But it’s so much more than that. Most of my horse friends are just as crazy about show ribbons as I am. And it’s not just that they’re pretty, colorful, and nice to look at/decorate your room with – it’s what they stand for that means so much.
A horse show ribbon means that you’ve done it. You’ve taken your horse off your home property, out into a possibly confusing situation, and swallowed your nerves while you placed your left foot into the stirrup iron and mounted up. You pushed all the crazy, negative, scary thoughts out of your head and focused on the task at hand. And you were aware that this day was only happening because months and months of incredibly hard work finally paid off.
So that ribbon isn’t necessarily for the accomplishment of that very day, it’s for the blood, sweat, and tears from those previous months (or years!). Even horse and rider pairs in the most entry level, green classes/divisions have worked their tails off to be in the ring at that very moment.
A ribbon (regardless of its place) means that you have gotten up super early on your weekend off to go ride while it’s still cool out before the summer heat and humidity became too oppressive. It means that you have bundled up in multiple layers to ride when it’s 28 degrees out and have lost feeling in your fingers 15 minutes into the lesson.
It means that you have saddled up after a long, exhausting day at work when all you really wanted to do was go home and sit on the couch/sleep. And it means that you mounted up when you were scared or nervous and pushed yourself to keep going to that next level.
So after all that (and so much more…and I won’t even get into the financial aspect), you’re ready to venture off the home farm and into unknown territory. You’ve asked your horse to trust you as you entered into the crowded warm-up ring full of horses zooming every which way. You’ve calmed your horse when you felt him/her tighten up and start to side step. And you’ve pushed through a class when you (incorrectly) felt that you were the worst rider in the world. All the self-doubt and self-consciousness and fear – you’ve pushed it aside and competed, given yourself and your horse the opportunity to put forth your best efforts and shine.
And after all that, you come away with a ribbon, just a piece of silk…but at that moment, that little token means more than anything. That piece of silk is just a visual reminder that you and your horse are partners and that you can, together, overcome any obstacle.