Like humans, dragons differ from each other; they each have their own personalities and so cannot be treated all the same.

In order to develop a successful Trustbond, a dragonrider must forge a relationship with his or her dragon and be observant, sympathetic and show understanding. By spending time with and studying their dragon, a dragonrider will come to know the personality of a dragon and the dragon will come to know the dragonrider.



Grooming is an important part of developing the Trustbond. Daily physical contact and care for the dragon will help to create an intimacy between rider and dragon.

Grooming should be undertaken before and after exercise. Thoroughness is important.



Gather together all your grooming kit – this should be kept all together for ease and tidiness.

Talk to your dragon before approaching it – you don’t want to scare it and cause an involuntary flaming!

Beginning at the head, wash all mud and dust from the dragon with a cloth and soapy water. Pick out all mud and dirt between scales with a scale scraper (fig. 2). Run your finger tips between the scales to make sure all dirt has been removed. Begin to polish the dragon’s body with the use of the buffer brushes (figs. 3-5). Use a lower number brush for younger dragons as their scales will not be as hard as an older dragon. Work slowly all down the body, taking care when brushing near the tender parts of the dragon. Using the clawpicker (fig. 8) pick out all dirt between and in the claws. Polish the scales with a dry clean cloth (fig.6) and scale polish (fig.1).

Continue on to the sails (make sure that there is plenty of room for your dragon to extend its wings, so that all of the sail is exposed). Using sail oil (fig.12) and a dry clean cloth, oil the dragon’s sails from the front of the wing to the trailing edge. Finally, apply claw wax (fig.11) to the claws and polish to a shine with a lint cloth.


For scale growth, teeth filing and claw clipping see chapter 4 – Dragon Health.




It is very important that your dragon’s tack is always clean and in good condition. Leather must be soaped or oiled to keep it supple, and iron or brass buckles polished.


Hand reins and leg reins are vital for controlling your dragon on the ground or in the air.

Straps are used to make sure the saddle stays on the dragon, and…

Belts are for ensuring that the rider stays in the saddle!

A Tether is a line that keeps an unseated rider safe until the dragon can land.

All must be checked regularly, especially the stitching. If a strap, belt or teather is cracked it must be immediately replaced.



You should always make sure you are using the saddle most suited to your age and experience. For example:

The Blacksnape  has an oak frame and is very robust. This is the best type of saddle for beginners and junior riders as it gives support for the less confident.

The Springerton has a willow frame and is more supple, but it offers less support and is therefore suitable for more advanced riders.


Saddling Up

You must always make sure that the Belly Strap and the Breast Strap fastening the saddle to your dragon are in good condition, and fastened to be tight enough to prevent the saddle slipping, but not so tight as to make the dragon uncomfortable.

The Stirrup Irons should be adjusted so that you feel safe and secure in flight. Remember that when you are flying upside down, you will be relying on the Stirrup Irons to keep you from falling out of the saddle.


Safety Harness




For working and hunting, riders should wear leather knee boots, breeches and a good quality leather or sheepskin jacket or jerkin over a tunic of cotton, linen or wool. Leather gauntlets and a good quality steel helmet with goggles are also required.  

For Show flying, the rules about what to wear are very strict: a rider who is not properly dressed may be disqualified.

Competitors must wear knee boots and jodhpurs, white kid gloves and a suitable riding habit – a woolen jacket in the colours of the stud represented by the rider, or by private owners in their own approved colours - with a hunting tie or a scarf, and a steel helmet, covered in velvet, also in appropriate colours. It goes without saying that all riding gear for a showing must be immaculate!


Care of your dragon is a vital part of establishing and maintaining the Trustbond, and you should always make sure your dragon is well and happy.


Colic: if your dragon sweats, paws the ground, gets up and down, lies on its back or rolls around, it may be suffering from colic. This caused by excess gas or fluid causing swelling of the stomach. Colic is treated by a gallon of flax oil three times per day, administered by bucket tube and funnel.


Bloat can be confused with colic, but if your dragon is also hiccupping, coughing or dribbling blue-green flame, it may be suffering from bloat. This is a serious condition in which a sudden build up of gas in the second stomach is caused by too much exercise before or after eating. Overfeeding dragons or allowing them to graze on plants covered in snow, frost or dew can cause bloat. Even a small dose of Dragonsrue can lead to this condition. Bloat cannot be treated by an owner and requires IMMEDIATE SURGERY.


Scrape If you spot your dragon trying to scratch itself, or rubbing up against doors or walls, it may be suffering from scrape. In this condition, the dragon’s scales become clogged up due to an excessive build up of dirt between them. Scrape must be removed with a de-scraper and the scales washed in vinegar – but a wise owner will not allow a dragon to become so dirty as to develop scrape in the first place!


Wingflake This is a dragon’s equivalent of Athlete’s Foot, and appears as a patchy fungal growth on its wings. It occurs if dragons are not properly groomed and dried down after exercise in wet conditions. The condition may be treated with herbal ointments, rubbed onto affected areas.


Coker A dragon with a barking cough, swollen throat and excess phlegm is almost certainly suffering from coker. This is caused by its flame over-coking, which produces soot deposits that cause irritation and coughing. The condition may be treated with a daily dose of Coker syrup (a mixture of oil, herbs and powdered coal: each stud has its own special and secret recipe).

Set-fast or Wound-ill is a very dangerous condition, as the dragon’s wings set in its flight position and the dragon loses all control of its wing muscles. If this happens while the dragon is in the air, the consequences can be very serious.  Set-fast is caused by infection of an open wound. The first sign is stiffening of the jaw, followed by stiffness of the neck and difficulty in swallowing. Other symptoms include high temperature, shivering and glazed eyes, and a rapid heart rate. Spasms continue for 3–4 weeks, and complete recovery may take months. The usual treatment is stable rest and hot herb poultices applied every three hours.

A dragon suspected of developing Set-fast MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO FLY!