My society uses dragons as giant flying weapons/war crafts, usually with a rider that would be half on their belly harnessed to the middle of the dragon's neck. The rider's ankles and waist would be attached to a sort of 'saddle' system with chains, and they'd have to control the head with some sort of bridle. How might this bridle be designed so the rider can still control the dragon, but when the dragon breathes fire it will still be effective? I'd imagine some sort of bit-type implement would be needed, and a loop around the snout probably wouldn't work because the dragon would need to open its mouth to breathe fire.

This fire can reach anywhere between 1112-2500 degrees Fahrenheit, so if they were to use a metal bit, it would have to be a metal that can handle that for prolonged periods without melting or softening at all.

These dragons have roughly human-level intelligence, but also run a lot on instinct and more animal-like logic.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Oh, To be a fly on the wall when you try put this bridle on said dragon!!! $\endgroup$ Oct 15, 2019 at 15:53
  • $\begingroup$ Are the dragons intelligent? $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Oct 15, 2019 at 16:21
  • $\begingroup$ Would dangling meat in front of the dragon be out of the question? Then making the meat disappear to make them angry and breathe fire? $\endgroup$
    – Shadowzee
    Oct 15, 2019 at 22:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Shadowzee they kind of obey commands, but I need a way that would preferably NOT make them angry, considering the simplicity of simply twisting their head around and cooking the rider. $\endgroup$
    – Guest
    Oct 16, 2019 at 18:19

3 Answers 3


Assuming that your dragon is rather like a horse (because I lack practical experience with dragon riding :-)), you don't really need a bit that goes into the mouth* if the animal is well-trained (or you're pretty strong). I usually ride my own horse with a bitless bridle. This has a nose band, but it's well behind the mouth, so it's possible for the horse to breath normally, and to graze with it on.

The point of a bridle is that the animal naturally tends to move** in the direction its head is pointing. The bit just increases the amount of pressure that can be applied - and with some kinds of bits, this even becomes painful.

But when you have a well-trained and cooperative animal, you don't often need to use that much pressure. Horses can be trained to neck rein https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neck_rein or to respond to weight shifts and leg pressure, and in normal riding that's what you mostly use. It's even possible to ride a horse without a bridle at all. There are a number of videos & articles about this on-line: the one featuring Stacy Westfall is something of a classic.

So the bottom line here is that a lot is going to depend on your dragons. Are they fierce, barely-controlled creatures, or semi-intelligent ones cooperating with their riders?

*Indeed, bits only work with horses because there is a gap between the front teeth - the incisors that are used for biting off grass &c - and the rear molars that are used for chewing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse_teeth

**Usually, but not always, which can make life interesting :-)

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    $\begingroup$ I would consider weight shifts or leg pressure, if I thought that a dragon would particularly feel the person doing it, even if they used all their strength. Considering size and the fact that they have scales that are basically on par with armor, I don't think anything but bridle-type commands would affect them in the slightest. It'd be like something that could fit in your mouth trying to push you around with their legs. $\endgroup$
    – Guest
    Oct 15, 2019 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ I rode a few horses with a tendency to move towards home when approaching meal times, even if home was backwards for all other purposes, home was the direction of travel. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Oct 25, 2019 at 13:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Separatrix: I do have occasional arguments with my own horse about things like that, particularly when I want to go one way, and he knows that the other path is the quickest way back to the trailer :-) $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Oct 25, 2019 at 17:16

If I were riding such a dragon, I would want something around the creature's neck that would make it impossible for it to snake around and bite or use it's breath weapon on the rider.

Aside from that, the only other requirement would be to make sure the rider is harnessed in from falling in all directions in case the dragon goes upside down or other rapid turns.

Controlling the creature's head seems to be impractical and unnecessary. If the mount is intelligent, the rider should trust that the creature would be more natural and effective in aerial combat if it were allowed the full motion of it's neck and be able to see where it needed to at all times. I would assume the relationship would be like the rider guides the neck gently in the direction it wanted to go and there would be some gesture to command an attack.

  • $\begingroup$ Seeing where it needed to depends on the dragon's visual system. For instance, the horse, like many grazing animals, has a nearly 360 degree visual field - they can see everywhere except directly behind them - but have stereoscopic vision only in a narrow cone directly ahead: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equine_vision#Visual_field That might be useful for a dragon: they can see almost everywhere, then turn to target on interesting objects, where binocular vision would let them get range info. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Oct 25, 2019 at 17:23

Not all bridles have a bit.

You could design a variant on the hackamore which doesn't use a bit but rather external surface pressure. This saves you from the problem of heat resistant bits.

Now you may feel that this wouldn't pass the necessary strength of intent, but they can also be mechanically amplified in much the same way as a pelham bit so they can still be quite aggressive.

Now you would have to release the reins to allow the dragon to breathe fire, but with a good setup you could also close its mouth again when you wanted it to stop.


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