Ok, I have an 18 year old arabian gelding, a pretty little thing, but he has the longest, thickest mane I have ever seen on an Arab. I want to do some intro level dressage with his next year, but I do not want to mess with his glorious, never tangling black mane. Is there any way I could braid it to make it legal without cutting it off? I know on Spanish horses they do running braids, but is it suitable for an Arab? If it helps, he has a very thick (for his breed) well muscled neck, as he is in good shape and wasn't gelded till he was 12, so he doesn't look too ridiculous with no mane. I just love his mane! And it is impossible to do rosettes.... It just can't be done. It's about 1 foot long, but it's so thick that when it rains (even in major thunderstorms) his neck stays bone dry under there.
I used to do a running braid on my Shire cross (we showed up to Second Level at recognised USDF shows) but I was always rubbish at it and usually tried to bribe/beg/coerce friends into the job. I then was taught the lattice: http://www.haflingerhorses.com/marleeshow4.jpg. Much easier, especially if you are hopelessly disorganised like me and put yourself into situations where you have to sort out your horse's mane in some acceptable manner in like twenty minutes. I think it also looks great.
In regular shows, braiding is optional, and there are no mentions of specific types of braiding (button braids or otherwise). My horse's mane is about 2-1/2 feet long, and if cutting and putting it up in button braids were required I wouldn't be showing I do put it up in a nice running braid with the end tucked up under.
We do a running braid for my gelding, and it always looks really nice. (: Pic related, it's him at his first show a year ago. This was at intro level.
As well, at lower levels(depending on the show and stuff, of course) you don't even have to braid it. We just put it in running braids for dressage because it looks a bit nicer, and plus keeps it out of my hands.