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Zebras Are Just Striped Horses

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In real life, zebras are considered wild equines, but are not the same as horses found in other parts of the world. You won't see a zebra at a stable or participating in a horse race. Zebras can be tamed, but they're not domesticated like horses or even donkeys. Zebra and domestic equines can be bred to produce hybrids called a zeedonk (zebra+donkey) or a zorse (zebra+horse), but the offspring tend to be infertile.

On the other hand, certain media depicts zebras as being more closely related to their domesticated counterparts than they actually are.

When this trope is in play, a zebra will be seen alongside horses and even acting like them. People may be riding on them too, or they may appear as the "horse" half of a centaur.

A common variant is that zebras make horse-like neighing and whinnying sounds, more like a high-pitched bray, instead of their own unique vocalization. Another variant is to portray zebras with horse-like tails, rather than real zebra tails which are longer and have shorter hairs.

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Compare Horse of a Different Color, for when animals other than horses are used as steeds and pack animals. Related to All Animals Are Domesticated and could be considered an equine version of All Animals Are Dogs.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Widget Series that is Japan World Cup, the African racer rides a zebra. He does not return in the sequels.

    Comic Books 
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    Films — Animation 
  • Fantasia: The "Pastoral Symphony" sequence features a pair of African centaurs whose equine half is that of a zebra.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Greatest Showman: Barnum and his family are shown riding in a coach driven by a pair of zebras when he takes them to their new mansion. Justified, because the zebras come from his circus.
  • Racing Stripes: A zebra by the name of Stripes is trained to take part in a horse race.
  • Sheena: The titular heroine rides on a zebra, which was a white horse painted with black stripes.

    Literature 
  • A Song of Ice and Fire gives us the zorse, a black-and-white striped species of equine from Essos. It's not clear if they're supposed to be real-world zebras, a fictional species similar to a zebra, or a cross between a zebra and a horse. Whatever they are, they can be ridden in battle.
  • Played with in Julius Zebra. The first book shows a comparison between horses and zebras, and Julius is called a stripy horse in some parts. The third book has Julius and Brutus race against horses in a chariot race.

    Tabletop Games 
  • One of the kingdoms in Spears Of The Dawn, a game set in a fantasy version of Ancient Africa, is mentioned as fielding units of zebra-riding cavalry. This despite the fact that horses are perfectly common in the setting.

    Video Games 
  • In Heroes of Might and Magic IV, heroes from the nature-themed Preserve faction use zebras as steeds.
  • Played With in the Wildlife Safari behavior pack in Minecraft: The zebras don't neigh like horses, they bray like donkeys.
  • Played With, Lampshaded, and Subverted in Red Dead Redemption II. One side mission involves finding a zebra belonging to a traveling circus show headed by a moustahioed British man named Margaret. The zebra sounds like a mule, and worse, turns out to be one painted as a zebra.
  • Viva Piñata: When a Horstachio (Horse) consumes blackberries and daisies, it will turn into a Zumbug (Zebra). This is the only way to get the zebra pinata.
  • World of Warcraft has the Zhevra, a unicorn-like zebra, which runs wild in the in-game equivalent of the African savanna, but can also be seen anywhere else as a mount, once available to any player.
  • The first Zoo Tycoon inverts this trope. For some reason the developers made unicorns "bark" like zebras instead of neighing.
  • Heroes of the Storm has a Zebra mount, which is organized under horses in the collection. Its flavour text even lampshades this:
    While zebras are in the equid family, they're technically not horses. I'm just sayin'.
  • Red Dead Redemption II: In one mission, Arthur Morgan must ride a zebra back to its owner. It behaves the same as the horses in the game.

    Western Animation 
  • The Lion Guard makes the mistake of using horse noises for zebras.
  • Looney Tunes: Parodied. In one cartoon, Daffy Duck lets a baby zebra out of the bag into Porky Pig's house. Said zebra foal sounds like a horse for comedic effect.
  • Mickey Mouse (2013): A one point in the episode "Safari, So Good", the zebras sound like donkeys.
  • Averted in Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?, Zack says "Zebras don't tame easy" and instead the two ride ostriches to chase after the title character.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Subverted. The ponies initially think that Zecora, a zebra, is just a weird-colored pony; Twilight is the only one who knows what a zebra is. Zecora also acts very differently from the ponies (which leads them to mistakenly believe that she is a witch). While her affinity for potions and rhyming are cultural, the part where she paws at the ground is a real difference between ponies and zebras. Horses paw at the ground as a threat display, while zebras just do it to look for water.

    Real Life 
  • Humans have tried to domesticate zebras for centuries. While there have been many zebras that were successfully tamed over the years, true domestication has never been achieved — by and large, zebras are too nervous, aggressive and difficult to train out of biting anyone that comes close to be easily domesticated. There was a very promising candidate in the Quagga, a very distinctive type of zebra with a brown back and incomplete striping, but sadly it was driven extinct. If that didn't happen, we might very well have domesticated zebras by now.
  • The Victorian nobleman and zoologist Walter Rothschild, who clearly had time on his hands, attempted to domesticate zebra foals, creating a team of six that he used to draw his coach. He never tried to ride them, though — zebras are too small to easily bear riders for more than a little while.

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