UPDATE: There is a snowman movie coming out! They are looking for film and photos of snowman if you have any available! Please contact Pam directly and not me. Thanks!
Docutainment Films is seeking content for the upcoming documentary on Snowman & Harry de Leyer.
If you have film/photos/articles about any of the topics below, please contact Pam Aguilar at email firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Harry de Leyer & The deLeyer Family
• 1950s jumper champions: Andante, Sonora, McLain Street, Australis, Windsor Castle, Sinjon
• National Horse Shows between 1955—1965
• Riders: David Kelley, George Morris, Bobby Burke
• Dutch Crown late 70s
• Horse Shows between 1955—1965
• Jumper classes between 1955—1965
This is a post from April 2006 that I’m reposting, since I was just contacted by Elizabeth Letts who is writing a new book about Snowman! Elizabeth writes:
I am so pleased and excited to see all of these posts about Snowman and Harry de Leyer.
I am currently working on a new full-length book about Snowman and Harry– it is such an inspirational story that I hope a whole new generation will learn about this wonderful tale. The book is currently titled THE CINDERELLA HORSE and it is coming from Random House in 2011. It is a love affair with Snowman, with horse stories, and with the wonderful world of show jumping in the 1950s and the old National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden…
I would LOVE to hear from anyone who has personal memories of Snowman, including anyone who remembers watching him compete.
Please contact me at ElizabethLetts@gmail.com
Please contact Elizabeth if you can share any information about Snowman or Harry!!
For one of those days when lately I’ve felt like an old nag myself…
The abundant life is within our reach if only we will drink deeply of living water, fill our hearts with love, and create of our lives a masterpiece.
Harry de Leyer was late to the auction on that snowy day in 1956, and all of the good horses had already been sold. The few that remained were old and spent and had been bought by a company that would salvage them.
Harry, the riding master at a girls’ school in New York, was about to leave when one of these horses—an uncared-for, gray gelding with ugly-looking wounds on its legs—caught his eye. The animal still bore the marks that had been made by a heavy work harness, evidence to the hard life he had led. But something about him captured Harry’s attention, so he offered $80 for him.
It was snowing when Harry’s children saw the horse for the first time, and because of the coat of snow on the horse’s back, the children named him “Snowman.”
Harry took good care of the horse, which turned out to be a gentle and reliable friend—a horse the girls liked to ride because he was steady and didn’t startle like some of the others. In fact, Snowman made such rapid improvement that a neighbor purchased him for twice what Harry had originally paid.
But Snowman kept disappearing from the neighbor’s pasture—sometimes ending up in adjoining potato fields, other times back at Harry’s. It appeared that the horse must have jumped over the fences between the properties, but that seemed impossible—Harry had never seen Snowman jump over anything much higher than a fallen log.
But eventually, the neighbor’s patience came to an end, and he insisted Harry take back the horse.
For years, Harry’s great dream had been to produce a champion jumping horse. He’d had moderate success in the past, but in order to compete at the highest levels, he knew he would have to buy a pedigreed horse that had been specifically bred to jump. And that kind of pedigree would cost far more than he could afford.
Snowman was already getting old—he was eight when Harry had purchased him—and he had been badly treated. But, apparently, Snowman wanted to jump, so Harry decided to see what the horse could do.
What Harry saw made him think that maybe his horse had a chance to compete.
In 1958, Harry entered Snowman in his first competition. Snowman stood among the beautifully bred, champion horses, looking very much out of place. Other horse breeders called Snowman a “flea-bitten gray.”
But a wonderful, unbelievable thing happened that day.
Harry continued to enter Snowman in other competitions, and Snowman continued to win.
Audiences cheered every time Snowman won an event. He became a symbol of how extraordinary an ordinary horse could be. He appeared on television. Stories and books were written about him.
As Snowman continued to win, one buyer offered $100,000 for the old plow horse, but Harry would not sell. In 1958 and 1959, Snowman was named “Horse of the Year.” Eventually, the gray gelding—who had once been marked for sale to a low bidder—was inducted into the show jumping Hall of Fame.
— Rutherford George Montgomery, Snowman (1962)
For many, Snowman was much more than a horse. He became an example of the hidden, untapped potential that lies within each of us.
We will have gun control in this country. History, demographics, and the accumulated and accumulating evidence that it works elsewhere make it inevitable. The accumulated evidence that our archaic lack of gun control does not work also makes it inevitable. The political pendulum will swing, as it already is swinging, and courts and legislatures inevitably will follow public sentiment. It is only a matter of time and needlessly lost lives. How far that pendulum swings also is a matter of time and needlessly lost lives. Because the worse things get, the more people are massacred, the more people are killed in the less headline-grabbing daily accumulation of gun-related violent abominations, the farther that pendulum will swing. Those who fight against effective gun control will, in the end, have done more to assure the more severity of gun control, when gun control inevitably happens, than all the consistent gun control advocates put together. Because gun control will happen in this country. It will be effective. It will work as it works in every other developed democracy. It is only a matter of time and needlessly lost lives.
