The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation
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The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation

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4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  4,907 ratings  ·  961 reviews
Reminiscent of the inspiring, against-the-odds success story that made Seabiscuit a bestseller, ''The Eighty-Dollar Champion'' tells the dramatic odyssey of a horse called Snowman that, saved from the slaughterhouse, went on to become America's leading show jumper, winning first prize at Madison Square Garden. Set in the mid- to late 1950s, this book captures the can--do s...more
Audio CD, 1 page
Published August 23rd 2011 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published January 1st 2011)
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Martin
There is a great story here, but you won't find it in this book. This author is not a good writer; what else can I say? What a disappointment after all the rave reviews! Chapters were repetitive, even using the same sentimental phrases, flashbacks, and allusions time and time 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!

H...more
Christina
Oh my! Can I give a book 10 stars?? I loved this one! More even than Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit, I think, and that's saying a lot. This is the true story of Snowman, a plow horse rescued from going on the knacker's truck (literally at the last possible moment) who became a national sensation as the underdog horse who beat out all the expensively bred and trained fancy show horses to become showjumping's Horse of the Year. Twice! I was amazed. The book is not just a horse story, however, but...more
Wendy
A decent story of a horse who was rescued from a kill pen truck and turned into a champion show jumper. Sounds like a great read, but it was unfortunately poorly written. While the author obviously did her research, she crammed a lot of unnecessary and irrelevant information in the book. My hard cover copy is 280 pages and could easily have been 180. She also jumps around chronologically so at times I found myself lost. She was very repetitive, constantly reminding the reader of tiny, barely sig...more
Flash Beagle
On an icy morning in February 1956, Harry De Leyer, a Dutch immigrant with a young family, is hoping to buy a horse at auction, but his car breaks down. When he arrives, the only horses left are the "kills" - already loaded onto the truck bound for the slaughter house. The horses are skittish and afraid, they know. Only the beat-up looking gray horse is calm and not taken by the understandable air of desperation.
Harry - himself a survivor of a slaughter house machine - the Nazi occupation of h...more
Peg
When I found this book at Costco, I knew I had to buy it. Harry de Leyer is an immigrant who, along with his wife Johanna, left Holland after WWII, having survived the Nazi occupation of their homeland. They came, as did many others, seeking the opportunity and freedom of the United States. Relegated to menial jobs, Harry was eventually able to use his experience and expertise with horses to secure a job as the instructor for equestrian activities at a prestigious girls' school on Long Island.

T...more
Barb
I was very eager to read this story. I thought it was going to be a heart-warming story about a Dutch immigrant and his relationship with the horse he rescued from the knacker.

I should disclose that I am not a horse person but I am an animal lover. I recently read 'Beautiful Jim Key: The Lost History of the World's Smartest Horse' by Mim Rivas which I loved. And I hoped this would be a similarly heartwarming story about a man and his horse.

Unfortunately what could have been a great story was i...more
Connie
4.5 stars
Harry DeLeyer saw something in the big grey plowhorse and took a chance on him. Snowman spent his life repaying that belief and never let the quiet man down. Together they chased their dreams and learned to fly together.
A true story of determination and a lot of heart this book takes you back to a time when horse shows were for the elite.This unlikely pair break into that world and capture the heart of nation who needed someone to root for. Harry and Snowman become heroes, a team that...more
Brenda Knight
I have loved horses my whole life. I read mostly westerns or horse stories right through high school. I can't believe I never heard about this amazing horse. As soon as I read the cover, I knew I HAD to have and read this book. I truely enjoyed the whole story. I really appreciated all of the photographs in the book also. It made me feel as if I knew the characters personally. Harry was an absolute natural with horses. He connected with them on a deeply personal level. I would have loved to watc...more
Donna
This was a free book from the GoodReads First Read Giveaway. It is the story about a four legged hero named Snowman and his owner Harry de Leyer. Not only is it a heart warming story about the special bond between the two but it is also a true story that gives historical facts that are quite interesting (especially if you are from Suffolk County, NY). I highly recommend it to anyone that loves history, a good story and most of all, horses.
Rachel Lohrman
This is not just a book, it is a story - a true story - about a man who picked a horse from a truck bound for the slaughter house, purchased him for eighty dollars in 1956, and went on win the National Horse Show open jumper championship at Madison Square Garden in 1958.

