduction of the two mammals, it is quite comparable. For the horse, the mare's gestation will be 11 months, or about 330 days. For zebras, it will be around 1 year, between 330 days and 390 days depending on the species of zebra.

One of the striking differences is that the horse was domesticated, unlike the zebra. The latter, living surrounded by lions or hyenas in Africa, can be very reactive. Fleeing has become essential. The zebra knows how to defend itself, with bites or kicks, as soon as it senses danger. The horse ticks more criteria to be domesticated because it is indeed easier to take care of it and faster to train it. Unfortunately, the freedom of the zebra does not mean that it survives better. The zebra is now on the verge of extinction. Since 2002 according to Liberation, the population of plains zebras has decreased by 24%. They would almost only live in protected areas.

This question around the difference between the zebra and the horse has also inspired some filmmakers, such as director Frederik Du Chau for his film Zig-Zag, the zebra stallion. This film, released in 2005, tells the story of a baby zebra lost by a circus who is adopted by a former horse breeder. This "stripe horse" dreams of only one thing: to become the best horse in the state by participating in major races.