Authors: Bonnie Bryant
“Stevie Lake,” Max said, his blue eyes twinkling. “I’ve got something special for you. In honor of the, uh, let’s call it friendship, you and Veronica have struck up this morning, I’d like you two to train your horses to pull the Pine Hollow wagon. Girls, you’ll have two weeks to turn those saddle horses into a team and give a demonstration for the Cross County Pony Club!”
Stevie couldn’t believe her ears. Did Max actually believe that she and Veronica were
? Were they going to have to train their horses together? For a demonstration that
was going to be watching? She shook her head. Maybe she’d misunderstood. She raised her hand again.
“Max, did I hear you correctly?”
Max grinned and nodded. Carole and Lisa glanced at each other as Stevie buried her face in her hands with a groan. Both of them knew that turning Belle and Danny into a smooth working team was going to be a lot easier than turning Stevie and Veronica into one!
CAMY BAKER’S HOW TO BE POPULAR
IN THE SIXTH GRADE by Camy Baker
CAMY BAKER’S LOVE YOU LIKE A SISTER by Camy Baker
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by L. M. Montgomery
HORSE CRAZY (The Saddle Club #1) by Bonnie Bryant
AMY, NUMBER SEVEN (Replica #1) by Marilyn Kaye
PURSUING AMY (Replica #2) by Marilyn Kaye
THE CASE OF THE MISSING MARBLES AND THE CASE OF THE RISING MOON
(The Adventures of Shirley Holmes) by John Whitman
RL 5, ages 009–012
A Bantam Skylark Book / January 2000
“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
Text copyright © 2000 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
Published simultaneously in the United States and Canada
Bantam Skylark is an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Skylark Books, Bantam Books, and the rooster colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc. Bantam Books, 1540 Broadway, New York, New York 10036
Special thanks to Sir “B” Farms
and Laura and Vinny Marino
I would like to express my special thanks
to Sallie Bissell for her
help in the writing of this book
cried as she slipped and fell to one knee in a wide puddle just in front of the stable. Globs of cold, thick mud splattered all over her jeans and shirt. “It’s really slick out here!”
“Come on, Stevie !” Carole Hanson motioned to her friend. “Horse Wise is about to begin!”
Stevie sloshed inside the stable, shivering as she pulled her wet sweatshirt close around her neck. The smell of damp hay tickled the inside of her nose as she fought back a sneeze. “I’m glad we’re meeting in Max’s office,” she said. “This weather is really lousy.”
“Can you imagine anybody trying to ride in rain like this?” asked Lisa Atwood, who was also waiting for Stevie. She looked up at the driving sheets of water
that fell from the gloomy November sky. “You’d probably catch pneumonia, and who knows what your poor horse would catch?”
“Rhinopneumonitis, probably,” decided Carole.
“Huh?” Stevie said, frowning.
“I think that’s one of Carole’s fancy words for a horse cold,” laughed Lisa.
Stevie groaned. “I know a fancy word for being late, which is what we’re going to be if we don’t hurry.”
“Then let’s go,” said Lisa. “We were late for the last meeting. I don’t want to get the cold shoulder from Max again.”
The three girls hustled through the Pine Hollow stables. It was the place where they had first met and where they had discovered that each was just as crazy about horses as the others. That was when they’d formed The Saddle Club, a club that had only two rules—that the members had to be crazy about horses, and that they had to help each other out whenever possible. Lisa Atwood was the newest to riding, but she was also the oldest and most logical of the trio. Carole Hanson could be scatterbrained about everything from returning her library books to whether her socks matched, but when it came to horses, she was almost an expert and never forgot anything. Stevie Lake, the third member of the club, was often knee-deep in some crazy predicament or practical joke. Though Stevie was
as devoted to horses as Carole and Lisa, much of The Saddle Club’s time was devoted to getting out of the trouble Stevie’s schemes had gotten them into. Still, they had such terrific adventures getting either into or out of their dilemmas that nobody minded.
The girls hurried around a corner, where warm yellow light poured from the open door of Max’s office. Maximilian Regnery III was the owner of Pine Hollow, the stables that had been founded by his grandfather Maximilian Regnery I and passed along to him by his own father, Max II. Max now stood behind his desk, chatting with the crowd of young riders who were seated on the floor of his office.
“Well, if it isn’t Carole, Lisa, and Stevie.” Max checked his watch and grinned. “You’re a whole thirty seconds early.”
