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Wayne Channon ...
It's Never Too Late to Follow Your Dream
by Kyra Beth Houston
Photos by Bonnie Rombach

Like so many of us, life got in the way of our aspirations to ride for the Olympic Team and represent our country around the world.  Whether it was school, career, marriage or like me, all of the above, many of us feel the ship has sailed, or it is too late to try.  However, Wayne Channon has proven to all of us that you should "never say never".  Wayne took his first riding lesson at the age of 32, and 15 years later, at 47, he made the British team competing in the European Championships at Hagen , 2005.   

Dressage is one of those rare sports in which age and wisdom and life experience are considered real assets.  Like a fine wine, we get better with age and; in dressage, no one has proven this to be more true than Wayne .  

Wayne comes from a family that had no interest in horses. For most children, this would have been the end of their dream, but not Wayne.  One summer, when Wayne was 10, he convinced his parents to allow him to spend his six-week vacation working at the local stable.  His pay consisted of being allowed to ride the horses in from the pasture in the morning and back to the pasture at night, bareback. 

"It was a wonderful experience and I think it was how I learned to sit on horses." recalls Wayne.  ":Outside of the holidays, I would muck-out at weekends and spend my pocket money on trail rides."  He did this for about four years, before life got in the way.

Wayne stopped riding at 13, to concentrate on school studies and became interested in more important things like girls.  He excelled in math, winning a full scholarship to the university, earned a first-class honours degree in mathematical physics and was hired by IBM, where he worked for 4.5 years until he started his own network communications company in 1984.

In typical Wayne fashion, at the age of 32, when business was slow due to a recession, Wayne and his wife, Debra, decided to go hacking one weekend.  It was absolutely wonderful and they went back the next weekend and the next and finally decided to take a group riding lesson.  When others in the recession of 1990 were cutting back and worrying, Wayne and his wife were moving forward and finding a way to enjoy and to be grateful for what they did have. 

At the end of the lesson, the riding instructor commented, "Wayne, its a shame you didn't start riding 10 years ago. You could have been a top dressage rider."

Not knowing what dressage was, Wayne bought a book on dressage, was fascinated by the detail and the parallels to mathematics, and decided to take dressage lessons.

"I liked the more technical things I was doing and once I'd read this book, I wanted to go and do more dressage."

After taking some wrong turns along the path of their education, Wayne and Debra were fortunate enough to meet Vicki Thompson, international Grand Prix rider who rode at Atlanta Olympics, 1996 and her partner, Franz (Rocky) Rochowansky, former Erste-Oberbereiter (First Chief Rider) of the classical Spanish Riding School of Vienna, from just before WWII to after the war. 

Rocky had trained the British, American and the Dutch Olympic teams.  There was nothing Rocky had not done.  He was the foundation trainer in Britain and is credited with much of what happens in classical dressage today.

After five years of intense training of five lessons per day and 10 years of training horses and competing, at the age of 47, Wayne Channon and the outstanding black stallion, Lorenzo, made the British team, competing at the European Championships in Hagen, Germany in 2005.  In 2006, they represented Britain at the World Equestrian Games. 

Wayne continues to prove to all of us, that it is never too late to start our own dressage journey.  What Wayne lacked in youth, he has more than made up for in wisdom, dedication, and a mature understanding of the importance of developing a long-term partnership with the horse.  At the end of the day, that is what really counts. 

Kyra Beth Houston, CEO of Dressage un Ltd, LLC, Dressage.com and producer of Dressage un Ltd television series has filmed such prestigious events as World Equestrian Games, Jerez, 2002; World Young Horse Championships; CHIO Aachen.  Ky promised Jerez she would capture the heart of the Spanish horse and she did.  Ky has produced over 150 television programs and 100 dressage videos and dvds.  "Dressage is the partnership between horse and rider."




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