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That One Time…When a Horse Show Jacket Ended Up in a Museum

When the Dallas Museum of Art did a call to the community to showcase clothing and accessories that expressed something significant about its owner, on a whim, former AQHA competitor Carrie Schimpff submitted her coveted show “Jag jacket” that her mother, Rita, meticulously painted and hand stoned.

“Truthfully, I wasn’t surprised that it was selected, but certainly thankful it was,” Carrie shares, who competed several years on the AQHA circuit with horses including Eyed Be A Thriller and Zip Past The Jag. “It’s a stunning representation of over a decade of support from my family. Giving up weekends, family holidays and, candidly speaking, spending money on me that could have been directed towards their passions and interests.”

Schimpff adds, “I don’t know what winning a world title feels like, which is something I wanted so badly for my family and sweet horse, Zip Past The Jag’s tireless efforts. However, I do know for sure that seeing that jacket admired by so many, and on the walls of a world-class museum, is a feeling like nothing else.”

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Born in San Antonio, Texas, Schimpff came about showing horses through an unconventional way – The Boy Scouts. Her mother used to take her along to all the scout meetings ever since she was seven-years-old. Carrie made friends with another girl whose mom had the same idea.

“This girl told me all about her cute but ornery pony named Saturday Night, and I quickly fell in love with the idea and challenge of learning how to ride. That little girl was Carey Nowacek (Congress and AQHYA World Champion). By the way, I joke that after all the meetings we went to, we should have honorary Boy Scout badges,” Carrie shares and laughs.

After that, her riding career took off. Carrie was fortunate to have a lot of really gracious people who let her learn how to ride on their horses – the Brightwell family in particular. Her start was with their Arabs, her favorite being Latifah. “Years later, we would go to the Brightwell’s ranch, and Carey (Nowacek), Amanda (Brightwell), Lexi (Garza) and I would hop on the retired Arabs and ride them bareback- sweet memories,” Carrie reminisces.

Soon after, Carrie met trainers, Brad Jewett and Stephanie Paxton and these four girls quickly formed into what was coined the ‘Jewett Girls’ although they were fortunate to expand to many barn mates beyond the four of them.

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The gorgeous jacket (or Jagket) featured at the museum came about in 2007 after the family took a chance on a little sorrel mare they purchased that was with David Dellin.

“All she knew was the western pleasure, which was a risk after being so set on the all-around events,” Carrie remembers. “After taking her over some random logs we found in a pasture, we knew she had potential to learn. We decided to focus on pleasure for the first year to see if we could gain some recognition before venturing into adding more events.”

Carrie continues, “It’s no secret that horse showing is competitive in all aspects of showing and popularity, so my mom and I knew we had to do something to stand out from all the other stellar competitors. Since my mother is an artist, it wasn’t hard for her to design something so creative and so well tied to that little sorrel mare’s name, Jag (Zip Past The Jag).”

The jacket was designed, hand painted and stoned by her mother hours on end so it would be ready for the Youth World in August. “I still remember practicing at Dave’s place and looking over at my mom, propped up in the car stoning away and watching me ride. Is there truer love than that?”

When you talk to any horse-lover, they all have that once-in-a-lifetime horse, and that was Jag for Carrie. “She was such a quick, but patient learner. I think after that first year doing strictly western pleasure, we added three events shortly after that. She even humored me by attempting a few equitation classes. She never responded to my nerves, she never got angry at other horses, we rarely longed her and in fact, would sometimes pull her out of the stall right before the class. She just knew her job, and she did it without question.”

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After her show career, Schimpff became involved in the Arts. For work, Schimpff is currently the Executive Assistant to the Development Director at the Dallas Museum of Art. “I joke that my older brother took all of the artistic ability in my family, so I would just settle for working within the arts.”

Carrie had a joint appointment between two art museums in Arizona, The University of Arizona Museum of Art (UAMA) and the Center for Creative Photography (CCP) before recently moving back to Texas to work at the Dallas Museum of Art.

“All world-class institutions that I am thankful to be a part of,” Carrie adds. “Art offers so many unique opportunities in my life, from my Jag jacket to being a part of the recovery of a stolen Willem de Kooning painting from the UAMA – a story that still stuns me to this day. Google it!”

Carrie discussed with us how the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) came about displaying her custom-made jacket.

“The DMA is an exceptional museum that allows the vision of the staff and community to come alive. The DMA allowed staff to be a part of the community call to submit items, exploring what we can (and cannot learn) about people from the clothing and accessories they wear,” Carrie shares.

The jacket is currently on display in The Center for Creative Connections Gallery. “The staff here did an exceptional job displaying it,” Schimpff states. “We decided to leave it exactly how it was the last time I put it in its garment bag- a few stones missing, sweat and makeup stains, and old show grease smudges from Jag’s muzzle.”

Carrie shares how she feels to see her jack on display in a prominent museum. “When I go down to see the jacket, I remember smells more than feelings sometimes – the dirt, the John Justin, the Gateway of Champions or the look of a freshly drug arena. Nostalgia. A lot of nostalgia. It’s a sweet sadness. Happy that it happened, sad that it’s over. A weird mixture of remembering memories that are almost so sweet, they pain you to think about. Opportunities missed, friendships gained, miles traveled, inside jokes, the weight of a trophy, Jag’s favorite itching spot. I might not describe it well, but I know many of my old competitors know exactly what I’m talking about.”

Carrie adds, “I think what’s equally interesting is the feeling you get when you see other individuals appreciate it, especially when they don’t have as much context of its history. My mom’s work was admired for her dedication and craft alone, and that had nothing to do with me, which honestly felt so satisfying. She deserves it.”

According to Carrie, the jacket will rotate off of display in late August/early September. She encourages everyone to stop by, view the display and say hello.

“My mom and I would be remiss without mentioning our horse show family, which is a family that I think sometimes our blood families will never understand. To all past competitors and trainers reading this, thank you for the memories.”

Photo © Patricia Delgadillo, Carey Nowacek, Rita Schimpff


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