I found this story very suspenseful and descriptive.
For example: "It was the worst three hours of all of their lives. The wind howled like a coyote at the hidden moon, raindrops pelting their barely protected bodies with the impact of stone on flesh. Even though at least two of the men new the Ponderosa like the backs of their hands, everything looked so different in the pitch black of the night that they made their way home by the trial and error method. When the ranch house again came into view, all three of the victims were deathly silent. Ben gave a sigh of relief when he caught sight of a familiar rig tied to the hitch rail."
The details are so vivid in some of the descriptions I could almost feel the rain hitting me!
Annie also did a good job of keeping the characters true. Would Joe disobey his father and go looking for his young friend? Heck yes. Would Ben suffer as much as his injured sons? Again, yes.
This was a great story for first attempt or not! Keep writing Annie!