Authors: Bonnie Bryant
Horse lover CAROLE …
Practical joker STEVIE …
Straight-A LISA …
#1 HORSE CRAZY
#2 HORSE SHY
#3 HORSE SENSE
#4 HORSE POWER
#5 TRAIL MATES
#6 DUDE RANCH
#7 HORSE PLAY
#8 HORSE SHOW
#9 HOOF BEAT
#10 RIDING CAMP
#11 HORSE WISE
#12 RODEO RIDER
#13 STARLIGHT CHRISTMAS
#14 SEA HORSE
#15 TEAM PLAY
#16 HORSE GAMES
#18 PACK TRIP
#19 STAR RIDER
#20 SNOW RIDE
#22 FOX HUNT
#23 HORSE TROUBLE
#24 GHOST RIDER
#25 SHOW HORSE
#26 BEACH RIDE
#27 BRIDLE PATH
#28 STABLE MANNERS
#29 RANCH HANDS
#30 AUTUMN TRAIL
#32 CHOCOLATE HORSE
#33 HIGH HORSE
#34 HAY FEVER
#35 HORSE TALE
#36 RIDING LESSON
#37 STAGE COACH
#38 HORSE TRADE
#40 GIFT HORSE
#41 STABLE WITCH
#43 PHOTO FINISH
#45 STABLE GROOM
#46 FLYING HORSE
#47 HORSE MAGIC
#48 MYSTERY RIDE
#49 STABLE FAREWELL
#50 YANKEE SWAP
#51 PLEASURE HORSE
#52 RIDING CLASS
#54 GOLD MEDAL RIDER
#55 GOLD MEDAL HORSE
#56 CUTTING HORSE
#57 TIGHT REIN
“What were we talking about before my contraction started?” Deborah asked.
“Not we—you,” Carole said. “You were talking about the time before we rode horses.”
“That’s it, then,” said Deborah. “I don’t want you to beat me at Scrabble with horse words. I don’t want you to read to me from your horse books. I want each of you to tell me a real-life story that really happened to you.”
“Great,” said Stevie. “There was the time Belle and I—”
“No. I want to hear stories that don’t have anything to do with horses.”
“What for?” Carole asked.
“Well, my baby is going to be surrounded by horses and horse talk all of his life. Horses are fun, but they aren’t everything. I’d like to know that somehow, something other than horses was ever important to the three of you. I’ve got to admit that I find the idea that I’m about to be a mother even scarier than the idea that I’m about to have a baby. So, I need some help. I know I can always get help from you about horses. Give me some help about mothering.”
The girls looked at one another.
“No horses?” Carole asked.
“Not a one,” Deborah said.
There was a long silence.
RL 5, 009–012
A Bantam Skylark Book/May 1997
Skylark Books is a registered trademark of Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and elsewhere.
“The Saddle Club” is a registered trademark of Bonnie Bryant Hiller. The Saddle Club design/logo, which consists of a riding crop and a riding hat, is a trademark of Bantam Books.
“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.
All rights reserved.
Copyright © 1997 by Bonnie Bryant Hiller.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
For information address: Bantam Books.
Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words “Bantam Books” and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries.
Registrada. Bantam Books, 1540 Broadway, New York, New York 10036.
In memory of my parents—
Metzer and Emmons Bryant—
who knew me
before I rode horses
, we’ll take care of everything,” Stevie Lake said. She was talking to Max Regnery, the owner of Pine Hollow Stables and her riding instructor. “The whole place is in the hands of The Saddle Club!”
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Max said. There was a twinkle in his eye, though. “If I leave you girls in charge, I never know what I’ll find when I get back!”
Pine Hollow was the place Stevie and her two best friends, Carole Hanson and Lisa Atwood, loved best in the world because it was all about one thing: horses.
