Constance Jaeggi Debuts Equine Photography Exhibition at Cowgirl Museum

Exhibition reveals dynamic characteristics of horses in 21 large-format, black-and-white photographs. Jaeggi artfully uses light and shadow to sculpt each scene.


Rat Pack, 2017, Constance Jaeggi

As much of my day revolves around caring for, breeding and showing cutting horses, I came naturally to the idea of exploring their mystery and beauty through photography.


The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame will premiere “Aspects of Power, Light and Motion,” the debut exhibition of equine photographs by Constance Jaeggi, the successful rancher and champion cutting horse rider who reveals the individual personality of horses through her fine-art photography. The exhibition opens Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, and runs through Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, in the museum’s Anne W. Marion Gallery.

For her first exhibition, Jaeggi (pronounced: Jay-guee) focuses on the horse as a dynamic being while capturing its sense of motion in a still frame. For each portrait, she takes horses out of their natural environment to photograph them in the indoor studio she built on her ranch, the J Five Horse Ranch in Parker County near Weatherford, Texas, the cutting horse capital of the world. This enables her to create a setting to work with light and shadow to accentuate the desired characteristic of each horse.

“I photograph the horses with no halters or means of restraints,” Jaeggi said. “It is a soft and natural process. Unrestrained, horses tend to be incredibly cooperative if you know how to talk to and coax them. In many ways, I feel that my process is similar to the one when competing with a horse. I see it as a partnership rather than as a relationship of force. Each horse interacts differently in the studio setting. Some horses are more comfortable than others and thrive from the attention; as a result, their individuality becomes apparent.”

Jaeggi worked for more than a year to create the collection of 21 large-format, black-and-white photographs, ranging in size from 15" x 15" to 39.4" x 70". She titled each photograph to reflect the personality of the horse or horses featured: “Adonis,” “Black as Ink,” “Blondie,” “Budvar,” “Child of the Mountain,” “Cold Shoulder,” “Dancer in the Dark,” “Daybreak,” “Don’t Look Away,” “Equus,” “Hercules,” “Night and Day,” “Rat Pack,” “Reverence,” “Running Man,” “Summer Moon,” “That Girl’s Got Attitude,” “The New Dress,” “The Rocking Horse,” “Ultima Ratio Regum” and “White Peacock.” Of the 10 horses featured, seven are cutting horses, two are Clydesdales and one is a Paint Horse stallion.

“Constance is an amazing talent, and her work displays a very distinct and unique sensibility,” said Patricia W. Riley, executive director of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. “Her knowledge and love of horses is apparent, and she captures her appreciation of the horse brilliantly in each photograph. We are thrilled to be able to host her first exhibition and give our visitors a chance to experience her work.”

An Instinct for Cutting and Photography

“As much of my day revolves around caring for, breeding and showing cutting horses, I came naturally to the idea of exploring their mystery and beauty through photography,” Jaeggi said. “When I pick up my camera, I am partly documenting my daily activities and partly trying to capture a specific equine esthetic. Photography is particularly interesting to me because there is a constant tension between the aspect of documentation and my esthetic concerns. The trinity (lens, photographer and subject) is what appeals to me in photography.”

Jaeggi’s ability to capture the essence of the horses in her photographs reflects her extensive experience as a cutting horse rider, which began in France and Switzerland during high school. In 2009, she moved from Geneva to Fort Worth to pursue her dream of being a competitive cutting horse rider and cowgirl. She attended Texas Christian University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Dec. 2013 with a major in marketing and a minor in energy technology and management.

Starting in 2011, she began to realize her dream. She won the 2011 National Cutting Horse Association XTO Energy Super Stakes Classic Non-Pro Championship, the 2014 NCHA Mercuria Non-Pro World Championship, and in 2015, she was inducted into the NCHA Non-Pro Rider Hall of Fame.