Seems like all I post on the blog lately is the sad news.
We are off to Tucson again, this time for my brother-in-law’s funeral. Randy was way too young to go, but actually made it a lot longer than he was expected to be around when he was first diagnosed with leukemia many years ago. He survived leukemia, with a lot of scares along the way. He survived thyroid cancer, too, having his thyroid removed a couple years ago. This time he was not so fortunate, although he fought a good fight, as always. He lost the battle with pneumonia, after suffering a broken hip.
My sister-in-law is holding up well, so far, dealing with all the details and going into that “numb” place for now where we deal with what has to be done. My son was there for them, and wrote a lovely tribute to his uncle:
There were no miracles the day that my uncle passed away. If anything, they had been the previous 15 years, two decades or so when he’d been given 5 to live. Cancer drugs sucked, but they’d offered years more for me to get to know my uncle.
He loved science fiction, he wrote an as yet unpublished children’s novel, he loved antiques. He collected Minox cameras and 8mm Disney films. He was a chemist, who produced kits to excite kids, like me and my brother, about Science. I think a big part of why my brother is getting his degree in the field is because of my uncle.
I only realized as I walked into the hospital that, when I feared that I had not used the years with him very well, that my uncle Randy, and my aunt, had known how to value time spent together all along, after making it through those first 5 years.
I hadn’t even given it much thought. But they knew better. They had treasured the years. The days. The hours, and made sure I did too, even if I didn’t look up every time the clock struck looking for the sword hanging over our time.
Words for me are almost useless when it comes to death, and I take little comfort from them. But there’s no other real way to express the feelings here, the sorrow, the loss, the grief, the understanding that none of us lasts forever. Life is precious, temporary, and remarkable, no matter what life you have. Loved ones will not be around forever, so appreciate them, love them as best you can, and cherish them while they are here. What else is there to say, or to do when we come to an end. We loved those who are gone, and we love those who remain behind.
Had to say goodbye to our kitty Willis today. This was Willis in younger and happier days, when he enjoyed curling up in the sink. He just turned 16 last week. We lost him to a bladder infection, let him go today when he wasn’t eating or drinking any longer. He last had an infection in 2005, and we almost lost him then. Weren’t so lucky this time.
Thanks for 16 great years, little kitty, and enjoy the bird hunting in kitty heaven.
Ok, I was going to think more and write more this year… the thinking is going well, but I don’t get around to the writing part. I need to do more of that.
What do you do to get yourself to write more often?
“The Journey”, Kathy Ostman-Magnusen
“One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.”
– Mary Oliver
The Journey, 1986
“Your journey never ends. Life has a way of changing things in incredible ways.” — Alexander Volkov
The ultimate truth of the journey and its final rewards are still for each of us to face alone.
— Deng Ming-Dao
I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.
— Lillian Smith
Give up learning, and put an end to your troubles.
Is there a difference between yes and no?
Is there a difference between good and evil?
Must I fear what others fear? What nonsense!
Other people are contented, enjoying the sacrificial feast of the ox.
In spring some go to the park, and climb the terrace,
But I alone am drifting not knowing where I am.
Like a new-born babe before it learns to smile,
I am alone, without a place to go.
Others have more than they need, but I alone have nothing.
I am a fool. Oh, yes! I am confused.
Other men are clear and bright,
But I alone am dim and weak.
Other men are sharp and clever,
But I alone am dull and stupid.
Oh, I drift like the waves of the sea.
Without direction, like the restless wind.
Everyone else is busy,
But I alone am aimless and depressed.
I am different.
I am nourished by the great mother.
Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – chapter 20
What is the difference between assent and denial?
What is the difference between beautiful and ugly?
What is the difference between fearsome and afraid?
The people are merry as if at a magnificent party
Or playing in the park at springtime,
But I am tranquil and wandering,
Like a newborn before it learns to smile,
Alone, with no true home.
The people have enough and to spare,
Where I have nothing,
And my heart is foolish,
Muddled and cloudy.
The people are bright and certain,
Where I am dim and confused;
The people are clever and wise,
Where I am dull and ignorant;
Aimless as a wave drifting over the sea,
Attached to nothing.
The people are busy with purpose,
Where I am impractical and rough;
I do not share the peoples’ cares
But I am fed at nature’s breast.
— Peter Merel translation
Why should you care if people agree or disagree with you?
Why should you care if others find you attractive or not?
