Amberley Snyder was born in January of 1991 in southern California. Amberley and her five siblings lived there during her dad’s Major League Baseball career with the Los Angeles Dodgers. At the age of three, Amberley began riding lessons and developed an unyielding passion for horses. After her dad’s retirement from baseball, the family moved to Utah. Amberley was seven years old and would only comply if she was promised a barrel racing horse when she got there, she got her wish, and that was the beginning of Amberley’s rodeo career.
Growing up, Amberley’s family environment was very competitive. Her siblings participated in everything from sports to gymnastics, but Amberley found her niche in rodeo. From a young age Amberley had a great sense of communication with her horses and connected with them on a very personal level. Her mom really had a hand in cultivating her passion, and before long she was competing in barrel racing, pole bending, breakaway roping, and goat tying. In 2009, she qualified for the National High School Finals in the pole bending and won the National Little Britches Rodeo Association All-Around Cowgirl World Championship. Her parents had reinforced in her that, hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. That was Amberley’s objective every day during practice and in competition which accredited to a large part of her success. Amberley was very active in FFA during her adolescent years, and in 2010 was elected the Utah FFA State President. The leadership and communication skills she gained in the organization have been invaluable to her and thus the organization is very dear to her. Amberley was excited for 2010 and had her sights on college, finishing out her FFA office term, competing in college rodeo, and preparing for the upcoming changes in her life. She was completely unaware of the magnitude of the change to come.
On January 10th, 2010 Amberley was on her way to the Denver Stock Show and Rodeo. As she was passing through Sinclair, WY she took a look down at her map. After only seconds she looked up and realized she had faded into the other lane, headed towards a metal beam. In an effort to get back in her lane, Amberley overcorrected. Her truck slid off the road and rolled and she was ejected from the vehicle. She was slammed into a fence post that broke her back and immediately she lost feeling in her legs.
After five hours of emergency surgery the doctor’s prognosis was she would never regain use or feeling below her waist. He told her if she had worn her seatbelt, she would still have use of her legs. The one mistake she made that day changed her life forever, but it has not defeated her competitive spirit. The top priority for Amberley was not even to walk, but to ride her horses again. Remarkably after only 4 months after the accident, she was back on her horse.
Through all the challenges and adversity Amberley has had to face, it hasn’t stopped her from achieving any of her goals. In May of 2015 Amberley graduated college with a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Education. In 2018, she earned her Master’s Degree in School Counseling from Utah State University. Amberley’s hard work ethic hasn’t wavered, and one could argue has even gotten stronger. After the accident Amberley realized she had a unique opportunity to reach out and inspire people with her unconventional situation. Her first step to that was her Wheel Chair Wednesday’s video segments on social media. She would perform everyday tasks that have now become more challenging, but not impossible, after her accident. These range from how she gets on her horse to how she fills her truck up with fuel and her short videos have become a popular fan favorite on social media resulting in nearly 440K fans on Facebook.
Amberley now is inspiring thousands across America by telling her inspirational story and competing in rodeos across the western United States. She has let the challenges she faces refine her, not define her.
She was voted the fan exemption contestant at the world’s richest one day rodeo, comparable to the Super Bowl, RFD-TV’s The American. She competed with the best in the industry and received a standing ovation from over 40,000 fans in AT&T Stadium and won over the hearts of America. Amberley has turned her tragedy into triumph and is inspiring all of America to Get Back on the Horse.
Watch Amberley’s story, Walk Ride Rodeo, on Netflix!
The Jeff Heggie Show: Walk Ride Rodeo with Amberley Snyder
Listen to Amberley’s interview on The Jeff Heggie Show