The Eighty-Dollar Champion
Snowman: The Horse that Inspired a Nation
by Elizabeth Letts
Ballantine Books/ Random House/2011
After wiping tears from my eyes, I got up this morning to give it five stars on Goodreads, and here is my review:
You can't help but be inspired but this story of a once-in-a-lifetime horse that was literally saved out of the back of a killer's truck. It's not only a story of Snowman and the special bond he had with a young immigrant from Holland named Harry de Leyer, but it's also the story of a moment in history. Elizabeth Letts seamlessly weaves us in and out of the rich American country estates, where horses were king, to World War II Holland when the Nazis occupied the country. But it is mostly the story of Snowman, a quiet, gentle half-plow horse, who accomplished so much in the show jumping world that it allowed an entire nation to dream big dreams. You'll believe in miracles too, after reading this, and you'll never look at a rescue horse in the same way again.
Author Elizabeth Letts says this on her website:
Harry de Leyer first saw the horse he would name Snowman on a bleak February afternoon between the slats of a rickety truck bound for the slaughterhouse. The big gray horse had matted hair, open wounds on both knees and harness marks across his chest. He was as plain and friendly as a favorite mutt. A man’s best friend kind of horse Harry decided. He bought him for $80.
I have to credit the author for keeping us on the edge of our seat through horse shows and jump-offs, triumphs and let-downs. This fantastic horse and the special relationship he shared with a young riding instructor who saw his potential is well worth the read. Truly inspiring and if you're a horse person, you are going to love it. I was lucky to get an early copy from our library, but this is one book I'm going to buy and keep on my shelf.
The story takes place mostly in the 1950's, and Snowman has long since gone to Horse Heaven. But Harry de Leyer is alive and still riding at age 83. Here's a recent article about him: http://www.readthehook.com/100790/horsin-around-galloping-grandfather-trains-legendary-equines
Tomorrow, September 21st is Harry's birthday. He'll be 84. Wish him a Happy Birthday!
Have you read the story of Snowman yet?