Equestrian Advice: This is part of our Letter to My Rookie Self series, an open letter...
Author - Chanel Rhodes
My name is Chanel Rhodes, and I am a trailblazing first-generation African American rider, passionately experienced in both English and Western disciplines. Growing up in Los Angeles with my incredibly supportive mother, I’ve lived my life fueled by a profound passion for horses. Despite limited opportunities to ride consistently in my early years, my mother’s encouragement and hard work were pivotal in igniting my equestrian journey.
It was a pivotal day in February 2019, during Black History Month, that I embarked on a creative journey leading to the birth of Mane Tresses. Inspired by the beauty and authenticity of the Black cowgirl, I designed the “Afrocentric Pony,” a hairpiece representing the power, creativity, and strength of Black equestrians. From this whimsical inception, Mane Tresses emerged, offering cruelty-free, chemical-free hairpieces, promoting style and grace for horse and rider.
My equine dreams are a product of perseverance and faith. I vividly remember my mother’s advice as a child: “If you want horses, you better pray for one.” Every night, I prayed fervently for a horse and worked tirelessly to materialize my equestrian aspirations. Now, I gracefully compete in both English and Western riding, a testament to the love and dedication I’ve poured into this passion.
I consider my dual proficiency in English and Western riding to be a testament to the breadth of my skills and determination. Riding two very different mounts in distinct styles presents an ongoing challenge, one I enthusiastically embrace to strengthen my abilities. I urge others to break free from societal expectations, daring them to live life passionately and authentically. For me, passion is the very essence of life itself.