As I unpacked the last of the boxes from our move to the farm two years ago, I found a bunch of horse show ribbons in the bottom. As I tossed them to the side, it gave me pause. What year and class were these from? I couldn't remember. Reflecting back on when I could have earned them, I recalled my first blue. Back then, I wouldn't have tossed ribbons to the side. When someone handed me a trophy, it might as well have been a winning lottery ticket.
Somewhere along the way I stopped minding if my horse chewed on the odd rosette. When I moved to college, my ribbons came off my wall and now just get stuffed into one of the many glass vases I use for display in my barn office.
You could say that the win doesn't mean as much to me now, but I see it as something else. My ribbons, so many I lose them in moving boxes, just mean something different. When I started to show, a ribbon was more a result of luck than hard work. Since then, I have received as many green and brown ribbons as faces full of mud and grass from hard falls. For all of the blood, sweat and tears, I have a matching collections of red, yellow and white satin.
As I stare at the countless ribbons in my display, I see the story of my riding career--the necessary struggles and the lucky successes. Individually and together, they stand for everything that has made me the horsewoman I am today and prove to me that along the way, I learned how to truly ride.