Trainer earns 'racing' stripes with zebra

SIGWELLS FARM, England Ask Bill Turner, the jockey-turned-horse trainer who spent weeks working to tame Zebdee, his 16-month old zebra.

Turner has ridden more than 600 winning race horses over a three decade-long career, but he knew that breaking in a zebra was going to be a challenge.

"They say they're unbreakable and it was just something I've always wanted to do," Turner said earlier this month from his stable at Sigwells Farm, about 120 miles (195 kilometers) southwest of London.

"He wasn't easy the first week," he said. "He was a bit of a Jack-the-lad the first week, but we're getting there."

Turner now rides Zebdee -- originally purchased as a foal from a reserve in The Netherlands -- all around town. He has even taken him down to his local pub in the nearby town of Sherborne. The regulars were shocked, according to The Sun tabloid.

Even though they are African members of the horse family, Zebras are more closely related to donkeys than they are to the thoroughbreds typically ridden down the race track.

Breaking in zebras is difficult but doable, according to Bill Hall, who works with the zebra breeding program at the Marwell Zoological Park, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) southwest of London.

"That's a perfectly feasible thing to do," Hall said. "Don't forget that all our domestic animals at one time were wild. You know dogs were wolves and you know cows were wild oxen."

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