Authors: Bonnie Bryant
I would like to express my special thanks to Arlene deStrulle of the New York Aquarium for her help to me. —B.B.
Copyright © 1990 by Bonnie Bryant Hiller
Cover art copyright © 1990 by George Tsui
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.
Originally published by Bantam Skylark in January 1991
First Delacorte Ebook Edition 2012
For Bill Gucker, a/k/a Gooch
HAT DO YOU
think? Should I go swimming or riding first when we get to the resort on San Marco?” thirteen-year-old Lisa Atwood asked her friends as she hefted a saddle off its rack. She was getting ready to tack up a horse before their riding class.
“Riding,” her two best friends answered at the same time. That made all three of them laugh. Lisa and her friends, Stevie Lake and Carole Hanson, were three very different people, but there was one thing they agreed on: Horses and horseback riding came first wherever they were.
“What time does your plane leave tomorrow?” Stevie asked.
Lisa’s surprise Christmas present from her parents was a trip with them to the Caribbean. As far as Lisa was
concerned, the best part about it was the horseback riding offered at the resort.
“We leave at nine-thirty in the morning,” Lisa replied. “I should be on the beach by four o’clock. That includes a quick stop at the stables to sign up, of course.”
“Of course.” Carole grinned happily. “And by then, I’ll already have been riding for three hours.” Her friends nearly groaned with envy. Carole’s Christmas present had been her very own horse. He was a big, beautiful bay gelding with a lopsided star on his forehead. She had named him Starlight. For the rest of her vacation, Carole intended to ride Starlight as much as she could. “It’ll be work, though,” she reminded Lisa and Stevie. “Starlight really isn’t done with his training, and training a horse is hard work.”
“Yeah, right, just like lying on the beach is hard work,” Stevie said. “Think of all the work you have to do to get your tan just the right shade. I’m the one who really has a lot of work to do in the next week. I have to find a dress for the New Year’s Eve dance!”
“Oh, no!” Lisa said, pretending to sound terribly concerned. “Poor Stevie. You’ll have to spend so much time at the mall trying on beautiful dresses, and we all know what a terrible chore that is. And then at the dance you’ll have to spend hour after hour dancing with Phil Marston right up until the New Year. It sounds pretty awful.” Lisa giggled. “I wonder what I’ll be doing at midnight. I think I’ll be thinking about you. Hey, do you guys believe in ESP?” Stevie and Carole shrugged dubiously. “Well,” Lisa continued, “at midnight, we are all
going to be apart, but maybe, if we think of one another at the same moment, it will be like being together.”
“Sure,” Stevie said, catching on, “this could be an experiment. If it works, maybe we’ll get written up in some textbook.”
“It would be more fun if we could just be together,” Lisa said.
“I don’t know,” Stevie said. “I like you guys just fine, and at midnight on New Year’s Eve, I promise to think of you—a little—but I’m looking forward to being with Phil.”
“It’s a tough job,” Carole said brightly, “but somebody’s got to do it. And, speaking of tough jobs, Max asked if we could mix up some grain in a winter blend after class. Can you two stick around?” Stevie and Lisa willingly agreed. It might be the last chance the three of them would have to be together until Lisa got back from her vacation.
The Max Carole mentioned was Max Regnery, the owner of Pine Hollow Stables, where the three girls had met and become friends. They had riding classes together twice a week and Pony Club meetings there every Saturday. Pine Hollow was also the place where Carole’s horse, Starlight, lived. Sometimes their families thought the horse-crazy girls lived there, too! The three friends loved horses and horseback riding so much that they had formed their own group, The Saddle Club. The club had simple requirements for membership. First of all, members had to be horse crazy, and second of all, they had to be willing to help one another out. Sometimes the helping
had to do with horses and sometimes it had to do with other things, like schoolwork. Whatever it was, when a friend needed help, The Saddle Club came to the rescue.
