Amberley Snyder is similar to most 23-year-old women. She likes the TV show How I Met Your Mother, she prefers to eat her dessert first, and she reads autobiographies. She’s pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture Education but she doesn’t exactly know where her path will lead after that. She is single and beautiful and likes to have fun.
But Amberley Snyder faces obstacles every single day that most of us couldn’t even imagine. In 2010, Amberley was driving through Wyoming when she rolled her truck and her life was changed forever. She was ejected from the vehicle, hit a fence post with her stomach, and was given the prognosis that she would never be able to regain the use of her legs.
Some people would accept defeat if this happened. Some would complain and allow bitterness to consume their lives. And most people would quit riding horses and rodeoing.
She said, “You never know what’s going to be thrown your way. It’s up to you how you handle it”.
Amberley has chosen to handle her situation with the positivity and determination that is truly inspiring. She was on a horse four months after her accident. It has now been four years since the accident and she is winning rodeos in the Barrel Racing that she wasn’t able to place at before. This woman has overcome all the odds by simply entering a rodeo. But she isn’t happy with simply entering. Amberley wants to win.
The night before I spent my weekend with Amberley, she was at an amateur rodeo in Utah against some very tough barrel racers. She was sitting second when she left. When it was all said and done, she ended up fifth.
“Not great but out of about thirty tough girls it was alright,” Amberley said of her performance.
She hasn’t let anything affect her competitive drive. Before her accident, she was the National Little Britches All-Around Cowgirl. She isn’t willing to settle for anything less than the type of success she previously had. Amberley straps her legs into the saddle, elastics her feet into the stirrups, wears a seatbelt type contraption, and rides her heart out.
Amberley also continues to breakaway rope. When she first began trying to rope again, she struggled. She said that she couldn’t catch anything. One day, she was explaining her troubles to NFR Tie-Down Roper Stran Smith. She told him that she couldn’t stand up in her saddle, couldn’t get her tip down, and things just weren’t working.
Amberley said that Stran told her, “Joe Beaver doesn’t get his ass out of the saddle and he can catch so you can too”.
A few weeks ago, Amberley beat her personal best time since the accident and was a 2.7.
One of the coolest moments of my time with Amberley was when she met NFR qualifier and Canadian legend Duane Daines who has also been affected by a spinal cord injury. They immediately bonded over the trickiness of taking a wheelchair over gravel. They discussed their injuries, their careers, and motivational speaking.
Someone walked by and asked Duane what he was up to.
“Oh, just swappin’ wheelchair stories,” Duane replied.
They planned on meeting up again at the Southpoint Casino while the NFR is on. They figured that neither of them would have too hard of a time spotting the other.
Amberley Snyder is similar to most 23-year-old women. But she is also one of the funniest people I have ever met. She is kind, polite, inspirational, and down to earth.
She has dreams of competing at the NFR. I don’t doubt that she will do everything in her power to get there.
She told me, “It’s going to be motivation that determines where you go in life.”
If that’s the case, Amberley is certainly going to go far.