Authors: Bonnie Bryant
Copyright © 1990 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 1990
First Delacorte eBook Edition 2012
I would like to express my special thanks to Don DeMarzio for his help to me. —B.B.
ATCH HOW SHE
does this,” Carole Hanson said to Lisa Atwood. The two girls were standing in the passageway outside a stall at Pine Hollow Stables. Stevie Lake was inside the stall preparing Topside for a trip.
Carole, Lisa, and Stevie were best friends. They’d gotten to know each other at Pine Hollow and had formed a group called The Saddle Club. The club had only two rules, and they were easy ones: All the members had to be horse crazy, and they had to be willing to help one another. So far the three girls were the only active members of the club, although there were a few out-of-state friends who were honorary members.
Stevie finished fastening the final protective leg wrap on the big bay gelding horse, patted Topside reassuringly,
and stood up. She clipped a lead rope onto Topside’s halter and looked him square in the eye.
“Pine Hollow’s Flight One to Moose Hill Riding Camp is now ready for boarding,” she announced. “All passengers holding first-class tickets may proceed to the gate. And that means you.”
Outside the stable, a horse van was waiting to take Topside to Moose Hill, the riding camp Stevie would be attending for the next two weeks. Stevie had been lucky. A friend of hers had won the camp session in a raffle, but since she didn’t like riding very much, she’d offered it to Stevie. Horse-crazy Stevie didn’t understand her friend at all, but under the circumstances, she decided it was just fine that her friend didn’t like riding.
“I’m almost too excited to watch,” Lisa told Carole. “I can’t believe it. Two solid weeks of horses, horses, and horses. Nothing but horses!”
Carole nodded, her eyes wide with excitement.
“I can’t believe how lucky we all are!” Stevie said.
“I still don’t understand how you managed to convince Max to pay our way. How did you get him to sponsor us?”
There was a sparkle in Stevie’s eye. Convincing people, especially Max Regnery, the owner of Pine Hollow Stables, to do things they might not actually
to do was one of her specialties. “It was easy,” she said
airily, dismissing Carole’s admiration. “A mere sleight of hand.”
“More like sleight of mouth, if I know you,” Carole added.
“Yeah, more like that,” Stevie agreed, returning to her normal self. “Now let’s see if I can do a sleight of hoof and get Topside onto the van.”
She turned her attention to the horse. Topside was an experienced traveler. He was a championship show horse and had performed all over the world. Max had recently bought him when the horse’s owner, Dorothy DeSoto, had been forced to give up competitive riding because of an accident. Now Topside was going to riding camp with The Saddle Club to get a new kind of show experience. The two-week session at Moose Hill would end with a horse show for the campers. It would be completely different from what Topside had known before, and Max had felt it would be good for both Stevie and Topside to try it together.
Carole and Lisa would be riding horses assigned to them from the camp’s own stable. They loved the horses they usually rode at Pine Hollow, but Max couldn’t spare two more horses for the session. Both girls also knew that it would be a good opportunity for them to try training on different horses.
“Come on, boy,” Stevie said. She clucked her tongue and led Topside toward the stall door. Carole
slid the door back to let them out. Stevie held the lead rope with one hand and a pail containing Topside’s grooming gear with the other. She looked over her shoulder at the horse. He seemed to sense that something was up and twitched his tail excitedly. Stevie grinned over her shoulder at him, still leading him straight out of the stall.
“Stevie, watch your head!” Carole warned. It was too late, though. With a thunk, Stevie’s head connected with the fire extinguisher on the wall of the stable opposite Topside’s stall.
Stevie made a face and rubbed her head where she’d hit it. Then she crossed her eyes. Lisa giggled. Stevie had the ability to make almost anything funny. It was one of the things Lisa liked the best—and that sometimes annoyed her the most—about Stevie.
“Are you okay?” Lisa asked.
“Never mind her—what about the fire extinguisher?” Carole said, adjusting the big red metal canister. Stevie glared at Carole briefly.
Lisa laughed. She knew Carole was concerned about Stevie’s bump, but it was just like her to be equally concerned with the safety of the horses. Just as Stevie could always see the funny side of a situation, Carole could always see the serious side—when it came to horses. It was Lisa’s feeling that Stevie and Carole balanced each other. Sometimes that was a problem,
since it meant Lisa was right smack in the middle. But most of the time it was a lot of fun.
“Come on, you guys,” Lisa said. “The sooner we get Topside on the van the sooner we can leave for camp.”
Carole began clucking at Topside, encouraging him to follow Stevie toward the van.
“I guess that means my job is to bring the tack, huh?” Lisa asked.
“Thanks.” Stevie grinned.
Lisa walked toward the stable’s tack room. It was one of her favorite places in Pine Hollow. At first glance, it was a mess. The room was covered with snaking leather straps hanging every which way and an endless row of saddles that required constant soaping and cleaning. That was the way it had first looked to Lisa when she’d started riding at Pine Hollow. After a few days, however, she’d learned that there was a strict order to everything. Each saddle was in a place that corresponded to its horse’s stall. A matching bridle hung above each saddle. Spare leathers, carefully sorted by size, hung along another wall. There were buckets for metal parts, bits, chains, buckles, hooks, and rings, which were all meticulously grouped.
In fact, the whole room was organized very carefully. It just didn’t look that way. Lisa wondered, as she looked at it now, how she could ever have thought it
was messy. She quickly located Topside’s tack and picked it up to carry it to the van.
It was exciting, and a little frightening, to think that she was about to become familiar with a new stable, a new horse, and new riders. Lisa, unlike Carole and Stevie, had begun riding just a few months ago. She didn’t have as much experience as her friends did. She was sure she would enjoy Moose Hill, but she still felt a little uneasy. There was only one thing to do about that. Lisa hefted the saddle, adjusting its weight, and left the tack room.
There was nobody inside the stable. Everyone was watching Stevie load Topside. There was one last thing Lisa wanted to do before she left. Pine Hollow Stables had been around for a long time and had developed a lot of traditions. One of those was its good-luck horseshoe. By tradition, every rider at Pine Hollow touched it before going for a ride. Nobody was sure when the tradition had begun, or why, but everybody knew that no rider at Pine Hollow had ever been seriously hurt in a riding accident. Lisa glanced around. She felt a little silly, but she still wanted to do it. The horseshoe was nailed up by the door to the indoor ring. When she reached the doorway to the ring, she set Topside’s tack on the ledge of an empty stall, stood on tiptoe, and reached up high, brushing
the horseshoe with her fingers. The feeling of the smooth, worn iron comforted her.
She picked up the tack again and carried it through the stable to where the van and the station wagon and her friends were waiting for her.
Stevie had loaded Topside into the trailer by the time Lisa joined her friends and the crowd gathered in the driveway. Red O’Malley, Pine Hollow’s most trusted stablehand, was driving Topside to Moose Hill. It seemed to Lisa that she and her friends were just being allowed to hitch a ride with the horse!
“Have we got all our stuff in the back of the car?” Carole asked, peering through the station wagon’s dusty windows.
“I think we’ve got it all,” Red said dryly. “Including the kitchen sink.”
Carole was famous for forgetting important things, like clothes, when she went on trips, but the gigantic pile of luggage in the car indicated that she hadn’t forgotten anything this time, since everything in the world was probably already crammed in the bags.
Finally it was time to go. The girls climbed into the station wagon and rolled down their windows so they could wave to their parents, their fellow students, Max, and his mother, Mrs. Reg. Before they were out of the driveway, Max was shooing the other riders back
inside. It was almost time for class to begin, and as far as Max was concerned, there were no good excuses for class to begin late.