The Eighty-dollar Champion

The Eighty-dollar Champion

Snowman, the Horse That Inspired A Nation

Book - 2011
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November 1958: the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Into the rarefied atmosphere of wealth and tradition comes the most unlikely of horses--a drab white former plow horse named Snowman--and his rider, Harry de Leyer. They were the longest of all longshots--and their win was the stuff of legend.
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.

Publisher: New York : Ballantine Books, c2011.
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780345521088
Branch Call Number: 798.2507 SNOWMAN
Characteristics: xiv, 329 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.


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IndyPL_SteveB Jan 24, 2019

1958: Television is still new; general sports magazines are just becoming popular. People watching television and reading these magazines are seeing sports they never knew existed. The National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden is being televised and millions of people are watching horses show jumping for the first time. The sport is run by wealthy horse owners with expensive, emotional thoroughbreds. And in comes a calm, ordinary looking gray/white former plow horse named Snowman, with his immigrant owner and rider, Harry de Leyer, and whips them all. It’s quite a story.

If you love horses, this will be a great book for you. I enjoyed the drama of it and the success story, but have to admit I skipped over many of the details of horse farming and showmanship that will no doubt fascinate horse lovers.

ArapahoeAnna Sep 28, 2016

True, historical, educational, and moving story of how Snowman saved from slaughter becomes a champion jumping horse. Also a story of the immigrant de Leyer Family's hard work and success. You will look at horse jumping and coming to America in a new way. If you listen to audio book be sure to download photographs.

Sep 08, 2016

What a great book! I don't read a lot of nonfiction but this was really easy to read and interesting. I especially love reading about horses. I recommend it to anyone who likes heart-warming stories that are actually true.

Jan 26, 2015

I found the pacing good most of the time, but occasionally slow and very documentary-esk. Overall a good, interesting, and moving story.

xStormageddon Jun 14, 2014

Excellent book for any animal lover. Truly touching and proves that hard work and determination pays off no matter who you are. This book is inspiring and motivational. Gives a real life example of "anything is possible when you believe." Looking forward to the movie and there's also a Breyer model horse of Snowman out that I adore.

May 10, 2013

A horse I wasn't familiar with and now I'm glad to know a little about him. What a great story.

rowanquincy Oct 17, 2012

Loved this book. Not the best writing but a compelling story.

Aug 18, 2012

For the horsey set and for anyone who likes an underdog tale. I thoroughly loved this narrative non-fiction. Tame enough for tweens as well. This story made me weep with joy. If you love horses read this now.

wendybird Aug 10, 2012

As a child, I read my way through every single horse book - real or imagined critters - on the shelf of my local library. As an aspiring horsewoman, the tale of the U.S. nation jumping champion, Snowman, the grey plowhorse saved from the slaughter house, was one of my very favorite tales. Well, here's that incredible true story retold in fabulous detail for adults.... like bestsellers "Secretariat" & "Seabiscuit", the book incorporates fascinating research about the decline of the working horse in North America, and rural life post WW II. A fascinating, heartwarming read -- fingers crossed for the movie!

Tam_Girl12 May 29, 2012

I only got to chapter 15 then I stopped, this book did not have enough excitement to keep me interested, I do like some horse books.

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Oct 01, 2016

1958 Snowman won National Jumping Championship at Madison Square Garden. The owner was an immigrant from the Netherlands who survived WW11 Nazi occupation. Taught horse back riding at a school. Cinderella story amidst wealth. History of horses from plow horses to automobile. Harry Lettts rescued Snowman from being made into horse meat.


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