If you’ve spent some time in the show ring, chances are you’ve accumulated a few ribbons. And if you’re anything like me, you want to stare at your hard-earned satin all day long. The problem is figuring out a way to display them so they’re visible, pretty, yet (somewhat) contained. I’ve done quite a few ribbon display projects over the years, including a shadowbox, basketball display case and large glass jars. But this horse show ribbon display hanger is by far my favorite project to date.
First things first — you need to acquire some materials. This project shouldn’t cost very much, and actually, I had a few of these things already around the house. I chose to use 54″ laced reins that a friend was selling (cheap, and used). I also ‘splurged’ and got fancy decorative thumbtacks. I already had the wood stain and wall hooks at my house, so I’m pretty sure I spent around $5 to buy all my materials. Total construction time for my horse show ribbon display hanger was probably 30 minutes, plus some waiting time for the wood stain to dry.
Step 1: Measure Twice (Cut Once)
The beauty of DIY is that everything is custom. So if you’re slightly OCD like I am, and you want something to fit in an exact space, you can do that! Or you can follow my measurements if you like. First, measure your wall space (either to find out how wide and tall you want your display hanger, or to ensure you have enough room for it)– I determined that I wanted a 22″ wide horse show ribbon display hanger. Next, measure your wooden dowels, and mark your width (22″, if you’re using my measurements), and then using your saw, cut each dowel.
I also measured how much space I wanted at the top of my horse show ribbon display hanger to hang it on the wall (15″) and how far apart I wanted each wooden dowel to be (5 1/2″) and marked those measurements on each rein. The laced reins worked really well for this because I lined up my dowels with the holes where the laces go through the reins. This acts almost like ‘pre-drilled holes’ for this project. However, once I got to the end of the reins, I did have to use my hammer and nail to poke small holes through the leather. The tricky spot was at the very end of the rein, where I wanted my last dowel to go and the leather doubles over to hold the bit. I just took the leather out of the keeper and poke my hole through the innermost section. Later, I threaded it back through the keepers for a more finished look.
Step 2: Staining and Prepping the Wooden Dowels
Next, I took my 22″ dowels outside and stained them, using paper towels to paint on my stain. Make sure that your dowels are completely covered, although I didn’t apply my stain very liberally, as I liked the slightly ‘weathered’ look a lighter staining gave. Don’t forget to stain the ends of your dowels too! I let these dry overnight.
After my dowels dried, I did some more ‘pre-drilling’ onto each end of the dowel. This provides a space for your thumb tack to easily slide into, and helps keep the thumb tack straight in the next step. To do this, take your long, thin nail and position it near the middle of one end of your dowel, and lightly tap it into the dowel with your hammer. It doesn’t need to go in very far, maybe 1/4″ at most, and you should be able to easily pull the nail back out with your fingers. Repeat this on both ends of all your dowels.
Step 3: Construction
I found a second pair of hands to be really useful during construction, but it’s not 100% necessary. First, take a thumb tack and push it through the first hole in one of your reins. Next, dab a small amount of superglue on one end of a dowel. Then line up the end of the dowel so that the thumb tack fits into the small hole you created earlier with the nail. Holding the dowel securely, lightly tap the thumb tack into place using a hammer. I found it easiest to rest the opposite end of the dowel on the floor and hold the dowel steady near the top, while another person hammered in the thumb tack. Repeat these steps on the other side of your dowel, so that you have one dowel secured between the reins, creating your first rack for ribbons!
Repeat until all dowels are secured. For the one dowel that goes through the bit keepers at the very end of your reins, first put the thumb tack through the hole you created, and then slide the excess leather through the keyhole slot and secure the end through the keeper. Then dab superglue on your dowel, line up the thumb tack with the hole on the end of your dowel and hammer through both pieces of leather to secure the dowel.
Step 4: Hang It Up
I use these little picture hangers, and slid one side of the buckle through to hold up the entire hanger. Really, just about any type of nail or picture wall hanger will work — the horse show ribbon display hanger doesn’t need to hold a lot of weight, so no wall anchors are needed.
Step 5: Arrange Your Ribbons
If you’re OCD like me, you’ll want the ribbons in a certain order (probably by placing…) so now you get to do that. And then… finally… step back and admire your completed horse show ribbon display hanger!