Nothing keeps Amberley Snyder from getting back on the horse

Amberley Snyder riding her horse
Amberley Snyder riding her horse "Power." | Courtesy of Cowgirl | April 18 2016

It only took three seconds for Amberley Snyder to look down at her phone. She had chosen not to buckle her seat belt in her black truck on that cold morning. She drifted off the road trying to gain back control, while her steering wheel took control of her future. Sounds of metal crashing and bending, screams… and then black out! The truck rolled over and over creating dust in the air making it hard to see what had happened for the people driving on the highway. She was thrown from her truck up against a metal pole. As she landed on the dusty ground, against the pole “everything slowed down and I couldn’t feel my legs or my toes move.”1

Amberley Snyder’s horrible car crash as a result of texting, and not wearing a seatbelt. | Courtesy of People January 2010

As she was leaning on the metal pole in pain, she was able to reach her phone, panicking, to call her dad to tell him that she was in an awful car crash, and was laying on the side of the highway. Her dad, who had been sleeping, answered the phone, and then called her mom to deliver the bad news. When she arrived at the hospital, she found out that her daughter was paralyzed from her waist down. She also had bones in her back broken. The doctors told her, “If you’d had your seatbelt on, you would have your legs.”2 That one choice she made had cost her a consequence for a lifetime, leaving her in a waterfall of tears. Her mother then told her as she was sitting in the hospital bed, “We can not go back; your legs are still attached. We’re just going to work on it from here.”3 On January 10, 2010, Amberley’s dreams of becoming a famous rodeo barrel racer came to an end.

At the age of seven, Amberley always aspired to be an award-winning horse rider. She “took her first horse riding lesson at the age of three and was immediately hooked.”4 Her passion grew when she received her first horse from her parents and named him “Power.” She knew from the very beginning that the connection between her and Power would never fade away. She had always “had a great sense of communication with her horses” that nobody could ever understand. With the connection between her and Power, she was able to qualify “for the National High School Finals in the pole bending and won the National Little Britches Rodeo Association All-Around Cowgirl World Championship.”5 This was only the start of her journey in rodeo.

After the car crash incident, Amberley had many different obstacles to face. Rehab was the first out of many tough obstacles. Every time she would attend rehab, she lost more and more faith. She was not even able to use her upper body strength to push her wheelchair up the rail. She would cry more and more every time she could not make it. As months passed, she was able to gain balance and push her wheelchair up the rail on her own. She told the “physical therapist that she was able to balance better on a saddle than anywhere else.” The physical therapist gave in to her and let her parents bring it in to help her in rehab.6

Amberley Snyder’s horrible car crash as a result of using her phone, and not wearing a seatbelt. | Courtesy of People January 2010

Amberley came home after rehab to her home, her family, her friends, and her best friend, Power. The moment they laid eyes on each other they both knew it was not the same. Power failed to recognize who Amberley was anymore, due to her restrictions in the wheelchair. She was devastated because she knew things would never be the same again between her and her horse. She even “refused to go anywhere near the stalls for almost a year,” at one point telling her mom to just sell them, since she couldn’t ride them anymore.7 Her parents were saddened to see her like this and thought it would be in her best interest to find a way for her to get the most out of what she had. Amberley’s face gleamed in amazement when she saw her parents design a contraption for her saddle for her to be able to ride safely. The contraption consisted of a seat belt from a junkyard, “velcro strips on her pants to secure her legs and a nylon strap across her left side to keep her centered on top of her horse.”8 This contraption was the start of her determination to get back to rodeo and compete. She knew that she had no other choice than to go back to barrel racing and prove bravery and fearfulness.

The time had come. All the preparation that Amberley did was about to pay off, at The American rodeo. “In March 2015 she won a fan exemption to compete against the top barrel racers in the world” at “The American” rodeo at Cowboys Stadium.9 The American was only made for the best of the best. Knowing that, at the age of seven, Amberley had always dreamed of this moment, and now it was finally time to come true.

