Interior Design Student is an Award-Winning Equestrian
Hailing from Oak Brook, Illinois, Interior Design student Tabitha Zimmermann is an award-winning equestrian and expert horseback rider. She and her sister show her family’s 28 horses in Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, and Illinois. Her travels have taken her all over the world to places including China, Africa, Egypt, Italy, Tokyo, Bali, which has influenced her decision to pursue interior design. We caught up with the talented student to learn more about her journey.
How long have you been showing horses? I have been showing horses for about 14 years. My dad and his dad had quarter horses of their own and when I was little (baby) he would take my sister and I to ride them all the time. Horses for me wasn’t something I was super serious about though, it was more of a hobby. My whole life was about gymnastics. From 4-16 years old I was at the gym 5 hours a day, 6 days a week, so I didn’t really have time for showing as much. It wasn’t until I had my four shoulder surgeries that made me more involved with the horses. I still somehow managed to show my horses and compete in gymnastics though!
What does it mean to show horses? It's funny, usually when I tell people that I show horses they automatically assume that I do jumping, and that's not the case. I ride American Saddlebreds and show in Western, Roadster, English, and Hunt Seat. Also, I drive my horses/ponies as well. And you might be wondering “drive?!” haha yes! I drive them in different classes depending on what the class is. You either go fast, like in a Roadster class, or go slower, which is Pleasure for me.
My sister and I go to shows in Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, generally by the barn. My favorite show/memory was when I won the William Shatner (yes, the guy from Star Trek) Western Championship as a Junior Exhibitor and the same year my sister won the same class but because she’s an adult she was in the Adult class. It had never been done before and that is something I will never forget. I’ll try and explain a little of what it is I do. So in a Roadster class you start at the Jog, which is the slowest speed. Then the judge will say to go a little faster. And then he will say to slow back down again. Then he calls for the reverse and you do the same thing, but there's one more speed and that's when you make them go as fast as possible.
What do you love about showing horses? I love that there is so much trust between me and the horses, and the same goes for them to trust me. My grandpa passed away and riding horses was always something he loved to do with my dad and my sister and I, so whenever I’m riding it makes me think of him and that he’s looking down on me when I'm showing. Also the outfits, or as we call them Suits, are all customized and unique because we get to sit down with hundreds of different fabrics and drawings to figure out what we want to wear. I will admit I have a bit of a hard time seeing the finished outcome when I’m figuring out what I want to do.
Why did you choose FIDM? I chose FIDM because there was something about the campus, the faculty, and the general atmosphere that made me want to go there. It was like a gut feeling where this is where you belong!
Why interior design? I love interior design so much! If you only knew the amount of times I have rearranged my whole apartment just because I get bored with how it looks after like a month or so. I have also painted some pieces of furniture, not only for my apartment but for my mom at home as well. When I was little my mom and dad would take my sister and I everywhere around the world. We went to China, Africa, Egypt, Italy, Tokyo, Bali, etc. and they bought so many different and unique pieces of furniture for our home today. I like that each room tells its own story and isn’t necessarily like any other room in the house. One room is full of my dad's antiques and is country-like; another room is completely decorated with things from China. My mom is a huge collector of McKenzie-Childs which is colorful, whimsy and Alice and Wonderland-like which is so out of the box. Interior design is just amazing to me.
What inspires you about interior design? What inspires me about interior design is that it is your chance to express yourself and let the furniture kinda go with who you are as an individual. I love taking a room and letting it speak for itself. You can put so much emotion into it and really let loose.
How does your equestrian life influence your design aesthetic? It's weird I never really saw a connection between interior design and riding horses until I really sat down and thought about it. I have had a lot of thought about doing some interior design in stables in the future and I think that would be something I’d really enjoy doing.
What are your career goals and how is FIDM helping you get there? I hope to have my own design firm in Los Angeles, be a well-known designer, and most importantly be happy. FIDM has been extremely supportive and helpful with keeping me on track and keeping me motivated. The good thing about FIDM is that the classrooms aren’t huge, the teacher can actually sit with you and help you, and the amount of resources there are endless. Another thing is everyone can have their own voice and not be worried about saying something or asking a question because a lot of people are open-minded and not judgmental.
What advice do you have for someone thinking about going to FIDM? My advice to them would be STAY POSITIVE, STAY FOCUSED, and DON’T RUSH. When I went to FIDM I didn’t take the amount of workload seriously and wouldn’t ask for help because I was shy or felt dumb. I am telling you now ASK QUESTIONS, it is beneficial for your upcoming years at FIDM. I promise everyone there is there to help you.