Saturday, January 28, 2012

Review: The Eighty Dollar Champion: Snowman, The Horse That Inspired A Nation by Elizabeth Letts

The Eighty Dollar Champion: Snowman, The Horse That Inspired A Nation by 

Harry de Leyer first saw the horse he would name Snowman on a bleak winter afternoon between the slats of a rickety truck bound for the slaughterhouse. He recognized the spark in the eye of the beaten-up horse and bought him for eighty dollars. On Harry’s modest farm on Long Island, the horse thrived. But the recent Dutch immigrant and his growing family needed money, and Harry was always on the lookout for the perfect thoroughbred to train for the show-jumping circuit—so he reluctantly sold Snowman to a farm a few miles down the road.

But Snowman had other ideas about what Harry needed. When he turned up back at Harry’s barn, dragging an old tire and a broken fence board, Harry knew that he had misjudged the horse. And so he set about teaching this shaggy, easygoing horse how to fly. One show at a time, against extraordinary odds and some of the most expensive thoroughbreds alive, the pair climbed to the very top of the sport of show jumping.

Here is the dramatic and inspiring rise to stardom of an unlikely duo, based on the insight and recollections of “the Flying Dutchman” himself. Their story captured the heart of Cold War–era America—a story of unstoppable hope, inconceivable dreams, and the chance to have it all. Elizabeth Letts’s message is simple: Never give up, even when the obstacles seem sky-high. There is something extraordinary in all of us.

Review: An enjoyable story about a man who rose from long odds and was able to follow his dreams. Plus, there are horses!

I shamelessly love horses so I was interested in reading this book, especially since I had never heard of Snowman. As I learned in this book, Snowman's fame was during the late 50s and 60s so it made sense that I had never heard of him before. I am very glad someone told Snowman and Harry's story. Letts provides a lot of background information of horses, their riders, and the culture that surrounds them. It is sad that horses have declined in importance in their use, especially for use on farms. As I mentioned before, Letts provides a  lot of background on horse, which can easily get boring and dry for those that only have a casual interest in horses or little interest in history. 

Snowman and Harry are inspirational because they both wouldn't give up. The two were really meant for each other. Their story shows what trust, love, and a good amount of hard work can accomplish. I found myself cheering for Snowman and cringing whenever he made a fault. Like Harry, I wanted him to be the best. Snowman had a lot of triumphs in his life and he lived a full, fulfilled life. I know it was inevitable, but it was still quite sad when Snowman passed away. 


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to fans of horses and those who enjoy a heart warming inspirational story. 


  1. Not just a heartwarming story about a remarkable horse, but it contains interesting information on the history and nature of horses, the art of show jumping and horse training. Snowman chose Harry as much as Harry chose Snowman; and their bond and the road down which it takes them would make for an entertaining work of fiction, but the fact that the story is true is both awesome and inspiring.

  2. It was so lucky for Snowman that Harry came across him. Harry could tell that Snowman still have some fight left in him. That was incredible.