Read Saddle Sore Online

Authors: Bonnie Bryant

Saddle Sore (12 page)

Stevie good-naturedly rode over to Lisa. “Her eyes are closing,” she reported. “Chocolate! Wake up! Think about oats! Think about hay!”

“Arahyh!”
Christine muttered in disgust, behind them.

“What happened?” Lisa asked.

“He jogged,” Christine said. “Just one stride!”

“Oh well,” Stevie said. “Come up and join the losers brigade.”

“Speak for yourself,” Lisa retorted. “If everyone else jogs, Chocolate and I will win.”

Christine eyed Chocolate. “She’s not going to jog, that’s for sure.”

In the end, Kate won by a large margin. “But Moonglow’s my horse,” she said. “I know her really well, and she listens to me.”

“What’s my excuse?” Christine asked, laughing.

“It’s like you, Kate, to credit Moonglow,” Emily added. “As if your superior horsemanship didn’t have anything to do with it.” The Saddle Club had told Emily all about Kate’s illustrious
show background. Emily could see for herself what a good rider Kate was.

“Well,” Monica said, with a big grin, “I’m not going to give Buttercup any credit for my second-place finish. It was
all
due to my superior horsemanship.”

“Oh, of course,” Emily said, rolling her eyes. Monica laughed. She dismounted and hugged Buttercup for a long time.

“Riding feels so good,” she said.

“At this point,” Stevie said, “breakfast might feel even better.”

W
HEN THEY TROOPED
into the dining room, Monica’s parents looked both startled and proud to see their daughter up so early. “Getting ready to ride?” Mrs. Hopkins asked.

“Mom, look at my jeans,” Monica said. “That’s horsehair they’re covered with. We’ve been riding for two hours already.”

“Bareback,” Emily added proudly.

“We’re famished,” Stevie said, as they all sat down.

Once they’d consumed half a dozen pancakes each, they were capable of speech again. “Okay,”
Kate said, still chewing, “let’s make plans. You guys will need to leave the ranch at three o’clock this afternoon. How long will it take you to pack up?”

Stevie speared another pancake off the platter. “Twenty minutes, tops.”

“Okay.” Kate checked her watch. “It’ll take half an hour to take care of the horses at the end of the day, so we can ride until ten after two. It’s six forty-five now—”

“Lunch,” Stevie pleaded.

“Picnic,” Emily said crisply.

“Good idea! We can make that while we let the horses digest their breakfasts.”

“If we hurry making the picnic,” Lisa suggested, “we’ll have time to pack this morning. Then we can ride until two-thirty.”

Carole grinned. “That’s using your head, Lisa. Where haven’t we been yet? We need to show Emily the island—”

“What about Pulpit Rock?” Monica cut in. “I want to see that.”

“They’ve already been there,” Kate explained. “Monica, you and I have all day tomorrow to go everywhere they’ve already been.”

“If you can go everywhere we’ve been in only one day, we’ll award you the golden fleece saddle cover,” Carole said.

“We won’t try,” Christine said. “But Kate, I’ll come if you’ll let me.”

“Of course,” Monica said. “Today, too, I hope.”

“Of course,” Christine said.

Mrs. Hopkins cut in with a happy smile on her face. “Perhaps your father and I will come tomorrow, too,” she said.

Monica considered it. “I don’t mind,” she said at last, “but we’re going to be spending all day in the saddle. You might get a little sore.”

Colonel Devine teased them. “I thought two days ago that you all were looking a little sore. I thought maybe you were getting tired of riding. Now look at you! I’m going to have to pry you out of your saddles with a crowbar and carry you screaming onto the plane. What happened?”

Carole looked at him with wide eyes. “Colonel Devine,” she said, “we didn’t ride for almost thirty-two hours!”

“G
OOD-BYE
!” E
MILY HUGGED
Kate and Mrs. Devine. “Thank you so much for having me out here. I had the best time of my whole life.”

Kate’s mom gave Emily another hug. “Thank you for all the help you gave us. Come back soon.”

“Oh, I hope I can!” Emily followed The Saddle Club up the ramp of the tiny plane. Colonel Devine shut and fastened the door, and Emily sat down with her friends. “I can’t believe it’s been six days already,” she said. “Time went by so quickly.”

“Vacation time works differently than ordinary time,” Stevie explained.

“Oh, I know,” Emily said. “Just like riding time goes by much faster than cleaning-tack time.”

“Which is faster than do-your-homework time or wash-the-dishes time.”

“Homework!” Carole exclaimed. “Don’t talk about school. That’s months away.” She pressed her face against the window as the plane took off. Soon Kate, her mother, and the tiny airstrip had all faded into the clouds.

“I’ll be a little bit glad to be home, I guess,” Emily admitted. “I miss P.C. After all this riding, I think I’m a lot stronger now. I wonder if P.C. will be able to notice the difference.”

“I bet Ms. Payne will notice,” Lisa said. Ms. Payne was Emily’s riding instructor.

“Oh, I know she will,” Emily said. “I think she’ll be thrilled for me, especially after I tell her about our bareback ride and everything.”

“Think she’ll notice your face?” Lisa asked with a sly grin. The effects of the sunscreen hadn’t yet faded. They were returning to Pine Hollow striped, squiggled, and spotted.

