Paralyzed Rider Wins Barrel Racing Championship

Since she was little, all Amberley Synder wanted to do was rodeo. Like many of us, she had been riding almost before she could walk and at 18 was competing as a barrel racer and roper in rodeos across the country. And winning. She was a World Champion Barrel Racer.

Image source: Amberley Synder

Image source: Amberley Synder

Six years ago, a terrible car accident left her paralyzed from the waist down. It seemed as those her rodeo days were over. But Synder was not willing to give up. She told her therapist she planning on not only riding again, but continuing to race.

Balance was the hardest part of recovery, but even then, Synder used her riding as a tool to help her overcome any obstacle. Since her balance was best in the saddle, they brought in a saddle to her physical therapist and sure enough, she improved dramatically. And while balance is still her biggest struggle, Snyder is living her dreams.

“Four months after [the accident] was the first time back on,” she told iHeartHorses. “When I stopped for a while was in August of 2010. And come the next spring i was ready to try again. I felt I was ready to take on a new challenge. I had adapted better to the wheelchair in all aspects and could handle another obstacle.”

Image source: Amberley Synder

Image source: Amberley Synder

She wasn’t the only who had to adapt, of course. Her horses had to learn to listen to a rider who was not using her legs.

“I use my hands and my voice,” Synder said when we asked how she compensated for the lack of leg cues. “My horses are super sensitive to the cues I can give. Anyone within 10 feet around me kisses, my horses jump.”

Image source: Amberley Synder

Image source: Amberley Synder

Synder has had the help of Stacy Glause, who taught her how to barrel race originally, and Ryna Lovendahl who is currently helping her.

She has several horses that she still rides:

  • Power – 13 years old and loves apples. I trained him before my wreck and still run him now
  • Maximus – 20 years old and loves oreos, skittles and horse treats. This is my rope horse. I have had him a little over a year
  • Legacy- 8 years old and loves horse treats. This the first horse I have trained since my wreck. He is my main barrel horse now.
  • Outlaw – 4 years old. He is the new project

Image source: Amberley Synder

Image source: Amberley Synder

Legacy and Synder not only still compete, but they just won the Legacy Barrel Race.  Watch her ride in this interview from the Today Show:

Meet Amberley Snyder, a rodeo champion who’s back in the saddle — after she was paralyzed 6 years ago.

 

Congratulations to Snyder – it’s an incredible story about how determination can really pay off. What’s next? She told us “Rodeo All Summer!” We would love you to leave your notes of congratulations and Good Luck wishes to Snyder in the comments below.

Posted by Today Show on Sunday, March 6, 2016