October 09, 2011
The Eighty Dollar Champion: Snowman the Horse that Inspired a Nation by Elizabeth Letts
Ok, I have to say that I absolutely love this book. Yes it was about a horse, which makes me somewhat biased, but it really was written very well and also interesting. The author did a great job of her research and it really shows.
After moving to America after the war, Harry de Leyer and his wife (and later many kids) moved around searching for their American dream until Harry ended up as a riding instructor for an exclusive girl's school. Here at the school he was in charge of the horses so he was always on the lookout for a horse he could afford, but at the same time had potential. And that's how he found Snowman. Bound for the slaughterhouse the horse was pretty roughed up, but Harry could see that there was potential there. He took him home, nursed him back to health, and used him for the girl's riding lessons. But this horse had more in them and when Harry realized his potential as a jumper, it gave him a few dreams, and in a few years, made Snowman a hero in the hearts of many Americans.
Letts, the author, did her research well by talking to many who knew Snowman, and even Harry himself so she presents some pretty accurate information here. Sure the book was written as fiction so we can't believe every single conversation took place verbatim, but they are all very believable conversations that are probably largely based in truth. And everything is presented nicely with no one ever being made a bad guy or suspect of horrible intentions.
The writing was excellent. Very clear yet still interesting to read with a lot of information being passed to the reader not only about the horse, but about Harry's family and just the time period as well. I also learned more about the jumping competitions than I ever knew before. I had heard of Snowman before, but still reading the amazing horse's story gave me goosebumps at times that it could be real. It's a definite rags to riches story. And it's great that its not only about the horse, but about the family who adopted him as well.
If you like horses, or stories about underdogs than you'll probably love this book. It's about a champion but goes beyond and looks at the love shared by the family for this horse and not just at the winnings.
The Eighty-Dollar Champion