Competitive barrel racer Amberley Snyder has been inspiring thousands with her testimony of the 2010 car accident that left the rodeo star paraplegic at the age of 19.
At the time, she was driving to the Denver Stock Show and Rodeo when she took a moment to look down at a map. With her eyes diverted, her truck moved into the other lane and headed towards a metal beam. When Snyder overcorrected, the truck slid off the road, and she was ejected from the vehicle because she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. Her body’s impact with a fence post broke her back, and she immediately lost feeling in her legs.
Today, the 28-year-old can’t quantify how many times she competes in a year, and when she’s not on her horse, she’s sharing her story with others online and through multiple speaking engagements recalling her journey to recovery. Her story has been transposed into the new Netflix film, Walk. Ride. Rodeo. and served as the principle inspiration behind Max Ehrich’s new song, “Ride.”
Ehrich, a rising musician and an Emmy-nominated actor, plays the movie’s Tate Watkins, and he wanted to contribute a song to the film’s soundtrack that embodied the spirit of the film and Snyder’s story. He pitched the initial idea for “Ride” to Snyder, who had never written a song before in her life.
“I remember when I called Amberley and being unsure whether or not she was going to be onboard,” Ehrich recalled in a CMT.com interview with Snyder. “She was telling me she’s not a songwriter. I told her, ‘Your story is a song. Everyone is a songwriter. Everyone is an artist, and everyone’s story should be heard; especially this one.’”
Snyder performs all the stunts for lead actress Spencer Locke in Walk. Ride. Rodeo., which also stars Missi Pyle and Alyvia Alyn Lind, while Ehrich performs his own stunts in the frigid Utah winter in the official “Ride” music video directed by Randy Miller.
Here is more from CMT.com’s conversation with Snyder and Ehrich about bringing her story to life in film and music.
CMT.com: Amberley, what has it been like for you to see your life transposed in so many ways and see your recovery inspire others?
Snyder: It’s been such a whirlwind. I never thought when I was sitting on the side of that rode that this is where my life would lead. For me, something terrible happened with my accident, and it just wasn’t an option to stop living life. That’s honestly how I looked at it. I loved my horses, and I was going to stick with my horses. I’ve had these goals that I’ve wanted to accomplish. It’s been crazy to see how just continuing to live life regardless of challenges has uplifted so many people. That’s where I’m really lucky because I don’t think everyone is given the platform I’ve been given that allows people to draw motivation, inspiration and strength from my story. It makes the days when I don’t love my chair, it makes me remember that it’s bigger than me.
How long did it take you to get you ready to ride again?
Snyder: After my accident, it was four months until the very first time I got back on a horse. It was 18 months after that until I had my first barrel run. I compete all the time – every weekend or during the week. By the end of the year, I will have barrel run 70-100 times.
How did music play a part in your recovery?
Snyder: Since I started barrel racing, the first horse I had would get nervous coming into the arena. So, I would sing. I would sing to keep myself calm to get her into the arena and compete. Just the fact that music has always played that role for me, it’s always been that calming factor when it came to competing. This just made it even more special to have a song that truly shares a little piece of me and a little piece of really how I feel when I get on the back of a horse. That’s one of my favorite parts about the music video, and this song is that I know what joy I get when I get on the back of a horse, how freeing that is. The song really expressed that.
Max, what drew you to the role of Tate Watkins?
Ehrich: This role of Tate was so intriguing to me in the fact that he was a light in Amberley’s life to help inspire her to start speaking at conventions and just be a light in her life as she was going through this. I try to do that in my life to try and be there for people. I’m truly honored to be telling this story and to be part of this project. The fact that now I have a song in the film blows my mind because my biggest passions are acting, songwriting and singing.
How long have you been playing music?
Ehrich: Since I was six. Music is what grounded me. I grew up in a small town in New Jersey, and I was always that kid in school in all the school plays and performing arts camps. Music was always something I would turn to in any dark time and in my highs and my lows. It’s been a constant thing with me. For my whole life, it never lets me down. I play literally every day.
Amberley, I’m a survivor of three car wrecks. In my first one, I was ejected from a vehicle and I remember waking up on the side of the road, thinking, ‘It’s not that bad.’ Positivity was my instant reaction. Did you have that same reaction?
Snyder: In the accident itself, I wasn’t knocked out in the whole thing so to remember what it felt like feel my truck lift up off the ground, be ejected and to have the whole world stop for a minute. It doesn’t haunt me in any way. Sometimes it makes you sit back for a minute and think, ‘Woah, I just survived that.’ It was like God has me here for a reason. So, whatever that is, I’m going to do it.
What are the top reasons to watch Walk. Ride. Rodeo.?
Snyder: I would say, the goal I had for the movie is for people to recognize that hard days do happen and those are OK. Sometimes I think people look at stories like mine and think, “How is she so positive and strong all the time?” Honestly, there are hard days and hard times when you question where you’re at, you doubt if you’re beautiful or what you’re worth. I hope people recognize that’s OK, but what’s more important than those moments of doubt, is the fact that we really have the strength to carry on, and we really do have the choice to turn the page and see what comes next.
Ehrich: I think that this movie is the most touching film I have ever been a part of and have ever seen personally. It has every single element that a good film should have. The fact that Amberley shared her story with the world I think is such a gift. I think it will inspire anyone who is facing any challenges and respect the process of healing. There are many moments where you cry for her, where you laugh with her, and you feel like you’re rooting for her. It’s an incredible film. I feel super proud to be a part of it.
Amberley, any interest to explore music as another calling?
Snyder: I’ll definitely continue my speaking and riding my horses. I’m writing a book and speaking goes in with that.