Snowman (horse)

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BreedMixed, see below
SireNo Records Found
GrandsireNo Records Found
DamNo Records Found
Maternal grandsireNo Records Found
FoaledFebruary 29, 1948
DiedSeptember 24, 1974 (age 26)
CountryUnited States
OwnerHarry de Leyer
United States Open Jumper Champion 1958 and 1959

Snowman (February 29, 1948 – September 24, 1974) was a former plow horse of mixed breed ancestry, possibly a cross of Quarter Horse, Morgan, and various draft horse types. He was purchased for $80.00 on his way to a slaughterhouse and became a champion in show jumping in the United States during the 1950s. During his career he was known as "The Cinderella Horse" due to his "rags to riches" story.[1]

Snowman was originally used for farm work and in 1956 was headed for the slaughterhouse at eight years of age. On that day, Harry de Leyer, a Long Island, New York, riding instructor, attended the horse auction in New Holland, Pennsylvania, looking for school horses. He arrived late, and the only remaining horses were those waiting to be loaded into trucks bound for slaughter plants. De Leyer made eye contact with a large gray horse that he purchased for $80. He first used Snowman as a lesson horse for children. De Leyer recognized talent in the horse after he sold him to a neighbor and the horse jumped high fences to return home. De Leyer then began training Snowman as a show jumper.

The horse began winning prestigious classes only two years after he was bought off the slaughter truck, and his career lasted five years. He was photographed performing unusual feats such as jumping over other horses,[2] and his calm disposition made him a favorite. He once won a leadline class and an open jumper championship on the same day.

Snowman also appeared on television shows (Johnny Carson's for one, where Carson climbed on his back). He was the subject of two books, had his own fan club, and was flown abroad for "guest appearances".

De Leyer kept Snowman through his retirement until the animal was euthanized in the fall of 1974 due to complications from kidney failure at the age of twenty-six.

Snowman was inducted into the United States Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 1992. In 2005, Snowman was made into a Breyer horse model on the Gem Twist mold, which is no longer manufactured. In 2013, Snowman was again introduced in the Breyer line on the Idocus mold. The 2013 model box reads "Snowman - Show Jumping Hall of Famer".

Snowman is the subject of the book, The Eighty Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation, by Elizabeth Letts, published by Random House in 2011, a No. 1 New York Times bestseller.[3][4] A documentary movie was made in 2016, Harry & Snowman, that features original footage of his years as an equestrian family member as well as a show ring competitor.[5] Snowman was featured in season 21, episode 8 of Mysteries at the Museum.[6]


  1. ^ "Snowman". Find a Grave. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  2. ^ Show Jumping Hall of Fame Archived June 11, 2004, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Taylor, Ihsan. "Best Sellers - The New York Times". Retrieved 2016-02-07.
  4. ^ Hayden, Erik (2014-01-21). "MGM Acquires Best-Selling Book 'Eighty-Dollar Champion' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2016-02-07.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Travel Channel Schedule". Retrieved 18 September 2018.


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