The horse, nicknamed Snowman, was an old plow horse - big, gray and gentle. The man, Harry de Leyer, an immigrant from Holland, began using the horse for lessons at an all girls boarding school. He was a gentle, predictable and s...more
Judy
Dec 07, 2012 Judy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: animal lovers
I'm no horse jumping guru or even fan, but who can pass up a well-written story about a lovable animal who just missed the knackers? Not me. And I was not disappointed. I looked forward to listening to this audiobook each evening. I had no idea that the famous Flying Dutchman referred to Snowman's rider and owner. The story also chronicles how competitive horse events went from small payouts to large payouts within a couple years.

I recommend to animal-loving readers. Easy read, not very long.
Kristin
The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse that Inspired a Nation is about a man and a horse. I know, that sounds super corny and we’ve heard that said a million times about a man and a fill-in-the-blank. But this really is.

First, let me say that I am not a fan of the horse industry. Horses used for sport, and animals in general, are too often treated as throwaways (former Kentucky Derby winner, Ferdinand, was sold for human consumption in Japan in 2002) and suffer catastrophic injuries (rem...more
Lea
I won this in a GoodReads giveaway!

This is an advance uncorrected proof, so, although there were minor errors in the editing, I will not be judging those -- I'm sure they'll be fixed in the official release.

This book was just great. It has anything you could want in a book -- overcoming adversity, life and death situations, achieving your dreams through hard work and a bit of luck, and horses!

As anyone who knows me can tell you, I love horses. They were the biggest (and best) part of my life for...more
Barb
First let me say that I read nearly every horse book ever written as a child, every dog book, every raccoon book, every animal book. As an adult, I am still a sucker for a good animal story. And this is a GREAT animal story. I cried when Snowman died (don't worry - of old age) because I had become so attached to the horse. The writing is fine - the author is knowledgable about horses, horse jumping, and adds some nice historical facts about the times, the sport, and horses in America that are fu...more
Marjorie Thelen
This is a true rags-to-riches story about a plow horse saved from the slaughterhouse in 1956 by a Dutch immigrant to the U.S., Harry de Leyer. Harry's kids named the horse Snowman because he had snow all over him when he stepped off the slaughter house truck on their small farm on Long Island, New York. Snowman went on to become in 1958 Horse of the Year, the Professional Horseman’s Association Champion and the Champion of the Madison Square Garden’s Diamond Jubilee. Letts tells the entire story...more
Josephine
One star for writing a book so popular about an activity and a period that not all readers know about. One star for making me tear up when Snowman had to be put down. (Don't worry: he was twenty-six, a respectable age for a horse that had worked so hard throughout its lifetime. Trust me, show jumping at Snowman's level is every bit as stressful as pulling a plow.)

Minus a star for anthropomorphising Snowman as much as she did--ascribing human emotions to an animal to that degree gets up my nose....more
Mirrani
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

The Eighty Dollar Champion is a book that is both easy to explain and hard to describe. It tells the story of the famous horse Snowman and his owner Harry de Leyer who jumped their way into the hearts of Americans in the mid 50’s. The story itself is not unique; a man from another country comes to America and works hard at what he loves, finds a diamond in the rough and together the two of them soar to the stars. In a time where we find bo...more
Sunny

....
From my review/blog www.bookinwithsunny.com

When Harry de Leyer arrived at the weekly Holland, Pennsylvania horse auction, he was late. It was February 1956. He had driven through rough weather from Long Island, New York, in a station wagon with bad lights and one tire that had gone flat. The only one left at the auction was “Killer,” the man who waited every week until the auction’s end to buy all the unsold animals. These he’d load onto his truck and take to the slaughterhouse. Harry had...more
Anne
Snowman, the Horse that Inspired a Nation is the subtitle of this book but it doesn't tell the whole story. This is also a book about Harry de Leyer, an immigrant from Holland, who arrived in the United States with his wife, $160, and the dream of a better life than was possible in the Nazi occupied country he left. Harry's story is every bit as inspiring as that of Snowman.

The horse show scenes became just a little bit repetitive in telling the champion's tale but then horse shows are for all...more
Isabel Roman
Poorly done. Rather than take the greatness of an underdog on the equestrian circuit, Ms. Letts expounded on the New York area's history, the arena, the school and students who attended (and their drivers, clothes, activities, etc), the horse bits, the competitors, the journalists, the newspapers’ history for God's sake! I don't care about them.

