Written by J. Drake
Snowman's story began with humble
beginnings as a plow horse. His story has been labeled the "Cinderella
Story" of horses. Originally used for farm work, the gray gelding
found his way to an auction in Pennsylvania where he was headed
for slaughter until Harry DeLeyer, a Long Island, New York riding
instructor, noticed him. He still bore the marks of the harness
he had pulled and had wounds on his legs. But there was something
about this horse that called out to Harry, and so for $80, Snowman
found a new home and a second chance on life.
When Harry's children first saw
him, it was snowing. Because of his gray coat and the snow that
was landing on his back, they dubbed him "Snowman." At
his new home, Snowman was well cared for by Harry. In return, he
took good care of Harry's girls who enjoyed his gentle and reliable
nature. It was this gentle nature that made him a favorite in Harry's
riding school, especially among the beginners. He also grew to be
so well-liked by Harry's neighbors that they purchased him from
Moved to Harry's neighbor's farm,
Snowman started to jump out of his pastures to get back "home."
Sometimes he would end up in other fields, and sometimes it was
back home to Harry's. Although no one had ever seen Snowman jump
anything substantial, it was assumed that he had been jumping out
of fences between the properties which seemed impossible as they
were quite high. Eventually, this game got old with the neighbors
and they sent him back to live with Harry.
Harry had always dreamt of having
and competing a champion jumper but that dream had almost died inside.
He knew that he would need to buy a pedigreed horse that was way
out of his price-range in order to be competitive. He had had some
minor success in the past, but that was then, and the present just
didn't seem to be giving Harry any hope, that was, until Snowman
started jumping out of pastures!
Snowman's age, (he was now eight years old), Harry decided to give
the gelding a chance at competing and see how far it would take
them. In 1958, just two years after being purchased off a truck
headed to slaughter, the two entered their first competition. It
was here that Snowman, a horse of humble beginnings, stood next
to horses of blue blood and high class to capture the hearts of
thousands. Harry and Snowman became a popular team after this day
as they enjoyed a successful career of six years together. In 1958
and 1959, Snowman took home the title of Professional Horsemen's
Association Championship and also the American Horse Shows Association
Horse of the Year. He was Champion in 1958 at the National Horse
Show and in 1959 he won a Stakes class there as well.
Audiences loved Snowman. They
were drawn to his personality as well as his athletic ability. He
was known to willingly jump over other horses, and let children
jump off his back into a lake. A very special horse indeed, he once
won a leadline class with a young child and then an open jumper
championship on the same day at the Smithtown Horse Show. He also
made an appearance on the Johnny Carson show where he climbed onto
his back on TV. Later that same night, Snowman went on to win, yet
another, event. Snowman had become an icon and a symbol of hope
for the ordinay man. He was extraordinary despite being a very ordinary
As Snowman's fame grew, Harry
began to receive offers from people to buy the once plow horse.
Harry would have none of it though and even turned down an offer
of $100,000 for the gray gelding. Harry kept Snowman after he retired
in 1964. Snowman lived out the rest of his days on Harry's farm
where he died peacefully at the age of twenty. Today, Snowman is
still an inspiration people of all ages and all walks of life and
will forever be remember by the horse who changed his stars and
went from being a ordinary plow horse headed to slaughter to a champion
Inducted into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 1992
Breyer created a model of Snowman
Find out more about Snowman in this GREAT book about him!
Also check out the Snowman Breyer model!