The first book in a new horse trilogy from Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley, starring a feisty young rider. Eleven-year-old Ellen is a spunky—and occasionally misbehaving—young riding student. Her teacher, Abby Lovitt (who readers might recognize from The Georges and the Jewels), is a high school student who introduces her to jumping, dressage techniques, and most importantly, Ned. Ned is a colt who used to be a racehorse, until he hurt his leg and moved to Abby’s ranch. Ellen and Ned seem to understand each other, and their companionship is immediate. But Ellen is only allowed to go to riding lessons when she behaves at school. And with all that’s going on, from learning that she’s adopted to finding out her parents are adopting a new baby, it’s harder than ever for Ellen to pay attention and behave in class and at home. Will Ellen be able to spend more time on the ranch with Ned? And will her parents ever let her have a horse of her own?