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The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, The Horse That Inspired a Nation [Kindle Edition]

Elizabeth Letts
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Advance praise for The Eighty-Dollar Champion
“This is a wonderful book—joyous, heartfelt, and an eloquent reminder that hope can be found in the unlikeliest of places. Most of all, it’s a moving testament to the incredible things that can grow from the bond between animals and humans. If you love a great animal tale, you’ll love this book!”—Gwen Cooper, author of Homer’s Odyssey
“The moving story of an indomitable immigrant farmer, his equally spirited horse, and their against-the-odds journey all the way to the winner’s circle, The Eighty-Dollar Champion fascinates from the first page to the last. Elizabeth Letts has uncovered a forgotten slice of American history and brought it to magical life.”—Karen Abbott, author of American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee
“There is something magical about stories in which humans and animals team up to combine their courage, intelligence, determination, physical prowess, and instincts to scale the heights, touch our hearts deeply, and inspire us in the most profound ways. Those are the best stories there are, I think, and The Eighty-Dollar Champion joins their ranks. There is a lot of wonderful emotion in this book, and it left me awestruck once more at the wondrous things animals and people can do when they join together to make some great and beautiful noise in the world.”—Jon Katz, author of Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm
“A real live fairy tale about an unlikely rider and an even unlikelier horse who soared over obstacles to capture the hearts of a nation. An eloquent story about near misses and impossible odds and what can happen with a little luck and a lot of determination. I fell in love with Snowman and Harry, and so will you.”—Susan Richards, author of Chosen by a Horse
“The perfect book at the perfect time. Snowman will lift you up and over.”—Rita Mae Brown, author of the “Sister” Jane Foxhunting Mysteries series
“A fun and wonderfully detailed story about a most remarkable bond between a man and his horse. You will fall in love with the eighty-dollar champion.”—W. Bruce Cameron, author of A Dog’s Purpose

Not only a heartwarming tale of the bond between human and horse, but also a fascinating look at the the Eisenhower years, when faulty memory tells us that America was placid and conformist." —Mary Doria Russell, author of Doc


Harry de Leyer first saw the horse he would name Snowman on a truck bound for the slaughterhouse. The recent Dutch immigrant recognized the spark in the eye of the beaten-up nag and bought him for eighty dollars. On Harry’s modest farm on Long Island, he ultimately taught Snowman how to fly. Here is the dramatic and inspiring rise to stardom of an unlikely duo. 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. Their story captured the heart of Cold War–era America—a story of unstoppable hope, inconceivable dreams, and the chance to have it all. They were the longest of all longshots—and their win was the stuff of legend.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 3954 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 352 Seiten
  • Verlag: Ballantine Books; Auflage: 1st (23. August 2011)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B004J4WKY2
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 5.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (1 Kundenrezension)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #146.957 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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5.0 von 5 Sternen lovely 16. Juli 2013
Von Lidia
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
especially suitable for a horse lover, lovely read. Based on real life story and full of love towards horses. highly recommended.
War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?
Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.5 von 5 Sternen  841 Rezensionen
181 von 187 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The Challenge of a Second Chance 6. August 2011
Von Miz Ellen - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
Like the author of this lovely book, I was a horse-crazy little girl and one of the books I remember reading is SNOWMAN by Rutherford Montgomery. Therefore I'm thrilled that Snowman's story is being rescued from the dustbin of children's lit and being told again with greater detail and accuracy. I especially like the way Elizabeth Letts paints a complete picture of Snowman's time. This is history not just a horse story; a portrait of the America that embraced the former plow horse and his immigrant owner, Harry De Leyer, also known as "The Flying Dutchman".

This is the stuff of horsemen's dreams: to literally pull a thin and dirty horse off the slaughter truck and train him to become a champion. That is the true story of Snowman.

Could any book have a more charming hero? Snowman sparkles in these pages, a quiet gentle giant who gave pony rides to little children and taught timid beginners not to be afraid. He's so loyal that he repeatedly jumps both paddock and pasture fences to return to the man who rescued him from the slaughter truck. Harry De Leyer is a young horseman with a growing family who desperately desires to run his own horse business. He's looking for that magic horse who can take him to the top.

