First I assemble my tools:
Today Larry's mane was still wet from his bath; otherwise I use Quic Braid spray to dampen the mane without making it slick (it actually adds a nice amount of grip).
Starting next to the bridle path, eyeball a reasonable section of mane, using your comb to make a straight part and the clip to keep the rest of the mane out of your way. The width of your section will depend on the thickness of your horse's mane; you don't want real thick braids or the finishing step is harder and the results less pleasing.
Make two quick parts in the section so you have three relatively equal strands to braid, and –
braid! At the end, secure with a binder. Tip: if you always start with the same strand, your braids will look and lay the same.
Repeat down the neck, trying to keep your sections equal in width, until the mane is all braided.
I like to finish my braids in the order I started, but you can do them in whatever order you want. All you do is fold a braid in half –
and then in half again –
For a long, silky forelock like Larry's, my preferred method is to braid off to one side and tuck it under the browband and cheekpiece of the bridle to secure it.
To me, at least half the beauty of this method is the ease of removal. Just reach under and grab the end of the braid closest to the crest –
and the second binder you applied just pops off. (I save and reuse them.) Pull the binder off the end –
and you're ready to run your fingers through the strands and set the mane free!
Larry got a short break before I bathed him and braided his mane, and another short break while I took a shower. Then we took off for the show venue nearly an hour and a half away. We had plenty of time to get ready once we arrived, so he got a long, slow warm-up before our first test, which didn't go as well as I expected. He had a hitch in his get-along, popping up and switching leads in the back. It got worse during his second warm-up, and he had some major resistance and threw in a couple of bucks in the second test. There were still some lovely moments (I had the rides recorded on DVD and watched them when I got home), but overall I was disappointed. I have a strong suspicion that all the strange hitches and misbehavior were from fatigue, because he wasn't 'off' at any time and he didn't show any tenderness when I groomed him at the end. He did get far more time under saddle (with nearly six hours in the trailer on top of it) than I've ever put him through in the three months I've had him; what could I expect? Poor guy!
If Larry doesn't sell and I have another chance to show him, I'm going to try a very short warm-up, mostly letting him walk and stretch on a loose rein, then gather up the reins and head into the show arena. Every horse is different; I'm still figuring out the right routine for Larry.