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A zebra in Texas is earning his stripes — by trying some showjumping. When six-year-old Zack the zebra kept jumping out of his field, his owner Sammi Jo Stohler from Willis, Texas decided to put his talent to use. And he took easily to the jumps she put up for him.
"He's large pony size, but he jumps very easily," she told US publication Chronicle of the Horse. "The first time I pointed him at the jump, I put it really low. But he likes jumping, and going higher was no problem."
Sammi, who grew up on a ranch in Oregon had a career training horses before expanding into more exotic animals. She got her first zebra 10 years ago and now has two — Zack and Charlie — as well as a zorse and a zedonk.
She was told zebras were untrainable and set out to prove doubters wrong and showcase their skills. She now rides Zack frequently and drives Charlie.
"To say something is untrainable implies that it can't learn, and we all know that if they couldn't learn, they'd all be extinct. They have to be able to learn and adapt. Obviously, the burden lies on the trainer to be able to train them," she said. "Zebras are very intelligent. When you teach them something, you don't have to do a lot of review."
She's had Zack for two years, taking him on after his former owner wasn't able to cope. He originally wasn't at ease around humans, but with training is now able to be groomed and ridden.
"A lot of people don't really know how to handle them, so they run into problems, and rather than trying to fix it, they give up," she said.
"Originally, I was going to work with him, get him over some of his issues, and then sell him again, but he's now going to stay with me."