He'd been training a top thoroughbred prospect, Sinjon. In 1957, Harry persuaded the owner of the horse to take him to the National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden. Sinjon, a nervous and hot-blooded animal, exceeded expectations by jumping out of the qualifying rounds to place fourth. That very success was Harry's undoing: he loses the mount he has carefully and lovingly trained to a rider on the U.S. Equestrian Team.

He goes home to take another look at the horse he rescued off the slaughterhouse truck, the horse that came home dragging a tire which had been supposed to anchor him down and a piece of the fence that had been supposed to contain him. Harry knew that Snowman could jump; he just didn't understand why the horse was so clumsy in the ring.

Snowman routinely tripped over poles on the ground and knocked over low cross rails. Harry had been trying to train him to jump for over a year. The breakthrough came when one day Harry rode out into the ring. The jumps had already been set high for another horse. Finishing his warmup, Harry pointed his former plow horse at the high jumps...and the rest is history!

If I have a criticism, it is that the author has left out and glossed over some of the story about the humans. For example, she doesn't explain why Harry De Leyer and his first wife get divorced. However, I'm not sure she's wrong to leave that out. When it comes to Snowman, she has ferreted out many charming facts and features of his personality. When you are telling a story about a horse with a heart of gold is it necessary to explain every imperfection in the people around him?

Horse people will love this book. Snowman in his lovable essence will remind them of that favorite, special horse of their own. Folks who love animals in general will love this story. If you are in search of inspiration, look no further! This is a book for the entire family.
51 von 52 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen I rode Snowman as a child 27. Januar 2012
Von Dreamer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
I was a 10 and 11 year old girl in love with horses when my parents agreed to give me lessons. We lived on the south shore of Long Island, about 45 minutes from the de Layer farm, but Harry de Layer was chosen to be my teacher. Snowman, not yet a champion, was one of the horses Mr. de Layer used to teach eager children like me. Mr. de Layer taught me that if I were a gentle, kind rider, I could learn invaluable lessons about courage and accomplishment. Snowman rewarded me with an extraordinary personal experience and an amazing example that, in life, anything is possible if you are willing to try. I was outraged to read a one star review, a personal attack by a local person who says Harry De Layer abused his horses. I absolutely do not believe that and wonder what part jealousy and bigotry may have played to influence the writer of that review and/or his own riding teachers. Mr. de Layer always insisted that his horses be treated well. His message was to learn to trust the horse, trust myself and to find the rhythm between the horse's spirit and my own. I was a tiny girl, Snowman was a very big horse and Mr. de Layer and Snowman taught me not only how to enjoy jumping and showing, but also a great deal about myself and life in general. I am so grateful to have known them both and my life has been richer for it. I am now 65 and have shared this story with my children and grandchildren. Mr. de Layer and Snowman are still teaching my family about the spirit of kindness and courage.

I wish I could recommend the book as highly as I do Mr. de Layer. I found it quite shallow and very repetitive. Letts tells us about Snowman and Harry de Layer, but doesn't allow us to get to know them. They are worth getting to know. Her emphasis, over and over, is on the "fleabitten" horse,"immigrant small farmer," and an overblown emphasis on class distinctions. These points may have some validity, but Harry and Snowman are both so very much more than that. In my opinion, Harry de Layer and Snowman are still waiting for the book they deserve.
58 von 60 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen This is a fun, warm, exciting story! 4. August 2011
Von feemeister - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
I really have to hand it to the author here! She really had me going when she wrote about the competitions in this book, they were SO exciting!

The book was beautifully, done, and on so many levels! The horse's owner, Harry, had lived through wartime with the Nazi occupation, which colored (rightly so) many of his thoughts and feelings about things.

This book tells of him taking a huge chance on this horse that was bound for the knacker's yard. $80 was a good bit of money back then, for someone in his economic position. But his instinct won out, and he purchased the horse, and took him home. He was used as a lesson horse to teach riding, until they pretty much accidentally found out what a jumper he was. The story is just beautifully told by the author all the way through.

There are lots of things to learn throughout the book about immigrants coming to this country and working hard at what they knew best, in order to finally make good. There are lots of different bits of information about many different things; different lifestyles, details about a girl's school, as well as lots of information on the horse jumping circuits. This is one of those books that teaches you lots of information, but in such a fun and exciting way that you don't realize you are actually learning (which is my favorite way to do it)!

