In­spired Rider

Horse & Rider - - Contents - by Am­ber­ley Sny­der

“IF YOU COULD tell your­self one thing be­fore your ac­ci­dent, what would it have been?” I was asked this a few weeks ago af­ter giv­ing a speech in Mis­souri. What would I tell that me? Would I warn my­self about what was about to hap­pen? Would I tell my­self to stop?

If you had the op­tion to know ev­ery­thing that was go­ing to hap­pen in your life, would you want it?

Crys­tal Ball

To know the fu­ture would be great, right? You could know if some­thing bad will hap­pen to you or a loved one or if you’ll win the lottery. There’s no telling what you could know—and change. But here’s the kicker: If you were given that map—the map of your fu­ture—you have to know you can­not change it. That map shows you your des­tiny, but it isn’t mal­leable. It’s writ­ten in stone. Now would you want it?

Some­times I think I would. I would’ve liked a heads-up to my life-chang­ing car ac­ci­dent. I would’ve wanted to know ex­actly when my world would get turned up­side down. Maybe I would’ve lived dif­fer­ently, strived for more, or just slowed down and en­joyed the ride up to that fate­ful day.

But then I won­der: Would I be the per­son I am to­day? I’m the only par­a­lyzed bar­rel racer in the United States. I am a mo­ti­va­tional speaker who trav­els around the world. I’m the au­thor of my own chil­dren’s book. I’m the main char­ac­ter for a movie. I am a sis­ter, friend, daugh­ter, role model, and hero.

I can look back to how I was raised, the child­hood I lived, the op­por­tu­ni­ties I was given, and the ob­sta­cles I over­came. The jour­ney I trav­eled pre­pared me for what I’d face in the fu­ture, af­ter my acci- dent. My back­ground and fam­ily played a role in shap­ing me to face a chal­lenge with a wheel­chair. I didn’t need a map; I just needed to live the way I was taught and con­tinue the way I was shown.

My ‘Map’

My fam­ily is ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive, which taught me how to be a win­ner. Hard work, per­se­ver­ance, and grit were en­grained into me. Each per­son in my life has helped build me into who you all see. My dad knew how to succeed at the high­est level and pushed me to strive for the same. My mom knows how to sup­port, care for, and pick up an ath­lete af­ter a fall, en­sur­ing that I never quit. My older sis­ter, Ash­ley, has more ded­i­ca­tion than any hu­man I know, teach­ing me the value of be­ing com­mit­ted to what you love. My brothers, JC and Tay­lor, are the strong­est lead­ers I’ve ever seen. JC never looks back and keeps us mov­ing for­ward, even if it’s a climb. Tay­lor will shine no mat­ter where you put him; his try re­minds me that we de­cide what comes next. My lit­tle sis­ters have shown so much sac­ri­fice, com­pas­sion, and love through­out their lives. Aubrey re­minds me how to find light in the dark­est of days. And Autumn had to grow up overnight. When she was 9 years old, her older sis­ter could no longer take care of her in the arena, and she had to step up.

This is my team. These peo­ple helped me pre­pare for the chair I sit in. Now, I don’t want to take credit from the friends, sup­port­ers, and oth­ers who’ve been part of my story. I truly be­lieve ev­ery per­son comes into our lives for a rea­son. But this is where I be­gan. I think these peo­ple were my map, guid­ing me and al­low­ing me to ful­fill my pur­pose.

What does your map look like? Who helped you be­come who you are? What ex­pe­ri­ences built you? I think some­times we want to know the fu­ture so bad, we for­get to ap­pre­ci­ate how we got here. I don’t think we should look back and dwell on the things we can’t change. I think we should recognize how we grew from them and how far we’ve come. Know­ing the fu­ture shouldn’t dic­tate the choices you make or the per­son you are. You shouldn’t need to know how your fu­ture life will look to know who you are to­day. Just be it now. So what would I have told my­self? “Am­ber­ley, your life will be hard. It won’t go the way you planned. But you’ll ride. You’ll want to give up. You’ll want to give in. Don’t weaken. Look ahead, and give it your all. You have more power than you know. You’re tougher than you think. You’re strong enough. No mat­ter what life gives you, give more back.”

Al­ways move for­ward. Ap­pre­ci­ate the jour­ney. Cre­ate your own fu­ture rather than let­ting the fu­ture cre­ate you. 

Am­ber­ley’s fam­ily. Back row, left to right: sis­ter Aubrey, mom Tina, dad Cory, sis­ter Ash­ley, and sis­ter Autumn. Front row, left to right: brother JC, Am­ber­ley, and brother Tay­lor.

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