Tag Archives: Zelda the zorse

Zelda the Zorse!

I saw this photo and it stopped me in my tracks.  I had to put on my super-sleuth equine glasses and figure out who/what this was:


This photo stopped me in my tracks!


It turns out that this image is of Zelda, the zorse!

We’ve all seen zebra horse crosses before… but what is unusual about Zelda is that she is one of only two known crosses with a Belgian and a Grevy’s zebra.

(The Grevy’s zebra is the largest zebra and an endangered animal.)

Evidently, Zelda’s dam, the Belgian, lived with the zebra in an exotic animal farm.  One thing led to another…  And voila!  Zelda!

Zelda the Zorse!



What is also unusual is that she is a riding zorse.

You may not know this, but zebras are not known for their congeniality.  Ahem.  In fact, most are considered fairly rank.  So, to be able to successfully ride a zorse is unusual.

But, not only does Zelda ride, she also is an ambassador at local and county fairs!  They say she is a real sweetheart.  VERY unusual for a zorse.

She rides!



I found Zelda’s website and she has quite a fan base.  In fact, she also has a Facebook page linked here.

You can purchase T-shirts and photos…even watch a few video of this zorsey star!

Her website is filled with Zelda and Zorse information.




The people (her owners) who wrote her website did a great job of telling Zelda’s story so I’ll just copy it for you here:

Standing 16.2 hands tall with a broad chest and large feet, some think Zelda is intimidating but she is really quite sweet. She is exceptional in her beauty and conformation and her power in an open field is amazing to watch. The draft breeding has blessed her with an amazing temperament. We ride Zelda and occasionally take her to shows. Handling a zorse does take special knowledge, patience and trust. Like the mule, they are extremely smart. And like the zebra, they have a bit more fright and “flight” instinct.

People often ask, “How did you find Zelda?”  By being in the right place at the right time. I was at a fundraiser held on the estate of a very wealthy philanthropist in Michigan. He was a collector of exotic animals – camels, zebras – and then I saw Zelda.  She was in a pen with a miniature stallion, two zebras and a camel. At the time, I had never heard of a zorse and to me, she looked like a striped mule. Being the horse person that I am, I blew off the hors d’oeuvres and drinks and went looking for the man who took care of the animals.

Grevy's Zebra



The caretaker and I chatted for about an hour. “She’s a zorse,” he said, “and her name is Sally”. We changed her name to Zelda for obvious reasons. Zelda was bred in Kentucky and the breeder had trained and ridden her. She was seven years old and had been in Michigan for about a year. They tried to ride her once but she spooked and threw the rider as she was mounting. They never tried again. I took a picture of her and spent weeks on the Internet learning as much as I could about zorses.

About six months after the fundraiser, the wealthy man that owned Zelda sadly passed away and they needed to find homes for all of his animals. The purebred exotics went into zoos but they didn’t know what to do with Zelda until a good friend of mine reminded the caretaker of our conversation at the fundraiser.  She put us in contact with each other and the rest, as they say, is history. She came home to our farm on April 17, 2004.

She's a big girl.




How old is Zelda?
Zelda was born in 1997.  She is 14 years old.

Do you ride Zelda?
Yes, we do. Like the mule she tends to bond more to one person and that would be her human daddy – also known as her Chief of Staff, Jerry Johnson. She has also been ridden by her human mother, also known as Zelda’s Agent, Cheryl Johnson. A couple of well trusted horse persons have also ridden Zelda.

Can Zelda Reproduce?
Because Zelda is a hybrId, she cannot reproduce although we think she would be a great mother! While most hybrids are sterile, there can be the occasional fertile hybrid.

What is the most unusual thing you have noticed about Zelda?
Zelda stands outside in the middle of the worst storms we have – winter blizzards and thunderstorms with lots of lightening. She has a run-in shelter but chooses to stand in the horrific weather while the other long ears take shelter and look at her like she’s an idiot. We can see from our windows that she is usually very uncomfortable but something in her instincts must tell her to stay outside. She has gone in from time to time when the conditions are unbearable.

Are there any other unusual things you’ve noticed about Zelda?
Yes. The lead horse of the herd is a mare and is insulin resistant. She can have some very bad days, particularly in the winter. This winter our mare was extremely lame for a while. In the natural order of equine life, the herd generally drives away a sick horse. Zelda stood vigale at our mare’s side. If the mare didn’t eat, Zelda didn’t eat. She wouldn’t leave her side. It became a problem for a while when we would try to remove the mare from the herd to bring her into a stall for much needed rest. Zelda would position herself between us and the mare – not in a threatening manner, but a protective manner. Zelda has now gotten used to the mare coming in every night and no longer interferes but still keeps watch over her during the day – even though the mare is still the herd leader.

How is Zelda’s temperament?
Wonderful! Zelda has a kind, soft eye and is a gentle giant. She is very smart and sensative and is a good judge of character. She doesn’t warm up to everybody but takes her time in getting to know people. Like any equine, she can get in your space if you don’t keep her in check and will spook at things she considers odd – like anything on wheels. She’s built to drive but we wouldn’t put her in front of a cart anytime soon – LOL!

Does she get along with her herd mates?
A herd structure usually gets pretty set – there’s the leader and the bottom of the pecking order and everyone in between. Zelda has screwed that up a bit here at our farm. The only horse in this herd of six is number one – no doubt. Our donkey is at the bottom – no doubt. In most instances, Zelda is number two. However, our mule gelding (a little guy) can be above her at times. It just depends on where the mule mare is at the moment. Confused? So are we! In short, she does great with her fellow herd mates.

Zelda and her donkey pasturemate.



The Grevy zebra is endangered so I wanted to connect you to their foundation.  It is called the Grevy’s Zebra Trust and it is linked here.

The end.


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HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!