“One of the appeals of our sport of cutting is the fact that you are dealt a set of circumstances that constantly change, and then you have to do the best you can with what you have to work with,” Jaeggi said. “Photography tends to be similar. I enjoy not always being entirely in control of what is captured. Perhaps this partly explains the instinctive nature of my work.”

Chronology of Constance Jaeggi

Constance Jaeggi, born in London in 1990 to Swiss parents, moved with her family to Geneva when she was ten. She continued middle school in the French-speaking system, learning a new language. She’s actually trilingual: besides French, she speaks English and German, her mother tongue.

A few years later, she started riding horses, discovering the sport of cutting in Bons-en-Chablais, a small French town near the Swiss border. Cutting, a little-known discipline in Europe then practiced by a small group of pioneers, sparked a desire in her to discover America. The cowboy way of life, so different from her suburban upbringing, captivated her.

In the summer of 2007 while in high school, she traveled to a ranch in Parker County near Weatherford, Texas, west of Fort Worth, to ride with Chubby Turner, a world champion cutting horse rider and trainer. She and her family had met Turner at a horse sale the year before.

In 2009, deciding that Texas was where she wanted to be, she moved from Geneva to Fort Worth to attend TCU. Continuing to train with Turner paid off. She won the National Cutting Horse Association XTO Energy Super Stakes Classic Non-Pro Championship in 2011. That same year, the Jaeggi family established the J Five Horse Ranch, where they breed, raise, train and ride cutting horses. The J Five name originated from her collaboration with her father, mother and two younger brothers, and it reflects the ranch’s family-oriented lifestyle.

During 2014, she hauled for the National Cutting Horse Association Non-Pro World Championship series and won the 2014 NCHA Mercuria Non-Pro World Championship. In 2015, she was inducted into the NCHA Non-Pro Rider Hall of Fame.

In 2015, Jaeggi completed the photography program at the New York Film Academy in New York City.

Established in 1975, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is the only museum in the world dedicated to honoring women whose lives exemplify the courage, resilience and independence that helped shape the American West. The museum is located at 1720 Gendy Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76107. For information, call 817-336-4475.

Art feature on Horizon Yacht - Boat International US Edition

Earlier this year, I was commissioned by Jo Ellard to create 4 pieces to be featured in the Do It Now, a new 100 ft Horizon Yacht. The US edition of Boat International magazine did a write up in their July/August Issue on Jo Ellard and her passion for boats and horses. 

"Jo Ellard is passionate about two things that don't seem like a natural fit: horses and being on her boat. On Do It Now, her new yacht, she has combined them into an interior that she says is neither feminine nor masculine, contemporary nor classic, but "handsome." It's a far cry from the nautical or beach themes that are so frequent in yacht interiors and instead makes reference to the Western lifestyle Allard so enjoys.

Inside the yacht's open salon, a space remarkable for it's ceiling height and abundant beautifully stained oak, dark African mahogany floor and ranch-style furnishings, is an arresting picture of a horse with a shiny brown coat and handsome black mane. His name is Ichi La Roo, or Max, and he is Ellard's favorite horse. Most days the horse will be running in a paddock or kicking up sawdust in an arena filled with cattle, country music, whistles and camera flashes. But on one particular day, he found himself trotting around a photo studio and posing for fine art photographer Constance Jaeggi. Ellard wasn't planning on being part of the shoot but, as she shared a moment with the horse, the photographer, who rides competitively, convinced her the image would be a keeper. 

She was right, "The Kiss", as they called the portrait, says a lot about the bond that exists between them. "He is a stallion, but he is so kind," Ellard says. "I one his father [Cat Ichi], his mother [Snicker Roo], his grandmother [Meradas Dee Jay] and his great grandmother on his mother's side [Laney Doc]." His grandfather (High Brow Cat) was the greatest sire of all time, she adds. "I did not grow up with horses  but I love horses, always did, even when I was a child."

Boat International US Edition JulyAugust 2017 FreeMags-1.jpg