I was watching an old movie not too long ago in which a couple of actors were riding horses in traditional hunt attire. They were wearing hunt caps, which today are just items of apparel for English riding classes that are not over fences, and had the ribbons on the back of the cap down.
Have you ever noticed those ribbons on the back of the velvet hunt caps? Have you ever wondered why they are there, and the correct way to wear them? The ribbons are the tails of the bow and have a special meaning for those who “follow the hounds” in a fox hunt.
The most common color for the bow is black, used for fox hunting, but there is also a red ribbon which is used for stag hunting. In some countries, their cavalry riders have silver ribbons and their national riders have gold ribbons. It is general usage to have the ribbons sewn up – the tails pointing up – as that is the traditional usage for most riders, any rider is entitled to wearing the cap in this way. Having the ribbons down is reserved for the Hunt Master and hunt staff. Ribbons are also down for cavalry officers and riders representing their countries at the Olympics or the World Equestrian Games.
Not many general riders wear the hunt caps any longer as they are not an ASTM/SEI certified helmet for safety purposes.