2013 - Volume #37, Issue #1, Page #23[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
"Zorses" Are Beautiful, But Not For Everyone
The spirited crossbreed is definitely not for everyone, emphasizes Nancy Nunke, equine behaviorist and owner of Spots N Stripes Ranch in Ramona, Calif., who is often called the “Zebra Whisperer”.
“I give clinics where people come from all over the world to learn the language of zebra, zorse and zonkey (zebra/donkey cross),” Nunke says, explaining that they cannot be trained with usual horse training methods.
The zebra personality dominates, and that means the zorse needs a BFF (Best Friend Forever). In the wild, zebra mares bond with one other mare. If a zorse is in your care, you must become its BFF, Nunke says.
Well known among zorse/zonkey owners and as director of Hearts N Hands Rescue, she often gets calls from people who can no longer handle their animal. She recalls a woman who said her zorse had recently become dangerous to be around. Nunke questioned her and found out that the woman had started working with two miniature horses. The zorse could see her working with them and became jealous. By changing pens and obstructing the view, her zorse became manageable again.
While some information on zorses says they can be used for barrel racing, trail riding and other riding events, Nunke says she only knows about half a dozen riders who trained their zorses to that point.
“The biggest thing is that they aren’t like horses; typical horse trainers cannot train them. They end up ruining them. The zorses become weavers and kickers. It’s not recommended for people to have them without proper training and understanding,” Nunke says. “You need to spend hours a day with them as their best friend.”
For those interested in exotic animals, another good option for a zorse is to let it live free on its own pasture. Nunke doesn’t recommend putting a horse in with a zorse, however. In an argument, the zorse has an unfair advantage with its serrated canine teeth; it bites like a pit bull and holds on.
“They get along with donkeys, though. They have a similar language,” Nunke notes. They are both strong and bite the same way.
She recommends attending her clinic before purchasing a zorse.
“They can cost anywhere from $500 for one that is wild, older, and virtually impossible to train or has been handled incorrectly and does not trust people, to $30,000 for one that has been trained correctly. There are only about 100 zorses in the world,” Nunke says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Spots N Stripes Ranch, Ramona, Calif. 92065 (ph 760 898-3927; www.spotsnstripes.com).
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