Updated: Apr 21, 2022
As a very young child, Chanel Rhodes fell in love with horses. She recalls stories from her grandparents who lived on a farm - her grandmother riding horses to school, her grandparents raising farm animals. Her family later settled in the cities of Southern California.
Chanel was born in one of the most metropolitan cities in the United States: Los Angeles, California. At age 13, Chanel moved to Long Beach, California with her mother, and began her first horse riding lessons. Now in Orange County, California, Chanel is making her own way. As a dedicated competitor within Western Cowboy and English Equestrian sports and competitions, Chanel is constantly contributing in a multitude of ways - making an impact on modern day Black Cowboy culture.
Black Cowboy Exposure & Training
Growing up, Chanel’s experience seeing Black Cowboys was not on screen, or in ads..her first experience seeing Black Cowboys was at the Bill Pickett Rodeo. It is no coincidence, that her first riding instructor, Cliff Salter, was a Black Cowboy. Chanel recalls him being one of her toughest instructors, but also one of her most important instructors in life.
Chanel started training with Cliff in Long Beach, California. While in college, training was a big undertaking, as Chanel worked vigorously balancing her riding instructions, while also studying for her college courses, and working a full time job. On top of that, her lessons weren’t always focused on riding, but mucking (cleaning) stalls, and tending to the barn. Chanel attributes her experience working with Cliff as a foundation builder as it taught her critical life lessons, while helping her to grow tougher skin to adapt to the English Equestrian world.
Chanel’s current trainer, Jasmine Wheatley inspired her to ride English. Today, Chanel participates in a series of English riding events, including Hunter / Jumper competitions and shows. With the guidance of her trainer Jasmine, Chanel has won a host of English Riding competitions.
Chanel’s biggest risk?
Starting Mane Tresses, the first Black Owned Mane Extension and Wig company (for Horses).
Entering into a sport with a non-traditional hair extensions business, of course, Chanel has encountered a lot of judgment. The positive feedback, however, has been what has stuck with her…..
Chanel explains the simple method to applying the Mane Wigs. Mane Tresses provides extensions and wigs to fit any and all horses. Any type of horse, any color - the possibilities are endless.
In 2019, Chanel noticed other African Americans doing incredible things with their horses. She came up with the thought of giving her horse a hair weave....so, she decided to make a wig for her horse, Lady. Chanel’s fiancé filmed her installing the wig; Chanel later posted the video on social media. That post presented her with the opportunity to be featured on the Young Black Equestrians Podcast.
While on the Young Black Equestrians Podcast, the founders encouraged Chanel to put more energy into Chanel’s “passion project” and turn it into a full fledged business.
Chanel now sells mane extensions and wigs to customers all over the world. Chanel has since been featured in several magazines, mainstream television shows, and is the face of products and advertisements.
Biggest takeaways from her Journey Never Give Up. No matter how many times Chanel has fallen off a horse at shows, messed up, saddle fell during competitions, horses have thrown her off - she still did not give up - and Chanel encourages others to never give up. One of her biggest lessons of never giving up happened at a Hunter Jumper competition. She speaks about that heartwarming, and encouraging experience in the video.
As Chanel moves forward in her journey, she will continue to inspire people to live their lives with passion, think outside of the box, and not be afraid of the outside voices. Chanel believes everyone has talent, and it is a part of our destiny to experience and showcase that
In The Community
Chanel will continue to lead Free horse encounters, pony shows with a twist by incorporating her mothers famous pie’s and fiancés magic shows. Chanel believes that everyone, if desired, should have access to horses, thus once she acquires her own property, she will provide lessons to community members, cultivate a community garden while providing agricultural courses, provide equine therapy, house rescue horses…and host her own Horse Fashion shows.