Amberley Snyder at the American Rodeo. | Courtesy of New Mobility. July 1, 2018

Amberley was waiting in the tunnel nervously with her mom, ready to take on the arena full of fans. Her mom gave her a little pep talk, telling her there was no turning back now and how proud she was of her to see her where she is today, and to have seen all the obstacles Amberley had overcome. Amberley was ready to take the arena, as she kissed her mom for good luck. She waved nervously but excited as she entered the arena with the American Flag waving behind her. She was all saddled up in her contraption and felt better than ever. Her fans were screaming with excitement as Power pranced, hooves hitting the ground creating dust in the air, with Amberley on the saddle. Her friends and family were standing in the arena cheering her on, and the announcer introducing her, as the girl that has beaten incredible odds to get here, and a heart as big as Texas, Amberley Snyder. This only created more confidence in herself and in her horse. Power stomped around the arena one time, then approached the barrel, and it was their time to shine. Right before they took off, Amberley whispered to Power “this is the same thing we always do, you and me, today is our day.”10 Power then dashes off full force, leaving Amberley Snyder in the top of the board with some of the top riders in the world, with a time of 15.3 seconds.

“We are capable of overcoming whatever those challenges are,” confidently quoted by Amberley Snyder the first teenage girl to be paralyzed waist down and come back and place in rodeo.11 She is now an inspiration to the people in the rodeo world, that have undergone a medical disability. Amberley is now currently telling her inspirational story on all platforms of social media, and “works as a rodeo coach at Mount Pleasants Wasatch Academy.”12 She also still continues to compete in rodeos across the western United States. She never let her crash create a barrier for her and for her passion for rodeo. She never gave up on the dream that she had since she was seven. “Her strength has come from the things she thought she couldn’t do, and the fire inside of her now is brighter now than the fire around her,” said her friend Jolene Farnsworth.13 This only continues to show us that no matter what obstacles we are faced with, we always have support from friends and family.

Amberley Snyder and her horse Power. | Courtesy of 2019

With the platform she has reached by placing with some of the top barrel racers from across the world, she has been able to use it to share her inspirational story. She stresses how important it is to not use your phone while driving, and to always put on your seatbelt when you get in the car. She “answers every question and e-mail, tweets and has her own YouTube channel. She has posted a ‘Wheelchair Wednesday’ video on her Facebook page weekly for the past two years.”14 The video ranges from what she uses to keep her mounted to her horse and saddle to getting on her horse, teaching people that they do have a purpose in life, and that they are more than capable of doing anything a normal person can do. Although there are restraints to discourage people from going back to what they love, they have to find their true passion and never give that up. Amberley Snyder says, “I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason….no matter what, only you get to choose your attitude every single day, and I choose to have a good one.”15

  1. Cathy Free, “Paralyzed Utah Barrel Racer Continues Career After Car Crash: ‘Anything Is Possible’,” People (online) March 22, 2017,
  2. Natalea Watkin, “Amberley Snyder: American Cowgirl,” New Mobility (website) July 1, 2015,
  3. Natalea Watkin, “Amberley Snyder: American Cowgirl,” New Mobility (website) July 1, 2015,
  4. Kimberley White, “Car Crash Paralyzes Championship Rider. 1-Yr-Later Tells Doctors To Put Her Back In Saddle,” InspireMore (blog), June 25, 2017,
  5. Amberley Snyder, “My Story,” Amberley Snyder (biography) 2019,
  6. Caroline Gottlieb and Scott Stump, “Rodeo champion Amberley Snyder back in the saddle after paralysis 6 years ago,” Today (blog) March 6, 2016,
  7. Kimberley White, “Car Crash Paralyzes Championship Rider. 1-Yr-Later Tells Doctors To Put Her Back In Saddle,” InspireMore (website), June 25, 2017,
  8. Cathy Free, “Paralyzed Utah Barrel Racer Continues Career After Car Crash: ‘Anything Is Possible’,” People (online) March 22, 2017,
  9. Natalea Watkin, “Amberley Snyder: American Cowgirl,” New Mobility (website) July 1, 2015,
  10. Netflix Official Site, “Walk. Ride. Rodeo.” Netflix (film) March 08, 2019,
  11. Chris Spargo,”Paralyzed Rider Amberley Snyder Says She Was ‘humiliated,” Daily Mail (article) February 22, 2019,
  12. Cathy Free, “Paralyzed Utah Barrel Racer Continues Career After Car Crash: ‘Anything Is Possible’,” People (article) March 22, 2017,
  13. Cathy Free, “Paralyzed Utah Barrel Racer Continues Career After Car Crash: ‘Anything Is Possible’,” People (article) March 22, 2017,
  14. Natalea Watkin, “Amberley Snyder: American Cowgirl,” New Mobility (article) July 1, 2015,
  15. Natalea Watkin, “Amberley Snyder: American Cowgirl,” New Mobility (article) July 1, 2015,

