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Sort-of sequel to this question.

In that question, I asked about the feisability of domesticating a jaguar with the end goal of making a ridable mount. One good point that was mentioned was that a cat is not exactly built for riding, and that carrying weight could damage the back. This made me think of something that I had read here, about feline-based beasts of burden. While it's more in the vein of cart-drawing cats, there is mention of riding them as well.

Since feline spines are more flexible than horse spines, it reduces their ability to carry weight on their backs. However, a solution mentioned was to have special saddles made that distributed weight along the side of the animal, rather than right on their backs. Think something like a dog backpack.

This leads me to my question:

How would a saddle need to be designed so that a jaguar could handle a dwarven rider?

Now, since I've written the original question, I've been thinking that these jaguars may need to be borderline horse-sized for dwarves to ride. I can buy that there could be selective breeding to make the back more conducive to ride. Also note: the linked source mentions that felines think in vertical space. A feline mount may not hesitate to climb a tree or jump over things. This could definitely factor into saddle design.

When I was thinking about this question, I had originally pictured a jaguar being driven by 2 dwarven jockeys in a dog backpack-like saddle that suspended them on either side of the jaguar. Since the Jaguar is a stalk and ambush predator, speed inhibition may not be as much of an issue. Human jockeys at the lowest are about 126 lbs, but I could cut that down if that's feasible. This whole driving setup probably isn't very feasible, but if anyone wants to weigh in feel free!

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  • $\begingroup$ Would you want to ride a carry into battle? That would svelte lint the cays mobility and ability to attack. $\endgroup$ – Garret Gang Oct 25 '17 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ First you have to build a saddle. Then you have to get the cat to, somehow let you put it on it. Good luck with that. If you assume magic that allows you to communicate with the cat (D&D Druids and Rangers) that only lets the cat tell you in words where to put that thing. $\endgroup$ – ShadoCat Oct 30 '17 at 21:00
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The real plus in those dog backpacks is not fact weight is on the sides (weight will pull downward even if it is under your belly and so it will drag on your spine), but fact it distributes weight on a larger part of the spine and they are rigid enough to give a constant weight on about two thirds of the spine, regardless of where the actual weight is.

Main drawback of such an arrangement is it blocks the spine like a corset preventing natural bending; this is less a problem with dogs then cats as they tend to be much stiffer (but still much more limber than a horse).

Back to your jaguar: optimal positioning strongly depends on usage.

For towing or walking at a leisurely pace with relatively heavy weight such a saddle may be used, even if I strongly suspect the animal wouldn't find it very comfortable.

OTOH if you want to use such a ride in battle or in equally changeling activities I advise to use a much smaller saddle moved up so it weights mainly over shoulder blades, directly over support of fore legs, exactly where cats spine is actually stronger and relatively less flexible.

You may want to have short stirrups so that the rider can actually ride standing and help the mount in the difficult leaps, exactly like the horse rider who actually "jumps" together with the horse in order to be lighter while in flight.

Keeping balance on such a mount, especially if it rises on hind legs either to climb or fight may be problematic and some anchorage, like what's on "amazon saddle" may help to keep calf and knee fixed (no swinging stirrups!) while letting raider free to follow movement from knee up.

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  • $\begingroup$ You mentioned moving the saddle up over the shoulders for battle - I was actually thinking this would be the optimum place for a saddle in the 1st place... I personally don't think 2 riders either side of the Jaguar would be very effective. $\endgroup$ – kiltannen Oct 19 '17 at 22:37
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The "saddle" will be a shirtlike construction, worn by the "rider". This saddle shirt will offer a large padded scruff, which the jaguar will take in its teeth, carrying the dwarf as it would one of its own kittens.

This allows the cat to carry another creature in the manner it is accustomed, taking all the care it would with one of its own kittens. The dwarf has the benefit of hands and legs all free, enabling two-handed axe-swinging and frenzied kicking.

http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2015/04/page/2/ jaguar carrying cub

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    $\begingroup$ We're going to need a bigger cat. $\endgroup$ – Mazura Oct 19 '17 at 22:54
  • $\begingroup$ I would disagree. Cat resort to that system because it's the only one available. When transporting a kitten they are very much hampered and surely cannot fight; also climbing is almost impossible. $\endgroup$ – ZioByte Oct 20 '17 at 7:30
  • $\begingroup$ I also wouldn't want to be carried that way of the cat is running over rough ground. Thump, bump, one big bruise. $\endgroup$ – ShadoCat Oct 30 '17 at 20:58

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