Horseflies

A BAD CASE OF SPRING FEVER

Starlight chewed the bit and tossed his head. Then he began to dance in a little circle. Finally Carole gave up. She rode him to the gate and briskly dismounted. “Starlight, I don’t know what’s going on with you today, but I think we both need to take a time-out!” Starlight snorted in reply but followed Carole back toward the barn.

“How did it go?” Mrs. Reg asked, looking up from her desk as Carole and Starlight clomped by.

“Oh, okay,” said Carole, not bothering to hide the frustration in her voice. “Getting Starlight to behave is just going to take more riding than I thought.”

“Well, you know your horse better than anyone,” Mrs. Reg said.

Carole buckled Starlight to the cross-ties and removed his saddle and bridle. He fidgeted the whole time, shifting his weight from side to side.

“I hope you get over your spring fever before the Fourth of July, Starlight,” Carole said as she quickly brushed the dried sweat from his coat. “Otherwise we’ll have to invent a whole new name for whatever it is you’ve got!”

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HORSEFLIES

A Bantam Skylark Book / June 1998

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 © 1998 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
.

eISBN: 978-0-307-82579-7

Published simultaneously in the United States and Canada
.

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. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, 1540 Broadway, New York, New York 10036
.

v3.1

I would like to express my special thanks
to Sallie Bissell for her help
in the writing of this book
.

“A
RE WE GOING
to meet your crazy friends here?” the little boy asked. He held Lisa Atwood’s hand tightly as they walked down the lane toward Pine Hollow Stables.

Lisa laughed. “Well, we’re going to meet my friends, Jamie. But they’re
horse
-crazy. Not
crazy
crazy.”

“Oh, I see,” Jamie said.

Lisa squeezed Jamie’s hand. It was the first day of summer vacation and she’d already gotten a baby-sitting job. She’d promised her parents that she would contribute fifty dollars each month of her own money toward her riding lessons this summer, so she was thrilled when Mrs. Bacon asked her to baby-sit Jamie for the whole week. She needed every penny she could scrape together to continue her lessons, and a
weeklong baby-sitting job would go a long way toward her goal.

“Look,” Lisa said as they rounded the last curve to the stable. “There they are, waiting for us.”

Stevie Lake was sprawled on a hay bale, wearing her usual riding outfit of shirt, jeans, and cowboy boots. Carole Hanson sat next to her in faded breeches and field boots. Lisa blinked and almost stopped. From this distance it looked as if Carole, who was probably the most horse-crazy of the trio, was sitting at the stable reading a book.

“Hi, everybody!” Lisa called. “Sorry I’m late.”

“Hi, Lisa.” Carole looked up and smiled.

“Who’s your friend?” asked Stevie, sitting up.

“This is Jamie Bacon,” Lisa said. “Jamie, these are my friends Stevie and Carole.”

Jamie smiled, revealing one missing front tooth. “Hi,” he said shyly.

Lisa laughed. “These are the other members of The Saddle Club, Jamie. Or at least, most of them.” The three girls had started The Saddle Club some time earlier. The only rules were that members had to be crazy about horses, which they were, and they had to help the other members when they got into trouble, which they did.

“I’m going to be baby-sitting Jamie all week,” Lisa explained. “And since he wanted to learn something about horses, I thought, What better place to learn than here?”

Carole smiled at the serious-looking little boy. “Have you ever ridden a horse before, Jamie?”

“No,” Jamie replied, trying to peek inside the barn. “But it looks pretty neat.”

“I asked his mother if it would be okay to bring him to Pine Hollow, and she thought it was a wonderful idea,” Lisa said.

“That’s great,” agreed Carole. “I can’t imagine a better place to baby-sit than at a stable.”

Lisa spied the paperback book on the hay. “What’s this?” she asked Carole, picking it up and peering at the cover. “Greek mythology? Didn’t they tell you? School’s out. They announced it at assembly last Friday.” Lisa was used to her friends’ good-natured teasing about her own compulsive study habits. Here was a chance to tease Carole back.

