Authors: Bonnie Bryant
Suddenly the woods were filled with the booming sound of cracking ice and melting clumps of snow, but there was something else, too. There was the sound of wood breaking, and rocks skittering and crashing against one another. Stevie’s mind raced even faster than her horse galloped. There was only one thing it could be. There were rocks rolling down the hill! It had to be the rock formation Dinah had been talking about. It was like an avalanche, and Dinah was riding right into the most dangerous part of it!
Read all the Saddle Club books!
Copyright © 1992 by Bonnie Bryant Hiller
Cover art copyright © 1992 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 February 1992
First Delacorte Ebook Edition 2012
I would like to give special thanks to Lou Willett Stanek for her help on this book.—B.B.
a deep breath. It was spring in Virginia. The air was fresh and warm. Wisps of clouds stretched across the bright blue sky. Early wildflowers peeked up through the rich earth. These things made her very happy. Warm weather meant more outdoor horseback riding. More horseback riding also meant more time to spend with her two best friends, Carole Hanson and Lisa Atwood. The three girls were walking together to Stevie’s house from Pine Hollow Stable, where they had just been riding.
“I think when I finish training Starlight, he’s going to be the best jumper in the county,” Carole said, interrupting Stevie’s thoughts of horseback riding with thoughts of her own. Starlight was Carole’s horse. Carole thought he
had championship potential. Her friends agreed. After their riding class, Stevie and Lisa had watched and encouraged Starlight while Carole worked with him on jumps.
Stevie recalled the way Starlight soared over jumps. “It’s like he’s learning to fly,” she observed. “Only he doesn’t just want to fly. He wants to make it into orbit!”
As the three girls walked along, they continued chatting happily about their favorite subject: horses. They loved horses so much that they had formed The Saddle Club. It was a club with only two rules. The first one was that all members had to be horse crazy. The second one was that all members had to be willing to help one another out no matter what the problem was: horseback riding, school, boys, or anything.
The three of them could hardly have been more different from one another. Carole was black-haired, with deep brown eyes and a light brown complexion. Of the three of them, she’d been riding the longest. She’d been brought up on Marine Corps bases where her father was a colonel, and she’d learned to ride in the military stables. She planned a career with horses, but she couldn’t decide what it would be. She couldn’t choose among owner, breeder, rider, and veterinarian. Most of the time she was convinced she wanted to do all of those. Her friends thought she’d probably manage it. Carole could be flaky
and indecisive about a lot of things, but never about horses. If horses were involved, Carole was all business.
Lisa was a year older than Carole and Stevie but didn’t look it. She had long brown hair and a young face. Her creamy complexion gave her a look of total innocence. Lisa was superorganized and was good at just about everything she did. She always got A’s in school, and she was always the president of something there. Her mother sometimes wished that Lisa had put her mind to a more ladylike activity than horseback riding, something like ballet or playing the violin. Lisa was pretty good at those, too, but her heart was in horseback riding.
Stevie was the most mischievous of the threesome. She had long light brown hair and hazel eyes. There was a random collection of freckles scattered across the bridge of her nose and her cheeks seemed to reflect the mischief that sparkled in her eyes. If there was trouble around, Stevie found a way to get into it. And, usually, if Stevie was in trouble, her friends were right in there with her. More than once Stevie had been awfully glad for The Saddle Club rule about having to help your friends. She’d really needed it! One of her strongest areas as a rider was dressage—the most disciplined kind of riding there was for a horse. Most of the time, however, “undisciplined” was a word Stevie heard a lot of, from Max Regnery, her riding instructor, from the headmistress
of her school, from her teachers, from her parents—even from her three brothers. Yet Stevie always seemed to manage to come out on top. It was one of the things her friends loved most about her.
“I used to think you had to be almost lying along the horse’s neck, instead of just parallel to it, before he’d jump correctly,” Stevie remarked, returning to the subject of Starlight’s jumping ability.
“You can do that,” Carole joked. “Especially if you want to fly out of the saddle.”
“Ah yes. That was the lesson I learned in my first jump!” Stevie said, recalling how she’d ended up in the dirt. “I can remember how that horse stopped to look at me. I thought he was laughing.”
“He probably was,” Carole agreed. “But the thing about training—either a horse or a rider—is that you have to keep on teaching the lessons until they become automatic. There are no shortcuts. Those are always mistakes. If you don’t do something right, then the only thing you and the horse learn is how to make a mistake.”
“Uh-oh, here she goes,” Lisa said. Stevie smiled. So did Carole. Carole was famous for giving long-winded answers about horses to questions nobody had asked. Her friends teased her about it, but the fact was, they were usually glad when she shared her considerable knowledge.
“Okay, okay, so enough about horses,” Carole replied.
“I’ll change the subject. Let’s talk about riding. Spring vacation starts next week. How much riding are we going to do?”
“A lot,” Lisa said. “My parents have said I could ride every day. And you know what I was thinking? Why don’t we plan a trail ride before class on the Saturday at the end of vacation?”
“Great!” Stevie said enthusiastically. “We can—uh-oh …”
“What’s the matter?” Carole asked.
“Saturday, Saturday …,” Stevie said thoughtfully. “That’s the nineteenth, right?”
“Yup,” Lisa confirmed.
“That’s the day of Phil’s pony club meeting. They’re having an unmounted meeting, and he asked me to come to it.”
Phil Marston was Stevie’s boyfriend. He was also an out-of-town member of The Saddle Club. He and Stevie had met at riding camp and formed a close friendship because of the love they shared for riding. They were both naturally competitive as well. When the girls’ pony club, Horse Wise, played games against Phil’s pony club, Cross County, sparks flew.
“I can’t imagine why he wants me to come to the meeting,” Stevie continued. “He usually wants to keep all the things they do secret from me. Something’s up.”
“Maybe he just wants to spend some time with you,” Lisa suggested.
Stevie smiled. “Maybe,” she agreed. “Then again, maybe not. Anyway, I have to wait until the nineteenth to find out. I can’t even call him and try to squeeze the information out of him. He’s on a class trip until Monday. I hate secrets, you know—unless of course I’m in on them!”
“How can you stand the suspense?” Lisa asked a little sarcastically.
“You know the old poem?” Stevie asked. Her friends waited. “ ‘Patience is a virtue; Have it if you can. Seldom in a woman—
in a man.’ That’s me, Miss Patience.”
Both Carole and Lisa burst into laughter. If there was one thing Stevie
have, it was patience.
The girls were still laughing when they arrived at Stevie’s house and took the kitchen by storm. Within minutes they’d located everything they needed for snacks, piled the goodies onto several plates, tucked soda cans into their pockets for carrying ease, and retreated toward Stevie’s room, ducking brothers as they went.
They only paused momentarily so Stevie could fetch a letter taped to the door of her room. She didn’t have any free hands, so she tugged it loose from the tape with her teeth and dropped it on her bed.
“Oh, wow!” she said. “It’s from Dinah Slattery in Vermont! Remember her?”
Lisa shook her head. “Never heard of her.”
“She was at Pine Hollow before you started riding,” Carole said. “She used to ride Barq, and Max always had to remind her to keep her heels down.…”