Grace's mane and I are at a bit of a stand off. It doesn't look any longer to me than it did a the end of the summer. I wash and condition it weekly if the temperatures will allow. It looks beautiful the day after I wash it, but give it two days of pasture living and it is a frizzy muddy mess. I've braided it in the past, but I always took the braids out after a day because I couldn't stand how messy they would look at the top. I know all the reiners and barrel racers are doing it, but the messy braids bothered me more than the frizz. I spent some quality time with Google searching for long mane care tips and I learned that just like in human hair care it is all about the product. More than one long mane aficionado brought up Bio Silk Silk Therapy at the tune of $25 a bottle, which Walmart carried for less. I wasn't thrilled at the idea of spending more than $20 for my horse's hair product, but maybe if I added to the grocery bill my husband wouldn't noticed that I skipped buying toilet paper that month.
Then I lucked out! Right under the shelve with the high end brand name hair products where the "Compare to, Same As" hair products. I found SilkWorks for $9 and it promised to be just as wonderful as BioSilk. The instructions claim it can be used on wet or dry hair and can be used on skin. I tested it on my own hair first; it removed all tangles, gave it a silky smooth texture and tamed annoying fly aways. I then tried it on my skin, which absolutely loved it. I ended up back at the store a week later to buy my own bottle. Don't tell Grace that I used hers first!
For Grace's mane I've learned that she does better with the braids if I but them in after the mane is dry. If I braid it wet she shakes her head slapping them against her neck. I've always kept the top of the braids loose so the hair doesn't get pulled out. I add the Silk Works product to Grace's mane while it is still wet and then again to each section before I braid it. I like it better than Cowboy Magic Detangle and Shine. The Silk Works isn't sticky and it doesn't seem to attract dirt.
Here the braids are still going strong a few days later. I didn't feel the need to pull them all out. I've been told the the reason for braiding is to keep the mane from getting tangled. Grace's mane doesn't get the chance to get tangled because I brush it daily. I would imagine the braids will help it grow as it will keep me from obsessively brushing it.