Second Life for Horse Show Ribbons


   Melissa Mallett's Ribbon Ponies make old ribbons into artLooking for another way to display your treasured horse show ribbons? As an alternative to quilted wall hangings, Melissa Mallett of Athol, Mass., offers ribbon ponies and ribbon belts. The belts have a criss-crossed, layered pattern of colored satin that can feature the word “first place” prominently on the wearer’s waist. If your ribbon collection tends toward the pastel hues, that’s OK, too: it’s still a fashion statement that’s a kaleidoscope of memories. And then there are the ribbon ponies, complete with yarn manes and tails. They stand about 12-inches high and require only 15 ribbons to complete. The belts need even fewer streamers. They’re affordable, snazzy options for preserving those hard-earned ribbons.
So how did Mallett begin her stable of ribbon artwork?
“Well, I’m not really sure how it happened,” the self-taught seamstress says.  “A friend of mine gave me a bag of ribbons and told me to go play.”
Because she’d already devised her own pattern for making unique stuffed ponies out of a variety of fabrics—the first one was “foaled” from a knitted mohair sweater—she began experimenting with horse show ribbons. Once she figured out the right format, stiching ribbons together to create a pony, she was in business. It’s a design that’s served her well.
“I have a sample pony that travels to horse shows with me as a display” Mallett says. “It’s about 2 years old and has been battered around quite a bit. It’s been dropped in the dirt, in wet grass, went through a hail storm, and it’s even been picked up in a horse’s mouth once or twice. It’s a little dirty now but otherwise it’s still in fine shape.”
Though not a horse show competitor herself, Mallett describes herself as a dedicated horsewoman. “I’ve been a horse lover all my life,” she explains. “Right now I have a 17-year-old retired Standardbred and a 5-year-old PMU Paint-draft-cross.”
When she’s not busy with her real life horses or juggling her duties as a mom, she’s sewing and getting to know her clientele’s tastes. According to Mallett, the ribbon belts seem to appeal to the younger riders while the ponies are commissioned by all age groups. However, there’s nothing preventing more mature equestrians from pairing a ribbon belt with a pair of jeans for a casual look that’s sure to evoke some conversation. Who wouldn’t want the word “champion” bracketed between belt loops?
To see all of Mallett’s handiwork, which goes beyond just ponies and belts, visit her website at



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