Thursday, May 24, 2007

Apple #244: Horse + ? = ?

Here's a conversation between two friends that resulted in a request for help from this here Apple Lady (the names have been changed):

JEHOSHAPHAT: there's some donkeys and mules around here. i really like them.
JEHOSHAPHAT: their ears are spectacular.
LILY ANNE: Can you tell me the dif?
JEHOSHAPHAT: a donkey is a donkey, but a mule is a cross between a horse and a donkey.
JEHOSHAPHAT: all mules are born sterile.
JEHOSHAPHAT: donkeys are smaller.
LILY ANNE: how many other species have that mixability, I wonder?
JEHOSHAPHAT: you can mix horses and zebras, i know that.
LILY ANNE: I'm going to have to talk to the Apple Lady about this. There's research to be done, here, and she's just the dame to do it.
JEHOSHAPHAT: ah, the apple lady.

So here are how the animal pairings work out:

  • Female horse + male donkey (jack) = mule
  • Male horse + female donkey (jennet) = hinny, which is generally referred to as a mule
  • Zebra + any type of equine = zebra hybrid
  • Zebra + horse stallion = Zorse
  • Zebra + pony = Zeony
  • Zebra + donkey = Zebroid, Zebrass, Zedonk (I'm not kidding)

I have a pretty good idea of what a horse looks like, so to me, these other types of equines are defined by how they differ in size and appearance from a horse. Mule and donkey lovers may bray their displeasure at this, but that's how equines are organized in the Apple Lady's brain.

So for comparison's sake, here's a picture of a horse:

(Photo from Eye of Dubai)


Baby and adult donkey, who live at the Robinson Ranch in Madisonville, Texas
(Photo from

  • really long ears
  • donkeys' haunches don't have the big muscular curve that horses do
  • straighter back
  • mane is stiff and usually upright
  • hooves are smaller and rounder
  • many have a cross and stripe over their shoulders, but not all
  • characteristic AW-ee AW-ee bray
  • donkeys, in addition to being used as pack animals, can also be used to guard a cattle herd and will ward off pesky dogs -- though they can be trained to tolerate the family dog.
  • if you do want to use a donkey as a guard animal, make sure it is at least 3 years old.


This mule is named Handy Man, and he lives at the Mule Action Ranch in Weiser, Idaho
(Photo by Diana K. Tibbets)

  • are not a species, but are a hybrid of the donkey and the horse
  • ears are long and narrow, longer than a horse's, smaller than a donkey's
  • thin forelock and coarse hair in the mane
  • usually have some features reminiscent of a horse
  • not quite as chunky in the body as a donkey
  • tend to whinny and try for a bray but can't pull it off with as much gusto
  • female mules have a 1 in 1 million chance of being fertile and have actually given birth. Those that have been fertile are scientific mysteries.
  • male mules have never, ever sired anything.
  • people generally castrate the male mules because they do still have the hormones, so sometimes they kind of run amok.


This is Joe the Zedonk (zebra + donkey)
(Photo by Lisa McDonald, posted at Zebra Hybrids)

  • brown or light tan coats but with characteristic zebra stripes
  • body shape resembles either a donkey or a horse, depending on its non-zebra parent
  • manes are stiff and upright, usually no forelock
  • make a barking sound or a "qua-ha" like a zebra
  • because zebras can bite and will not let go, owners of zebra hybrids need to be very cautious and well-trained in handling the animals.


  • Spanish wild donkey
  • Refers only to wild donkeys and only to those that are mid-sized
  • All the pictures I found showed "burros" carrying stuff for people or being ridden by people. And if they have to be wild to be burros, I figured those animals technically were not burros.


This pony's name is Bunowen Castle Ri, and is being ridden & shown by Mathew Lawrence at the UK's National Pony Society Olympia Final in May 2006. To me, that looks exactly like a horse except the legs are too short.
(Photo posted at the National Pony Society)

  • 14.2 hands high or shorter, while a horse is larger than 14.2 hands high
  • also tend to be stockier than horses
  • eat less, can cope better on more rugged ground

So, have you got all that, Lily Anne & Jehoshephat?

From top to bottom, a zedonk named Patchwork, a miniature donkey, and a goat
(Photo by Ivan Karakashian, Columbia News Service)

American Donkey & Mule Society
The Robinson Ranch
Geocities, Zebra Hybrids
UC Davis entomology course
Katherine Blocksdorf,, Feeding Ponies
Horse fun


  1. Great descriptions!

  2. I am looking for two baby male donkeys. Not looking for anything registered, and not willing to pay much, do you know where I can find two for my ranch? I live in Bedias. Thanks!


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