“Hi, Max,” Lisa replied as other riders scooted over to make room for them on the floor. “We would have been here sooner, but Stevie had a slight run-in.”
Max frowned. “With a horse?”
“Actually, with a mud puddle.” Laughing, Stevie held her mud-splashed jeans away from her legs.
Just then Mrs. Reg, who was the stable manager as well as Max’s mother, stuck her head into the office.
“Max, have you got a minute to meet a new rider?” she asked.
“Just thirty seconds,” he answered.
“I’ll be right back,” Max said to the assembled Pony Clubbers as he stepped into the hallway.
“Maybe then we can finally begin,” said a sarcastic voice from the leather armchair in the corner. “Some of us have been waiting for hours.”
The girls turned. The voice belonged to the richest, snootiest girl at Pine Hollow, Veronica diAngelo. She’d curled herself up like a cat in Max’s one good chair, wearing a gorgeous green cashmere tunic and sparkling white jodhpurs. The sweater matched her eyes exactly, and it looked expensive. All Veronica’s friends sat around the chair, casting admiring glances at her sleek new haircut and beautiful outfit.
“I may be late, Veronica, but at least I came dressed to work,” Stevie snapped, her wet sweatshirt still clinging to the back of her neck. “Unlike some people who have the nerve to think that if they come dressed in fancy clothes they can get somebody else to do their chores for them.”
“Are you implying that I haven’t done any work today?” Veronica’s eyes flashed.
Stevie looked at her outfit and shrugged. “I don’t know many people who come to muck out stalls dressed in cashmere sweaters.”
“I’ll have you know that I came early today, mucked out Danny’s stall all by myself, and then changed into
these clean clothes,” Veronica said as her friends Betsy Cavanaugh and Meg Durham nodded in agreement.
Veronica eyed Stevie’s tattered sweatshirt and soggy jeans. “In case you haven’t noticed, some of us don’t like to lounge around in dirty, wet clothes. We prefer to get our work done and leave the muck and dirty straw on the manure pile, instead of bringing cute little samples of it to Horse Wise meetings.”
Everyone in the room chuckled. Stevie looked down at her clothes and felt a flush of embarrassment. Mud was caked on both legs of her jeans, and several wisps of hay dangled from the sleeves of her sweatshirt. She looked back at Veronica’s spotless outfit and shook her head.
“Sorry, Veronica. But I’m still not convinced you got here early just to get a stall mucked out. I think you must be playing a very late April Fools’ trick.”
“You don’t believe me?” Veronica held out her hands, displaying ten perfectly shaped nails, all painted a delicate pink. “Then come look at the dreadful damage it did to the manicure I got just yesterday!”
Normally Stevie would have ignored Veronica’s boasting, but the manicure display was simply too much. She picked her way between Joe Novick and Adam Levine until she stood directly in front of Veronica’s chair.
“See?” Veronica held up her nails for inspection.
Stevie bent over and studied them. Though each was still a mostly perfect pink oval, two nails on Veronica’s right hand had been recently chipped. Then Stevie took a deep breath and almost passed out from shock. Wafting up from Veronica’s delicate white hands was the pungent aroma of horse manure. Veronica was telling the truth. For once in her life, she had actually gotten up early and done some work!
Stevie stood up straight and grabbed one of Veronica’s hands, lifting it so that everyone in the room could see. “I want everyone here to know that on this day, Veronica diAngelo actually cleaned out her own horse’s stall. She chipped two of her very own fingernails, and her hands have the distinct aroma of
eau de cheval
.” She dropped Veronica’s hand and turned back toward her.
“I’m sorry for ever doubting you, Veronica,” she said with a deep bow. “I had no idea you had become such a hard worker. I apologize for accusing you of being a slacker, and if, in the future, I ever see any little potty accident that some horse might have had on the floor, you’ll be the first person I call to clean it up.”
With that, the room was filled with snickers. Veronica flopped back in the chair to pout, her own cheeks now pink with embarrassment.
Max returned to the room and tapped a pencil on his desk. “Okay, okay, you guys, let’s get this meeting
under way. We’ve got a lot to talk about. Stevie, take a seat. You and Veronica can finish your conversation later.”
Stevie crept back to Lisa and Carole and plopped down on the floor just as another deluge of rain beat down on the roof of the barn. Max glanced up at the ceiling, then turned to the assembled riders and grinned.