The story of immigrant Harry DeLeyer and the plow horse he rescued from slaughter.
Director: Ron Davis
Writer: Ron Davis
Stars: Harry DeLeyer, Harriet DeLeyer, Andre DeLeyer
Equine fans: Gallop, don’t trot to Ron Davis’ winning documentary “Harry & Snowman,” which recounts the inspiring story of an underdog show horse, his tenacious trainer and their rise to fame in the late 1950s.
Dutch-born horseman Harry deLeyer immigrated to the United States after World War II and settled on Long Island where he taught riding at a tony girls’ academy. On a horse-buying trip for the school, Harry spent $80 on Snowman, an older plow horse slated for slaughter, then miraculously turned the compliant animal into a triple-crown champion of show jumping.
The movie enjoyably blends archival photos and footage, plus chats with 86-year-old Harry and other equine experts and observers, to track how Harry and his “Cinderella horse” took the competitive circuit by storm. Clips of Snowman’s heyday show jumping are a thrill.
That Snowman was also a “family horse” to Harry, wife Johanna and their eight kids provides much of the film’s heart.
But interviews with a few of Harry’s now middle-aged children reveal how their supportive-if-driven dad demanded as much from them as he did from his horses.
- Gary Goldstein, LA Times