Barrel Racer Amberley Snyder… A TRUE Inspiration..
Before we begin, I want everyone to know a little bit about Amberley Snyder.
Amberley has been riding since she was three and competing in rodeo since she was seven years old. Rodeo has been her passion since the first run she made and the love only got stronger as time went on. In 2009, Amberley made it to the National High School Finals Rodeo as well as the National Little Britches Finals where she won the Finals and World All-Around titles as well as finishing in the top 6 in Pole Bending, Goat Tying and Breakaway Roping.
In January of 2010 Amberley was driving to the National Western Stock Show in Colorado when she was involved in a rollover car accident leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. Doctors told her she would never have any chance of recovery and that her days of rodeo were over.
A year and a half later, she figured out how she can barrel race once again using a seatbelt, Velcro and another strap to hold her in place.
Amberley please take a moment and tell us about your childhood and how you grew up?
I was born in California in January of 1991. I am the second of six kids in my family. My dad was a Major League Baseball player when I was born so at first we traveled a lot. Finally my mom and the three oldest kids stayed home in Laguna Hills for the last couple years of my Dad’s career. I started riding when I was three and took riding lessons every week. I got frustrated with horses after a while because my legs weren’t long enough to even pass the saddle pad on my horse so I couldn’t kick to go faster. I then decided to join my siblings in their sports or hobbies. I did gymnastics with my older sister as well as dance and then did karate with my younger brother for some time. Once I had grown to be a little taller I went back to riding.
Growing up what did Rodeo mean to you?
When I was still in diapers, I would point out the horse on the wippee container and say “me ride mommy, me ride” She would trace the barrel pattern on my hand with her fingers or with my hand on a piece of paper with a pencil. So barrel racing was something I dreamed of for as long as I can remember. When I started riding in California, they did not compete in rodeo where I was, just horse shows. I would take my pony, Gabby, out and set up cones to do my own barrel pattern. When I was seven, my family decided to move to Utah. When my dad told me the news of moving, I said I would only go if he got me a barrel horse in Utah. Needless to say, he followed through and I had my first horse, Lacey. Rodeo was a huge passion from the first time I competed and has stuck with me ever since.
Tell us about your accident?
On January tenth 2010, I was on my way to Denver for the stock show. I was just driving through Sinclair, Wyoming when I looked down to check my map. As I looked up, I realized I had faded over a lane and was heading towards a metal beam on the side of the road. I grabbed my wheel and the tail end of my truck starting sliding out. I tried to correct my truck, but I slid off the road and my truck turned completely sideways. I remember knowing that it was not going to end well as I felt my truck pick up off the ground as we were to begin rolling. After all the banging and crashing around me had stopped, I opened my eyes. I was sitting in a snow bank on the side of the freeway. I moved my fingers and looked down to move my toes. I knew I must have broken my back because I did not have any feeling in both of my legs. I underwent five hours of surgery, which left me with a whole lot of hardware in my back. The doctor’s prognosis was that I would not gain any feeling below my waist nor would I have any chance of regaining the use of my legs.
What were your priorities before the accident?
Before my accident, my biggest priority was my future. I would plan every day for myself and how I would progress through life. Keeping good grades in school, fulfilling my leadership positions and rodeo consumed all of my time. My family was important but I felt like I didn’t support their sports and lives as much as I should have. My friend and family relationships meant something to me, but I didn’t spend the time making and keeping them as priorities in my life either. My relationship with God was also on the back burner in my life; I had it but my faith was not as strong as I could have been. In my life, rodeo was the first thing I thought of when I woke up and the last thing when I went to bed. I couldn’t imagine life without it and never thought I would ever have to.
How has those priorities changed since that day?
I still plan for my future and think about how my life will progress. Rodeo is still a huge part of my life and means a lot, but I realize it is not the most important part. My family is so important to me and I now am so much closer with each sibling and parent since my accident. I have lost and gained friends along the way and have made friendships that will last forever, which are valuable to me as well. My faith in God has grown. I needed to depend on Him for strength when times were the hardest or even when I still have days of challenges. I know that I wouldn’t be where I am without my family, friends and God.
Please stay tuned for more from Amberley. This interview is incredible and we want to personally thank Amberley for taking the time to do it and for being the amazing inspiration she is.
*All pictures provided by Amberley Snyder.