Injured rodeo contender makes amazing return to competition
Published: Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 7, 2013 23:10
Amberley Snyder, a junior majoring in agriculture education, has been riding horses for almost her entire life, but after the strongest year of her rodeo career, her life changed dramatically in 2009.
After an automobile accident left her paralyzed from the hips down, doctors told her she would never ride a horse again.
“The doctor walked in and started talking about my legs. He said I might be paralyzed,” Snyder said of days following her accident. “I asked him what the chances were of feeling my legs again, and he said, ‘Slim to none — but more to the none.’”
Nearly five years later, Snyder is on the USU rodeo team and competes at the same rate she did before the accident.
The diagnosis came as a shock to the then-18-year-old rodeo enthusiast, who had been riding horses since she was three.
“2009 was a huge year for me,” she said. “This was the year before my accident. I made high school nationals, went to Colorado and came home with the world and final all-around title, and left placing in the top six in three of my four events.”
Snyder was serving as the president of Utah's chapter of Future Farmers of America at the time of the accident. During a month-long break, she was offered a job in Denver that would last for a few weeks. She accepted and started her drive to Denver on Jan. 10, 2010.
“I left Logan to make my way to Denver at 4 o'clock in the morning so I could get there at a decent hour,” Snyder said. “I had stopped in Rawlins, and when I got back in my truck I just hadn’t put my seat belt back on because I was doing other things. I wear my seatbelt all the time, but I was just focusing on other things and it slipped my mind.”
Snyder looked down in her lap to check her map, looked up and saw she was drifting into another lane, heading toward a mile marker.
“I grabbed my wheel to correct my truck, and because I was going so fast, it sent me sliding across the road,” Snyder said. “So in the end I ended up rolling, but I was ejected from the truck because my seat belt wasn’t on.”
Snyder said she was conscious for the entire accident and remembers the sensation of hearing her truck rolling without being in there.
“I didn’t even think I was going to be alive after this,” Snyder said.