Authors: Bonnie Bryant
“Because of unforeseen scheduling problems, the match is going to take place on Saturday,” said Max.
?” Stevie screeched. “But we won’t be ready. We’ll never win!”
“No, I’m sure we won’t,” Max said quite calmly. “I wouldn’t expect us to win our first match in any event. So think of it as an intense practice rather than a real match.”
This was more than Stevie could handle. As soon as the practice chukka started, Stevie started too—on the players.
Lisa and Carole waited on the sidelines to be called in to play. “It was bad enough when she thought the match against Phil’s club was going to be in two weeks. Now that it’s this week, there’s no stopping her,” Lisa complained.
“When Stevie gets an idea in her head—”
“I know, I know. Even an atom bomb can’t blast it out. But if she doesn’t stop being so awful to everybody, somebody’s going to go to a lot of trouble to find an atom bomb somewhere—”
“If we don’t just strangle her with our bare hands first,” Carole finished the sentence for Lisa.
Copyright © 1991 by Bonnie Bryant Hiller
Cover art copyright © 1991 by George Tsui.
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.
Originally published by Bantam Skylark in May 1991
First Delacorte Ebook Edition 2012
I would like to express special appreciation to Linda Kiss, who got me started on this book, and to Pat Lebs, president of the American Polocrosse Association, who helped me complete it. They each provided me with information and enthusiasm. Thank you both.
For Emmons Hiller
he’s such a hotshot rider! Like he invented the whole idea of riding!
Stevie Lake stormed along the roadside. Her dark blond hair bounced with each determined step. The Phil Marston in her thoughts was her boyfriend. Most of the time, they were very good friends. They felt the same way about a lot of things. The exception was deciding which one was the better horseback rider.
He even thinks he’s better than I am. We’ll show him!
in her thoughts included her two best friends, Carole Hanson and Lisa Atwood. Carole and Lisa rode horses at the same stable where Stevie was headed right now, Pine Hollow. The three of them loved horses and riding—and each other—so much that they called themselves The Saddle Club.
At that moment, Stevie was forgetting that they had invited Phil Marston to be in The Saddle Club. At that moment, Stevie was, in fact, forgetting everything about Phil Marston, except that he had just been telling her on the telephone about a new sport his Pony Club was playing. It was called polocrosse.
She’d been excited when he’d started to tell her about the sport.
“It’s a combination of polo and lacrosse,” he’d said. “You play with three horseback riders on a side in a big rectangular field with goalposts on either end.”
“This sounds great,” Stevie had said.
“It is,” Phil had agreed. “Each player has a position, and the positions are numbered. The number 1 player is Attack, number 2 is the Center, and number 3 is Defense. Only Attack can score goals. I’ve been playing Attack. The teams we’ve played against so far really haven’t been very good. I’ve scored a lot of goals.”
Stevie could hear the unspoken challenge in Phil’s description of the game. He wanted to play against a
team. Stevie thought that would be a fine idea. She wanted him to play against a good team, too, only she wanted to be on that good team and she wanted Phil’s team to lose to it!
“He won’t think he’s such a hotshot for long!” she whispered under her breath as she entered the stable. She was so intent on her conversation with herself that
she didn’t notice Max Regnery, her riding instructor, directly in front of her. She walked right smack into him.
“Who won’t what?” Max asked, grabbing her by the shoulders before they both fell down.
“Oh, sorry! I guess I—oh, wow! Max! Just the person I need to see. Can we talk?”
“Looks like this must be important,” he said. “Sure, come on into my office.”
instantly, her father’s hand came over and brushed her forehead. She knew he was sort of pretending that it was just a touch of affection, but she also knew he was really feeling for a fever. Reassured, he casually smoothed her shiny black hair and his hand returned to the steering wheel.
“I’m okay, Dad. I really am.”
“That’s the second time you’ve sneezed this morning,” Colonel Hanson reminded her. He turned the car off the highway and onto the road that led to Pine Hollow Stables.
“There must be some dust in the car,” she said. “I don’t have a cold. I promise you.”
“It’s just that I care,” he said.
“I know,” Carole said. “But I’m okay, I really am. And even if something were wrong, the most healing thing in the world for me is horseback riding, and I’d only get sicker if I had to miss the Pony Club meeting today.”
“So you are sick,” he said instantly.
“No,” Carole said, annoyed with herself for having invited further speculation. “I’m healthy as a horse.”
Colonel Hanson glanced sideways at his daughter and smiled. He then turned his attention back to the road. Carole sighed with relief. Although she was convinced that he was just about the best father a girl could have, he did have his faults. He’d go through periods when he’d pay too much attention to her and worry too much about her. This was one of those periods.
In a way, Carole understood it. Her mother had died of cancer almost two years earlier and her father still worried that he should have known and should have done something earlier than he did. He turned his worry to Carole and expressed it with concern for her. Most of the time, Carole didn’t mind, but when it threatened to interfere with her horseback riding, she minded a lot.
AVE YOU SEEN
Stevie?” Lisa asked when Carole arrived at Pine Hollow. Lisa was in the middle of tacking up Pepper, the horse she usually rode.
“No, but her backpack is in her cubby in the locker area, so she must be here,” Carole said.
“Max’s office door is closed,” Lisa said. “Do you think something’s wrong?”
Carole scrunched her face in thought. Max was serious about riding and thought it was a great privilege. When his students didn’t behave, or when their grades at school
slipped, Max would suspend their privileges. Stevie, whose idea of “fun” was not always within Max’s definition of “behave,” spent an awful lot of time in Max’s office “explaining.” She was good at explaining. At her young years, she’d already had a lifetime of experience explaining.
Carole shrugged. “I don’t think he could have found out about the spilled soda in Veronica’s cubby.”
“Cross your fingers,” Lisa said.
“I will, but it makes it hard to tack up a horse!” Carole joked.
“Horse Wise will come to attention in ten minutes!” the P.A. system warned.
Horse Wise was the name of their Pony Club, and ten minutes wasn’t a lot of time to tack up a horse and get ready for the meeting.
Carole waved her hand, fingers still crossed, at Lisa, uttered a quick “See you!” and headed for the tack room. Lisa turned her attention to Pepper. She tugged his forelock out from under the crownpiece of his bridle and smoothed it for him.
When she was finished with that, she lifted Pepper’s saddle onto his back and slid it into place. She checked to make sure the saddle pad was smooth.
“Hi, Lisa,” Stevie greeted her, dashing past Pepper’s stall, carrying Topside’s tack.
“Hey, Stevie, what’s up?” Lisa called after her.
“See you at Horse Wise!” was her only answer.
It was enough, though. As long as Stevie was going to be at the meeting, it meant either she’d never been in trouble, or she’d explained her way out of it. Lisa finished tacking up Pepper and hurried to the meeting.
All Horse Wise mounted meetings began with inspection. Stevie was a little worried about that. She’d been in such a hurry to tack up Topside she wasn’t even positive she’d gotten his saddle on frontward. She glanced down. It was okay. Her bridle, however, wasn’t. Topside used a full bridle with two reins and she’d gotten the leathers twisted. Today, of all days, she didn’t want to delay the beginning of the real meeting. She leaned forward and untwined them as quickly as she could.