The true grit of Amberley Snyder
Walk. Ride. Rodeo: the song
Connie Gjermundson wrote and recorded a song that will be featured in an RFD-TV segment about Amberley Snyder.
Gjermundson was ranch-reared on the North Dakota prairies a few miles west of Marshall, where her mother Sharon was Postmistress. Sharon and Stanley’s family of five - Brad, Tammy, Lyle, Casey and Connie - grew up helping with ranch work. Four time world champion saddle bronc rider, Brad says, “When we were kids we spent summers riding horseback -- helping neighbors and helping dad.” He said their dad competed in rodeos and the kids got to enter rodeos once in a while, too.
Having grown up with rodeo and horses Connie was fully cognizant of the tragedy and victory played out in Amberley Snyder’s life. She says. “I have known Amberley’s story for many years and she is an amazing young lady. Only in December I found and read her book. After reading her book I knew I wanted to put her story to music.
Gjermundson talked to Kevin Holten, Executive Producer of Special Cowboy Moments on RFD-TV, and told him she’d like to write a song for his episode about Amberley.
Connie said the song was recorded in January, and that Snyder was pleased with it. “I spoke to Amberley on Jan. 23 and sent her the song the following week. She thought that it came together beautifully.”
A movie is about to be released might give you the inspiration to push ahead with your dreams.
Your heart might skip a beat as you watch a beautiful blond paraplegic strapped to her saddle charge into a big arena on a beautiful horse running wide open. She sets and turns a barrel without hardly slowing down…rockets on through the two remaining turns and across the finish line never weakening…then hangs tough in that harsh jarring stop just before she and her horse hit the fence.
The movie is WALK RIDE RODEO, to be released by Netflix March 8, 2019.
Serving as Utah State FFA President, Snyder’s life changed in a Jan. 10, 2010 accident. The stunning blonde athlete had already prepared her retirement speech for State Convention. Her title? Overcoming Adversity
Snyder lost control while driving her pickup and her back was broken, her spine damaged, she lost the use and feeling in her legs.
Doctors and specialists were as shocked as the rest of the world when she was back in the saddle on her favorite horse in four months.
She had no inkling when she chose the subject for her FFA retirement speech, and wrote those words, just how real they’d be to her when she delivered them. Amberley Snyder went out on that stage in a wheelchair and gave her speech and was later messaged by a young man who said he had determined to commit suicide as soon as state FFA Convention was over, but Amberley’s speech turned him around.
That set one major course for Amberley’s future. She would use her experience to inspire others.
“I have spoken in 36 states over the past 5 years. I have been able to speak to groups from elementary schools up to college as well as conferences and conventions,” she says. “The largest speech I did was in 2015 at the National FFA Convention where there were over 13 thousand in attendance for my session. My life now is targeted toward speaking as well as my horses. I speak at least 50 times a year all over the nation as well as into Canada.”
Such a rigorous schedule is physically and mentally exhausting. Amberly’s horses rescue her. “I am lucky enough to ride when I am home,” she says. “I earned my Women’s Professional Rodeo Association Card and compete in the Wilderness Circuit.”
That’s part of Amberley’s miracle – multitudes of eager, talented cowgirls never attain those goals.
Snyder tells how it has become possible.
“I have modifications including a seat belt, velcro straps for my legs, a nylon strap on my left hip and a seat made by ROHO. I communicate with my horses through my hands and my voice,” the cowgirl replied.
ROHO is a company serving people with disabilities that “takes a personal approach to wheelchairs and seating systems” and proudly declares “We are not afraid to go against convention to find new ways to use technology to improve lives.”
“With my physical recovery, I can feel to my knees in most places,” Amberley says. “I have a standing frame at home. When I am there, I stand every day. Standing is so beneficial for me in all aspects. It feels good for me to stand up mentally and physically. I am able to stretch my body out as well as allow my bones to be weight bearing. Riding and choring horses also keeps me in shape, so I try to stay involved as much as possible.”
WALK RIDE RODEO will be available for viewing soon.
The Netflix production will star Missi Pyle, Spencer Locke, Bailey Chase and Sherri Shepherd. Locke will play Amberley Snyder.
“The film has been a work in progress for 6 or 7 years,” Amberley explains. “It worked through two production companies and numerous writers to be ready for the screen. Netflix picked up my story March of 2018. We filmed last summer in New Mexico and the release is March 8 of this year!”
Learning curves are old hat to Amberley. She says, “It was a learning experience to be involved. I was my own stunt double so I was able to be on set for a good portion of the film. My littlest sister was also a stunt double, so between us both we did any of the barrel racing segments.
“They did a good job portraying my story, but definitely did ‘Hollywood-up’ a few places. It was so exciting to see how many moving parts go into the making of just one scene,” she explains. “My family felt a range of emotions re-living the story and seeing firsthand what I went through.”
If there is any regret in Amberley regarding the film, this is it: “My family is such a huge part of my journey; I wish they had captured that more on screen..”
She continues . “I hope people enjoy it as well as gain strength from watching when it is released!”
You can find further information on the film and watch the trailer here:
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Nebraska’s Big Rodeo put Burwell on the map, and now in the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame.