All About Horse Show Ribbons (Colors and Placings)

Let’s jump right into some Horse Show 101 for this post and talk about: RIBBONS! Have you ever wondered what the different colors stand for when it comes to horse show ribbons? Let’s find out!

saddle and ribbons

Ribbons are Traditional Horse Show Prizes

Every year after a hockey tournament, my son walks away with a medal and/or trophy depending on the contest and his team’s placing. Same thing for baseball. But when it comes to my daughter’s horse shows: it’s ALL about the ribbons. Horse show ribbons are the most common prize awarded to equestrians. They can vary widely by style, size and overall design, but for the most part, the main rank colors are always the same.

Who Picks the Prizes?

The horse show host (farm) is in charge of choosing and designing the show’s ribbons. There are many different varieties of ribbon styles to choose from. Of course, the fancier the ribbon, the higher the cost. There are many ribbon companies to pick from when you go to order your ribbons. We have used Hodges Badge Company several times over the years and they always send nice quality ribbons!

We have even used Hodges to order ribbons for party favors and they turned out great as well.

Additional Options for Horse Show Prizes

In addition to the traditional set of ribbons awarded to each horse show class, a farm might decide to offer additional prizes.

Some of the prizes that we have seen over the years:

  • Medal to the first place winner
  • Trophy to the first place winner
  • Cash to the winners
  • Candy or other small trinkets to first place winners and leadliners
  • Champion and Reserve ribbons to division winners (more on that below)
Horse show prizes

What are Champion and Reserve Champion placings in a horse show?

Typical horse shows offer groups of classes called divisions. A division is usually made up of 3-4 classes that offer competition to the same age/skillset of competitor. For example, a mini stirrup division might be offered to riders 10 and under. Three classes in a mini stirrup division might be walk/trot, walk/trot/canter, crossrails/poles.

Riders in each division compete to see not just what they can win in individual classes, but to see how many points they can earn in the entire division.

After all classes in a division are pinned, the rider with the most points earns “Champion” status. The rider with the 2nd highest points is the “Reserve Champion” of the division. Many shows offer ribbons for these high point winners.

What happens in a tie? When the top two riders in a division each earn the same number of points, the tie-breaker usually comes down to the jump class. Whichever rider had the higher placing in the jump class bumps to Champion. The other rider would win Reserve Champion.

Champion and Reserve ribbons

How many points are ribbons worth?

In a traditional hunter/jumper show, the points allocated to each ribbon/placing are as follows:

  • 1st place – 7 points
  • 2nd place – 5 points
  • 3rd place – 4 points
  • 4th place – 3 points
  • 5th place – 2 points
  • 6th place – 1 point

This point system is what is used to determine who wins Champion and Reserve Champion in each division.

Ribbons Colors and Their Placings

Most horse shows offer placings in each class from 1st place to 6th place. Some rated shows, exhibition shows, and other specialty shows may offer ribbon placings all the way down to 10th place.

Here are the colors most commonly associated with horse show results:

  • Blue – 1st place
  • Red – 2nd place
  • Yellow – 3rd place
  • White  – 4th place
  • Pink – 5th place
  • Green – 6th place
  • Purple – 7th place
  • Brown – 8th place
  • Gray – 9th place
  • Light Blue – 10th place

Note: these are the horse show ribbon colors commonly used in the United States. Other countries might have slightly different prize colors.

Horse Show Ribbons
brown purple horse show ribbon

Year End Ribbons

In the competitive world of horse shows, the culmination of a season’s hard work and dedication is often celebrated through the awarding of year-end ribbons. These awards are a step above the regular show ribbons, marking not just a single event’s success but an entire season’s achievement.

Many clubs or associations that manage these show series offer the opportunity to earn year-end awards at the end of the show season. To vie for these coveted awards, riders are typically required to join the club or association by paying a membership fee. Some groups also require additional commitments from members, for example volunteering to help at some of the shows.

Throughout the show season, riders and horses collect points at each show. The year-end ribbons are usually awarded to the top 6-10 riders in each class division. Depending on the type of division, the prizes might be awarded to the rider or to the horse. Year-end banquets or farm parties are a popular option for celebrating these accomplishments and handing out the awards. Year-end ribbons are often a good bit fancier and bigger than regular horse show ribbons which definitely adds to their allure!

Ribbon Color is EVERYTHING

Okay, maybe not to every rider. But ribbon color is definitely important – especially to the youngest riders! If you ever want to see this in action, head over to the leadline class. These classes are for the very youngest equestrians and there is almost always someone who is not happy with her ribbon, because of… the color. If you haven’t read our story about the time our leadliner only wanted a pink ribbon, I highly recommend it. It is quite entertaining!


Ways to Display Horse Show Ribbons

As you start to accumulate more than a handful of ribbons, you may want to look into different ways to display them!

A simple string or wire strung from 2 nails across the wall will certainly get the job done. There are lots of other options though!

Here are a few:

Horse Show Ribbons in Lantern

We hope this helps you with some insight as you learn to navigate the world of horse shows.

Have another idea for a topic we could write about? Drop us a comment and let us know!


Horse Show Ribbons 101

2 thoughts on “All About Horse Show Ribbons (Colors and Placings)”

  1. Preparing to host a couple of shows at our farm this year and looking into ribbon cost. 3 streamer rosettes for 1st and 2nd, 2 streamer rosettes for 3rd – 6th. Dressage horse/Jumping horse and farm name on ribbon if possible.


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