SmartPak Monday Morning Feed: Living With Passion

Meet Chanel Rhodes, a first-generation African American English and Western rider. From her lifelong passion for horses sprang her revolutionary new product — Mane Tresses! 

After installing her own weaves for years, one year for Black History Month, Chanel Rhodes got a little extra creative by crocheting braiding hair into her horse Lady’s mane. Her invention of colorful, easy-to-install hairpieces for horses is an amazing example of thinking outside the box and using innovation to make a mark in the equine industry.

Since sharing her videos online, Chanel has been featured in articles, news segments and podcasts. Her main message has been and still remains wanting to encourage others to think outside the box and to live their lives with passion.

From Chanel Rhodes

My name is Chanel Rhodes and I am a first-generation African American English and Western rider. I have had a passion for horses my entire life. As a young girl, I lived in Los Angeles with my mother who is and has always been supportive and encouraged me to live my life with passion.

My mother (Valerie Griffin) worked hard to enroll me in lessons when I was in elementary and middle school. Although I was not able to ride consistently, I never lost sight of my dream. My mother told me as a young child “If you want horses, you better pray for one.” I prayed every night for a horse!

Photo courtesy of Chanel Rhodes

When I turned 20, I conducted research on how to obtain and maintain a horse with little to no money. I spoke to a man over the phone who gave me some great advice after scaling through Craigslist. He said, “You need to know how to care for horses, find a trainer and work for them to gain the proper knowledge.” Words of gold!!! I found a trainer in Long Beach (Cliff Salter) and became a working student for him. I stayed for seven years and obtained my first horse with my mother’s help. Twelve years later, I am now a working student for a Hunter/Jumper Program (Mountain View Farms South with Jasmine Wheatley) with two amazing horses (one belonging to my mother, who I inspired to ride). I have a Tobiano paint named Lady and an OTTB I call Gabriel that I ride in both English and Western riding styles.

Photo by Amanda Lopez

I now compete in mostly English competitions and a few Western. I have learned that it is ok to be different and to never lose sight of my goals. I find it a fun challenge to continue to maintain both styles, though I consider English riding to be a solid and helpful foundation for my Western riding. Both of my horses have one English and one Western saddle that I have worked on collecting over the years. I love the challenge of riding two very different mounts in two very different styles. I am determined to improve my riding every time I’m in the saddle!

Recently I have developed a new revolutionary product for horses that will be for sale soon — Mane Tresses! I have invented colorful, easy to install, hairpieces for horses. I truly thought outside of the box for this one, I plan on making my fingerprint on this world! I have been installing my own weaves for years now, and one year for Black History Month, I decided to get a little extra creative. I crocheted braiding hair into Lady’s mane. My fiancé (Andrew Garces) filmed me as I worked on my horse’s hair. (Andrew also edits my videos for my Social Media sites.)

Photo courtesy of Chanel Rhodes

After posting a few videos and improving my product, I have accepted a few amazing offers to share my story. I was in an article by Los Angelenos Magazine, a 60 Second Docs mini-documentary, a podcast conducted by Young Black Equestrians, and a segment on NBC’s Access Daily. I am thankful for the many opportunities that rose from my creative idea and look forward to more opening doors. I want to encourage others to think outside of the box and live their lives with passion. Do not let society rule your mind or ideas. If you are not living your life with passion, then you are not living at all!

Photo courtesy of Chanel Rhodes

Follow Chanel, Lady, and Gabriel at @cowgirl_chanel on Instagram, or @Cowgirlchanel on Facebook!

You can find this and more stories on the SmartPak blog. Go SmartPak and go riding!