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Saddle Up! (Book 1) Review by Adrienne Falkena and Erica Beyea

Rawhide Ranch Adventures
Donna Alice Patton and Emily Chase Smith
(760) 758-0083
P.O. Box 216 / 6987 W. Lilac Rd.
Bonsall, CA 92003

Saddle Up! (Book 1) is a softcover book with 247 pages, written for middle school age readers. Saddle Up! is published by ChaseSmith Press and retails for $14.99.

Twelve year old Bridget Benedict loves horses. She's crazy about them! But there's just one small problem: she's never been on one! When her grandparents gift her with a week at Rawhide Ranch in sunny California, she feels like she has been given the greatest gift ever. She's spent hours learning about them on her own, and here's her chance to experience them up close and personal. It's a dream come true. With butterflies in her stomach, she boards the airplane to California from her home in Ohio. What an adventure! But when she climbs up on a horse for the first time in her life, instead of the thrill she'd dreamed of, she's terrified! Scared to let anyone know of her fear, she's covering up her secret at all costs. Add in complicated friendships, jealousy, and another girl struggling with her parents' divorce, and it's the perfect recipe for a complicated week. What will Bridget do?

My thirteen year old daughter, equally horse crazy and knowledgeable and only barely more experienced in the world of horses, read Saddle Up! for this review. She read it in just a few days, thirsty for more in the story of Bridget and her new-found and frustrating fear. She thoroughly enjoyed the book, even though she doesn't share Bridget's fear. The Rawhide Ranch is a real place, and my daughter really enjoyed reading about a story that really could have happened – and dream of going there herself!

Saddle Up! contained a few spelling/grammar errors but was otherwise well done. While morals and values are discussed throughout the book, it's not a “Christian” book, and should appeal to a secular audience as well. Bad attitudes and young girls discussing boys are both in there, but nothing offensive. The book was much enjoyed by my daughter and she is watching for a second book in the series.

-Product review by Adrienne Falkena, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2016

Another Reviewer’s Perspective:

Riding horses, making friends, and overcoming fears are the themes of this first book in a new series from Rawhide Ranch Adventures. “Saddle Up!” is a 246 page paperback that not only caters to pre-teen girls who love horses, but also to parents who are looking to promote character building values in the stories that their daughters read.

In this story, twelve year old Bridget is faced with several dilemmas as she fulfills her lifelong dream to attend a horse camp and be around the animals she loves. Not only must she conquer her own fears, but she must also learn how to face the friendship challenges that are so common to this age group. During a week-long session at camp, Bridget, along with several other girls, learn animal care served up with a healthy dose of building bridges of friendship when personality conflicts threaten to ruin the entire week. Sprinkled throughout the chapters are excerpts from Bridget’s personal diary, giving a glimpse into her private perspective of the situation. In the end, Bridget learns valuable lessons that influence her life even after her camp week is over.

Reading this book came easy to my eleven year old horse-crazy daughter. She could relate to many of the struggles that Bridget faced, and I feel that the story helped my daughter sort out some of these conflicts in her own life through its positive message. She also enjoyed learning all the accurate horsemanship information that was shared throughout the story. As a mom, I was thrilled to have a book with such a positive message that was also interesting and educational, and highly recommend this story. In fact, we will be awaiting more books in this fun series! The book is currently available through the Rawhide Ranch online market for $11.00.

-Product review by Erica Beyea, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2016