Planning a venture of this sort doesn’t come with a simple set of instructions. There is no textbook manual to refer to. It’s a journey of endurance conjured from my imagination, not a race by any means, but a mission and when we complete the pilgrimage, we won’t be presented with a tidy little ribbon rosette for our achievement. In fact, in reaching our destination, the achievement will not be the fact that we have done so under our own steam without the support of a back-up team – no mean achievement in itself. For me, the real achievement will come when I have reached my target of raising £10,000, to help the Riding for the Disabled Association in their work to deliver opportunities for therapy, achievement and enjoyment to over 30,000 people a year with disabilities.
The Rainbow Ribbon Ride
I have thought long and hard about how to encourage supporters to get involved in what we are doing. This is what I’ve come up with and I have given this venture a new working title, The Rainbow Ribbon Ride. As the sun came out on Easter Day, I decided to wash the winter out of Tommy’s mane and tail and make a few experimental tyings, plaitings and braidings with ribbons.
Sponsor A Ribbon In the Spirit of Chivalry.
Ribbons – or ribands – were given as tokens to knights during the Middle Ages in Europe. The yellow ribbon that became synonymous with the US military service first came from the Puritan Army during the English Civil War. These days, we are all familiar with the pink ribbon for supporters of breast cancer, the red ribbon in recognition for AIDS awareness.
I have recently decided to sport a pale blue ribbon on Tommy’s bridle in support of ‘Sustainable Endurance’ as I am horrified and sickened by what is going on in the UAE in the name of the sport of Endurance Riding. (see here if you have the stomach for it)
Wikipedia: Chivalry, or the chivalric code, is a code of conduct associated with the medieval institution of knighthood which developed between 1170 and 1220. According to the British Medieval historian David Crouch, the historical debate on chivalry is an ancient one. The late medieval code of chivalry had arisen from the idealisation of the early medieval synthesis of Germanic and Roman martial traditions —involving military bravery, individual training, and service to others—especially in Francia, among horse soldiers in Charlemagne‘s cavalry. The term chivalry derives from the Old French term chevalerie, which can be translated to “horse soldiery“.[Note 1]Gautier states that knighthood emerged from the Teutonic forests and was nurtured into civilization and chivalry by the Catholic Church. Over time, its meaning has been refined to emphasise social and moral virtues more generally. And the Code of Chivalry, as it stood by the Late Middle Ages, was a moral system which combined a warrior ethos, knightly piety, and courtly manners, all conspiring to establish a notion of honour and nobility.[Note 2]
Ribbons as Personal Celebration Bunting
As a small child, I remember being mesmerised by the magical weaving of colours dancing around the Maypole on Mayday. I even collect the tiny pieces of ribbon that hold design labels onto new garments (the ones that are usually wrapped in tissue paper and come with a spare button), or the raffia strands from a bunch of tightly bound flowers from artisan florists. Even pipe cleaners (more difficult to come by these days) loosely fit into this category. I love all the different textures of these coloured strands: satin, gauze, grosgrain, jute, organza, velvet, taffeta or silk. In fact, any fine strips of fabric will do, frayed or metal edged, and have a particular fondness for braids made from binding embroidery threads and wool together (see above) and using them like personal adornments to celebrate important occasions: I have worn them in my hair when I got married; they have decorated my children’s Chistening cakes; I have woven them into my clothes or bound the leaves of a hand-made book, the colours as random or as significant as the meanings that flowers used to possess. Christmases and Birthdays would not be the same without them.
In the spirit of those chivalric knights of old, I am planning to weave into Tommy’s mane, the same symbolic rainbow of colours that I used in my Healing Chakra Walks.
How can you become involved? Be physically present without being with us in person?
By offering ribbons in return for a donation to the RDA, I thought that this might not only act as an incentive to donate to my cause but also a way of involving other people in my ride, in a virtual way.
So if you would like to become a supporter – just a single donation of £10 will buy nearly a mile of our route – plus adding to my ‘sponsorship ribbon‘ collection to be plaited into Tommy’s mane, then please visit my donate page, here, make a donation (no amount too small) and you will automatically be ‘allotted’ a coloured ribbon with your name on it. The colour I choose for you will be a specific healing colour for you. (I have worked with ribbons before in this way). I am fully aware that not everyone will welcome this concept and the choice to accept it or not is entirely up to you (neither harm nor offence if you don’t). Alternatively, you could send me a ‘ribbon’ (any length up to a metre long) with a special meaning for you if you prefer and it can be added to the collection. (The Old Carthouse, Trezelah, Penzance, TR20 8XD) Ideally to arrive before we leave on May 1st, but not impossible if after that date. (contact me)
If you are curious as to what colour I have chosen for you (and the reason) or there is a specific colour you would like me to use (preferably with a sentence to explain your choice), prefer to be anonymous, or have any other query, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
How it will work ‘in the field’:
Tommy’s mane naturally falls both sides of his neck. After my ribbon experiments today, I have come to the conclusion the most practical solution is to make up a piece of braid or buy some rope from the chandlers, and by attaching the length of braid to Tommy’s topline, it would effectively become a part of Tommy’s tack that can be taken on and off and not a part of Tommy himself. I could then ‘crochet’ the ribbons onto this piece of braiding in my own ‘down’ time rather than taking up valuable travelling time fiddling with his mane on a daily basis.
As the ribbons build up, and times get tough: I’m lost in the middle of nowhere with no phone signal, tired and hungry, the wind is howling, the rain is seeping down the back of my neck and filling my boots and that warm, dry bed just seems a long way away (do you get the picture?), I will have a constant reminder of all the support we have been given, right there in front of me at all times. What better incentive to carry on when I am harbouring serious thoughts of quitting? We shall be carrying the ‘Rainbow Ribbon Banner‘, less in the spirit of knightly piety, more in the manner of our purpose in this pilgrimage, in raising money to help others benefit from the therapeutic effects of working with horses.
Joining us along the way.
If. however, you would like to actually join us en route, walking, cycling or riding, your company would be very welcome. Just visit my route page and find out when we are likely to be passing certain places. Then email me: email@example.com, and I can give you a grid reference and an eta for meeting up. Please do come along. Tommy four-feet and I would love to have some much needed companionship as fellow pilgrims even for a short way along the road less travelled.