This book is interesting, entertaining and exciting. I highly recommend it, and am really glad I found this book and read it. A great, heartwarming read. Wonderful horse, wonderful man and wonderful story!
46 von 52 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen "Might make a lesson horse..." 11. August 2011
Von E. M. Bristol - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
"Breed the best to the best and hope for the best," is an adage in the horse world. Generally, this is sound advice. But every now and then, an otherwise unremarkable looking horse comes along and beats the odds. Inner qualities, like "heart", as well as hard work and a strong bond between horse and rider, can make a champion. While this sounds like the stuff of Disney movies, there are plenty of real life examples - in all equine disciplines.

"The Eighty-Dollar Champion" is the story of Snowman, a former plow horse and glue factory refugee, who was rescued by Harry De Leyer, a Dutch immigrant and trainer for a private girls' school. Although De Leyer felt an indescribable connection from the first, he also thought Snowman might make a good addition to the lesson string. And while Snowman certainly proved himself as a bombproof horse for beginners, as well as a cherished pet for the De Leyer children, much bigger things were in store.

De Leyer had long wanted to compete at the "A" show level with a goal of making it all the way to Madison Square Garden. When it was discovered that Snowman enjoyed jumping high fences without a rider on his back, De Leyer turned his attention to training the horse. The qualities that made people skeptical that Snowman would succeed - such as an unflappable disposition (fancy show horses tend to be high-strung), turned out to be an asset, and Snowman wound up flourishing in the spotlight - while still working as a lesson horse in the off-show season.

Letts does a superb job of bringing the ritzy show jumping world to life. The story is set in the fifties and sixties, when the US was changing economically, and the new medium of television altered how horse shows (and news) was presented. As she writes, it was a period in history when Americans were looking for an underdog hero to cheer on. And when one like Snowman comes along, it's a story worth telling.
132 von 158 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Surprisingly superficial 7. August 2011
Von Vickie T. - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
I wanted to love this book. I read the children's book, Snowman, back in the '60's, as a horse crazy girl and have always remembered the inspiring story. It was particularly meaningful to me at the time as I was one of the few middle-class riding students at a fancy hunt club, competing with expensive hunters on a $200 grade mare. But, Elizabeth Letts' retelling of the story failed to satisfy.

This book is all over the place, jumping from one topic to another and back again. For example, consider the contents of Chapter 14, which, in the space of 3 pages, touches on the lifestyles of the rich, the differences between amateurs and professionals competing on the horse show circuit, The National Horse Show and its place in the show circuit, Harry de Leyer's work ethic, the oppressive nature of the era, the Devon horse show, the changing nature of upper class society in Philadelphia, commencement activities at the Knox school and Snowman's participation, and the difference between Snowman and flighty Thoroughbreds. If a book could induce whiplash, this one would do it.

The book is very repetitive. If I had a dime for every time the author told us that the jumper classes are judged solely on objective, rather than subjective, measures, that Snowman was a cast off plow horse, or that "the rich, they're not like you and me," I could buy myself a nice dinner.

Also, I feel like the author played just a bit loose with the facts in order to enhance the story. For example, in multiple places in the book, she emphasized that the show jumping team that represented the US at the Olympics and international competitions was composed of rich amateurs riding well-bred expensive horses, contrasting those kings of the show jumping world with Snowman, the plain old plow horse of humble origins. Yet, she fails to acknowledge that Nautical, a successful show jumper with the US team who is mentioned in the book, had equally humble origins.

Finally, perhaps most dismaying, this book is a very superficial retelling of Snowman's story. Based on "A Note About Sources," the "Notes" and the bibliography at the end of the book, the author conducted extensive research, including long interviews with Harry de Leyer himself. Yet, I don't feel like I know Harry de Leyer, Snowman, or the de Leyer family much better than I did before I started the book.

Do I recommend this book? Maybe. If you read the children's book about Snowman and loved it, you might want to read this book. If you were active in the hunter/jumper world in the late '50's or '60's or followed the sport during that time, you might enjoy the book. If I say to you, "George Morris, Frank Chapot, and Bill Steinkraus" and you know immediately who those men are, you might consider picking up a copy. I'm not sorry that I spent the time it took to read the book, just disappointed that it was not as good as it could have been.
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