I've always loved horses. Long before I owned a horse, I loved horse books. When I was in elementary school, I read most of C.W. Anderson's books
. When I was 12, I read most of Walter Farley
's books. As an adult, I still love horse books. The latest one I read is The Eight-Dollar Champion: Snowman, The Horse That Inspired a Nation
. It's a true story, published in 2012.
About the time I was reading Walter Farley books, Harry de Leyer bought an $80 horse from a dealer trucking horses to a slaughterhouse. Harry had intended to get to the New Holland sale to purchase a school horse prospect for his modest horse business, but a flat tire delayed him. By the time he reached the sale, all the horses had been. He looked between the slats of the killer's truck, and an ex-plow horse looked back. Harry bought him. By the time the horse was delivered to his farm, snow was falling heavily. When the horse was unloaded, his matted hair was quickly covered in snow, and the de Leyer children thought he looked like a snowman. That's how he got his name. Nt onlywsSnowman a great pet for the de Leyer children, he was also an excellent school horse and eventually a champion jumper. You can read more about Harry and his horse at the "Harry and Snowman" website
Both horse people and non-horse people will enjoy this story about triumph over adversity. Although there were some repetitive parts and the author sometimes interrupted the flow of the narrative to explain things to non-horsey readers, I enjoyed the book and could hardly put it down. The Eighty Dollar Champion had two themes I love to find in books: (1) It was about how one twist of fate can change a person's life (and the lives of his family) and (2) how a horse can impact a person's life.
In fact, I used those themes 15 years ago when I wrote Patches on the Sam Quilt
—a novel in which boy's wish for a horse comes true by pure chance, and it changes his life and that of his family for generations. But I'm digressing.
The story of Snowman's remarkable life is being made into a movie
. There's a YouTube video
that previews this upcoming documentary:
I can't wait to see it.
Labels: book review, horses