When an automobile accident left Amberley, a high school rodeo national champion, wheelchair bound, she rediscovered freedom on the back of a horse.
Each week HN teams up with Ovation Riding to spotlight an individual or organization that is doing good work in the horse world. This week we salute Amberley Snyder.
This week’s honoree:
RFD-TV’s The American rodeo took place on March 1st, 2015, offering amateur competitors the opportunity to qualify to compete with world champions and living legends with $2 million in prizes at stake. Only in its second year running, the American offered a new component in 2015 with the fan exemption, meaning that one contestant in any discipline could be voted directly to the finals and skip the qualifying rodeos. Out of over 37,000 votes, 8,000 or 21% went to one inspiring barrel racer with an amazing story, Amberley Snyder.
A highly-accomplished high school rodeo competitor, Amberley competed in barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping and goat tying. She was a high school rodeo national champion and president of the FFA of Utah. In January of 2010, she was driving to a rodeo when she glanced down at the map in her lap, drifted into another lane, then rolled her truck and was ejected into a snowbank. She had broken her back and damaged her spinal cord, and she was told she would not walk or ride again.
But Amberley refused to let that stop her. Four months after the accident, she was back in the saddle, albeit with a few creative modifications (a seatbelt and straps help keep her in the saddle). Not content just to ride, she soon returned to the arena, competing in barrel racing and breakaway roping for Utah State’s rodeo team. Her horses give her the legs she can no longer use, and have adapted to Amberley’s condition, carrying her safely through rodeos and practice pens.
The facts of Amberley’s story are inspiring enough–but this cowgirl’s attitude throughout her entire accident, recovery and adjustment is what’s attracted thousands of fans to support her journey. While she respects that her life will never be the same, Amberley doesn’t look back, seeing her paralysis simply as something to make her stronger and something she can use to help motivate others to just keep going. She does as much as she can herself in caring for her horses, and publishes a weekly “Wheelchair Wednesday” video to show her fans how she’s learning to manage while being wheelchair bound; every week she seems to have learned how to do something new. Currently pursuing a degree in agricultural education, Amberley plans to get her masters in school counseling to continue to help young people.
At the American at the conclusion of the first round of barrel racing, Amberley aboard her big black horse Power was invited back into the arena for a special presentation: RFD-TV had just created the Amberley Snyder Courage Fund, set up to provide financial assistance to individuals who have inspired others while working to overcome their own adversities. The fund is a fitting tribute to a young lady who has given so many others the courage to “just keep going” when life gives so many reasons to give up.
The video announcing Amberley as the American fan exemption is a little long, but worth viewing to hear Amberley speak about her accident, her recovery and her attitude going forward:
Go Amberley, and Go Riding!
Many thanks thanks to Ovation Riding for their support of both Horse Nation and individuals and organizations that are doing good work in the horse world. If you know someone who deserves a Standing Ovation, we would love to recognize them in a future post. Email the name of the person or organization along with a message about the good work they do to [email protected]. Photos/videos are always welcome, and include a link to their website if applicable.