Amberley Snyder can check “appear in a biopic about myself” off her bucket list.
The Utah State University alumna spent the summer of 2018 as a stunt double and resource for the Netflix movie “Walk. Ride. Rodeo.” The upcoming biopic is based on her own life story as a barrel-racer and the car crash that left her paralyzed from the waist down.
The film, which focuses on Snyder and her mother, is a tale about overcoming trauma and making the best out of the life one is given.
Snyder knows a lot about that topic. After her crash in 2010, Snyder was in the hospital and physical therapy for months but eventually found herself back in the saddle riding horses again. She graduated from USU in 2015 and received her master’s degree last year.
“I was raised to have an attitude to persevere, work hard and continue to strive for my goals no matter what,” Snyder said. “Having been raised that way and having parents who are examples of that made it easier to keep going regardless of the wheelchair.”
Snyder said that she knew reliving the event would be traumatic, and when a production company first approached her to make the movie she was uncomfortable with the idea.
Snyder said it was “exciting yet challenging” to see herself portrayed on screen. Tina, Snyder’s mother, thought the film would inspire others and touch lives.
They really took special care in how they brought about her story,” Tina said.
“Walk. Ride. Rodeo.” stars Spencer Locke as Snyder and Missi Pyle as her mother. However, unique to this film, Snyder does all the stunts herself. This was non-negotiable for Snyder in allowing the production company to tell her story.
“I sometimes look at my life and think of where I might be if not for this,” Snyder said of her injury. “It is so hard to guess. I am a true believer in ‘everything happens for a reason,’ so I feel that I had a purpose to serve and am hopefully serving it. There was a reason I am in the situation I am in and have to believe that.”
Snyder said there were many times she wanted to quit rodeo, but her passion kept her going.
“[Rodeo] is the place where I still get to compete and accomplish my life goals” Snyder said. “I truly treasure the moments I get to have on my horse in or out of the rodeo arena because it gives me the opportunity to be like everyone else, and that means a lot.”
After her accident, Snyder had to make adjustments to her horse-riding technique.
“I have a seat belt and other modifications on my saddle that hold me in and keep me center when I compete,” Snyder said. “When I get on my horse, I don’t worry about my legs, but more on my voice, hands, balance and communication with my horse. Balance is a huge factor for me now. I have to constantly be aware and one step ahead of my horse or I will be thrown off center.”
Snyder also had to adjust her own expectations of riding as she worked to get back in the saddle.
“Mentally, it is freeing yet challenging. In the beginning, I struggled because I wanted riding to be just like it was before,” Snyder said. “That was not realistic, and it took a lot of time to accept that. I have to understand my abilities and then use what I have. This is a challenge both on and off my horses.”
Even though Snyder’s gig as a movie star is coming to a close, Snyder likes to keep busy.
“Rodeo season is beginning, and my sisters have been training,” Snyder said. “I am always booking speeches for the months ahead. I absolutely love to travel and share my story in the hopes of helping others with their challenges.”
Going forward, Snyder wants to speak in all 50 states and internationally. Snyder also wants to finish her second book and make it back to The American Rodeo.
“I just bought by own home, so I can check that goal off the list,” Snyder said.
More than anything, Snyder wants to continue to inspire others to keep going no matter what difficulties come their way.
“I feel we all have obstacles. Some are seen and some are not, but everyone faces their challenges,” Snyder said. “I hope that with my story, people can find strength to overcome what they are facing. We don’t always get to choose what happens to us, but we do get to choose what comes next.”
“Walk. Ride. Rodeo.” will be available for streaming on Netflix beginning March 8.
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