Why should you care if you win or lose — what’s the point of the game?
Call bullshit on all that.
Let other people get themselves worked up.
I’m not going to give myself away.
A baby doesn’t know how to smile, but it’s still happy.
Let other people get excited about stuff.
I’m not going to hang on to anything.
I’m not going to fill my mind with ideas.
I’m not going to get stuck in a rut, tied down to any one place.
Other people are clever;
I guess I must be stupid.
Other people have goals;
I guess I must be aimless.
Like the wind. Or the waves.
I’m not like other people.
I’m getting right with Tao.
— J. Garon translation
The fact is there is no escape from the pain of losing what we love and inevitably become attached to. No escape from the fear, confusion, anger and broken heartedness that comes with the territory of human relationship or simply being Life in the form of a human body. There is no escape from the fall, no escape from the hard landing and no escape from that dark bottom of the well where we find ourselves at these times. When the outcomes of these encounters are painful or even “disastrous”, is it possible to see them not as failures but rather potential dharma gates of deeper compassion, understanding, forgiveness and loving kindness? Is it possible to really meet these times, no matter how agonizing, with an open heart? To meet even the heart that shrinks in pain and fear with gentle attention even when it seems that every fiber in our body and mind want to just get away? This is the heart of our practice and unless we want some artificial, dualistic, imaginary practice we must learn to work with them as such; facing all of this on and off the cushion and meeting these moments that at some times seem to stretch on endlessly with an awareness that allows whatever is there to simply be there. If there is sadness, be there with it as long as it needs your presence. The same with fear, worry, anger, rage, feelings of rejection and failure, broken heartedness and loneliness. This is not about thinking our way out, but rather about learning our way into these seemingly awful times through the power of attention. This is a fierce practice that requires a fiercely loving heart; a loving heart that can hold and contain even the heart that’s broken.
How is it for you when … you figuratively find yourself at the bottom of the pit of your agonizing life situation and you are alone? You are destitute. You are deeply grieved and grieving. At these moments even though we may have people who care for us, we are cut off, unreachable, solitary and destitute. And how can it be otherwise? It can be helpful to talk with friends, a therapist or teacher, but can anyone really reach us when we have lost a child, a partner, a loved one, received a devastating medical diagnosis? When we find that our mind or body is not the immortal and invulnerable something we had thought it was? When we suddenly realize that we are “old”? When we realize that we may not see old age? May not see our children grow up? When the self-image that we hold onto so tightly and identify with so completely or the future we envisage and so desperately hope for is completely shattered or called deeply into question? We want so desperately to be comforted. We want so desperately to be held in a way that just makes it go away; makes it somehow all ok, as though simply because it is painful and frightening it is not ok. And in a certain way it really is not ok. How could anything that so completely throws us down the well be ok? Life makes no mistakes and at some point if we are to truly be alive and free regardless of our life situation, we simply must learn to live beyond the limited images and hopes to which we so desperately cling. As Joko Beck once said, “The one thing in life we can truly count on is Life being exactly how it is.” For some losses, disappointments, betrayals, devastating life changes there is nothing that will make the pain go away and nothing that will mend the rupture that we find ourselves to in fact be. We are that pain, and trying to get rid of it creates a conflict in the mind between what is and what should be that only makes the fire burn more searingly.
The key to working with our “having tumbled down condition” is to see that even at the moment of impact things have changed already and that this moment is not what we think it is. In fact, it is not what we “think” at all! Thinking is always “old”; just a bit behind the curve of life, if you will. Have you looked closely enough, deeply enough? Have you let your situation speak to you its’ complete truth without your assumptions, presuppositions and images of how it should or could be? How will you know if and when this situation and what it stirs up is finished with you, rather than when you are finished with it? Can you see that thinking about whatever is present in your life right now is quite different from what is actually here right now? Have you really become so completely attentive that there is no “you” there observing and hence no separation at all? Are you willing to not feel better too quickly and to follow this pain right down to its roots? This is demanding and austere practice, but if you have not done it then there is more work to do; if you have done it, there is probably still more work to do. And there is no one, absolutely no one, who can do it but you. It is important to have companions on the Way and someone who can encourage you onward with the confidence of having walked this Way before, but only you can do the work of your life. To go so completely into this moment that “you” disappear: What is that? Then, who are you? Are you the one who suffers, or are you the One who Knows?
Gung Hay Fat Choy! (Wishing you fortune)
Sun Tai Geen Hong! (Wishing you good health)
Man Si Yu Yi! (Wishing you a thousand wishes)
Sum Sung Si Cheng! (Wishing you your heart’s fulfillment)
Bo Bo Go Sing! (May every step be higher and higher)
Gong Xi Nimen Fa Cai! Congratulations, may you make a fortune)