Stevie (short for Stephanie), Carole, and Lisa were three very different girls who had one very big thing in common. They loved horses. The girls loved horses so much that they’d formed The Saddle Club. The club had only two rules. Members had to be horse-crazy—that was the easy part—and they had to be willing to help whenever help was needed, even if the person getting help didn’t know that they needed help.
In this case, the person they were helping
he needed help. Max and his mother, called Mrs. Reg by all the riders, were going to a full-day Pony Club instructor’s meeting and had to be away from Pine Hollow until late that night. The regular stable hand, Red O’Malley, was away at his girlfriend’s college graduation. That left Max’s wife, Deborah, in charge of the house and the stables.
There were two problems with that. The first was that Deborah didn’t know much about horses. She was learning as fast as she could (with some help from The Saddle Club), but the amount she didn’t know was much larger than the amount she did know.
The second problem was that Deborah was going to have a baby. The baby was due in another month. Although she’d had an uneventful pregnancy,
she was very big and she didn’t move easily. She’d definitely need help to look after the stable for a day. The Saddle Club had volunteered. They were trying to convince Max that he didn’t have a thing to worry about.
“Look, have we ever let you down?” Lisa asked.
Stevie nudged her sharply. “Bad question,” she whispered.
“Well … there was the time …” Max’s voice trailed off.
“We fixed that before you got back,” Stevie said hastily.
“… and then I remember a certain bucket of paint …”
“It came out!” Lisa reminded him.
“… and that time with the saddles …”
“Nobody was using those anyway!” Carole protested.
Max looked at his mother. “Maybe we’d better cancel,” he said. He sounded serious, but the girls knew he was joking. Not only were they horse-crazy, but they were also horse wise, and Max knew he could trust them. He and his mother hugged Deborah and wished her good luck “in the hands of The Saddle Club.” They waved as their car pulled out of the driveway.
They were almost to the road when Max put the car in reverse and backed up.
“Don’t tell me you’ve changed your mind,” Stevie said into the open window.
“No, I just remembered that I forgot to tell you that Judy is stopping by later on. I want her to take a look at Patch. He seems to be favoring his left hind foot,” Max said.
“We’ll keep an eye out for her,” Carole promised.
Judy Barker was the vet who looked after all of Pine Hollow’s horses. She had taught the girls everything they knew about equine health. She was a regular visitor to their Pony Club meetings and a great teacher.
Finally, the car pulled out of the driveway, turned onto the road, and kept going.
“Alone,” said Deborah.
“At last!” said Lisa.
“I thought they’d never go,” said Stevie.
“We’ve got some work to do,” said Carole.
“So do I,” said Deborah. “I’ve got an article to finish.”
Deborah was an investigative reporter for a newspaper in nearby Washington, D.C. She sometimes went to her office, but more often these days, she
worked from home, sending her articles into the paper straight from her computer.
The girls told Deborah they’d check on her when they were done with their chores. Deborah was more than happy to let them do the stable work while she took care of her own.
“There are four stalls that need mucking out,” Lisa said. “We should do that first because it’s the most unpleasant chore. Then we can give water and hay to all the horses. Then, Mrs. Reg left a note about some saddles that need soaping, and after that—”
“After that, we’ll need a break,” said Stevie. By “break,” she meant a trail ride in the woods behind the stables. The girls liked everything about horses and riding, but they liked trail rides the best.
“Unless Patch needs some help from us,” said Carole. They agreed to check on Patch before they went out on the trail.
In minutes, the three of them were all mucking out stalls. The girls were devoted to horses and didn’t mind doing even the most unpleasant job, as long as it was for a horse. They agreed that riding was a privilege granted by the horse in exchange for caretaking. To them, mucking out a stall, wrapping
a sore leg, or hauling a bale of hay was a very small price to pay for all the fun of riding.
It was typical of the three of them that Lisa had organized the work schedule, that Stevie had figured out when they’d start to have fun, and that Carole would remind her friends that their fun would begin only when they were sure they had done everything the horses could possibly have needed from them.