"Harry believed that there was a way to get along with any horse."
We had a horse jump a fence once. She was getting picked on by one of the big geldings in our herd, and from practically a stand still she leapt over. That wasn't a normal occurrence among our group of trail horses, so we took note. She didn't even brush the fence. Maybe one day, we'll be able to see if she has a gift for jumping like Snowman.
Elizabeth Lett's writing style in The Eighty Dollar Champion: Snowman, The Horse That Inspired a Nation, is perfectly suited for anyone interested in an emotional story wrought with historical references. As a reader that needs a more forward-moving story line than what Letts offers, I would put the book down and then pick it up a week later in order to get through areas that didn't seem completely relevant except to give background to the world of horses and jumping. And yet, while I might be bored in one area, I'd be straining to hold back tears by the end of the chapter. I do believe this is a strong indication that the story, itself, of Snowman and his owner, Harry, is so powerful that any reader could pick up this book and find it enjoyable.
Harry de Leyer, a Dutch immigrant with big dreams and a hard start, bought an $80 Amish plow horse off a truck bound with a load of horses set for slaughter. Through a number of unpredictable circumstances, both the horse and rider found their calling and made history becoming the first horse in history to win the Professional Horseman's Association Championship and the American Horse Shows Association Horse of the Year awards along with numerous other national jumping awards.
"The big gray is long gone, but living on is the memory of the horse who was yoked to a plow yet wanted to soar. Snowman and Harry showed the world how extraordinary the most ordinary among us can be. Never give up, even when the obstacles seem sky-high. There is something extraordinary in all of us."
Perhaps not a spitting image of his great-great grandfather, but we learned recently that our kids' horse Dickens Storm aka "Dickie" is a relative of Secretariat. Don't believe me? Check out his ancestry below.
Dickens Storm was born April 7th, 1997 in Florida, and by the age of three he had begun his professional racing career. His top three performances of all time were at Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park and Belmont Park. He placed first at each of those venues.
His career earnings were $178,230 and averaged $6,365 per start.
We're not certain why his career ended or how he wound up at a small guest ranch in Colorado, but we're sure grateful to have him and his precocious spirit.
He leads a happy life here. Grinning and chomping his teeth before he gets his grain each morning. Taking small teens and kids out on rides, giving them a gentle ride, full of heart and kindness. Stretching out in a variety of yoga poses and licking the closest thing or person after he eats. He's a sweet boy with a quirky disposition. He doesn't brag about his fame, his career or who his great-great grandfather is. He simply takes each day in stride and loves on his people.
Favorite Color: Red
Favorite Movie Quote: "I'm too pooped to poop." -Chance from "Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey"
Dream Job: Preservationist (When I relieve myself in the National Forest, I make my rider pick it up.)
Favorite Hobby: Rolling on my back after getting the saddle taken off
If you had to defend yourself in the jungle, what would your weapon of choice be? Light saber
If you were invisible for 24 hours, what would you do? I would pretend to be a 6'3.5" invisible rabbit and call myself Harvey.
What makes you a great dude ranch horse? While I do grab an occasional snack on the trail, I'm just a love-able guy. I really enjoy taking out young'uns and showing them the ropes on how to be a cowboy. I'll even trot and lope if you ask me to!
Even though almost all the snow here at the ranch had melted, this picture is from this past Saturday and is my view from the Tahoe before heading out to go horse hunting on the western slope of Colorado near Grand Junction. Scott followed behind with the truck and trailer (to give me a break from towing with a manual).
He loaded up his mountain bike in the tack room of the trailer, packed in the dogs and other gear.
It's a typical occurrence for us to make things a little more difficult than they need to be, and the snow proved to make this one of those occasions. Luckily, the snow and rain stopped a little before we reached our destination.
My first stop was just beyond the Black Canyon of the Gunnison to meet a horse named "Blue," and we ended up buying him. He's a big grey, quarter horse gelding that will make an awesome addition to the herd. He'll be a wrangler horse at first, and then we'll slowly drift him as a guest horse as he gets better and better.
The picture to the right is our muddy trip to the Escalante Canyon to see a horse. We didn't end up buying her, but the trip down the canyon was quite the adventure! Cows everywhere, mud galore from the recent rains. And, when we arrived we were bombarded by about six dogs, all different breeds and sizes from cattle dog breeds to a Doberman and Rottweiler.
If you're not already aware, the state of Colorado has a "fence out" statute that property owners must have a fence in decent repair set up to recover any damages that someone else's livestock makes. In other words, if you don't have a fence and your neighbor's cows come on your property and nibble on your window sills, there's generally no recourse you can take. Obviously the area in the picture to the right is open range, which makes the drive a bit slow.
The next stop was Glade Park to pick up "Indy," a bay, gaited Missouri Fox Trotter, which sent us right up Monument Road leaving Grand Junction and through the Colorado National Monument. The pictures below are of that drive. This was our last stop and after, Scott headed to Fruita and Moab for a quick mountain bike trip. So, the the dogs (Madly and Benjamin), Indy, Blue and I hopped in the truck and trailer and made the four hour drive back home before dark. It was sure nice to finally see Steamboat Mountain again!