I really wanted to like this book, but somehow I just couldn't. I remember reading it when my daughters were younger. I asked my youngest daughter (now 26) if she remembered the book. She remembered the title, but couldn't remember anything about it. That pretty well says it all.
I'm not crazy about the style of the illustrations. They're kind of abstract/cartoonish. The illustration of the two teenagers who work at the stable looked like two boys, but one is named Nancy, so I guess not. The horse young Patricia (Pat) falls in love with is described as a buckskin, but the illustrations show a chestnut and at times a bay. Also, the horse is named Penny - a name that matches chestnut coloring better.
That's all picky, horse stuff, I know. There just didn't seem to be much of a story. Pat spends summers with her father in Michigan, and he takes her to the stable where Mrs. Mack teaches her to ride.
The thing that bothered me the most was the seeming danger this young girl was placed in. She'd never actually ridden a horse, but within weeks she's riding horses that it doesn't seem kids should be on at all, let alone a beginning rider. The horses spook (at a leaf), rear, buck, run off, and drag their fallen rider.
The book is based on Polacco's life, so I'm not doubting these things happened. I just don't think they make a good story, and I would hate for kids to think it's normal to learn to ride on horses like that.