One of the most beautiful and wonderful stories in the horse world is about to be told to you. This is the genuine story of Harry de Leyer and his horse, Snowman, who led a fairytale life. Harry paid only $80 for the peaceful plow horse, but he had no idea that their lives would be turned upside down. Continue reading to learn more! Harry de Leyer was born in the village of The St Oedenrode in the Dutch province of Noord-Brabant in 1928. He grew up on a farm with horses and competed in show jumping contests frequently, but in 1940, the Germans attacked and conquered Holland, taking many of the Dutch horses with them.
As a result, Harry, 22, had no alternative but to flee the nation with his wife and immigrated to the United States of America with only $160 and a wooden case containing their valuables. Harry worked on tobacco plantations in the South until he landed a position as a horse groom, which allowed him to show off his riding skill and talent. Harry went to a horse auction in New Holland, Pennsylvania, on a snowy day in February 1956, looking for a quiet horse for the school where he worked as a riding teacher. He was late for the auction, and when he came, it had already ended, and the only horses left were been sold for meat.
One of them was an eight-year-old, unkempt grey plow horse from Amish country, but Harry saw past his outward appearance and believed the horse was nice and gentle. That’s why Harry paid the meat guy $60 for the skinny horse with cut knees, a missing shoe, and tackle rubs all over his body, plus $20 to have him shipped. It was snowing heavily when they arrived at the house, and his 4 daughter, Harriet, claimed he looked like a snowman, so that would become his name. Snowman’s health improved dramatically as a result of Harry’s care and attention, and he developed into a completely different horse.
Harry normally sold some of his horses at the end of each school year, so he sold the Snowman to a local doctor who, like Harry, desired a peaceful horse for himself and his children. Snowman, however, arrived at Harry’s barn after a short time, having clearly escaped from his paddock and found his way back to his former “home.” After a few instances, Harry suggested to the doctor that he raise his paddock fences since he had hopped over them.Tired of him, the doctor asked Harry whether he could look after Snowman at his barn. Harry accepted, so neither the doctor nor his children returned, and the horse returned to Harry, continuing his role at the riding school.
Snowman’s ability to jump out of the farm fields piqued Harry’s interest, so he decided to put him to the test over a 4 fence. Snowman did it quickly and efficiently, and it was clear that he would make an excellent jumper. Harry chose to train him, and they were prepared to play at every event after only a short period. They won the Triple Crown at Madison Square Gardens in 1958, barely two years after Harry saved Snowman from the meat man. They were named American Association Horse of the Year, Specialist Horseman’s Association Champion, and Champion of Madison Square Garden’s Diamond Jubilee.
Showjumping legends like Frank Chapot, George Morris, and William Steinkraus competed against them. Snowman, on the other hand, won the American Horse Shows Association Horse of the Year and the Professional Horseman’s Association Champion at Madison Square Gardens for the second year in a row in 1959, becoming the only horse in history to do so. Following their great success, Harry received multiple offers to sell Snowman, including one with $100,000, but he turned them down without hesitation. Snowman was dubbed the “Cinderella Horse” and became a national celebrity.
In 1962, he retired from competitions and dedicated the remainder of his life to Harry. At the National Horse Show at the New Madison Square Gardens in 1969, he was even given a ceremonial retiring ceremony. Snowman’s health began to worsen when he became 26 years old, and he died in 1974 from kidney failure. Snowman was euthanized with his devoted owner by his side and buried in his own particular corner of the grass paddock, despite his veterinarians’ best efforts. May his spirit find eternal rest!