Know Your Horse Tail Ribbons

04.2.2015
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by Matt
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11 Comments
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The horse world is steeped in tradition, but loves a good trend. Trends come and trends go, but some of the oldest and best-loved traditions aren’t wrapped up in fashion or training methods but in the simple interest of keeping horses and riders safe. Take tail ribbons, for example. Different colored ribbons in horses’ tails send different messages about that horse — messages you’ll want to be able to read. Do you know your horse tail ribbons?

The colored tail ribbons seem to be making a show-ring comeback after being relegated to the hunting field for many years. Here are the basics you’ll want to know, so that you can act accordingly around other horses — and have others act accordingly around your horse!

Green:
This is a simple one — a green horse. Spot one of these in the warm-up ring and you’ll know to go easy on this horse-and-rider combination as they’re negotiating the brave new world of horse showing.

Red:
The classic “stay away” ribbon, red is the universal color of the kicker. Keep your distance from these crimson-bedecked horses — they’re warning you away so you won’t get hurt.

Yellow:
This color traditionally means “caution” whether you’re on horseback or on the highway. In this case, take caution with that yellow-ribboned horse — that’s a stallion. Although the rider might be fully capable of controlling their stallion, there’s no need to antagonize a potentially territorial horse, so steer clear of yellow.

White:
Seemingly less common these days, there’s plenty of evidence on the Internet to suggest that a white ribbon means a horse is for sale.

Of course, throughout the world all of these can be tweaked a little. Some breed associations in the UK require that competing stallions wear a red, white, and blue ribbon in their tails. Some other disciplines seem to have adopted the red, white, and blue color scheme for stallions as well.

Have a different take on tail ribbon? Know some more colors and their meanings? Share in the comments!

11 responses on “Know Your Horse Tail Ribbons

  1. Lynn says:

    At 4H winter shows, I’d put a red ribbon in my mare’s tail just to keep the kids from riding their horses up into her butt — it was distracting for both of us!

  2. Robina Plume says:

    A good indication of temperament and type of horse.
    Easy to see.
    Safety is important.

  3. Guest says:

    Ive seen a stallion with a red ribbon only at an endurance race only yesterday….it was strange….i remember that they used to use the red for kickers and yellow for stalions but you almost always saw them combined on a stalion….gues red is enough these days

  4. Marie says:

    My stallion is green, a kicker, a stallion, and for sale. Which do I put? Or should I just get a rainbow ribbon.

  5. Vickie says:

    My horse is blind in one eye, is there a ribbon for the horse has a disability?

    • Matt Johnson says:

      There aren’t any ribbons that universally identify that a horse has a disability. However, if you use a red ribbon, other riders will naturally give you some extra space, since they’ll think that your horse might kick. This might be the best option for your situation.

    • Jack says:

      Not that I know of but I would think blue would be most appropriate since people are already accustomed to this for any other disability related items.

  6. Pepper Splechter says:

    My horse bites what should I use?

    • Matt Johnson says:

      While there isn’t a specific ribbon for horses that bite, using a red tail ribbon will warn other riders to leave your horse some extra space, which works out well for biters as well as kickers.

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