Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What Does That Ribbon In That Horse's Tail Mean?

Tail ribbons are a tradition that came into use in the English hunt scene and, for a while, were also seen at horse shows in Europe and America. They're still sometimes seen in both the hunt field and at horse shows - and I personally would like to see more of them.

Four tail ribbons are generally used:

1. Red. A red ribbon means the horse its attached to can't be trusted - the horse is likely to kick or bite. It warns other competitors and riders not to "tailgate" the offending animal or otherwise get too close.

2. Green. I mentioned green ribbons when talking about green horses. A green ribbon is sometimes put on a young animal or one that hasn't been to many shows. (Regardless of age, I would always put a green ribbon on a horse that had not shown before). Green horses are less predictable than well-trained ones.

The other two colors are seen less often:

1. Blue. A blue ribbon is traditionally put on a stallion. Stallions can be harder to handle than mares or geldings and may, again, do something a bit unpredictable (or very predictable if you know just how testosterone-fueled stallions are).

2. White. A white ribbon is sometimes put on a horse that is available for sale or lease.

I've also heard of pink ribbons for a mare in heat, but these days that's just as likely to mean the rider supports a breast cancer charity...

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