Meet Snowman: $80 Slaughter Horse Turned Show Jumping Champion

In 1956, Harry de Leyer took a chance on a gray horse he saw at an auction that was destined for the slaughterhouse. Little did he know, Snowman, the $80 plow horse, would turn into a show jumping champion.

De Leyer, who was born in Holland, had moved to America with his family. He bought Snowman intending to use the gelding to teach his children how to ride.

However, the former Amish horse quickly proved to be a talented jumper, winning at some of the top shows in the country.

Harry & Snowman Snowman’s Incredible Transformation

When de Leyer first arrived in America with his wife, he first began working at a tobacco farm before getting a job at a stable as a groom. In Holland, de Leyer grew up on a horse farm and competed in show jumping, so his new job let him show off his skills as a rider.

On a snowy February day, he headed to an auction to find a beginner safe horse that his kids and the students at the stable could ride.

However, he arrived late at the auction, and the only horses left were those destined for slaughter. Despite the auction being over already, a messy gray eight-year-old horse caught the attention of de Leyer.

De Leyer bought the 16-hand gelding former Amish plow horse for just $80. He was given the name Snowman by de Leyer’s four-year-old daughter. Though he was in rough shape when he first arrived, the gelding quickly transformed into a new horse.

Also read: 17 Famous Horses in Movies and TV Series

Snowman Went From School Horse to Show Jumper

At the end of the school year, de Leyer sold off some of his horses. He sold Snowman to his neighbor for double the money he bought him for.

However, Snowman kept on escaping the paddocks at his new home and running back to de Leyer’s barn. The gelding was jumping over fences as tall as five feet. After jumping out of pasture on several occasions, the neighbor decided to give the beautiful gray back to de Leyer.

Impressed by Snowman’s ability to jump fences, de Leyer decided to jump the gelding over a four-foot fence. Snowman showed incredible athletic ability so his owner decided to give him a go at show jumping.

The pair quickly rose through the ranks and were winning against the best jumpers in the nation. De Leyer, a skillful rider himself, successfully guided Snowman to many exciting victories. Snowman is now widely regarded as one of the best showjumping horses ever.

Here is a short clip of Harry & Snowman in action:

The Cinderella Horse

Less than two years after de Leyer bought Snowman, the gray gelding won The American Horse Shows Association (now known as United States Equestrian Federation) Horse of the Year, Professional Horseman’s Association Champion, and Champion of Madison Square Garden’s Diamond Jubilee.

The next year, Snowman went on to win the Open Jumper Championship at Madison Square Garden, becoming the first horse to do so two years in a row.

According to De Leyer, “He could jump the biggest jumps, 7 feet 2 inches. He was a freak of nature.

After defying the odds and beating some of the top jumpers in the nation, Snowman was given the nickname ‘The Cinderalla Horse.’ De Leyer was given several offers to buy Snowman, including one at $100,000, but he turned them all down.

The pair quickly became media favorites and even appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Also read: Why Don’t We Eat Horse Meat? 4 Reasons Why

What happened to snowman the horse?

After an incredible career, Snowman retired from the show ring in 1962. He lived out his retirement years with his beloved owner.

Snowman passed away in 1974 at the age of 26 from kidney failure. He left behind an incredible legacy and was inducted into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Equus Foundation Horse Stars Hall of Fame in 2015.

The Eighty-Dollar Champion

Snowman’s amazing story was told in the 2011 book The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation by Elizabeth Letts. In 2015, a documentary film about Snowman was released called Harry & Snowman. Find the book here on Amazon.

Here is the trailer of Harry & Snowman:

After serving as an Amish plow horse and almost being sent to slaughter, Snowman led an incredible life as a showjumper.

Winning some of the highest honors in jumping, the gray gelding inspired the nation. Snowman and de Leyer had an astonishing career in the show ring and shared a close bond.

Also read:

What is Horse Diving? The Banned Seaside Entertainment Show10 Cowboy Superstitions Still Practiced TodayMeet Brooklyn Supreme, One of the Biggest Horses in HistorySeverely Burned Horse Goes From Kill Pen to Show Ring Star


Related Posts

Snack-Happy Elephants Reach Out To Gorge Themselves On Sugar Cane When Their Open-Top Trailers Stop At A Junction Next To A Lorry Full Of The Crop

A couple of opportunistic elephants gorged themselves on sugar cane when their truck stopped next to the tasty treats at a busy junction. The giants of the…

Incredible moment vets save mother elephant’s life in front of her worried calf by jumping up and down on her to give CPR after pulling the pair out of a drain in Thailand

This is the inspiring moment a mother elephant was saved when vets conducted CPR by leaping up and down on her chest as her young daughter watched…

Tourists stuck in their hatchback as a.morous elephant gets frisky on South African safari

This is the moment a bull elephant on musth – when its testosterone levels can reach 60 times greater than normal – decided to get closely acquainted…

‘World’s loneliest elephant’ who has been kept in a tiny enclosure in Pakistan zoo for 35 years will finally be allowed to leave after campaign by animal welfare activists

An elephant kept alone in a tiny enclosure in a Pakistani zoo will be allowed to leave after a campaign by animal welfare activists helped ensure him…

Un intrépido osezno de cuatro meses alcanza nuevas alturas y el corazón de su madre

En este conmovedor vídeo, te presentamos a un enérgico osezno de cuatro meses cuyo espíritu intrépido no conoce límites. Mira cómo este pequeño osito aventurero sube sin…

Adorables cachorros de león convierten la sabana en su patio de juegos

En el corazón de la sabana salvaje, se desarrolla un espectáculo encantador cuando una manada de cachorros de león se embarca en una aventura lúdica. Estos pequeños…