While spitballing fantasy world creation with a friend who’s writing a novel, I was asked whether or not a character could ride an antelope.
Yes. No. Maybe. A small enough character, a big enough antelope, I guessed.
So I turn to you, Teeming Millions.
In the general case, what makes an animal capable of being ridden? Is it simply a question of size? How much is it mechanics? A tiger may weigh as much as a donkey (or more) but the donkey looks sturdier to me (discounting the part where the tiger bites you; donkeys can bite too).
(We’ll leave the domestication issue aside; I searched the board and found lengthy discussion on that, so I’m not touching it.)
Part of the reason I ask is because I recently finished John Keegan’s history of warfare, in which he mentions that old drawings show Assyrian warriers astride the rear hips of the horse because (drum roll) that’s how they rode. The horse wasn’t strong enough at that point to support human weight between shoulders and hips.
How strong is strong enough? How big is big enough? What animal body types work or would work for riding?