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Amberley Snyder Turns Tragedy into Triumphmotivation, back on the horse

“Fall seven times. Get up eight.” – Japanese proverb

Amberley Snyder rode her first horse at age three.

She’s been riding ever since.

What began as a simple joy for an energetic, little girl has transformed into the successful career for an established, inspiring professional rodeo rider and barrel racer.

She’s been successful at every level of competition, won the National High School World Championship in 2009, and even recently competed at what is considered the Super Bowl of rodeo, The American. After completing her ride, she received a roaring standing ovation from the 40,000 gathered in the stadium and was voted fan favorite.

It’s a remarkable accomplishment for anyone.

But what makes Amberley’s accomplishments even more remarkable is all she overcame of get there.

A Devastating Crash Rocks Amberley’s World

Just weeks after winning the National High School World Championship in 2009 Amberley was in an accident that nearly claimed her life.

While driving to the Denver Stock Show and Rodeo, her truck slid off the highway, onto a soft shoulder, flipped, and rolled repeatedly down the highway. At 70 miles per hour, she was ejected from the vehicle, slammed into a fence post, broke her back and immediately lost feeling in her legs.

Amberley was rushed to the nearest hospital where her life was spared, but the ability to regain the use or feeling below her legs was not. The doctors shared that she would never again regain feeling, never again be able to walk, and certainly never again ride.

Although crushed by the diagnosis, Amberley refused to be a victim to it.

Using the same faith, determination, optimism and grit that transformed a little horse hobbyist into a professional rodeo force, she resolved to prove the doctors wrong. Amberley desired to regain feeling, move her legs, relearn to walk and even return to the saddle.

Stunningly, after several surgeries, numerous procedures, months of therapy, lots of tears and a steadfast nightly commitment to try again tomorrow, Amberley was rolled out of her house toward the barn. Hoisted onto her favorite horse, Amberley was strapped in with her legs rubber-banded tightly to the horse to keep her from falling off. Still working on regaining feeling in her legs, Amberley’s balance was off, her feel for the ride was diminished, and the challenges to walking, riding and living remained massive looking forward.

But she was back on the horse.

Amberley is still working on regaining movement and feeling in her legs. She faces daily challenges physically. Yet, the adversity hasn’t stopped her from achieving any of her goals. She’s graduated college with a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Education, is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Counseling and continues to compete on the Utah State University rodeo team.

(In our most recent Live Inspired podcast, I visited with the extraordinary Amberley Snyder. The spunk, determination and joy with which she approaches every challenge in her life is certain to encourage you as you encounter challenges in your life. Listen to the entire conversation here.)

Allowing Challenges to Refine You, Not Define You

My friends, it’s likely we all face significant challenges as we enter the second week of 2018. Relational, spiritual, emotional, professional, financial and physical adversity is as much a certainty in the new year as it was in the previous.

We may choose to be victims by being reduced, diminished or defined by the adversity. Or, like Amberley Snyder, we may instead choose to be victors by being improved, strengthened and refined by it.

We spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about the possibility of falling.

This week, don’t worry about the falls. Commit instead to simply getting back up.

Fall seven times. Get up eight.

This is your day. Live Inspired.


This article was originally published on #1 National Bestselling Author of ON FIRE and Inspirational Speaker John O’Leary’s Monday Motivation blog. John inspires the R.L. Thomas Service, Inc. and we’re honored to share his inspiration with you! Get his Monday Motivation in your inbox here and enjoy his daily inspiration on Facebook, Twitter & YouTube.


You can see all of John’s Monday Motivation posts here:

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