Erin shares the dream of many a young girl: to own a horse of her own. Despite her shy nature, she ingratiates herself with a cranky old woman with a horse farm who lets her call her ""Aunt Lexie"" and teaches her to ride properly; and as the book opens, Erin, her dad and Aunt Lexie find the right horse to buy for Erin. So far, it's every horse lover's dream, but reality intrudes. Erin finds that her beautiful white and grey horse, quickly named, Spindrift, has as cranky a nature as Aunt Lexie and also needs a lot of care, grooming, training and feeding. What's more, with all the time she spends at the stable, Erin neglects her duties at home. Things culminate when Erin goes on a forbidden ride by herself, meets a bear and gets thrown. Predictably, Erin's responsibilities cause her to grow up to become more outgoing and thoughtful of others, and to assume some of the financial aspects of horse ownership. Her parents learn a lot about her and parenting in general. Spindrift becomes affectionate, and even Aunt Lexie softens up. All this is a happy ending well earned, and the actual realities of the hard work and financial woes of owning a horse are well introduced. Erin's dream means responsibility, a lesson that can be carried over to any other pubescent dream. Erin is lively and believable, as is just about everything here except that bear.