Meagan Nusz was on a serious horse search when she headed to Europe with her coach at the time, Olympic silver medalist Kent Farrington.
The American show jumper was looking for her next grand prix mount and found the search exhausting.
“I’m not kidding—I think I maybe rode 15 [horses] that day,” she recalled. “Then they brought out this nondescript, short little mare with a big ‘ol head, and I thought, ‘Surely that’s not for me try!’”
Nusz almost didn’t sit on that mare, named Belaquador, but conceded to give the tiny horse a chance. After just one fence—a cross rail, no less—Nusz was convinced.
“I looked at Kent, and I said, ‘Sold.’
“She was exactly my ideal type of ride,” she said. “She actually rode like a big horse. You didn’t feel like you were on a little mouse, and that’s what she looked like. She had all the canter, a super soft mouth—she went in a loose-ring snaffle—and she just had that way, when they take your hand. You could not miss on her. I said, ‘I need 10 of these!’”
Nusz brought Belaquador home to the U.S., and the two had a successful, yet brief career together. Belaquador competed up to 1.50m before a tendon injury and some bone bruising ended her career in the show ring prematurely.
“We had all the hopes for her,” Nusz said. “We tried to bring her back, too, because she was one of my favorite horses that I ever sat on, but she just never recovered.”
Now a broodmare, Belaquador has the chance to create those “10 more” that Nusz wanted. Earlier this year, the mare foaled a filly by Damokles called Pippa, bred by fellow American show jumper Andy Kocher, who is now putting her in the spotlight.
Inspired by the legendary story of Harry DeLeyer and Snowman, which was made into Elizabeth Letts’ popular book, The Eighty Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation, Andy Kocher is bringing show jumping’s greatest investment tale to life in modern day with the 2020 Eighty-Dollar Champion Contest, an extension of his Andy Kocher Sport Horse Auctions.
In the 1950s, DeLeyer purchased Snowman for just $80, when the horse was bound for slaughter. The pair would go on to become legends of the sport, eventually being inducted into the United States Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 1992. Understanding how expensive sport horses are in the industry, Kocher wants to give a lucky equestrian an opportunity to have a future star of his or her own for just $80.
Through this unique contest, Pippa will be awarded to a participant of the Eighty-Dollar Champion Contest. Entry into the contest costs just $80. On July 13, 2020, an entry will be drawn to determine the winner of the contest. Proceeds from the Eighty-Dollar Champion Contest will benefit the Snowman Rescue Fund, which supports Omega Horse Rescue & Rehabilitation Center. Omega rescues slaughter-bound horses from the New Holland Auction, the same auction where DeLeyer rescued Snowman in 1956.
“I grew up idolizing the story of Harry DeLeyer and Snowman,” Kocher said. “I’ve wanted to do something like this for quite some time. I hope this contest can give someone a great opportunity that they might not otherwise have.”