“I like American Hat,” said bareback rider, Tim O’Connell. “I like what they represent, stand for, and believe in.” For the past few years, Tim […]
American Hat Presents Amberley Snyder
Written by: Siri Stevens< Back to Articles
Amberley Snyder is living proof of Positive Times, the tagline of American Hat. “To me it’s the lifestyle –the people who are constantly looking to improve themselves and the world around them. That’s the group that makes up American Hat. I want to grow with them, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.” Like Amberley, American Hat has overcome obstacles, including losing Keith Maddox, who coined the phrase, positive times. “That’s what I try to live regardless of what life throws at me .”
Life threw Amberley a curve ball on January 10, 2010. She was on her way to the National Western Stock Show and had just gotten fuel. She forgot to fasten her seatbelt and while she looked down to check her map, she drifted into the other lane and overcorrected. The vehicle slid off the road in the ice, and Amberley was ejected and slammed into a fence post. Paralyzed from the waist down, Amberley slowly rebuilt her life, which includes motivational speaking engagements across the country, a Netflix movie – Walk, Ride, Rodeo, based on her life, and the return to competitive barrel racing. Her mother recalls seeing her WPRA application in the trailer after her accident, and today, Amberley is chasing another spot in the Wilderness Circuit Finals. Thanks to grit, determination, and the help of many, she can cruise through the cloverleaf pattern without the use of her legs.
“I’m racing with the best of the best and I have issues with my balance – but I’ve learned to do the best I can with what I’ve got,” she said. “I have to forget my legs when I get on – I can’t be in control of them – I try to tell them to sit still and not get in the way.” She uses the same straps she started with 12 years ago. She is getting a new saddle, having worn out the one she got in 2004. “I’m not changing a thing about the saddle,” she said. Many things have seen an upgrade, including a Hart trailer with living quarters made to accommodate her needs. “It’s made it so I can do more things I need to – I have time to stand, I’ve been doing CrossFit, and I even have to do lessons.” She travels with her best friend, Emmy. “I convinced her last year to quit her job and work for me this summer.”
She has made barrel racing her focus this year, limiting her speaking engagements to around 25. Amberley has three horses, her main mount is her gelding, Legacy, she has had for eight years. Power, who used to be her main mount, is retired and babysits her recipient mare, who just had a baby. Penny is her back up mare and she has an up-and-coming mare, Willow, six this year. Finding horses has been trial and error. “If they take advantage of my legs not working, then they go on down the road. I’ve not had any bad horses, but they have to work with me.” Along with relearning cues, her horses have to stand still while Amberley gets on, a process that takes several steps.
“My struggle has stayed the same, I have to have patience with change and realize the inability that I have in some things – it’s still a challenge. This summer I’m working to be able to keep up at the bigger rodeos that I’m running in – hopefully we are in a position to do that and make the run I’m capable of and what I’m trained to do.”