Authors: Bonnie Bryant
Copyright © 1989 by Bonnie Bryant Hiller
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
“The Saddle Club” is a registered trademark of Bonnie Bryant Hiller.
“USPC” and “Pony Club” are registered trademarks of the United States Pony Clubs, Inc., at The Kentucky Horse Park, 4071 Iron Works Pike, Lexington, KY 40511-8462.
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Originally published by Bantam Skylark in 1989
First Delacorte eBook Edition 2012
the silly season,” Stevie Lake announced to her two best friends as the three of them dressed for their riding class. Stevie’s blue eyes sparkled mischievously. She swept her shoulder-length, dark blond hair back from her face.
“What do you mean?” Carole Hanson asked as she pulled her curly black hair into a ponytail that would fit under her riding hat.
“Did you hear what happened to Max?” Stevie asked instead. “Max” was Max Regnery, their riding instructor and the owner of Pine Hollow Stables.
“What?” Lisa Atwood asked with concern. Lisa, a year
older than Stevie and Carole, was inclined to be more serious than Stevie. Stevie readily admitted, though, that almost everybody in the world was inclined to be more serious than she was!
“Well,” Stevie began, putting one booted foot on the bench and leaning toward her friends. “It seems that Max has lost a student.” Stevie began giggling.
Carole and Lisa could never resist Stevie’s giggles. They joined in, too, even before they heard the funny part.
“See, this man named Mr. Small wanted a private lesson. Max asked the new stableboy, Jesse, to saddle Small a horse. Jesse thought Max told him to saddle a small horse. So he saddled the pony, Nickel! Mr. Small, is anything
small. He climbed on Nickel, and his feet almost touched the ground! It turns out he’s really sensitive about being so tall—doesn’t like jokes about his name—and thought the stableboy was making fun of him. The man’s face turned all red and he blew up at Max. He stormed out, saying he’d never ride here again.”
“Poor Max,” Carole said between giggles as she tugged on her breeches and began to pull on her high riding boots. Carole was the most experienced rider of the trio, but they all loved horses and had even formed their own horse-crazy group called The Saddle Club. Carole, daughter of a Marine Corps colonel, had been riding since she was a very little girl on Marine Corps bases. When her family had settled in Willow Creek, Virginia,
a few years ago, she’d begun studying at Pine Hollow. Several championship riders, and even some Olympic riders, had studied with Max, or his father, or his grandfather. Carole hoped, one day, to be one of Max’s champion graduates. “But Max is so nice. He’d never make fun of a new rider—even though
of the people who come here …” Her words trailed off as she rolled her eyes.
Lisa and Stevie laughed. “Remember that guy who came all decked out in hunting duds, red coat and everything?” Stevie sat cross-legged on the bench.
“The one who didn’t know one end of a horse from another,” Lisa said, nodding. “He only lasted one day here.”
“And then there was my brother,” Stevie said, shaking her head with a disgusted look. Stevie’s older brother, Chad, had decided to take up riding when he’d gotten a crush on Lisa. It turned out that his attempts at riding weren’t much more successful than his romance. Each had only lasted a few weeks.
“He wasn’t so bad, Stevie,” Lisa said, grinning.
“Yeah, and at least he stuck around long enough to be helpful at the gymkhana,” Carole said. “Not like these people who spend zillions of dollars on fancy clothes, without realizing that the horses don’t care what they wear!”
“Ahem,” Lisa said. It was a way of reminding Carole that Lisa always wore proper riding clothes. It wasn’t so
who cared about how she dressed. Her
cared a lot about such things and saw to it that Lisa was properly dressed for riding—and everything else. “And speaking of that,” Lisa continued, “you may have noticed this box.” She patted the carton on the bench next to her. Her friends noticed the package for the first time.
“So?” Stevie said, curiosity aroused.
“It’s a new pair of riding pants. My mother’s aunt, Aunt Maude, is visiting us. She brought me this as a present. I haven’t even opened it yet. She’s coming with mother to watch the class today and will expect to see me in them.”
“That’s really nice,” Carole said. “I wish I had a great-aunt who’d give me clothes like that.”
