Friday, March 20, 2009

A Worthy Quote and Harry DeLeyer's Snowman

"Some horses you “ride” to victory.
Others find victory on their own - you just have to hold still and go along for the ride."

The credit for this is to a poster named Theresa in her reply to a post about the legendary jumper, Snowman on the following blog Changing Places. Wow, what a great statement. I'm adding this to my favorite quotes listing.

And if you've never heard of Snowman and his incredible story, read the post at the Changing Places blog, then read on here:

Show Jumping Hall of Fame - Snowman

Wikipedia - Snowman

My riding instructor when I was a kid from about 7-12 years old was a woman who trained with Harry DeLeyer. She rode the jumpers and was an impressive rider. Her name was Julie and she was one tough instructor but she really taught us kids to ride and to use our brains up there for more than filling a helmet. She drilled us on basic skills and proper horseman's etiquette. She also took no crap from us. When you became one of her advanced riders, you had lessons on trail, and you took bareback riding lessons that included jumping. I remember jumping lessons where you dropped your irons, tied a knot in your reins to shorten them, rode to a line, put your hands on your head and closed your eyes as you jumped through a gymnastic of 3 one strides! Believe me, you would be called on it big time if you peeked or grabbed for the reins and we knew she was watching for it!

That was so cool!


jmk said...

Really enjoy your blog. I remember having to hold a glass of water in one hand while jumping a gymnastic to learn to keep the body still and centered. I've never forgot that lesson.

Jean said...

Ok!! I had the same kind of training. My instructor had trained at Morven Park with Major Beale and knew all those exercises. We jumped hundreds of little fences in all kinds of gymnastic exercises. No reins, no irons, you got it.

By the time I was "trained" my horse and I were about ready to tackle most any fence with skill and good sound basics behind us. I won dozens of hunter/jumper classes with him and evented successfully too!

I remember seeing DeLeyer ride at the Garden. I think Snowman was retired by then, though. The real horsemen of that generation were true masters.

SolitaireMare said...

Hi jmk! Welcome to my blog, always a pleasure to meet new folks! Funny how we remember these gymnastic jumping exercises, isn't it? I don't think there are as many trainers doing this great stuff these days. Shame.

Jean - Morven Park? That's where my trainer (the "Master" from my blog)graduated! Same focus, lots of solid basic dressage work, small fences in gymnastic patterns and working on each level until you got it then moving it up a notch.

Harry DeLeyer was something else! I remember seeing him with the amazing Dutch Crown at Madison Square Garden. There just aren't riders like that anymore. And why not? I loved when he'd toss his hat in the air after a stellar round!

Jean said...

Who was your trainer?

I worked with Prudence Morgan and Lee Kraft at Princeton Riding Center, NJ.

allhorsestuff said...

Oh that horse Snowman was so elegant! Thanks for sharing him and the links too! The horse being jumped either is very behind the knee or is actually bending to make it easier for Snowman to clear him!

I too remember those days of Pony club when we had clinics of stirrup-less and reinless jumping and the Bareback lessons. I miss those times in a way...That mare I rode(ours) taught so many to ride and jump!Bunny, she was a trooper.
This really gave me a smile thanks!

Five O'Clock Somewhere said...

I agree they don't make them like they used to!

As a child I rode at an "academy". It was quasi military and learned great basics.

Helen said...

Hey there. . I just wandered past your blog and saw old snowman ;)

He was a ancient, WAY retired horse when my mother rode at Harry DeLeyer's barn in Long Island. He helped my mother pick out another "meat market escapee" when she finally purchased a horse. His name was "Lord Raven". That horse went from a skinny, rangy, poorly behaved monster to a winner at Madison Square garden (my mother sold Raven back to him when she got married/had kids, ect and he started showing him)

I think he had a exceptional eye for picking out diamonds in the rough ;)

Chris said...

Love the quote.

That sounds like quite a jumping lesson! I've seen students in a lesson where I taught going through a grid with hands out to the side and eyes closed - gotta love it!

DawnC said...

Does anyone have a copy of the Time Magazine which featured Snowman or at least a publication date or something?

DawnC said...

Ah the old days of training. They need to be brought back.

My mother taught me to ride. She learned with one of the best, Ben O'Meara.

When she gave lessons she would make riders start with learning to tuck and roll on the ground before they could even get on a horse.

With me I had to actually throw myself off the horse and tuck and roll.

Then I wasn't allowed to use a saddle until I could ride substantial fences bareback with my arms out to the side.

Her other students used a bareback pad w/stirrups.

This training probably saved my life in a head acccident between my motorcycle and another out in Estes Park, Co.

My husband was in the front and I was on the back. We were heading down a mountain and were therefore on the right side of the road.

They were heading up the mountain going 50 in a 10 mph zone and should have been in the lane on our left.

This was a two lane road w/a double yellow line in the middle on a hair pin turn.

However they hit us almost head on but for the fact that they were slightly to the right of head on (i.e., to the right side of us in the right lane).

I saw the other bike coming, put my hands on my husband's shoulders and used the impact to vault into the air and land on my feet (clearing a very high sissy bar (that metal thing you see on the back of some bikes that the person in the back seat leans on). I wish there was video.

My husband had learned to ride motorcycles from someone who insisted he learn how to ride out an accident.

He laid the bike down and brought his leg up so that he was not trapped under the bike and basically surfed the bike to a halt.

Our bike's front end was totaled but we rec'd no injuiries. The man on the other bike received
100s of internal and external stitches. His wife went over what they call a guard rail up there. A small two foot high rock wall. She landed on a ledge and clung to it with her hands so hard that she broke all the blood vessels in her hands. A few more inches and she would have fallen thousands of feet of a cliff.

I have often thought, if only Christopher Reed had been taught emergency dismounts, perhaps his accident would not have been so catatrophic. The jump was not the big. The pace not so fast.

The moral of the stories - sometimes the old ways are the best ways despite what the insurance companies may think and force us to do.

Anonymous said...

I really loved the quote! SNOWMAN IS AWESOME! The book "The 80 dollar champion," was really enjoyable to!

Anonymous said...

I loved the book "The 80 dollar champion," and would recomend it TO EVERYONE! Snowman seems like such a sweet horse! I would have loved to own him.