As a birthday present many years past, my husband paid for me to have my horse show ribbons fashioned into a wall hanging. Ribbons earned in my youth sat sadly bagged up in a corner of the attic until a vendor we met while attending a horse show showed us her work. Inspired by the idea I quickly pronounced this to be my gift of choice for an upcoming birthday and so my horse show ribbon wall hanging came to be. Now proudly displayed on our bedroom wall, it’s a site I take in each night as I lay down to rest. Social media is often flooded with ideas about what can be done to display ribbons earned at horse shows. While I admit to have taken advantage of a few of those tips that’s not what this week’s blog post is about. It’s about the memories each of those ribbons hold.
Incorporated into my wall hangings are ribbons from my youth through my college years. There’s a plethora of 4-H ribbons from a time when I used to compete in shows practically every weekend. Some of those ribbons were earned while riding a pony mare named Munchkin. A first generation of today’s Spotted Saddle Horse, she was a 13.2hh fireball. She was also an orphan foal that had to overcome significant health issues in order to survive. The champion and reserve champion rosettes earned during our show career together have special meaning above and beyond their usual honor because of that.
In particular, one ribbon stands out that was earned by another horse. He was my once in a lifetime horse, Faax. It’s not a beautiful blue. Dingy yellow is a better descriptor of its color but its importance to me is huge. That diminutive 14.2hh Arabian gelding could jump the moon and held his own one day while competing in a hunter jumper show against more traditional hunter breeds.
Then there are the ribbons from my college years. Some of those were earned while competing as a part of the Equestrian Team while I attending MTSU. Three large ribbons of special importance here came while I was a part of the Horse Judging Team and MTSU and were earned during a competition at the US Arabian and Half-Arabian National Championship Horse Show where, nationally, we placed second high team overall along with second place awards in performance horse judging and oral reasons. Good times during a special period of my life.
Ribbons displayed across the top were earned after the wall hanging was made and are just as special. These were earned during adulthood and represent those earned with a new horse both before and after she came back from a near life and near career ending founder. Some of those represent a year’s worth of work just to get started bringing her back.
On the wall beside this treasured wall hanging is a display case with three schooling show ribbons and their accompanying dressage test score sheets. It was only a schooling show but it was the first time I had ever competitively ridden a dressage test. I paired it with another display case filled with trophy faceplates, removed before I donated the actual trophies back to 4-H, that also represent a youth filled with horse shows.
On the opposite wall, there is a wreath made with rosettes. They incorporate a blending of ribbons earned both in youth and adulthood and represent great memories one and all. Every night before I go to sleep I think about the horses that I rode to earn these ribbons. The sometimes blood, often sweat, and definitely the tears that made up the moments we shared and I remember, no matter the day, that it’s been a good life spent in the company of horses.
Finally, in my living room entry way is my final ribbon displays. On the wall hangs a small display of photographs and a ribbon earned after a return to the show ring following a too long hiatus. My entry way table holds a vase full of ribbons, all earned in adulthood and some made even more special because they were earned while showing with my daughter when she was still young along with photo albums describing our triumphs.
My advice to you? Enjoy those ribbons. Display them. It matters not when you earned them whether it was last weekend or long ago. It’s not about bragging rights either even if you were fortunate enough to come out on top in a large, competitive class. It’s not really even about the horses you beat or if you placed last. It’s about the lessons you learned and the experiences you shared with your amazing partner, your horse.