“Can you believe it?” Stevie chimed in. “She’s beginning to act just like you! She’s actually spending the first day of summer vacation working on a school project that’s not even due until fall! I’ve got so many plans for the summer I won’t have time for anything like that.” Stevie pulled a piece of straw from her dark blond hair and began to count up all her summer plans. “First, I’m going to ride every day. Then I’m going to swim every day. Then I’m going to dream up a whole bunch of terrific new tricks to play on my brothers. And then I’m going to invent at least fifteen new desserts to eat at TD’s.” TD’s was the ice cream shop where The Saddle Club held many of its meetings. Stevie flopped back on the hay and shook her head incredulously at Carole. “I wouldn’t spend a single moment of summer doing schoolwork.”

Lisa looked at Carole. “You must admit, Carole, it’s not
really like you to spend the first day of summer vacation reading a schoolbook.”

“But this isn’t just any school project,” protested Carole. “This is really cool. Everyone in our class had to choose a summer reading assignment for the new English teacher, and I chose Greek mythology, mostly because Kate Summerfield had already chosen horses. I didn’t really want to read about mythology, but when I thumbed through the book, it looked pretty interesting. It’s about this wonderful pure-white horse with wings named Pegasus and a beautiful youth named Bellerophon.”

“ ‘Beautiful youth’?” Stevie wrinkled her nose and frowned.

“You know, a handsome young Greek guy—big brown eyes, wavy brown hair, broad shoulders.”

“Oh.” Stevie nodded. “I get it.”

“Anyway, Bellerophon captures Pegasus with a golden bridle that the goddess Athena gave him, and they ride up into the clouds and kill this monster called the Chimera that’s got a lion’s head and a goat’s body and a dragon’s tail—”

“Whoa!” Stevie interrupted. “Golden bridles? The goddess Athena? Goat bodies with dragon tails? There goes Carole’s summer!”

Carole laughed at Stevie’s shocked expression. “That’s not all I’m going to do this summer, Stevie. Judy Barker asked me if I’d like to work more hours with her on Tuesdays, to get a better feel for what it’s like to be an equine vet. Besides,
I’m going to ride Starlight every day and hang out with you guys.”

“Really? You’re going with Judy every Tuesday?” Lisa’s blue eyes widened.

Carole nodded. “I’m so excited! I’m going to learn a lot.”

“That’s wonderful. I think your book sounds wonderful, too,” said Lisa. “Maybe I’ll read it after you finish.”

“Actually, it doesn’t sound too bad,” admitted Stevie. “At least it’s about horses.”

“But not just any horses,” Carole added dreamily. “Horses with wings.”

“Do any horses here have wings?” Jamie’s high voice broke the silence as each member of The Saddle Club tried to imagine what it might be like to soar through the clouds on a flying horse.

“Sorry, Jamie.” Lisa laughed. “I’m afraid not.”

“Sometimes it feels like they have wings when they gallop, though,” Carole said.

“Or when they go over a double oxer,” added Stevie.

Jamie frowned. “Aren’t oxers cows?”

This time all the girls laughed. Lisa knelt down in front of Jamie to explain. “Jamie, an oxer’s a kind of jump. Would you like to go inside the stable and see what it’s like in there? We can give you a tour. In fact, we could even ask Max if he would let you ride one of the ponies.”

“Really?” Jamie’s eyes shined with excitement.

“We can ask him,” replied Lisa.

Stevie jumped off the hay bale. “Let’s go! Coming, Carole?” she teased. “Or would you rather stay here and read about Pegasus and the beautiful youth Beetlejuice?”

“Bellerophon, Stevie,” Carole said as she shoved the book into her backpack. “And no way. It’s time to go see some real horses now.”

Lisa took Jamie’s hand again, and The Saddle Club began his tour of Pine Hollow Stables. Though the warm summer sunlight sparkled outside, the inside of the U-shaped stable was cool and dark.

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