“I’m a little embarrassed,” Carole cut in. “Dots
and shapes are one thing, but I’ve got
cat whiskers
.”

“I’m going to tell everyone it was a secret Native American ritual I went through,” Emily said with a grin. “I’ll see how many people I can get to believe me.”

“Zero,” said Stevie.

“At least six,” countered Emily.

Stevie held out her hand. “I bet you can’t. Loser has to ride without stirrups for three days.”

Emily shook. “It’s a bet.” She leaned back in her seat. “I’m certainly going to tell everyone at Free Rein about the Bar None. Maybe some people will want to go on vacation there. The Devines were really making it nice for disabled people.”

“You helped them,” Stevie pointed out.

“I don’t think I helped them a whole free vacation’s worth,” Emily said. “I definitely got the good end of the deal.” She unzipped a pocket on her backpack. “Anybody want some licorice? Oh, yuck!” She pulled out a dark, wizened object.

“That’s licorice?” Stevie asked. “No thank you.”

“No,” Emily said sadly. “This is a carrot. I
brought it to give to Spot—to whatever horse I was going to be riding.”

Lisa started laughing. “You brought a carrot from home?”

“I meant to give it to him right away on the first day,” Emily explained. “I just forgot. Look—it didn’t mold at all, it just dried up. It’s kind of interesting.”

“Prehistoric,” said Carole. “Like Mrs. Devine’s biscuits.”

“And probably about as edible.” Emily wrapped the carrot in a tissue and returned it to her pack. She pulled out several sticks of licorice. “These were in a plastic bag. They didn’t touch the carrot—I promise.” The girls accepted the licorice hesitantly.

“Geez,” Emily said. “Just eat it. It won’t kill you.”

They sat and munched in silence for a few moments. “Tastes all right,” Lisa said. She crossed her legs and grimaced slightly. “That bruise.” She rolled up her jeans to look at it. “It looks like it’s getting bigger.”

“Rafting was worth it,” said Carole.

“Of course.” Lisa looked thoughtful. “You know, Emily, you did help the Devines, but I
think the person you helped most was Monica. We all tried to get her back in the saddle, but you’re the one who did it.”

“By falling down,” Emily reminded her. “It wasn’t exactly brilliant. And I didn’t do it on purpose, either.”


Not
by falling down,” Carole said firmly. She leaned forward. “You helped by galloping across the prairie—by showing the Hopkinses what you could do. And you’re the one who convinced Monica to go white-water rafting. If you hadn’t known what to say, she probably would have gone home.”

Emily looked a little embarrassed. “I only knew what to say because I knew she must be feeling the way I feel sometimes,” she said. “Monica would have figured everything out without me. It just might have taken her a little more time. And her adjustment isn’t over. Lots of things are still going to be hard for her.”

“But not the Bar None,” Lisa said. “She got that back, and Kate’s friendship, too. I would have felt really bad for Kate if Monica had stayed in her bunkhouse the whole week. Kate was so upset.”

“That’s another thing,” Emily said. “If I
helped her at all, it was only because she did come out of her bunkhouse. Remember? She came to dinner. She decided to join us first.”

“Anyway,” Stevie said, “it worked out great. There’s just one other thing that’s been bugging me. Em, promise us that next time, if you want to do some of the other things besides ride, you’ll tell us.”

Emily looked around at them with a serious expression on her face. “Of course,” she said. “I can always tell you if I don’t want to do something. Only”—she turned a little pink—“I consider you guys such good friends that I didn’t want to disappoint you. The most important thing to me was that you guys have a great time.”

Stevie smiled. “That’s the way we felt, too—that’s why we didn’t say anything to you. We wanted you to have a great time.”

Emily grinned. “That’s not bad,” she said.

“No.” Stevie winked at Carole, who started rummaging through her own backpack.

“Here it is.” Carole pulled out a small box and handed it to Emily. Emily opened it.

“It’s beautiful!” Inside was a tiny silver pin of a horse in full gallop.

“When we started The Saddle Club, we
bought matching pins,” Lisa explained. “This one is a little different, but it’s Native American art, so we thought it would remind you of our trip West. Christine picked it out for us.

“The Saddle Club has two rules,” Lisa continued. “Members have to be horse-crazy, and they have to be willing to help each other out.” She paused. “That’s us, and that’s you.”

Emily looked up with her eyes aglow. “You want me to be part of The Saddle Club?” she asked.

Stevie gave her a hug. “You already are,” she said. “You have been for at least the last week. All we’re doing is making it official.”

Emily pinned the galloping horse to her sweat-shirt. “I accept,” she said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

B
ONNIE
B
RYANT
is the author of more than a hundred books about horses, including The Saddle Club series, Saddle Club Super Editions, the Pony Tails series, and Pine Hollow, which follows the Saddle Club girls into their teens. She has also written novels and movie novelizations under her married name, B. B. Hiller.

Ms. Bryant began writing The Saddle Club in 1986. Although she had done some riding before that, she intensified her studies then and found herself learning right along with her characters Stevie, Carole, and Lisa. She claims that they are all much better riders than she is.

Ms. Bryant was born and raised in New York City. She still lives there, in Greenwich Village, with her two sons.

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