Top barrel racer from Logan shares how paralyzing injury led to inspiration

Jun 21 2013 - 11:32pm

Images

Amberly Snyder, 22, of Logan, feeds her horse grain just before she prepares for her barrel race. Snyder was paralyzed from the waist down in a January 2010 automobile accident in which her truck rolled seven times and she was thrown into a fence post. She started Riding on Faith, a line of T-shirts being worn by cowgirls throughout the state and that are often on sale at events where she competes. She speaks at Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints events, sharing her story of keeping her faith in Christ even through difficult times. She has a special rig that allows her to ride her horse using hand and voice signals as she barrel races. (Courtesy photo)
Amberly Snyder, who is paralyzed from the waist down, tightens a strap that holds her in the saddle and allows her to barrel race. (Courtesy photo)
Amberly Snyder, 22, of Logan, approaches her horse in her wheelchair as she prepares to lead him from his stall at a barrel racing event at the Golden Spike Arena in Ogden. Snyder, who is paralyzed from the waist down, is a top barrel racer in Utah. (Courtesy photo)
Amberly Snyder, 22, of Logan, rides her horse with the help of special straps that keep her astride it. She uses hand and voice commands instead of leg pressure to direct her horse. (Courtesy photo)
Amberly Snyder, 22, of Logan, feeds her horse grain just before she prepares for her barrel race. Snyder was paralyzed from the waist down in a January 2010 automobile accident in which her truck rolled seven times and she was thrown into a fence post. She started Riding on Faith, a line of T-shirts being worn by cowgirls throughout the state and that are often on sale at events where she competes. She speaks at Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints events, sharing her story of keeping her faith in Christ even through difficult times. She has a special rig that allows her to ride her horse using hand and voice signals as she barrel races. (Courtesy photo)
Amberly Snyder, who is paralyzed from the waist down, tightens a strap that holds her in the saddle and allows her to barrel race. (Courtesy photo)
Amberly Snyder, 22, of Logan, approaches her horse in her wheelchair as she prepares to lead him from his stall at a barrel racing event at the Golden Spike Arena in Ogden. Snyder, who is paralyzed from the waist down, is a top barrel racer in Utah. (Courtesy photo)
Amberly Snyder, 22, of Logan, rides her horse with the help of special straps that keep her astride it. She uses hand and voice commands instead of leg pressure to direct her horse. (Courtesy photo)

OGDEN -- Sometimes blessings come in the form of hardships.

Such is the message of Amberly Snyder, a top Utah barrel racer who is paralyzed from the waist down.

"Anybody who believes in God, I think can understand this," Snyder said. "They can understand that there are hardships in life. That is where your comfort lies."

Amberly spoke earlier this month when she competed in the Dash for Cash, which drew hundreds of barrel racers to the Golden Spike Event Center in Ogden.

The 22-year-old Logan cowgirl has overcome her disability to reinvent how she performs in her sport -- using straps to hold herself on her horse and using voice and hand commands instead of leg pressure to guide her horse.

She's also the person behind Riding on Faith, a line of T-shirts being worn by cowgirls throughout the state and that are often on sale at events where she competes.

"For her to ride and do as well as she does without her legs is an amazing accomplishment that is beyond what many people realize," said her mother, Tina Snyder, who believes her daughter's challenges are a sort of mission call for her to bring the message of Christ to those around her.

Her daughter lost the use of her legs when her back was broken in a Jan. 10, 2010, automobile accident.

Amberly Snyder was leaving Logan, where she had been to a conference as the Utah FFA president, when she rolled her truck seven times and was ejected, hitting a fence post.

"God told me that, if we both endured, she would save many and she would bring many unto Him," said Tina Snyder.

She recalled saying this to her daughter while she was still in the hospital with a broken back: "Amberly, you just doubled your power."

The mother said she knew her daughter would touch people.

"I never imagined it would have the magnitude that it has now," she said. "It's hard. It's extremely hard, but she has touched a lot of people."

Amberly Snyder now is a frequent speaker at church events sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

She also is a constant witness of Christ in her everyday life, as she speaks about the faith required to become a top rider on a former flat-track race horse.

Tina Snyder recalls the exact moment the sport became an emotional lifesaver for her daughter.

It was following Amberly Snyder's first barrel race after her accident, where she finished just one second off the winning time.

Tina Snyder said that, as they laughed and talked on the way home, God told her to turn up the radio.

Playing was a song by Addison Road with the words: "Everything rides on hope now. Everything rides on faith somehow."

Since that moment, Amberly Snyder said, she has dedicated her barrel racing to riding on faith and sharing the message of her life.

Both the daughter and mother said they have received numerous similar messages that indicate to them that "God has our backs."

The song they heard that night on the radio is the subject of a video Amberly Snyder has on YouTube.

The video ends with the Scripture from Philippians 4:13 in the New King James Version of the Bible that reads: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

"Everybody has bad days, but there are certain times when I think I know this is why," she said. "It's when a little girl comes up to me at a barrel race and tells me how much she loves me."

 

 

Amberly Snyder said when someone tells her she made a difference in their life, she thinks about how she feels like she's on a mission.

"When you go through something traumatic and life-changing, you realize what's really important," she said.

"To be able to still compete in (barrel racing), I think I appreciate it a lot more," she said.

"It's now so much more rewarding. People need to learn to appreciate what they've got.

"If they are doing anything that they love to do, they should just value that."

The cowgirl said she relies on a spiritual connection she now has with her horse that she didn't have before.

"Only God and my horse can know," she said. "He knows that, every time I'm on his back, he takes care of me."

Competing since she was 7, Amberly Snyder has achieved much.

The summer before her accident, she was named the world all-around champion at the National Finals Little Britches Rodeo.

She was recently chosen as the runner-up for Wrangler's "Ultimate Cowgirl."

She also said that a life goal now is to help teenagers by being a high school counselor when she graduates from Utah State University.

From Around the Web

  +