Snowman was really famous when I was a kid. He embodied so much of that American dream of being able to pull yourself up by the bootstraps - coming from nothing to become famous - and for the likes of backyard kids like me he was a real inspiration. He was quite retired but his was a story that the older people liked to refer to. It's true that I never paid a whole lot of attention to Mr de Leyer in all that.
I enjoyed it enormously, and bought several Christmas copies to give to friends. We all grew up watching many of those great horses jump in the Big Shows locally . . .
Most interesting part of the book for me was the historical background, which actually even led me to acquire some of the author's source materials. Even having been around the horse business all my life, certain of the social nuances I encountered as a kid suddenly became crystal-clear to me as a result of this book; notably the way ammies viewed professionals.
It's fine. I remember reading an earlier book about Snowman when I was a kid, but it was nice to be reminded about the story. It's a good read. The book does explain things for non-horse people, but it is a good read.
Harry de Leyer is still alive and lives in the Charlottesville area, I believe. The book benefits from the interviews that the author did.
And the photos -- all these huge jumps without helmets. It makes me cringe when I think how everyone rode back then. I remember as a kid "saving" my helmet for horse shows.
Have a different opinion. Thought she carried on too much about the haves and have-nots. Would have preferred hearing more specifics about training and the horse and each climactic competition. But that's just me...
Being right half the time beats being half-right all the time. Malcolm Forbes
I was actually very disappointed in this book. I wanted to like it more because the story was interesting, but was disappointed overall. I couldn't even bring myself to finish it. The quality of writing was what really let me down, not even that the book wasn't directed at horse people. There was a general lack of details when it came to the competition scenes and lack of true familiarity with the show experience made the scenes repetitive and lacking in authenticity.
Lots of better horse books out there, directed at both horse and non-horsey people.
I didn't like it. I thought it was poorly written. The author repeated stuff over and over and over again. She also spent way too many pages talking about stuff that had nothing whatsoever to do with horses. And, most of the horse stuff was dumbed down.
I thought it was fantastic and I am a writing snob. It's not just a fluffy horse story. It's the story of Harry AND Snowman. It's the story of someone who didn't have disposable time or income -- all he had was a dream and a lot of very hard work in a time when dreams didn't get you very far. The horse world was and still is a world of those who have and those who don't. No one believed in Harry or Snowman, but it never mattered to either one.
Harry also trained many fancy thoroughbreds for clients -- more than one was sold to the USET. He trained George Morris' mount in the 1960 Rome Olympics, Sinjon, from a hot greenie to 6' jumps. He was forced by circumstance to sell the horse as a ride for this young up and comer because he had a family to feed.