When I was in Ireland, the ladies doing a one day where I was staying, braided with bands. That way, they could pull the braids out quicker for the cross country portion, and have mane to grab, instead of having braids left in.
I was actually taught by my trainer to do bands. Must be a regional thing. She grew up in California and spent years in England getting her Intermediate British Horse Society certification. That's where she learned to do bands.
I used to use yarn but I trust her opinion more ;)
Eventerdrew, I'm very suprised your instructor was taught to use bands.
My mum did her BHS AI at the wirral riding centre with the Haddons in charge, she had to plait her horse up before every lesson, with thread and they had to be perfect or she had to take them out and start again.
No horse left its stable untill it's feet had been oils and they even hacked out in full jackets and stocks.
Infact over here plaiting with lazy is seen as lazy and unproffessional and generaly only done by showjumpers as thier turnout often leaves a lot to be desired.
I'm the opposite gypsy girl. I hate seeing more then 13 plaits.
Too many makes the neck look too long and thin. I think it looks absolutly awful.
You can vastly improove how a horse looks with plaiting. If its got a short neck you do more plaits, if it has a long neck you do less fat plaits. If it has no top line you do few plaits pushed up into a hood. If it is very cresty or thick set you do small plaits right down on the neck.
You can mix and match, if it is thich through the jowls then small plaits up the top of its neck, getting bigger towards the middle of the neck to give th illusion of a good curve and then smaller again towards the base.