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I'm asking solely for the purpose of one possible scene in my story/WIP. Non-spoilery context: my characters become real-world animals, one of them becomes a grizzly bear. In a scene, I have him taking my main character from one place to another, and the most practical way for him to take her is if he becomes his grizzly bear form and have her ride him on his back.

So, theoretically, is/would it be possible for a human to ride a grizzly bear?

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  • $\begingroup$ OK, Technically this question is a duplicate of Would a bear cavalry be feasible? but I try not to close the questions of new users. Some of those answers are hilarious and worth the read. Please note that you've not used the reality-check tag correctly (it's not for asking "is this realistic?") so I removed it. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 21 at 6:05

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A qualified yes.

Large males can weigh-in as much as 360 Kg (790 lb), that's over three and a half times the weight of an adult male human (like the one typing this answer, who frankly needs to lose some excess pounds). Running whilst carrying the extra weight is going to be noticeable, but shouldn't present much of an issue for sprinting or a paced distance run. It'd approximate a healthy, muscular adult male human carrying an average 11 year old piggyback (with the mount still being able to swing arms), not comfortable, but doable.

As to speed; male grizzlies have been recorded reliably at Yellowstone at 48 km/h (30 mph) with short bursts of about 18% higher than that. Somewhat slower with a living back-pack.

Note; males inland weigh less than on the coastal regions.

Small females weigh as little as 100 Kg (Yucon river area, inland), so nearer the weight of a muscular adult male human. Perhaps an adolescent or small woman might be OK here.

The issue of staying-on whilst at a gallop is something I'll leave to the writer, but worth bearing in mind that although the rhythm is much like a horse's gallop - there is no saddle, bridle or stirrups unless you can convince it to wear them. Good luck to any of your characters that try to do that.

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  • $\begingroup$ With horses gelding is a technique that is used to make stallions more malleable and easier to ride. It would possibly work on grizzly's as well. Then all you need is someone whose stupid volunteer for the job. $\endgroup$
    – Mon
    Jun 21 at 6:13
  • $\begingroup$ Absolutely. I wonder if you can let it grow to full size first, then "tame" it. @Mon $\endgroup$ Jun 21 at 6:36
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    $\begingroup$ Did anyone notice this is essentially a werebear? A human who can take the form of a griz. Might solve most of the "cooperation" based issues, presuming he retains at least most of his human intellect... $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Jun 21 at 12:22
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For the extremely persnickety answer, whether a large animal is ridable mostly comes down to where its organs are. That's why one can ride a horse but not a zebra - because zebra have important organs in their upper back which you'd bruise by sitting on.

Its at this point I have to admit I have no idea what bear anatomy is like, sure it will work out fine though. On with your animorphs show :p

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