Inspired Rider: Meet Your Challenge

Be an inspired rider in the New Year.

Amberley Snyder uses her life experiences—from walking to wheel chair—to make you an inspired rider. Shyanne Stillweii Photography

Are you ready for a new start, a new year, and new goals? Ready or not, 2018 is ready for you to tackle. What do you want to accomplish? What are your riding goals? How will you work toward achieving them? Are you an inspired rider? Only you determine what you’re capable of. It’s the best part about goals: you get to set them and map your path!

Reality of Barriers

It’s a known fact that barriers lie between us and what we aim to accomplish. These limitations tell us the odds are stacked against us and that too much stands in the way of our success. Growing up, I was fortunate to have parents who allowed me to dream. “You can be anything you want to be, Amberley,” my parents would say. This support helped me build pillars of perseverance, optimism, and hard work. I knew with dedication, I could truly be anything I wanted to be.

But on January 10, 2010, at age 18, the universe had a different plan for me, and my life took a drastic turn. I was involved in a rollover car accident that left me paralyzed from the waist down. (If you’re not familiar with my story, visit for the details.) As a cowgirl, rodeo competitor, and active teenager, I was devastated. I felt my whole life was crushed in just a moment of time. I remembered back to my parents telling me I could become anything I wanted. Even with the substantial odds against me and having to relearn life in a wheelchair, it didn’t mean I couldn’t be the person I dreamed of becoming.

Meeting the Challenge

We all face challenges. They might be external—something you see from the outside, like my being in a wheelchair. They also can be hidden, on the inside, where no one else knows the struggles you face. No matter the challenge in your life, you have the strength to overcome it. You can set the goal, make the path, and achieve.

For me, this past year has been tough. I had a little filly buck with me, breaking my nose and smashing my face, which caused my confidence to lag. I had to work through those feelings of being uneasy and regain my composure on my horses. I had some ups and downs at my first Wilderness Circuit rodeos, winning a few checks but more often being off the pace. My horse, Legacy (French Open), had to take some time off, which resulted in turning out of some rodeos.

Then came another hard setback. On July 3, my horse fell with me while running barrels at a rodeo in Tooele, Utah. I broke my femur. This put us out for most of the summer. Luckily, I didn’t have as much pain with my femur as someone who can feel normally so I begged to ride as soon as it was stable. We came back in August, and our timing was off. I decided we needed to take a step back. So now we’re hitting jackpots and barrel races, regaining our confidence.

I wanted to share this because I want you to know you’re not alone in your struggles, whether they’re physical or mental. Don’t ever feel like you’re the only one having ups and downs. We all go through those slumps, mentally, physically, and even emotionally. Don’t feel bad, don’t get down, and don’t give up. The learning curve isn’t always fun, but it’s necessary.

Moving Forward

For 2018, I’m focusing on my riding and communicating with my horse, which is a unique situation for me. I want us to be a team when we enter the arena, and that takes time outside the rodeo pen to accomplish. I’ve gone back to the round pen to work on groundwork and the basics of communication. Sometimes we need to take a step back to move three steps forward, and that’s OK! It builds our skills and strengthens our relationships with our horses.

Coming into the new rodeo season, I have new goals. I want to improve our consistency in the arena. I want to train a few more up-and-coming horses I have. I want to work on my hands and my balance to be the best possible rider I can be. Of course, I’d like to make circuit finals as well. I have new goals to work toward.

So, what are yours? Do you want to improve your riding? Do you want to set a new personal record? Do you want to compete on a higher level? Make your goals specific and measurable. Know realistically where you are now, and make progress from there. Make smaller goals to accomplish along the way, and don’t be afraid to celebrate those small victories. It’s the small ones that build our skills and set us up to accomplish the big ones!

And never forget to look to see how far you’ve come. Sometimes I get so caught up in where I want to be going that I forget to see how much I have accomplished thus far. You might get to that goal and realize that the journey was the most memorable part—not the end point. I can’t wait to see what our next year holds!

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