Braiding for County Fair 4-H Show
I am showing in the (Cecil, in Maryland) County Fair in the 4-H horse and pony show. I read the handbook for 4-H showing for Maryland and it says that braiding is not required, and only recommended for seniors (I am an intermediate), and only in the showmanship classes. But the parent of my club's president is telling everyone in the club we have to braid. I also looked at photos of other people on the 4-H day from last year and only about half were braided and half weren't. I am not good at braiding and having more to do that day would stress me out big time, and according to the rule book I can't have anyone braid for me either. I was also told by someone else from my barn that she has never needed to braid for county fair on any of the days. The horse I am riding also has a nicely pulled mane already (it is on the wrong side, but we have not been able to train it over, and trying would probably be a lost cause at this point). If you were in my position, what would you do? Would you braid, yes or no?
Well, I can tell you that our 4-H program is a lot more leniant. Most people don't braid for fair; some of the kids with big fancy WP/HUS Quarter Horses band, but the majority of kids don't do either.
Are you showing English, Western, both? If Western or both, I would band the mane. You should be able to find some good videos of that on YouTube. If you're doing just English/hunt seat, I would do hunter braids, but you'll need to practice these first as it can be very tricky to make them look nice. Again, YouTube is your friend.
I show English only, and I don't do any conformation or showmanship classes either. I was told that if I braided the night before they would just be ruined by morning, but since nobody is allowed to help me with the braids the day of, I would have no choice. I already get way too stressed at shows, and adding braiding to it would make me lose my mind. I found a photo of a girl from our club last year who won the junior division champion, and her pony had no braids, just a pulled mane.
I've braided the night before in the past, would much rather do it the morning if but as long as your horse doesn't rub them they should look okay. If you have a sleazy, that will help to keep them flat through the night.
If you don't want to and you think it'll be okay, that's up to you. It's within your rule book to not do so. If you decide to do it... Practice before the show. Do them the night before, put a sleazy on and tie up your horse with a water bucket within reach. I would absolutely do it. Braiding is just an extra step that shows respect for the judge that you were willing to take time to properly turn out your horse to be there, which should be seen across all levels (unless stated by show committe, etc).
The horse I ride cannot stand staying in at night. He has to be turned out as much as possible to be a happy camper in the morning. In the past in order to train over his mane for shows he has been turned out the night before with his hair in rubber bands so that they stick straight up (in the morning we would brush it down onto the correct side and use mouse to keep it there), and he has always came in the next morning with all of the rubber bands still in. I do not have a sleazy.
They braid here (county level) for English. Sleezies (hoods/manetamers/etc) are a great way to protect the braids. Is your horse a rubber when braided? (if you aren't sure, it's a good time to do a practice run by braiding and seeing how they look in the morning - plus gives you practice in braiding). Aero didn't need a hood and only rubbed out one of her braids this year - it was easily put back into place quickly and she was ready for the arena.
At my riding school, we need to braid for every show, but I usually go to bigger hunter shows, so I don't know much about 4-H shows. Now I've got to warn you that my own braiding looks like crap, but here are some things you can do to make braiding easier:
-Make the braids as tight as possible.
-Practice braiding before the show.
-If you need to braid in a hurry, try using quikbraid. It makes the mane stickier and easier to braid.
-NEVER use detangler or conditioner on the mane before you braid! It will make the mane slippery and very difficult to braid.
Thanks a lot guys. I will practice braiding tomorrow and will also see if my instructor or somebody else from my barn has a sleazy for me to borrow. If I can't borrow one or I just see that my braids turn out sloppy after a few tries I may just not braid for this show. This is what the rule book says about the "fitting and showing" for hunter classes (the most important part in bold):
"Hunter: Hunter type bridle and an approved bit (see Section
IX. English Division) of exhibitor’s choice. Halters may be used
on horses under the age of two. Braiding is optional, but recommended for senior exhibitors."
I would really like to braid considering Sailor's mane is on the wrong side for hunters, but if it is going to stress me out as much as it already has, then not braiding will probably be better for me... if I'm bad at it of course.
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