I was having drinks with a friend.
This was a LONG time ago.
Way back then we both had visions of equine professional grandeur.
We wanted to be pros and put our names on the map.
He told me he had it figured out. The way to become big time famous horse pros.
He said he wanted to get a zorse & train it up because stripes would definitely make us famous.
And in a not so shocking lack of judgement BadEventer went straight out and bought a zorse.
Let me say right off, I had NO IDEA what I was getting into.
He was 5 years old and the lady explained that he had started beating up her minis.
I didn’t have minis back then so I didn’t think much about it.
When I arrived to pick him up, I had to back my trailer into his pasture past a certain point.
His owner explained there used to be a hot wire there and even though it had been removed months earlier, he still refused to cross the spot where the hot wire had been.
I rode him.
But he never really did anything that wasn’t entirely his idea.
He was an expert at the plant the feet move.
And believe me, dynamite wouldn’t have gotten him to budge.
I was never brave enough to take him on a trail ride because I had visions of him planting his feet miles from home.
I was sure I’d have to leave him in the woods while I lugged my saddle back to the trailer without him .
About 10 years after I got him I bought some really fancy miniature horses.
I had forgotten that the reason he was for sale to begin with was that he was beating up the previous owners minis. It had been a decade………
While I was at work one day the neighbor called me with some bad news.
My striped boy had destroyed 2 fences to get to my world champion mini and had attacked him.
It was bad. Really bad. Zebras have serrated canine teeth and he had done some serious damage to the mini.
The mini survived.
But I knew I was in trouble and had no idea what had just happened.
I called “the expert zebra trainer.”
I’ll never forget that conversation.
I was telling her that I’d recently set up an arena with stalls around the perimeter. The horses and my zorse would all be in the stalls while I worked the other horses in the arena, which included the mini he had attacked.
As I was describing my new set up & the zorse’s aggressive behavior
she said, “Are you stupid?”
Let’s just say this world renowned zebra trainer is direct.
After asking me if I was stupid, she began to explain to me how zebras think.
She went on to say they work on a “buddy system”. While they may live in herds, within that herd they have one buddy they hang out with, play with, groom each other. And they don’t allow anyone else to interfere with the friendship. She said if another zebra tries to come in, the buddy that is being “cheated” on will drive off the interloper and then punish the other buddy for cheating. She said, “Look, you’re the buddy. By working a mini in front of your zorse you have violated the bond. The zorse attacked the mini, and you’re next. So be careful. You’re literally in danger. You CANNOT work other horses in front of him.”
As I was being chastised I said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa I’ve had him for a decade. I’ve ridden horses in front of him for 10 years and he hasn’t attacked anyone.” As it was coming out of my mouth, I remembered a new foal I had bought years earlier that he had attacked. At the time I thought it was a fluke.
She said, “That’s because riding a horse, being on top of them, is showing dominance, and that just puts your buddy group higher in the pecking order which is OK. But playing with minis is much more like grooming behavior and that’s why he acted out.”
I started thinking about how his behavior had changed as soon as I set up the arena where he watched me work the other horses. He was normally first at the gate to come in, and that had stopped. He normally put his head in the halter, and when I had gone to halter him recently he actually turned his head away & didn’t let me halter him, which was very unusual.
The expert went on to describe how when she travels with her demo zebras she puts up plywood between all their stalls so they can’t see her interact with the other zebras. She said it’s strictly visual and as long as they don’t see her interacting with the others they are fine.
I was sufficiently chastised, but I got off the phone and had some doubts.
I’m the buddy? Really?
So I walked out of the house and to my surprise the zebra hybrid was standing at the fence staring at the door when I walked out.
I thought, well that’s
So I walked down the driveway to the barn
and he followed.
He walked along the fence until I went in the barn where he stopped where he could watch.
I went into the barn and hid.
I waited a pretty long time.
I thought, surely he’ll have gone off to do zebra things.
I peeked my head out & he was still standing at the fence staring at me.
He was stalking me.
And I had never even noticed.
This was terrifying. He had done real damage to an animal larger than me. The zebra expert told me as long as he can’t watch me play with the minis he should be OK.
So we built a 3 sided view-obstructing shed that faced the neighbor’s property. Whenever I worked the minis, I put ZJ in the shed that we named “ZJ’s View.”
And after some time he went back to his well adjusted creepy stalker self.
If you’re a true crime fan my latest project is a blog & podcast about a wrongful conviction. Check it out on your favorite podcast listening app or read the blog on the website, Circpod.com
The podcast is called Aggravating Circumstances.