This book came early enough in the series that Liz still gave a damn about horses. She admits that she's been too busy to go to the stables that often but she and Ted are still apparently good friends. Before I get into that story, let's deal with Jessica.
The Wakefield family take a picnic together, and she and Liz head off for a walk. When she comes back, she just wants a big ass piece of chocolate cake. She finds the lid to the cooler off to one side and wonders what happened. A baby skunk pops out and runs away, which causes everyone to laugh about how she's so bad around animals.
Jessica and Lila head to the beach a few days later and realize that there is almost no one there. It turns out that there was a huge oil spill. She hears a crying noise and finds a baby seal trapped between two rocks. Jessica manages to get him out and ruin her outfit at the same time, but she does meet Adam. Adam is a cute volunteer working for some ecology group cleaning up the beach.
Though she agrees to go back the next day and help, she skips it to go to Booster practice. SVMS sixth graders take a trip to the aquarium, and she gets to see the seal, which she named Whiskers, again. It won't eat when the vet feeds it, but it eats when she feeds it. She starts going to the aquarium ever day or working on the beach clean up. She even convinces her parents to start recycling. Whiskers nearly dies and has to have surgery, but he survives, and she eventually gets to say goodbye before the vet releases him back into the wild.
Ted has a big problem. Remember when he bought Thunder from Lila? Well, he fell behind on his stable fees. The owner gives him until the day of some big championship to get caught up or he'll have to sell his horse. While talking to him one day, Liz sees this girl standing by the fence. Her name is Lucy, and she's been bringing carrots for the horses. Ellen and Lucy have a little run in, where Lucy tries to give her advice. Ellen snaps at her and tells her to ride a horse herself, and Lucy freaks out and runs away.
This all leads up to another moment where Ellen and Lucy face off. This time, Lucy rides Thunder and does a great job. She still remains secretive about herself and won't talk about her past though. That doesn't change, even after Ted screws up and falls off Thunder, which causes him to break his leg. The only way he can win the prize and keep Thunder is if Lucy takes his place. Lucy initially turns him down but later changes her mind when she learns that her old rival Alison will compete.
Liz is doing some research and finds an article from Lucy's old town. She was in some huge riding competition, fell off her horse, and lost the competition. Lucy tells her that she epilepsy and learned that day. She had her first seizure, which caused her to fall. Her parents were so upset that even though the doctor said she would be fine with medication, they sold her horse and made her stop riding.
Ellen really wants to win the $1,000 top prize, and she begs Jessica to help her find dirt on Lucy. Conveniently, while faking being sick in the nurses office, she hears Lucy come in and get her medication. Ellen finds out the whole story and plans to call Lucy's parents and tell them about the competition. Liz overhears Ellen and Jessica on the phone and tries to warn Lucy herself but can't get through. The next day, she learns that Lucy and her family went to her grandmother's house, got back late, and went right to bed.
The competition comes down to three people: Alison, Ellen, and Lucy. Right before Lucy is about to make this dangerous jump, her parents arrive. She gets through her turn and confronts her parents. Lucy tells them that she's fine and whatnot, and her parents generally seem pretty cool about it. Her dad even asks what they'll do with all the prizes that she wins.
Ellen naturally screws up, which leaves just her and Alison. Lucy gets through the setup slightly faster and sets a new record. Since she wins, Ted gets to keep Thunder. Alison lets her know that her old horse is up for sale, and her parents agree to buy back the horse.
*Everyone is all shocked because Jessica ate THREE hot dogs. Seriously, they act like this is some huge deal. God, she's practically Robin Wilson! <insert sarcasm here>
*Ted says that Liz is a much better rider than Ellen. When he gets hurt though, Lucy is his only choice. Why wouldn't he ask Liz?
*I really don't know anything about epilepsy, but riding and jumping a horse seems dangerous.
*The whole thing with her parents is ridiculous. After all that, they fold in like two sentences.
*Ellen doesn't really seem like the type of girl who would sacrifice precious shopping and Unicorn time to train a horse for a big competition. She does, however, seem like the type to own a horse named Snow White.