“You don’t know what you’re wishing for,” Lisa said ominously. “One time she brought me some pajamas. Only she’d bought them in the boys’ department!” With that, she began to open the box, which bore the mark of a very fancy department store at a nearby mall. “There was another time she brought me a—oh, look at these!”
Lisa held up an expensive pair of fawn-colored riding breeches.
“Nice,” Stevie said admiringly. Though she generally preferred to wear jeans when she rode, she knew good riding clothes when she saw them.
Lisa held them up to her waist and turned to show them off to Carole, who stood by the old mirror, tucking in her shirttails.
“They are nice—but there’s one little problem, Lisa, don’t you think?” Carole remarked with a grin.
Lisa looked down. The pants looked just fine to her. Puzzled, she turned back to Carole. “I don’t see any problem,” she said.
“Maybe not—if your boots have grown overnight!”
Lisa gasped, looking down at the pants again. Carole was right. Dear Aunt Maude had bought her a pair of breeches—pants that stopped just below the knees. They were meant to be worn with high boots like the ones Carole had just put on. Unfortunately, Lisa usually wore jodhpurs—pants that came down to a rider’s ankles—which were worn with boots that came just above the ankles.
was the kind of boots that Lisa had in her cubby. There was no way she could wear short pants and short boots. There would be a whole lot of bare leg between them.
“Oh, no,” she said. “And I
Aunt Maude what kind of pants I wear!” she added, distressed. But then she caught the look on Stevie’s face and the one on Carole’s. Simultaneously, all three girls exploded into giggles.
“Aunt Maude is going to love the look!” Stevie said.
“Sure, and next thing you know, Veronica diAngelo will want to copy it!” Carole added. Stevie and Lisa laughed loudly. Veronica was the snobby daughter of Willow Creek’s wealthiest banker. Although she was a pretty good rider, she was always much more concerned with how she looked than how she rode.
Just for fun, Lisa slipped into her new riding pants and pulled on her boots, leaving a long white gap of bare leg between the top of one and the bottom of the other. She paraded to the dingy mirror, imitating a fashion model.
“Zee new look ziss year …” Stevie said, grabbing a riding whip and holding its grip to her mouth as if it were a microphone and she were the emcee at a fashion show. Carole sat down on the bench, pretending to be the audience.
“Oooooh,” she said. Lisa twirled. “Aaaaah!” Carole responded.
“And ziss outfit can be parfaitly completed by zee t-shirt and zee jacquette of bright peenk!”
“Definitely the silly season,” Carole said, trying to control her giggles.
Lisa stopped short. “But just what am I going to wear in class? I can’t ride like this!” she said, the sensible Lisa once again.
“No, you’re right,” Carole agreed. “You can’t. And you don’t have time to go home and change, either.” Carole tapped her index finger against her chin. “I know!” she announced, her eyes lighting up. “Chaps. I think Mrs. Reg keeps a pair in her office. I’m sure she’ll let you borrow them.”
“Great idea,” Stevie added. “I’ll get them for you. That’ll cover your legs.”
“And my new pants. Aunt Maude will never understand.”
“From what you say, she won’t understand anyway, so you haven’t lost anything!” Stevie quipped over her shoulder as she headed off to find Max’s mother. Mrs. Reg served as equipment manager for the stable as well as confidante for the Saddle Club members.
When Stevie returned, Lisa put on the chaps and zipped them up. They were like suede leggings, designed to be worn over pants. Usually riders wore chaps for extra warmth, protection from scraggly bushes, or to help grip the horse better, since the suede was less likely to slip on a leather saddle than denim, cotton, or synthetics. Although the chaps felt a little odd over Lisa’s bare calves, they did the trick. All that showed of Aunt Maude’s breeches was the seat, but Lisa didn’t have time to worry about that. Class was about to start!
EN MINUTES LATER
, they were ready for class, and so were their horses. The girls each touched the stable’s “good-luck horseshoe” and mounted their horses.
Stevie moved her horse into line and looked around at her classmates. She was a friendly girl and got along with almost everybody. The
was to make an exception in the case of one Veronica diAngelo, who sat there, as usual, with a smug look on her face.