It may be easy to assume that ALA senior Autumn Snyder would be overshadowed by her famous family members.
Her dad, Cory Snyder, is well-known since he played Major League Baseball for nine seasons.
Her older sister, Amberley Snyder, is a championship barrel racer who overcame losing the use of her legs in a devastating accident and had a Netflix movie “Walk. Ride. Rodeo” illustrate her story.
But Autumn Snyder has emerged as a strong, talented rodeo athlete in her own right.
“It runs in the family,” Autumn Snyder said Friday at the 2019 Utah High School Rodeo Finals in Heber City. “They push me and make me better. I watch how well they perform and I try to be like them. I dedicate all my hard work to them.”
With all the athletic talent in the family, it isn’t surprising that Autumn Snyder is talented. But this cowgirl is also tough, as evidenced by her win in the “Clash” boxing event at the rodeo finals.
“I tried something new and it is a whole new ballgame when you get in that ring,” Autumn Snyder said. “Your adrenaline is 10 times more than in the rodeo arena. You don’t feel the punches until after. I was just throwing hands. That’s the thing I tried out.”
She said her mother Tina Snyder deserves a lot of the credit for helping her develop strength and toughness.
“I have learned about being strong and pulling through,” Autumn Snyder said. “It’s indescribable to think about what she as a mom went through, so I listen to her and what she has to say.”
One of the biggest influences in her life is her sister Amberley Snyder, who is 10 years older but has taught Autumn Snyder some amazing lessons as she has faced her challenges.
“Watching her overcome has made me stronger and have a different perspective about everything in life,” Autumn Snyder said. “I can’t complain because she is in a different situation and she doesn’t complain. She conquers through. I dedicate everything to her because she has helped me and made me stronger. I’m able to enjoy competing every day because some day it might be taken away.”
Amberley Snyder was more than just a big sister to Autumn; she was also her mentor in rodeo.
“Amberley growing up with Autumn took care of her, taught her how to ride, taught her how to do all these things,” Cory Snyder said. “Then Amberley’s accident came and now Autumn has switched roles and is helping Amberley do all these things. It’s fun to see how they work together.”
It was a time of drastic changes for the entire family in so many ways, one of which was the rodeo relationship the sisters had developed.
“She had to grow up overnight,” Amberley Snyder said. “She was 8 years old when my accident happened. It went from where I saddled the horses, trained the horses, did the drills to that what she does now. She’s been throwing me on since she was 13 years old. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing without her. That part has been really neat, to see her jump into the role of taking care of me.”
Autumn Snyder said that time required a lot from everyone.
“It was watching your best friend change,” Autumn Snyder said. “She used to walk me in the gate and now she rides on a horse. I’m so grateful she can do that but it was a total change in your life. She’s in a wheelchair now. It’s different now.”
Both continued to find ways to be successful in rodeo, and Amberley Snyder said seeing Autumn succeed has been immensely rewarding.
“I love this sport, but to have someone you love in this sport makes it that much sweeter,” Amberley Snyder said. “I get to come out here and watch my little sister succeed. That makes me more proud than when I did it. I’ve coached her since she was 5 years old. To watch her come out and make the runs she needs to make and put together the mentality she needs to have, that part makes you really proud of as a sister that you get to be part of that process.”
Cory Snyder said he sees a lot of similarities between those two of his daughters when they are competing.
“Seeing her now brings back good memories of Amberley,” Cory Snyder said. “I love watching those two ride. They are so good and are so similar. It’s a proud dad time. She’s doing great. This is what she wants to do.”
The older sister also said she loves seeing her little sister coming into her own as a cowgirl.
“She has totally blossomed as Autumn,” Amberley Snyder said. “She doesn’t have to be Cory’s daughter or Amberley’s sister. She is Autumn Snyder and she has earned her place here. She steps up and runs with the best of them. She won it last year and is the defending state champion in pole-bending. That’s not due to me or to my dad; that’s due to her abilities and what she has put into the sport.”
She said her main advice to Autumn is to not get too anxious.
“I tell her that we’ve done the work, that she knows what she’s doing, to be confident in her abilities and be smooth,” Amberley Snyder said. “That’s what we talk about. We talk about the game plan of what we are doing here and being smooth and doing her job.”
Some days that’s harder than others, and Friday was an example.
Autumn Snyder was the event director for the pole bending in the Friday morning performance. Thursday’s storms, however, had left the arena muddy, which impacted the times of the riders.
For a rodeo athlete locked in a tight competition for a state title, losing tenths or even hundredths of a second could make a big difference, and that was hard on Autumn.
“It’s been emotional, but I just have to keep working hard,” Autumn Snyder said. “Things happen in the arena. You just can’t fix it, so you have to do what you can.”
As the event director for the pole bending, she felt even more responsibility with regards to what would happen in the muddy arena.
“There was a lot of pressure because I had to make a good call,” Autumn Snyder said. “I did in the circumstances. I did what I could. They said the smartest call was to hand-rake after every girl and that was what kept everyone safe. In that situation, I just tried to pull through and do what was best for everyone.”
She ended up winning the breakaway roping in the Friday evening performance and is now gearing up for the last short-go of her Utah High School Rodeo Finals career.
In the end, however, she feels like the experience of her family has made her realize just how fortunate she is, no matter what the results in the arena are.
“I’m grateful to be able to learn,” Autumn Snyder said. “I have had the opportunity to be grateful outside the arena, inside the arena and beyond.”