In 1958, two years after being "saved" by Harry, the horse was entered in a jumping competition. No one would have ever imagined how good he would be. In 1958 and 1959, Harry and Snowman won the coveted Professional Horseman's Association Championship and the American Horse Show Association's Horse of the Year Award. He was Champion in 1958 at the National Horse Show and in 1959 won the Stakes Class there as well.
Everyone loved Snowman. He would jump anything, including other horses. He once won the Leadline Class with a very young rider and an Open Jumper Championship at the same show. He made an appearance on the Johnny Carson Show. He became a symbol of hope, that an ordinary horse, like an ordinary man, could somehow achieve the unachievable.
Harry received many offers to buy Snowman, even turning down a $100,000 offer from Bert Firestone, another fixture in the horse world. He kept the gray horse and retired him in 1964. He died at the age of 26 from complications related to kidney failure, living out the remainder of his days on Harry's farm. In 1992, Snowman was inducted into the Show Jumping Hall of Fame. He was also made into a Breyer Horse Model. There is also a very popular book "The Eighty-Dollar Champion." I have not read it but it looks like a great beach read.
Today, Harry de Leyer lives in Virginia near Charlottesville and his house is full of mementos from his life with Snowman including a 1959 Life Magazine article. He is in 80's now he still rides despite breaking his back in a haying accident. He still recalls the wintry day in 1956 when he almost did not make to the auction in New Holland, Pa. We all love a "feel good" story and I am hoping for another one on June 9th in Belmont Park. Isn't it fascinating what happens with the right chemistry of horse and rider and of course, fate?