The P.A. system buzzed to life. “Class in ten minutes,” came the familiar voice of Max’s mother, universally called Mrs. Reg.
“Yipes, and we’ve still got to tack up!” Carole cried, grabbing Starlight’s saddle and bridle. “See you in the ring!”
With that, she shot out of the tack room to Starlight’s stall. Lisa and Stevie weren’t far behind her.
Lisa was still huffing as she hoisted Pepper’s saddle and settled it onto the horse’s back. Tacking up a horse usually took only a few minutes, but that was almost more time than she had. Max was pretty relaxed about most things, but when it came to horses, he was as strict as could be. That included being on time for his classes.
As soon as Pepper’s saddle girth was tightened, Lisa climbed onto her horse and proceeded as quickly as possible to the indoor ring, where her class was to take place. She only paused to brush the stable’s good-luck horseshoe, posted by the large doorway. That was one of Pine Hollow’s many traditions, for no rider who had touched the horseshoe had ever gotten seriously hurt riding.
“Whew!” Lisa sighed to herself when she found that the class had not yet been called to order. She brought Pepper out into the ring and proceeded to walk him in circles as a warm-up.
“Miss Atwood?” Max asked. Lisa didn’t like the sound of his words. He never called anybody Miss or Mr. unless something was wrong.
“Yes, Mr. Regnery?” she asked nervously.
“Haven’t you forgotten something?” he asked.
Lisa looked down at Pepper. Before she spotted the problem, she heard the titters. One of her classmates—one she vowed never to talk to again—even pointed. It took Lisa a second to see her mistake.
Lisa could feel herself flush. She’d been in such a hurry to put on Pepper’s saddle that she’d completely forgotten about his bridle. The horse was still wearing his halter and a lead rope.
“I—uh—” she began. She didn’t have the faintest idea what to say. She was so embarrassed, she didn’t even know what to do.
“Nice job!” Stevie said, approaching her. “Here’s the bridle now.” Stevie slipped Pepper’s bit into his mouth and brought the bridle up over his head. She fastened the buckle, handed the reins to Lisa, and talked to Max the whole time. “Wasn’t Lisa doing a good job, Max?” she asked. “It’s so important for a horse to learn to respond to leg signals and when Lisa suggested that it would be a good exercise to work without a bridle for a while, well, I wasn’t sure she was ready for that, but she was sensational, wasn’t she? Pepper did everything she asked!”
For a few seconds, Max just looked at Stevie. An amused look crossed his face. Stevie could be so outrageous. Everybody knew that. But right then, Lisa and Max knew that what she was being was a friend.
“Yes, nice work, Lisa,” he said. “Now, would you like to try riding the usual way?”
“Of course,” Lisa said. She untwisted Pepper’s reins and twined the leather around her fingers properly. By the time she was ready, Carole had also entered the ring, and class began.
HAT WAS GOING
on in there?” Carole asked later when the three girls met after class in the feed-storage room. “I mean, I thought Max was going to blast me for being late, but there you were, just adjusting your reins when I got there.”
“It’s a long story,” Stevie said.
“But it’s worth telling,” Lisa added.
“And it’s got to be worth hearing, too. Whatever it was, you guys saved me from getting a lecture from Max.”
“And Stevie saved me from worse,” Lisa said. Then, with a lot of help from Stevie, she told Carole about her mistake and Stevie’s clever rescue.
“Do you think Max actually believed you?” Carole asked.
“I don’t know,” Lisa said dubiously.
“Not for a minute,” Stevie said, confirming Lisa’s suspicions. “He knew it was a whopper, but there wasn’t any reason for you to be laughed at.”
“I guess that’s just one more thing to love about Max,” Lisa said.
“Are you girls going to talk or work?” Max asked, startling all three of them at once. They hadn’t even heard him open the door. Lisa wondered briefly if he’d heard
what she’d just said. Then she decided very sensibly that she didn’t have to think about that because she’d been embarrassed enough for one day.