Back in the saddle
Amberley Snyder had three goals while recovering from a paralyzing car accident in 2010 – walk, ride, and rodeo.
At 18-years-old, Snyder had a bright future ahead of her. She was the 2009-10 Utah State FFA President, a winner of the 2009 All-Around Cowgirl World Championship in the National Little Britches Rodeo Association, and a high school graduate with a 4.0 grade point average. She couldn’t imagine life being any better, but that was about to change.
On January 10, 2010, Snyder was on her way to work at the Denver Stock Show and Rodeo in Denver, Colorado, when she looked down to check her map and lost control of her car at 75 mph. She wasn’t wearing her seatbelt — a mistake doctors say cost her the use of her legs — and her truck rolled multiple times before coming to a shuddering halt on the opposite side of the road.
After emergency surgery and 10 days at a hospital in Wyoming, Snyder was able to return home to Utah to begin physical therapy. Though she had a long road of recovery ahead, she didn’t give up and even managed to defy the odds. She was back in the saddle four months after her accident.
Although doctors say Snyder will not regain use of her legs or feeling below the waist, she continues to make a name for herself as a professional barrel racer and breakaway roper, as well as a motivational speaker.
On Tuesday, Nov. 9, Snyder spoke at a fundraising event sponsored by United Farm & Home Co-op, ProTrition (one of Tennessee Farmers Cooperative’s joint venture companies), and the Tennessee Equine Hospital at the Williamson County Ag EXPO. Proceeds from the event benefited Saddle Up! and the Williamson County 4-H program.
“I’ve learned that our lives are full of little moments, encounters, experiences, and accomplishments,” said Snyder. “Please don’t take yours for granted because you never know when those little moments are going to become some of the biggest parts of your story.”
Snyder shared her experiences in detail, showcasing the triumphs but also the hardships that essentially helped her reach her goals of riding and rodeoing again.
“I wish I could tell you that getting back on my horse was the greatest day of my life,” she said. “Honestly, that day was harder for me than the day they told me that I’d never walk again because, at that moment, I realized every part of my life was different.”
Snyder started a video series on social media entitled “Wheelchair Wednesdays,” covering learning — or relearning — how to do tasks in her wheelchair. She learned how to use the side of her horse trailer to pull herself up to sit on her horses. She found that with modifications to her saddle, she could continue riding.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” said Snyder. “Always be willing to offer assistance and allow others to help you. It’s a privilege helping others. I never wanted to ask for help, but sometimes we just need it, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Snyder, who has been riding since she was 3 and owns multiple quarter horses, has one horse that knew her before her accident – ATP Power.
“ATP Power really did give me my freedom back in the arena and was honestly able to get me back on track to be the person I wanted to be,” says Snyder. “He’s the horse that made us famous enough that Netflix made a movie – Walk. Ride. Rodeo. – about our story that came out in 2019. Power and I also have guest-starred on Paramount Network’s hit television show Yellowstone in Season 3, Episode 10.”
Snyder encouraged the audience to ask questions at the end of her presentation, but before she opened the floor to the audience, she shared one more story about how she once spoke at an elementary school and asked the audience if they had any questions. A little boy had raised his hand and asked, “If you could go back that day and change anything, would you?”
That was a question she had not considered before. But before she responded, she said she thought about the good things. She thought about the places she had been, the people she’d met, and the opportunities given because of the wheelchair.
The answer was no. She wouldn’t change anything.
“I believe that everything happens for a reason,” Snyder added. “There’s a higher purpose for me being in this wheelchair, and I’m willing to follow that path.”
For more information about Amberley Snyder, visit her website at http://www.amberleysnyder.org.
Co-op event raised $8,614
United Farm & Home Co-op officials were pleased with the turnout for the fundraiser, which raised $8,614 to split between Saddle Up! and Williamson County 4-H. Each organization will use the funds to continue horse education programming.
“We are proud to support 4-H and Saddle Up! through this event,” said United Farm and Home Co-op CEO Randy Stubblefield. “Both organizations provide invaluable resources and programming for the youth in our communities, and Co-op is proud to be involved.”
Williamson County 4-H Project Agent Christie Beattie was also on-hand to represent her organization at the event.
“We are so grateful for the opportunity to be here tonight and receive this wonderful support for 4-H,” said Beattie. “This donation will benefit our 4-H’ers for months to come.”
Saddle Up! provides youth with disabilities the opportunity to grow and develop through therapeutic, educational, and recreational activities with horses. The organization provided a demonstration before the event showcasing their programming.
“This donation means so much to us, and kids will be able to ride because of it,” says Saddle Up! Executive Director Audrey Kidd. “We are always looking for volunteers and have a great need for horses. Please let us know if you have a horse you’d like to donate.”
Visit saddleupnashville.org for more information regarding programs, donations, etc. To learn more about 4-H in Tennessee, visit https://4h.tennessee.edu/.