Most people stumbling out of the pub having drunk a pint too many of Old Speckled Hen, Town Crier or Bishop's Finger or a bottle too many of Old Slug or Cromwell's Hat would probably blame the sight of a man riding past on a zebra on drunkenness.

But if the pub happens to be in Sherborne, Dorset, then it's probably not your imagination.

Racehorse trainer Bill Turner has learned to ride a zebra - and he even takes it to his local pub.

We salute you, Mr Turner. You're a genuine British Eccentric.

Racehorse trainer earns his stripes by learning to ride a zebra... the animal that cannot be tamed

By Daily Mail Reporter (external - login to view)
04th June 2009
Daily Mail

Gee up! Racing trainer Bill Turner has taught his zebra, called Zebedee, to canter

Racehorse trainer Bill Turner has stunned the equine world by learning to ride a zebra... and taking it to his local pub.

The 51-year-old bought the zebra to fulfil an ambition to see if the animals, which are notoriously difficult to break in, could be trained to race like horses.

Within just a few weeks the retired jockey got Zebedee up to a canter and in the future hopes to get him to jump.

Mr Turner regularly rides the striped animal around his village, stunning locals with the extraordinary sight.

He works with the 14-month-old zebra on his 300-acre farm for two hours a day and says he is coming along well.

Just half grown, Zebedee's instinct is to see everything as a predator so training techniques have been adapted to make sure he is never chastised.

A few brave handlers have tried to tame zebras ever since the late 19th century.

Indeed, Lord Rothschild famously rode a zebra-drawn carriage around London.

But the animals, which are unpredictable and easily startled, have defied the majority previous attempts.

Mr Turner bought the zebra from a Dutch game reserve for £4,500, which included the cost of importing the animal to his farm near Sherborne, Dorset.

He said: ‘I had always wanted to see if I could train a zebra like a horse and had tried for years to get one.

Real-life zebra crossing! Mr Turner stuns locals when he rides his exotic pet near Sherborne in Dorset. The African animals are notoriously difficult to train and have bucked most brave attempts since the 1800s

‘Then a friend in Belgium who knew I wanted one managed to find one and I brought him over.

Dr Rosendo Ribeiro, pictured, made home visits to patients in Nairobi, Kenya, on a zebra

‘He is only half grown and we've only been training him for a few weeks but it is going very well.

‘At first I thought I had bitten off more than I could chew because he saw everything as a predator.

‘So we have not chastised him and have been encouraging him and he is now doing very well.’

The first time Mr Turner rode Zebedee into his village his wife Tracy, 61, slowly followed behind in a lorry in case the zebra tired.

And when he took Zebedee to his local pub the drinkers were so amazed they wondered if they had had too much to drink.

He said: ‘I ride him with a saddle and I take him out to the village and the first time I did it a few people outside the pub ran back in thinking their beer was a bit strong.

‘He now really likes going out and along the country lanes and his ears prick up.

‘I haven't got him jumping yet, but we might do in the future.

‘He is not a lover of horses and he gets frightened, but over time we'll hopefully change that.

‘He doesn't need to be shod and he eats just what the race horses eat - but not in the same quantities.’

As a race horse trainer, Bill has won 600 races over 30 years with his horses.