I want to read about the plow horse and the Dutch immigrant who made horse jumping history; about Snowman’s jumping itself, not the closest challenger;...more
Phoebe Delisle
As a former horse rider I was very eager to read this book. Unfortunately I was very disappointed by the way the story was told. The book alternated between long passages of historical references and would then jump back into the story of Harry and Snowman. It was awkward and didn't seem to flow. When the author wrote about the horseshows it was monotonous and tedious. They were all written exactly the same way. I might as well have been re-reading the same passages over and over. The book itsel...more
Sally
How did I not know about this horse.....this book? What a fabulous read for the horse lover, underdog supporter, history buff. Best book of the year.
Kristine
The Eighty Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts - a Goodreads First Read free giveaway book won on May 31st, received on June 2nd. When I had entered and won the giveaway, I was excited to be able to learn more about the history and goings-on with horse shows, since it's a hobby my father-in-law and stepmother-in-law are very much involved in.

Despite this book arriving in a Random House draft cover, it read very much as a work in progress. There were statements/phases used repetitively, each jumpi...more
Denise
The Eighty-Dollar champion tells the extraordinary story of Snowman, the most unlikely champion jumping horse you could possibly imagine. Harry de Leyer, a poor, but determined Dutch immigrant, finds him at an auction being loaded onto the slaughter truck. He looks like he could be a reliable and steady lesson horse at Harry's riding school, so Harry takes a chance and buys him. He does turn into a quiet, dependable riding horse and for a year or more that's what Harry thinks he is. Then Harry s...more
Kelly
Harry de Leyer needed a good horse, but by the time he fought through the horrendous winter weather, the only horses left at the auction were those on the truck headed to the slaughterhouse. Unwilling to admit defeat, he persuaded the truck driver to let him take a look at the doomed horses loaded in the back. A certain look in the eyes of a neglected plow horse spoke to Harry, and after paying the driver $80 for the horse, Harry took him home. At that point, the horse was named "Snowman" by Har...more
Lori
I got this book on my kindle. I just love stories about the "underdog". but this time it is about a horse. in the mid 1950s a man named Harry De Leyer wanted to buy a horse he could have for his family and use at an all girls school for riding. he was late getting to the horse auction, the few that were left were getting loaded on a truck to get slaughtered for dog food. he saw a horse in the corner patiently waiting in a fence. Harry had a feeling about this horse. and offered to buy the horse...more
Lisa
Dec 27, 2011 Lisa rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: horse lovers, history lovers, and lovers of determination!
Shelves: biography-memoir
The Eighty-Dollar Champion tells the true story of the de Leyer family and Snowman, a plow horse on the way to the slaughterhouse that was bought for $80. Harry de Leyer lived through the Nazi occupation of his homeland in Holland where he learned determination, a trait shared with his unlikely champion horse.

This book contains much more than an uplifting story about a horse. It is filled with history and customs long forgotten, but not in a dry history lesson. There are probably too many detai...more
Alycia
Eighty Dollar Champion is a recounting of a Dutch immigrant who comes to the United States right after marriage, after World War II. Harry de Leyer's story is amazing, his survival in Holland to the first few jobs he and his wife Johanna endured. All the while knowing that Harry was meant to work in the horse industry.

This book isn't just about Harry, it's also about an ex-plow horse that Harry rescued literally seconds before he was bound for the slaughter house. Harry recognized that there mi...more
Trish
I really wanted to love this book, so much so, that I put a special hold on it at my library so I could get it when it first came out. Unfortunately, the writing style was so poor it overwhelmed what should have been a great book.

I read a lot and some of what I read are cozy mysteries and occasionally even some Chick-lit, and while these are not the paragon of good writing I know that going in, and read them for what they are; mind candy and a diversion, I expected much more from this non-ficti...more
Haleigh
I have an obsession. With horses. And probably one of the most serious cases you've ever seen. Horses attract me like a magnet. In a book store, I slowly find myself wandering unconsciously through the aisles, and then I just happen upon an aisle full of horse books, horse calendars, horse journals... Anything horse.
Two people could be having a conversation twenty feet away from me. I won't even be listening -- I'll be going about my business as any person would. But any word that sounds even s...more
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Elizabeth Letts grew up riding horses in the hills of Southern California. A former Peace Corps volunteer and trained midwife, she now lives near Baltimore in a house where both critters and children abound.
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