A Letter from Author Elizabeth Letts
A writer is always on the lookout for a good story, but the first time I saw a striking old photograph, I didn’t realize that I had stumbled across a tale so extraordinary that it had the power to change lives.
The old black and white photo showed a horse and rider team in the midst of a crazy feat--jumping right over the back of another horse. What stopped me in my tracks was the expression on the jumping horse’s face. Even in the vintage picture I could see that the horse had absolute trust in the man who was asking him to make such a tricky leap. I wondered why.
Unable to forget the photograph, armed only with the rider’s name, I tracked down an address, not sure if I would find him there, or even if he was still alive. Just a few days after I mailed him a letter, my telephone rang and a voice on the other end said, “Hallo, this is Harry de Leyer.” The man in the photograph, now in his eighties, was on the phone. The first time we spoke, Harry told me a story that gave me butterflies in my stomach and made my palms sweat--that’s how badly I wanted to write about what he’d said to me and share it with the world.
Walter Farley, author of The Black Stallion
, was once asked why horse stories were so popular. His answer was this: “When the books have been read and reread, it boils down to the horse, his human companion, and what goes on between them.” The story of Harry and Snowman, is at its essence, a love story. A man, a horse, and a lucky encounter on a bleak winter day that led to a second chance for both of them. Together, they shared a dream so big that only their combined courage and heart could get them to their destination.
That moment, when the pair of them stood under the spotlights of Madison Square Garden and listened to the thunder of the crowd, was simply unforgettable--the kind of triumph that ripples forward through time. I heard it coming across a crackling phone line, the first time Harry de Leyer told me about Snowman.
Read the book, and I’m sure you will hear it too.
Advance praise for The Eighty-Dollar Champion
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“This is a wonderful book—joyous, heartfelt, and an eloquent reminder that hope can be found in the unlikeliest of places. Most of all, it’s a moving testament to the incredible things that can grow from the bond between animals and humans. If you love a great animal tale, you’ll love this book!”—Gwen Cooper, author of Homer’s Odyssey
“The moving story of an indomitable immigrant farmer, his equally spirited horse, and their against-the-odds journey all the way to the winner’s circle, The Eighty-Dollar Champion fascinates from the first page to the last. Elizabeth Letts has uncovered a forgotten slice of American history and brought it to magical life.”—Karen Abbott, author of American Rose: A Nation Laid Bare: The Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee
“There is something magical about stories in which humans and animals team up to combine their courage, intelligence, determination, physical prowess, and instincts to scale the heights, touch our hearts deeply, and inspire us in the most profound ways. Those are the best stories there are, I think, and The Eighty-Dollar Champion joins their ranks. There is a lot of wonderful emotion in this book, and it left me awestruck once more at the wondrous things animals and people can do when they join together to make some great and beautiful noise in the world.”—Jon Katz, author of Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm
“A real live fairy tale about an unlikely rider and an even unlikelier horse who soared over obstacles to capture the hearts of a nation. An eloquent story about near misses and impossible odds and what can happen with a little luck and a lot of determination. I fell in love with Snowman and Harry, and so will you.”—Susan Richards, author of Chosen by a Horse
“The perfect book at the perfect time. Snowman will lift you up and over.”—Rita Mae Brown, author of the “Sister” Jane Foxhunting Mysteries series
“A fun and wonderfully detailed story about a most remarkable bond between a man and his horse. You will fall in love with the eighty-dollar champion.”—W. Bruce Cameron, author of A Dog’s Purpose
"Not only a heartwarming tale of the bond between human and horse, but also a fascinating look at the the Eisenhower years, when faulty memory tells us that America was placid and conformist." —Mary Doria Russell, author of Doc