As a former equestrian athlete, I always find something special about horse stories. With "The Eighty-Dollar Champion," Elizabeth Letts has shared an especially poignant tale.Snowman was around eight years old when Dutch immigrant Harry de Leyer rescued him from a truck bound for the knacker. de Leyer had eighty dollars in his pocket and turned it over to the kill-buyer, who also delivered the bruised-looking grey horse to the tiny farm that would be his new home.Snowy earned his living as a lesson horse at the academy where de Leyer taught well-to-do girls how to ride. No one knew he could jump at all; he tripped over ground poles. But when de Leyer sold Snowman to a nearby businessman and the horse vaulted over fences to go back "home," he realized he was on to something.Letts details Snowman's rise to an unprecedented feat; two years running, this unlikely horse with no known bloodlines swept the competition to be named Horse of the Year. The press dubbed Snowman "the Cinderella horse," and he became a national hero during a time of want and recession.While some reviewers have lamented that all of the horse show stories sound alike to them, I can say that no two shows are alike. Jumping remains a dangerous, extreme sport even today -- and equestrian athletes use all manner of protective gear that was not even dreamed of in Harry de Leyer's day.Overall, this is an outstanding story of indomitable spirit -- both that of the horse and the rider. I cannot say enough good things about this book.