Can you believe that January has already come to a close? And that means our first month of the book club has wrapped up too! If somehow you haven't read this book yet, or seen the movie Harry & Snowman, watch out there may be some spoilers ahead!
I originally picked this book up a couple of years ago and read it then and I absolutely loved it! Rereading it flooding me with the same emotions all over again.
The book starts describing the dire situations that both Harry de Leyer and the future star Snowman were found. Both worked hard and the grey plow horse bound for slaughter found his luck when Harry made the truck diver unload every horse so Snowman could come home with him. Originally hoping the grey could be a useful school horse at the all girls Knox school, Harry quickly found out the horse would excel at that job and so much more!
Not only does this book outline Snowman's special story but it also gives you a history lesson on what the equine industry in America was like in the late 40's, 50's and 60's. Now it's hard to imagine any of our horses at the barn being used as a military mount but back then the memories were still fresh. Horses were in transition from tools of work to companion of sport.
Another unique thread to this story is the pursuit of the American dream. Harry de Leyer and his wife immigrated from Holland and found themselves working long hard days to provide for their family that eventually totaled six children. One thing that I think rings true to this day was Harry's willingness to do whatever it took to make a career around horses. He spent his days riding whatever was around and doing all of the heavy lifting himself.
But the top levels of the show jumping sport weren't far from Harry's mind, especially after Snowman showed off his ability by jumping out of a field with a tall fence to get back home. Once Snowman had made his point clear that he would not be sold and that he was Harry's forever, the two were inseparable. Going to horse shows became a new normal for the pair and even some exhibitions when Harry and Snowman would jump over another one of the de Leyer's horses.
In two years time, from 1956 when Snowman was pulled of the truck headed for the slaughterhouse to 1958, Harry and Snowman had become sports celebrities after a huge win at the show at Madison Square Garden. Reading about the grandeur of the show, and the emotions Harry experienced after winning make any rider want to experience that themselves. And who knows maybe one day find their own $80 champion.
The Eighty-Dollar Champion is a New York Times Bestseller, was written by Elizabeth Letts and originally published in 2011 by Ballantine Books.
What was your favorite part about the book? Comment below to keep the conversation going!