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Because of Horses

Oct 26, 2018

Elise’s guest today is Elizabeth Letts, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of several novels and two phenomenal horse books: The Eighty-Dollar Champion, which was the winner of the 2012 Daniel P Lenehan Award for Media Excellence from the United States Equestrian Foundation; and The Perfect Horse, which won the 2017 PEN Literary Award for Research Nonfiction.


The Eighty-Dollar Champion chronicles the inspiring, true story of destitute immigrant Harry DeLeyer and Snowman, the slaughter-bound plow horse he rescued. Together, Harry and Snowman won post World War II America’s heart by climbing in two short years to the very top of the elite world of show jumping. This beloved pair later appeared on TV shows, the cover of Life magazine, and traveled the world together, giving exhibitions and meeting their devoted fans.

Elizabeth’s book, The Perfect Horse, shares the gripping World War II behind-enemy-lines, true story of a small troop of battle-weary American soldiers saving priceless Lipizzan stallions from imminent death.

As a lifelong equestrian, Pony Club graduate, and phenomenally gifted writer, Elizabeth is the ideal person to tell these two amazing stories. So compelling are they – and so beautifully written – that these books are a treat for horse lovers and non-horse lovers alike.

In this episode, Elizabeth recounts her days writing both books and shares the stories Harry told her about himself and Snowman, the pivotal moments in his life, what it was like interviewing him, and how he described his own relationship with Snowman and what it meant to him. Elizabeth also gives a quick sneak preview of two of her upcoming books!


Topics of Discussion:

[:19] About Elise’s guest today, Elizabeth Letts.

[1:00] How did Elizabeth originally learn about Harry and Snowman’s story? What about it led her to write her book?

[7:15] The amazing story of how Harry saved Snowman from a kill buyer’s truck and understanding why he did it.

[17:54] Pivotal moments in Harry’s life and what it was like interviewing him.

[21:53] Elizabeth retells the story of when Harry, at one point, sold Snowman because his family needed the money — and how Snowman remarkably found his way back home!

[24:56] Elizabeth tells her own “running home” story, similar to Snowman and Harry’s!

[26:04] Elizabeth recounts how the horse world first received Harry and Snowman when they began competing.

[29:27] How did Harry describe his relationship with Snowman and what it meant to him?

[32:33] Elizabeth discusses Harry and Snowman’s remarkable talent and relationship.

[35:02] What the world was like back in the 1950s and why the public embraced Harry and Snowman’s story so wholeheartedly.

[37:25] How Elizabeth originally heard about the story that inspired her book, The Perfect Horse, and what she learned as she wrote it.

[40:09] Elizabeth talks about the people behind the true story.

[44:36] What the experience was like to write The Perfect Horse.

[48:47] About next week’s episode of Because of Horses.

[49:08] Elizabeth’s experience writing The Perfect Horse and what she feels telling the story of these horses (and the acts of bravery surrounding them) accomplishes today.

[55:17] How Elizabeth feels when her work is nominated for awards and added to the list of children’s favorites around the world.

[58:28] The recognition and awards for The Eighty-Dollar Champion and about the possible upcoming feature film.

[1:00:24] How it felt to hit #1 New York Times bestselling author list -- not once, but twice!

[1:01:29] About Elizabeth’s new novel coming out soon, Finding Dorothy, and where to find all of her other novels and follow her online.


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Mentioned in this Episode:

The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, The Horse That Inspired a Nation, by Elizabeth Letts

The Perfect Horse: The Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis, by Elizabeth Letts

A Parent’s Guide to Riding Lessons: Everything You Need to Know to Survive and Thrive with a Horse-Loving Kid, by Elise Chand

To Tell the Truth (TV show)

Who Do You Trust? (TV show)

Life (magazine)

Next week’s episode of Because of Horses

Horse Show Jumping Triple Crown

Walter Farley

Marguerite Henry
Finding Dorothy, by Elizabeth Letts


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