Netflix Original film Walk. Ride. Rodeo tells the incredible true story of Amberley Snyder, a barrel racer who was paralyzed from the waist down in a near-fatal car accident, but was racing in competitions again a mere eighteen months later. Directed by Conor Allyn, the film stars Spencer Locke as Amberley, and also features the real Amberley as a stunt double during the rodeo scenes. Amberley's love interest in Walk. Ride. Rodeo., Tate Watkins, is based on a real person (though his name was changed for the movie). The actor who plays Tate, Max Ehrich, co-wrote the tie-in song "Ride" for the movie with Snyder.
Snyder was 18 years old and on her way to becoming a professional rider, having already won a world championship, when her life was changed forever. On January 10, 2010, she looked down to check her map while driving and drifted into the wrong lane (in the movie, she unbuckles her seatbelt to reach for the map; in the actual accident, she simply forgot to fasten it again after stopping for gas). Attempting to get the truck back in the right lane, she overcorrected and the truck's back wheels hit dirt, causing the vehicle to roll. From that point on, the accident happened exactly as it is depicted in Walk. Ride. Rodeo., with Snyder thrown through the window of her truck, hitting a fence post. Her T12 vertebrae was crushed, leaving her without mobility or sensation below her waist.
Unlikely as it may seem, Snyder really was back in the saddle a mere four months after her accident. The scene where she tells her physical therapy nurse, Diego (Corbin Bleu), that her goals are "Walk. Ride. Rodeo." is lifted straight from Snyder's own account of the start of her physical therapy. However, rather than her father bringing her saddle in to physical therapy as a surprise (as it happens in the movie), it was actually Snyder's own idea to try and rebuild her balance in the saddle.
In Walk. Ride. Rodeo., what should be a triumphant moment as Amber finally gets back on her horse, Power, proves to be the start of a downward spiral where she decides that riding will never be the same, and refuses to get back on a horse for a long time. This, too, is lifted straight from real life. Snyder told Today that the first time she got back on her horse was "The hardest day of my life." As she does in the movie, Snyder at one point asked her mother to sell her horses, but Tina Snyder (played by Missi Pyle in the film) refused, arguing that Amber had waited for her horses when they were injured, so they would do the same for her.
Once Snyder began riding again (as in the movie, she was inspired by a local reporter asking to cover her story), she began retraining her horses to respond to commands from her hands and voice, and to ignore her legs. "We had to figure out how to be on the same page," she explained in an interview with Refinery29. "They know, depending on where my hands are, what I’m asking them. I smooch at them in order to say they pay attention. Kiss is the gas pedal." Because her style of riding is so unique, one of the agreements with the producers of Walk. Ride. Rodeo. was that she would do her own riding scenes, since it wouldn't look the same if an able-bodied person was riding the horse. For the riding scenes that take place before the accident, Amberley's sister, Autumn Snyder, was in the saddle as Locke's stunt double.
According to an article in New Mobility, the infected pressure sore that nearly kills Amberley in the Netflix movie is taken from the true story, though it didn't happen in the immediate lead-up to Snyder's at The American, but several years earlier. Unlike in the movie, it didn't become life-threatening because of Snyder keeping it a secret, but rather because her doctor believed that while it needed surgery, it wasn't serious. Snyder was eventually rushed to the hospital on Christmas Eve in 2011 with a severe infection and a temperature of 104 degrees.
As seen during the final act and the end credits of Walk. Ride. Rodeo., Snyder was voted as the fan exemption to compete at RFD-TV's The American (the world's richest one-day rodeo) in 2015, where she competed with some of the best riders in the world and achieved a time of 15.369 seconds, ranking 19th in the barrel racing event.
As for the "Walk" part of Walk. Ride. Rodeo.'s title, Snyder has actually made some progress in that regard, regaining the use of some of her inside calf muscles and working on using her gluteal muscles to move her legs, as well as recovering some sensation in the upper half of her legs. She has expressed interest in trying other roads to recovery, like using an exoskeleton and undergoing FES (functional electrical stimulation). She still rides competitively, and also works a rodeo coach and motivational speaker.