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This Post Has 63 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Saira Locke

    I’ve never heard of Amberley Snyder but I do know how bug of an impact she had on horse competitions. Everyone should know that tomorrow is not guaranteed, and she learned that when she survived a tragic car accident that almost took her life. This story was very inspiring that she didn’t let her injuries dictate what she was going to do with her life.

  2. Avatar
    Alexander Avina

    This is an incredible story of perseverance and dedication. It also shows the dangerous effects of distracted driving. Distracted driving was able to cause all of this pain and hardship to this young person. On the other hand, you can see the resilience and passion that helped Snyder get back on her horse and keep doing what she loved. This was truly an inspiring story that was very enjoyable to read.

  3. Mitchell Yocham
    Mitchell Yocham

    People never believe that they will get in a car crash but when it happens it is so devastating and horribly miserable. Although this accident completely ruined her dream at the time, she didn’t and wouldn’t let that stop her from completing her dream. She even became a top competitor despite her challenges, she had a goal in her brain and couldn’t stop till it was completed.

  4. Avatar
    Azucena Cuevas

    It is a miracle that she survived such a horrible accident or wasn’t in a much worse condition. We never realize how dangerous it is to use our phones while driving until it’s too late. However, it is truly amazing that Amberley overcame her obstacles and pursued her passion. It is nearly impossible to get back into a rodeo after being paralyzed but she beat the odds. Her story is inspiring and is being used as motivation for other rodeo riders that have experienced any disability.

  5. Avatar
    Carly Jimenez

    I am so amazed by reading this article. It was sad reading that if she had only worn her seat belt her legs would have been saved. The most inspiring part of this article was when her mother told her, ” We cannot go back, your legs are still attached we are just going to go on from here” even when she wanted to give up because her horse did not recognize her her parents wouldn’t let her stop because even they knew that she was going to over come this. and she did. These kind of stories are so very inspiring and knowing that she did so well at the American Rodeo is even more awesome. She overcame what a lot of people would only dream to do. I believe that you should never give up on your dreams no matter what obstacles are thrown in your way. Awesome article!

  6. Avatar
    Andrea Degollado

    This article is truly inspirational. The article teaches several valuable lessons, such as never giving up. To echo off of that, it also taught us how we choose how we want to react to things, that it’s all about perception. Amberley is a true inspiration, even with the odds against her she still managed to follow her dreams.

  7. Avatar
    Judy Reyes

    “Everything happens for a reason.” That phrase in itself is so amazing. God has a greater purpose in our lives than we possibly could ever understand. When she felt like she had nothing left to give, other’s continued to fight for her. Her parents never wanted her dream to die so they kept it alive for her when she had little faith. Having a great support system through everything is motivating in itself.

  8. Sabrina Doyon
    Sabrina Doyon

    Wow! Her story is so inspiring! Crazy how she went from not visiting the stables to competing in contests. I’m glad that she didn’t let her injuries dictate how she spends her time. It is good to keep trying even when all seems lost. As the saying goes, if at first, you don’t succeed try try again. I also hope that she now always wears her seatbelt.

  9. Avatar
    Cassandra Sanchez

    I think that it is a miracle that Amberly Snyder survived her accident. This just shows how one decision can have major impacts on one’s life whether good or bad. I admire her for taking these struggles and all this pain an turning it into a way she can find herself again and continue to do what she loves. She is an inspiration to everyone as she overcame this heartbreaking event in her life and is using it as an example to help others.

  10. Avatar
    Eliezer Leal

    The story this article tells is truly inspiring. Driving is no joke and can be very dangerous and not paying attention can lead to great consequences as stated in the article, life taking consequences at that. God forbid any harm comes to those drive, but as the article said no matter what you have to pick yourself up, you have to persevere, especially if it is something your passionate about. At the end of the day your life is what you make it, you should pursue what you love and never give up on it.

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