A big gray horse with an even bigger heart, Snowman rose from obscurity to become one of show jumping's most beloved heroes.
His rags-to-riches story began in 1956, when Harry de Leyer, a Long Island riding instructor, went shopping for potential school horses in Pennsylvania. Arriving too late for the auction, he spotted "rejects" being loaded onto a van bound for the slaughterhouse. Though bony, beat up and filthy, one plow horse showed enough spark to catch his eye. De Leyer made an offer, and for $80, the 7-year-old gelding was his.
Quiet enough to be a lesson horse, the new rescue was a hit with children, who dubbed him "Snowman." But when sold to a local doctor, he kept jumping fences and returning to de Leyer. Recognizing his talent, de Leyer began training him for the show ring.