Programs & Services

Farm & Ranch Museum displays barrel racing sculpture

September 30th, 2019

Visitors to the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces are now greeted by a beautiful, new sculpture in front of the Bruce King Building.

The life-sized bronze by Albuquerque artist Reynaldo “Sonny” Rivera captures the determination and skill of barrel racer Amberley Snyder. Rivera, a native of Mesquite, N.M., read an article in Horse & Rider Magazine about Snyder’s inspirational story of competing in the sport she loves after being paralyzed from the waist down in a vehicle accident when she was 18.

“I was so intrigued by her story, and was inspired by it, that I called Amberley and got permission to feature her as the model for the barrel racer in my sculpture,” said Rivera, who named the art piece “True Grit.”

Snyder, now 28, returned to barrel racing with a special saddle 18 months after the accident. She also shares her story as a motivational speaker.

Rivera has received many public art commissions in New Mexico and around the country. As with “True Grit,” the subjects of Rivera’s sculptures have been about people who have faced challenges and overcome adversities.

Earlier this year, his monumental work for Saint Louis University titled, “Westward Journey,” was dedicated at the Henry Lay Center for Arts and Education. In recent years, Rivera created larger-than life-sized sculptures for the Sid Cutter Pilot’s Pavilion at the Albuquerque International Balloon Museum. Another piece is the Medal of Honor recipient ‘Marine Captain Raymond G. Murphy’ measuring 10 feet high at the Albuquerque Veterans Administration Hospital.

Among Rivera’s many awards is the 2014 “Rounder’s Award” from the New Mexico Department of Agriculture for helping preserve the Western way of life.

The sculpture, which is for sale, is on loan to the Museum through September 2020.



About the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum:

The New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum is located at 4100 Dripping Springs Road in Las Cruces. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens, $3 for children ages 4 to 17, and $2 for active U.S. military members and veterans. Children 3 and under, and members of the Museum Friends receive free admission. The Museum is a division of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.

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True Grit sculpture

The sculpture, True Grit, by Sonny Rivera shows barrel racer Amberley Snyder

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