November 1958, New York. Into the rarefied atmosphere of wealth and tradition at the National Horse Show in Madison Square Garden 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.
Reminiscent of the inspiring, against-the-odds success story that made Seabiscuit a best seller, The Eighty-Dollar Champion tells of 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.
©2011 Elizabeth Letts (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“This is a wonderful book—joyous, heartfelt, and an eloquent reminder that hope can be found in the unlikeliest of places.” (Gwen Cooper, New York Times best-selling author)
The facts of this story are great, but the writing is poor. What a disappointment after all the rave reviews! Chapters were repetitive, even using the same sentimental phrases, flashbacks, and allusions time and again. The author really could have benefitted from a strong editor. As if the story didn't tell itself, we are told ad nauseum how we ought to feel. In effusive language, we read what a remarkable story we are being told!
Harry de Leyer worked hard at menial tasks that are described in detail, but how does he actually train horses? You don't learn anything about the methods or techniques Harry used. There is no excuse for the lack of detail since Harry is still alive and apparently granted the author unlimited access. As for Snowman, it is as if the horse trained himself. What you will learn, repeatedly, is that Harry just talked to the horse, and the horse flicked his ears and did what he was asked. Maybe in the hands of a skilled screenwriter, the book could be turned into a decent movie, but is there really enough material even for that?
On the human side, Harry was portrayed as a simple, hard-working, devoted family man, with a like-minded wife Johanna who bore them eight children. Yet suddenly in summarizing the period from Snowman's death in 1974 until the present day, we find that they got divorced.
Say something about yourself!
This was a real life feel good story, a story of rags to riches for both horse and owner.
Not only does this story detail the life of Snowman and Harry de Leyer, it gives a fairly good look at the social and economic changes happening in the late 1950's and its effect on the show jumping and equestrian industry. It did get a touch repetitive near the end, but nothing too obnoxious. Overall a good story I would recommend to anyone.
Well, of course, this is a wonderful story about Snowman the eighty dollar champion horse and his amazing owner/partner Harry de Leyer. Great story--but not well told. The book was terribly repetitive--so much so--that I finally gave up listening. I do thank the author for introducing me to Snowman and Harry.
Of course, I would recommend this book to anyone, not just horse, or animal lovers.
The best part about this story is it's true!!!
Parts made me cry, while others made my heart swell with pride.
Even though I was familiar with the story (being an old show jump rider), I still learned things I was not aware of. The story does capture your heart!! Just goes to show, you can't judge a horse by his coat!!!
One of the best! My father has listened to over 450 audiobooks and says this is the best he has ever read.
The story itself, the descriptions, and the history behind it. Very well researched.
The first meeting of the Harry and Snowman.
I guess I'm a baby...I just love to be read to.
This is a feel good story with nothing too substantial to review about. I like a good, "pull yourself up" story so I enjoyed it but that's pretty much it. I cried a lot...but I'm a sap when it comes to empowerment stories.
The fact that it was a true story
It was heart warming--a rags to riches story. I like the way Harry connected with the horse and always put his well being ahead of any personal gain.
I knew of so many of the people in the book--I was just getting into horses in the 60s when these people were well known show jumpers. I cried when Snowman died.
This is a great horse story with lots of interesting history. It was just about the time when prices for show jumpers were beginning to climb. However, a determined equestrian with a good eye could have a fighting chance. As a horse-crazy child in 1960s Chicago, the highlight of the year was the big horse show at the International Amphitheater. Show jumping was a big part of it. Chicagoans will recognize some of the names mentioned in this book.
Did not read the print version.
This was a wonderfully detailed stroy of the conection between a horseman and his horse.
Harry was my favorite.
No. It was very long.
This book will become a classic.
I love to get lost in the world's of writers, but don't have much time to read. I discovered Audible and now can listen whenever I want!
I'm a big horse lover and love jumping, but have only done it on a small scale. This story gave great insight to the world of jumping. The history of how horse showing was in the 50's compared to the show world now gave interesting perspective. There is still a lot of the old money, as described in this story, but it is because of the story of Snowman that encouraged everyone who loves horses the opportunities that we have today to get involved. The story is very well told and you really feel like you are right there watching the competitions and personally know the Dulaer (sp?) family. There were nights I laid awake listening for hours gripping my sheets, the competitions were so intense. I also appreciated Henry's philosophy of the treatment of horses. His philosophies were not well accepted at that time. I would not have enjoyed it if he were cruel. Loved the story and recommend it to anyone who loves horses.
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