From Endurance to Dressage
Last week, I shared a video with a braiding technique for long manes. To my surprise, it worked pretty well. Let's be honest; nothing is ever going to look as nice as braids sewn in by someone with some skill. I hate to sew, and I am sorely lacking in the "skillz" department. Girlfriend ain't got none. I may be short on skills (and patience and actually caring), but what I do have is a very patient pony who has perfectly long mane.
If you want to try this at home, you should probably watch the video and actually follow the advice given. Even though I didn't, it still turned out pretty well, which tells me it's a pretty idiot proof braid.
1. I did not wet the mane. I simply combed it free of tangles.
2. I made no effort to be neat or tidy.
3. I combined the tail of each looped braid with one of the three sections needed for the next braid rather than using it alone for a section.
4. I played around with how far down to braid.
5. I played around with how big of a chunk to braid.
6. My last braid was a disaster. A new ending strategy must be employed before using these braids for show.
What I discovered was that this braiding technique is better the longer the mane is. I also think it would look better with a thick mane. Speedy's mane is fairly long, but of only medium thickness. Even so, it worked quite well.
With thinner manes, braid less than the finger length shown on the video. If the braided part is too long, the rubber band shows when you loop the braid though. You will have to adjust the length of the braided part depending on the thickness of the braid. Thick, fat braids will need to be longer while thin, small braids will need to be shorter.
Everything about this braid was very straightforward to do, except that very last part. I was surprised at how easy it was to twist the unbraided part and slide it through the base of the loop. It didn't seem to matter if I got it through the center or not. I also discovered that you can make the braid taller and poofier by not pulling the braided end through as far. Conversely, pulling the braid through tightly will make smaller, tighter braids.
The true test for me was how long it would actually stay braided without the regular droop I get with the French braid. To put it to the test, I braided Speedy's mane and then groomed Izzy. I saddled Izzy and then took both horses to the arena. I rode Izzy for 40 minutes while Speedy stood tied at the fence. I untacked the big brown horses, put him away, and then saddled Speedy. I schooled him for the better part of 30 minutes and then checked the braid.
Considering that I made no effort to get it neat or tight, it looked pretty good after nearly two hours. The French braid never lasts that long. I need a bit more practice and some fine tuning, but this is going to be my new braid for shows.
Did anyone else try it?
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
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Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
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