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What Place Is a Yellow Ribbon?

Horse show ribbons come in several colors, but the placing and meaning associated with each color can get confusing.

Horse show ribbons come in almost every color of the rainbow, but sometimes those colors can get confusing. Journal photo.

Depending on where you live, horse show ribbon colors vary in placement. For example, in the United States, blue is first place, but in Canada, first place is awarded a red ribbon. In the Netherlands, the color orange has significant meaning to the country, so it represents first place.

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All the colors can get beyond confusing. Use our chart as a reference for international ribbon colors. 

So why is first place blue or red in most countries?

The history of the blue ribbon dates back to the age of knights. Cordon Bleu was an exemplary order of knights that wore a blue “riband” on their armor. In the late 19th and early 20th century as an ode to the knights, the blue ribands were awarded to passenger liners that made it across the Atlantic Ocean the fastest. Over time, the spelling changed to blue ribbon, but the prestige remains the same.

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The meaning behind a red ribbon is a bit cloudy, but the presence of red in ancient games shows the color red has been significant for more than a thousand years. It is believed the color red lost some approval in America during the Revolutionary War, due to the British Redcoats, hence why it represents second in America, but first in the United Kingdom. None of this has been truly proven by historians, but it sure makes a good story.

Unfortunately, there is no information to be found on the remaining ribbons’ meanings, but there is no denying the significance of winning your first ribbon at an AQHA show, no matter what the color. 

For ways to up-cycle your horse-show ribbons in nifty ways, check out the blog, Totally Clever Ways for Repurposing Horse-Show Ribbons. Every ribbon of every color deserves its time in the limelight.