Originally Posted by PrettyLilSweety
Do you have to cut your horses mane for shows? I love long manes and thay take forever to grow. Is there any way to keep my horses mane and show her? Braiding is complicated
What discipline do you show? English or Western? What breed is your horse? Some "fixes" and "outs" to escape pulling and braiding that are appropriate to some breeds and disciplines will draw interesting looks when applied to others.
I've never cut or pulled my horse's manes for showing. I've always had grades, the first a Morgan-type, and Scout a Quarter Pony type with gobs of long and heavy mane. Neither would look right with pulled manes, and my guys typically spend enough time outside that the hair really helps with fly control. Sometimes it's inescapable; my sister has a QH that honestly has such a thin, stringy mane that he looks downright stupid if it's let to grow long and natural.
For Western horses in classes like WP, Eq, Trail, G&S, etc., I do believe that the trend is becoming more accommodating toward long, natural manes. I've seen YouTube videos of big-time breed shows where high-placing horses had full manes, banded the way that they would be if they were pulled short. If you're looking at things like cutting or reining, those disciplines have always had more natural manes in the ring. I've seen plenty of Western Morgans and Arabs with natural manes, left loose, sometimes with a long bridle path/partial roach to set off the throatlatch. Western horses are not braided, save perhaps the forelock if it is very poofy and detracts from the overall picture if it's left loose, or only banded.
English can be trickier. Because braiding is one of the ways that the exhibitor demonstrates another aspect of horsemanship skill, as well as respect toward the judge, most horses are still shown in braids. The "norm" is to pull the mane to an even length of about 6 inches and braided in a series of either flat or button braids. Even if manes aren't braided in the English arena (as in a small schooling show), they are typically pulled to the proper length to be braided, slightly longer than a Western horse to be banded. That holds for Hunter-type horses (TBs, Appendix QH's, and horses of that style) and Stock-type breeds under English tack. For breeds like Morgans, Arabs, and others that typically are kept with natural manes as part of breed standard/tradition, English riders usually do a running braid, french-braiding the mane down the length of the horse's neck. That's what I have always done for English, and it isn't hard to do with a little practice.
Just going into the ring with a natural mane (shampooed and detangled, but not pulled, banded, braided, etc.) may still get you some odd looks, depending on the breed, but you won't be excused from the ring or anything. Going the extra mile to band a long mane in Western, or to do a running braid in English, will largely avoid any misunderstanding or poor marks due to "nonstandard turnout." The caveat is that odd judge who is either an extreme purist/traditionalist, or lives under a rock/doesn't know what they're looking at. I've had one judge at a local schooling show explain to me quite condescendingly that my extremely Morgan-type grade Open Western G&S entry should be pulled and banded "like the rest of the Quarter Horses", and how she would be very willing to show me how to do that... Those experiences are rare, though, and if that does happen, just grin and bear it, and chalk it up to practical showing experience.
Hope that was helpful to you, and gave you some ideas. Good luck!