what would you do with a horse's mane for western events? Really don't want to pull/cut/roach,
Could I just leave them down? And one of my mares has CRAZY mane! Its all over the place, and I really should cut a bridle path, but I braid one instead. Is that okay?
I'm not savvy on western, so I will leave the western even question to the others but,
As for the bridle path, I would clip it or shave at least a small patch with one of those safe trimmers. If you braid it then your bridle will not fall correctly onto the horse's poll, and it can cause pressure, itchiness etc.... and overall be uncomfortable. Not doing anything and just leaving it can cause the bridle to pull the hair, tangle with it, and cause other discomforts. The bridle path is first and foremost for the horse's comfort while wearing the bridle.
Most people already said the general gist but I have a few things I like that haven't been listed by anyone.
Yes, do wash your horse at least 24 hours or more before a show so your horse can build up it's natural oils. If something happens and you just MUJST wash your horse again, or a spot, use something really mild like a moisturizing body wash. My favorite is Olay Moisturizing body wash because it doesn't strip the oils so bad and you don't end up with a dull patch, or dull horse because you had to wash poo or mud off before the show.
When braiding the tail, taking the smallest strands possible from under the tail and don't take any from the front (when done properly it covers the front anyway) looks better and more "finished" than taking thicker bunches. I always get "oohs" and "ahhs" when I braid Cinny's tail and I even had one judge say that if they could award a "best tail braid" at the end of day's miscellaneous awards, Cinny would have had it hands down.
If using bands, buy a big bag, or several packages of the ones you plan to use and do a trial run. No kidding.... My last show I tried a different brand and they all broke and/or "popped" off within 10 minutes of putting them in. Not something someone wants to have happen.
Have someone double check under the tail.... I've seen a LOT of horses at schooling shows gallantly trotting around the arena with mudd butt!