A book that I'm currently writing called Surge features an enemy faction called the Degenerates that are heavily inspired by the Scythians (Indo-Iranian horse nomads that ruled the Eurasian Steppes and Central Asia from the 9th century BC to the 1st century CE) and consists mostly of humans parasitized by a prehistoric endoparasite called Echidna (named after the Dracaena famous for giving birth to numerous monsters in Greek mythology), which parasitizes and radically alters the entire physiology of a wide variety of organisms from the phylum Chordata.

In lieu of horses, the Degenerates use a variety of parasitised animals as mounts.Two of these animal-spawned Degenerates include Cerberi and Orthri: dogs and dingos that have attained 2-meter heights, lengths of 3.7 meters and weights of 227 kilograms along with gaining extra heads controlled by a central brain located at the base of their spinal columns (Cerberi have two extra heads while Orthri have an extra head). Both Cerberi and Orthri have streamlined sturdy bodies for quick movement, muscular legs that can propel them forwards at high-speeds and a long, slender tail that sprays a corrosive venom capable of melting flesh and bone.

Cerberi and Orthri can be distinguished from each other by their facial structures. Cerberi have heads broader than that of modern canines like those of a Dire Wolf (a prehistoric ancestor of wolves) - suited for grabbing onto large prey. Orthri have long narrow skulls eerily similar to that of Inostrancevia latifrons (a proto-mammalian predator that roamed Permain Russia) and feature two enlarged sabre-like upper canines and slightly smaller lower canines. Orthri use their letha canines as stabbing devices to pierce through flesh and disable prey or a more surgical type of bite in which the incisors interlock when the jaws are closed, allowing an Orthri to slice out jagged edged hunks of flesh.

What sort of bridle would be needed for a rider to control these multi-headed creatures while riding them?

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    $\begingroup$ Given your passion for (pseudo-)classical names, why Lord of Good Taste and not Arbiter Elegantiae? $\endgroup$ – AlexP Mar 25 '18 at 12:13
  • $\begingroup$ Who says you can mount and ride multi-headed creatures? $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Mar 25 '18 at 13:54
  • $\begingroup$ @RonJohn - LordofGoodTaste says. $\endgroup$ – Willk Mar 25 '18 at 15:17

Elephant goad.

elephant goad http://oriental-arms.com/photos.php?id=1843

The bullhook is a tool used to punish and control elephants. It is also called an ankus, elephant goad, or elephant hook. The handle is made of wood, metal, plastic, or fiberglass, and there is a sharp steel hook at one end. Its shape resembles a boat hook or fireplace poker. Some bullhooks have long, "shepherd’s crook" cane-style handles, allowing the trainer a firmer grip so that greater force can be exerted while pulling and yanking the hook deeper into the elephant’s flesh.

Both ends inflict damage. The trainer uses the hook to apply varying degrees of pressure to sensitive spots on the elephant’s body (see diagram), causing the elephant to move away from the source of discomfort. Holding the hooked end, the handle is swung like a baseball bat and induces substantial pain when the elephant is struck on the wrist, ankle, and other areas where there is little tissue between skin and bone... A bullhook can easily inflict pain and injury on an elephant’s sensitive skin. Trainers often embed the hook in the soft tissue behind the ears, inside the ear or mouth, in and around the anus, and in tender spots under the chin and around the feet.

Your riders use a long handled goad like the elephant goad. Elephants are directed using such a device and so too your fierce mount. The rider could use the device on misbehaving heads, and also other places on the body. You could have your carnivorous mount move away from the pain much as an elephant does.

Plus a long handled monster goad would be badass.

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    $\begingroup$ An elephant goad is not nearly as effective as you think it is. Realize it's a 2-foot poker and hook held by a human versus an elephant. The goad is not intentionally meant to cause pain, but rather apply pressure to different spots of a trained elephant's head. A touch above the left ear means one thing, a scratch with the toes on the right means another, a light series of taps on the top of the head means a third. But realize you're smacking an elephant with a pointy stick, and at least with an elephant, they are not inclined to eat you off hand. $\endgroup$ – Amut Mar 26 '18 at 20:27
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    $\begingroup$ Elephants are extremely dangerous animals, that can gore with it's tusks, crush with it's forehead and feet, kick forwards back and to the side,and strike with it's trunk in any direction. So a 2-foot hook is only as safe as the elephant lets you think it is. Tyke, the elephant that attacked and killed her trainer in Hawaii in 1994 was only stopped by nearly 100 police rounds, so a poking hook really means nothing to one. Scroll down to "Mahoutship" here to understand how elephants are actually handled. fao.org/docrep/005/ac774e/ac774e06.htm $\endgroup$ – Amut Mar 26 '18 at 20:27
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    $\begingroup$ Ah, here we are, "Murderous Mary" a 1916 elephant, who killed a man named Red Eldridge. "There have been several accounts of his death. One, recounted by W.H. Coleman, who claimed to be a witness, is that he prodded her behind the ear with a hook after she reached down to nibble on a watermelon rind. She went into a rage, snatched Eldridge with her trunk, threw him against a drink stand and stepped on his head, crushing it." blueridgecountry.com/articles/mary-the-elephant $\endgroup$ – Amut Mar 26 '18 at 20:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Amut: I believe you that elephants are dangerous. $\endgroup$ – Willk Mar 27 '18 at 0:42

I suggest learning a bit (pun not intended) about how bridles are actually used in horse riding, because you seem to have the mistaken impression that it's a matter of using force to control your mount. It's not: the neck of your horse (and almost certainly your carnivorous mount) is much stronger than your arms.

Other than rare emergency situations (see "one-rein stop") you're seldom exerting more than finger pressure on the reins. It's a signalling device - and indeed, with a well-trained horse & rider, you do as much or more with weight shifts & leg pressure as with the reins. Better riders than I sometimes even dispense with bridle altogether (do a search on "Stacy Westfall" for some examples), though personally I think it's mostly just showing off :-)

Even with a horse (non-carnivorous, though they can bite pretty well if they're so inclined, and kick), it's much more a matter of the horse being trained to be willing to carry a rider, than of the human forcing itself on a horse. A lot of it involves taking advantage of the horses' herd dynamics.

With a carnivorous animal, that's going to be even more important. Perhaps a good parallel would be dogs: you get the carnivore* to regard you as a fellow pack member rather than as food. Then, if they're fairly intelligent & well-trained, they'll willingly follow directions. But your carnivore is going to have to be a pack animal. Training (a larger version of) wolves would be possible; tigers almost certainly not. And to train something like an alligator? No way.

*Though dogs/wolves are ominivores, not obligate carnivores.

  • $\begingroup$ Suggest edit, turn fellow pack member to pack alpha, you want the dog to obey you $\endgroup$ – Garret Gang Mar 25 '18 at 20:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Garret Gang: Basically because the idea of the "alpha wolf" is oversimplified, if not just plain wrong. E.g. io9.gizmodo.com/… and davemech.org/news.html And IMHO, with horses and dogs it's a lot more about willing cooperation than simple obedience. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Mar 25 '18 at 21:13

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