Braiding for Iberian and Baroque Show Horses
Show season also means it is braiding season, which can be a nightmare for owners (and grooms) of Iberian and Baroque horses with long, flowing manes and tails.
Luckily for us, Cesar Lerias, (Portuguese rider and trainer) has published YouTube videos on how to braid Lusitanos in the traditional style. For those of you who own a Lusitano, or compete in Working Equitation, Doma Vaquera, or Native/Heritage Tack and Attire classes, instructions on how to put up the tail will be of particular interest to you.
For those of you who show your horses at dressage shows and don’t want to cut or pull your horse’s mane, a running braid as demonstrated can be the perfect solution. If your horse has thick mane, it will make it very difficult to get a nice, smooth single running braid, so it is best to split the mane in half and do a braid on each side. For dressage, the tail is normally “banged” flat at the bottom and the hair around the top of the tail is trimmed or pulled to give a nice, neat appearance.
If you are attending breed shows, here are some general rules on braiding protocol for the different types of classes offered:
Halter Classes – No braids in mane or tail, unless you are showing in a Sport – Horse In Hand class
Dressage Classes – Such as dressage suitability, hack, etc – braided mane and forelock, but not tail
Hunt Seat Classes – Braided mane and tail, braided only part way down as traditionally done in Hunter classes
Working Equitation, Doma Vaquera, Native/Heritage Tack and Attire – Braided mane and tail to match whichever “breed” or style you are representing.
Western Pleasure, Saddle Seat, Driving – No braids in mane or tail
Although there are no “rules” as far as braiding is concerned, it is considered and unwritten rule that you braid for specific classes. Failure to do so most likely won’t result in penalization from a judge, but does not help to create that “polished” look you want for the show ring.
The secret to braiding well is practice, practice and more practice! Having a mane and tail that is not freshly washed and using hair product such as gel or spiking gel also helps. To get the mane to stay tight to the crest, use a step stool so you are standing above and slightly behind the horse while braiding.