Ike with his "cheater braids" - Photo by High Time Photography, Winston-Salem, NC

Ike with his “cheater braids” – Photo by High Time Photography, Winston-Salem, NC

So we are about six weeks out from Ike’s first licensed show.  He attended a couple of licensed shows last year, but only did Intro classes, so I’m not really counting those.  With show season drawing near and us moving up to the licensed show world, it renews my angst over my lack of braiding skills.  It is not for the lack of trying.

Yes, I know there are purists out there who swear they can braid a mane in 20 minutes using traditional methods.  Lucky you.  I have tried over the years to sew in a braid, but failed miserably.  Can’t even get one in if given 20 minutes.  I then used bands, but again, my feeble attempts were average at best with my braids jutting at various angles rather than politely along my horse’s neck.  Let’s face it, some of us are just not hair dresser material – my own hair lays witness to that fact.  My poor horse doesn’t stand a chance.

Yet, I am required to braid in order to show, so what to do, what to do…Yes I can take three pieces and plait them together and stick a rubber band on the end, but that won’t cut it at a horse show.  I guess I could track down someone who is proficient at braiding and beg them to braid Ike’s mane.   But all the good braiders I know are busy getting their own horses ready to show, so that leaves me back at square one.  I could roach Ike’s mane, but I just don’t think that is really his “look.”

So you purists out there might want to stop reading this post at this point.  I’m about to really draw your ire with my method of braiding…

I am now well known for my “cheater braids” as my friend Amy dubbed them years ago.  I call it being efficient with my time, after all, I am not competing at Devon or Gladstone.  I promise that if we ever qualify for the USDF/GAIG Region 1 Championships or the Region 1 BLMs, I will pay someone to braid Ike’s mane for the championship class (Girl Scouts’ honor).  For now, I will continue my time-efficient method.  Would you like to know my secret?  I call it Hairdini for Horses, but Dressage Extensions sells them as Easyplait Braiders.

They don’t actually require any braiding for them to work – there is a hole in the middle of the “velvet” covered wire.  You stick the mane through the hole, squeeze, and roll it up like you are putting in a curler.  You then bend one end over the other and TA-DA!  A button braid!   Just squint a bit and you won’t be able to tell they aren’t real button braids.

Here we are at the show headed down centerline…

Can you tell the difference?

Can you tell the difference?

And on a circle…

Even the judge couldn't tell the difference

Even the judge couldn’t tell the difference

Since you have made it this far in the post, here is my helpful hint that helps the Easyplaits stay in place better – spray a section of mane with Quick Braid, braid the mane and rubber band it with two rubber bands.  I usually do this step the day before the show and leave them in overnight.  The next morning at the butt crack of dawn, all you need do is stick the end of the braid through the hole in the Easyplait and roll it up.   You are now ready to head down centerline!

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p.s.  In case you think that judge’s will cringe, I did have a judge compliment Ike’s braids at one show last year.  I just smiled and politely said thank you as we left the ring on our way to collect our blue ribbon. 🙂