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Monday, April 25, 2016

SNOWMAN-The $80 Champion

 In 1956, a riding instructor by the name of Harry de Leyer from Long Island, New York went to a horse auction in search of a school horse. He was late (Maybe the traffic in New York was terrible at that time, too!) and the only horses remaining were those being loaded on the truck bound for the slaughter house. One horse caught his eye, a skinny, gray, Amish-bred plow horse. He took a chance and bought him for $80.


De Leyer knew horses and horsemanship. He fattened up the gelding, and started using him to teach riding lessons. The horse had been born in 1948, bred by Amish farmers, and was a mix between various breeds including draft horses...making him an original American warm blood! I don't know why he was sent to auction at just the age of eight. However, the horse had tremendous jumping talent that was only discovered by de Leyer after he sold the horse to a neighbor and Snowman kept jumping over fences to get back home.

De Leyer started training him to be a show jumper and started winning prestigious shows just two years after being saved from slaughter. Snowman went on to be the United States Open Jumper Champion in 1958 and 1959. He would jump anything...even another horse:

Snowman had such a wonderful temperament that he even won the leadline class and the open jumper class in the same show. For those who don't know, the leadline class is for children under 7 who show their equitation skills at a walk and a trot while their horse is being led and controlled  by an older child or adult. It is amazing that Snowman was so calm that he could be a leadline horse AND a show jumper. The horse was well-loved by the entire de Leyer family as is evidenced by this picture:
Snowman died in 1974 after having gained the love of those who knew him as well as international fame. He even went on the Johnny Carson show. He has been made into two different styles of Breyer horses and is the subject of a best-selling book and maybe even a movie. He was inducted into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 1992.


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