Snowman’s story to hit the big screen

Harry de Leyer jumps Snowman without reins.
Harry de Leyer jumps Snowman without reins. © Life magazine

A feature length documentary is being made about legendary showjumper Snowman and his rider Harry de Leyer, and producers are calling for help in locating film footage and pictures of the pair.

The movie by Docutainment Films about the life and career of de Leyer and Snowman will also include the rider’s other famous horse Dutch Crown, and footage and stills of the National Horse Show during the late 1950s throughout the 1980s.

Harry de Leyer and Snowman
Harry de Leyer and Snowman

Long Island riding instructor Harry de Leyer found the miracle horse who launched his riding career on a Pennsylvania Horse Auction block in 1957. Arriving late, Harry was left with only the rejects of the auction that were already boarded on a truck for the meat and glue factory, but he laid eyes on a large white, former Amish plow horse who he bought for $80.

De Leyer named him Snowman and used him as a lesson horse for children at his barn. De Leyer sold the horse to a neighbor, but recognized jumping talent and potential in Snomwan as he cleared every obstacle to jump his way “home” to de Leyer’s farm six miles down the road – and so began his show jumping career.

He won prestigious classes only two years after being saved from the slaughter truck, and his career lasted five years. He was well known for his calm disposition and willingness in the show ring.

The loveable grey took the equestrian sport by storm, also appearing on television shows such as Johnny Carson’s where it is well remembered that Carson climbed aboard. Snowman has been the subject of two books, had his own fan club, and was flown aboard for “guest appearances.” The dynamic duo stayed together throughout Snowman’s retirement until he was 26.

Snowman was inducted into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 1992, and has been made into a Breyer horse model, now a collector’s item. His most recent step into the limelight, however, is the feature length documentary in development by Docutainment Films.

Snowman enjoys a swim with three young friends.
Snowman enjoys a swim with three young friends.

Director and producer Ron Davis said: “This is an amazing story. It has never been told on film, and especially not in a feature length documentary. This story stands the test of time.

“When you looked at Harry and Snowman on paper in the 1950’s, neither were destined for greatness, but when they came together, there is no other word to describe them other than inspiring.”

Snowman died at the age of 26, in 1974. He was euthanised after suffering from complications of kidney failure.

His story was also the subject of a 2011 book by Elizabeth Letts: The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the horse that inspired a nation.

Davis’s first feature documentary, Pageant, went on to garner 10 major film festival awards before premiering on The Sundance Channel in 2010. Davis recently completed his first HBO Documentary Film, Miss You Can Do It, which he directed and produced. The film is scheduled for release in 2013. Docutainment Films, based in West Palm Beach, Florida, is currently in development on several feature length and short documentaries.

» To send footage or stills for the film, contact Ron Davis at or 561-228-8885.

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2 thoughts on “Snowman’s story to hit the big screen

  • August 10, 2014 at 12:16 am

    I can’t wait for the documentary! Thank you for calling attention to this wonderful story. I hope a picture of the appearance on johnny Carson show will be included. I was little but I remember that show. My mother waited up for my brother to come home from work and they always watched johnny together. She let me stay up that night. Snowman enchanted me. Have been horse crazy since a toddler. I have a charismatic feeling for the horse.snowman story went strait to my heart.I will charish this documentary. Thank you again.

  • December 14, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    What a Beautiful Friendship, horse & man. They were both truely a gift to us all. Thank You for sharing !


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