Thursday, May 17, 2012

Snowman, the Horse that Inspired a Nation—a review

You all know that I'm a sucker for a good horse story. I said GOOD horse story. I like the ones where the horse makes an impact on the lives of his humans and you see the interaction between the characters.  Having stayed up all night to finish "The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation" I wanted to pass on this read to you.

Elizabeth Letts, a seemingly credible horsewoman herself, found this true story and Snowman and Harry de Leyer.  She did extensive research and spent a great deal of time with de Leyer, now in his 80s. She wove a thread through this story that linked the long-shot horse with the mood of the country in 1958.

This story gives all of us who have had an underdog horse, hope.  This is what we think, just maybe, could happen to us.

I was a little disappointed that we did not get to know the de Leyer children. The book is also painfully repetitive at times.  Overall, it is good—taking you into the world of show jumping in Madison Square Garden in the 1950s when the crowd dressed in top hats and tails and evening wear.

You see the everyday chores of Harry as he goes about working with his students as the riding instructor at a prestigious girl's school.

I think Letts was a little hard on Snowman in her description of him, calling him a hack, a plug, a plow horse. He may have been a little rough around the edges compared to the Thoroughbreds, but he was not painfully ugly.

So, read for yourself and see what you think. There is buzz of a movie.  Check out Letts' blog at


  1. This looks wonderful and I'm adding it to my beach list!

  2. Some have called this story to be compaired to Seabiscuit. However I feel it is unfair to compare one champion to another of another venue. I have read today that there is in the works to do a documentry but the plan is to take the story of Snowman and have a secondary documentry of another horse within the same film. A documentry can give you facts but a movie would properly weave this great story about this Great Horse "The Snowman" which should stand alone and not be mixed with anything else.