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

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

Elizabeth Letts

Ballantine, May 29 2012, $16.00

ISBN: 9780345521095

 

After WWII, Harry de Leyer left Holland seeking work in America.  His skills with horses led to his position as the riding master at the Knox School all-girls boarding school in St. James, Long Island.  In 1956, because of a faulty headlight on his dilapidated vehicle, Harry was late for a horse auction in New Holland, Pennsylvania.  Still he buys an eight years old plow horse heading to the slaughterhouse for eight bucks.  The kids adored the likable gelding they called Snowman.  Harry soon sells Snowman to a neighbor who wanted a clam horse for his daughter.  However, Snowman refused to remain there leaping over the fence to return to Harry who realized the steed had talent, which was turned into a two-time National Horse Show champion,

 

Although there is a sense of hyperbole re Snowman’s impact on America even with Harry as a role model for the “dream team” and degrees of peripheral separation sidebars that either detract or add nothing to the prime theme, fans will enjoy this engaging biography.  Late 1950s- early 1960s Long Island comes alive as a place in flux from rustic to increasingly urban while Harry and Snowman are reminders of an age in which the American dream could be achieved with talent, hard work and little money.

 

Harriet Klausner

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