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An unbeatable pair: Harry de Leyer
and Snowman.
Photo by George Silk
The de Leyer children loved to
swim Snowman in the Long Island
Photo by Bill Ray Photography
Harry de Leyer today – known as The Galloping
Photo by Docutainment Films
Harry loved to delight the audience by not holding the reins when
they jumped.
Photo from the Private Collection of Harry de Leyer
The de Leyer kids grew up with Snowman, who retired from the
show ring in 1962.
Photo from the Private Collection of Harry de Leyer
win the Open Jumper Championship two years in a row.
In a world where money and pedigree reigned, Harry and
the mixed-bred Snowman were quite the improbable pair. Their
Cinderella story grabbed the attention of the national media,
and they soon became the rags-to-riches media favorites of
the late 1950s and early 1960s. Snowman, a plow horse from
Pennsylvania Amish country, and Harry an immigrant from a war-
ravaged home in the Netherlands had achieved the unimaginable.
Their story appeared twice in Life Magazine, on the popular game
show “To Tell the Truth” and on “The Tonight Show with Johnny
Carson,” where Johnny grabbed a stepladder and climbed atop
Snowman in New York City.
Snowman retired from the show ring in 1962, but to Harry, his
wife and their eight children, Snowman remained so much more
than just a show jumping horse. The de Leyer kids grew up with
Snowman, and they could regularly be found in the Long Island
Sound swimming with the beloved horse and jumping off his back
like a diving board. In 1974, Snowman passed away at home with
Harry sitting close by his side.
Harry, now 85-years-old, continued on as one of the most
successful show jumping riders and trainers in America, a career
catapulted by his partnership with Snowman. Known as “The
Galloping Grandfather,” Harry represented the United States at
the World Championships in 1983 and was recognized by the
United States Equestrian Foundation for his incredible lifetime
contributions to the sport.
Snowman’s lifetime accomplishments were also recognized,
and he was inducted into the Show Jumpers Hall of Fame in 1992.
His image has been forever immortalized as a Breyer model,
and his story has been commemorated in three different books:
Snowman (1960), The Story of Snow Man the Cinderella Horse
(1962, children’s book), and most recently the New York Times
best-seller, The Eighty-Dollar Champion (2011).
Now, thanks to Docutainment Films, director Ron Davis and
executive producer Karin Reid Offeld, Harry and Snowman’s
remarkable saga will also be commemorated on flm. In the
documentary, scheduled to be completed in late 2013, Harry
and Snowman’s heartfelt story will unfold through the ftting
combination of present-day footage of Harry and archival footage
from back in the day.
“When you tell a true story, you want the viewer to imagine
themselves back in time watching the story unfold in person. With
the old flms, we can transport you, take you back in time to those
summer days,” Karen said. “Making the old flms come alive will
be thrilling for everyone.”
“It is not a niche movie about the world of show jumping. It’s a
movie about a wonderful human-interest story that will appeal to
the masses the way that both Seabiscuit and Secretariat have in
the past,” Ron Davis said.
Docutainment Films is seeking help from the equestrian world to
locate old flm footage, stills and newspaper or magazine articles
to be included in the flm. Please visit www.harryandsnowman.
com to fnd out more about the flm and how you can help.