Friday, December 13, 2013

Saddle Club #2: Horse Shy

By Bonnie Bryant. Published 1988.

The girls of the Saddle Club are out on a trail ride, even though they’re supposed to be checking out the cross-country trail. They have a nice lunch on their outing. Lisa takes her first fall, and swears to not ever ride again, but the other girls talk her into it. On their way back to the stables, they take a way back that involves a lot of gates that they have to open and close. So they decide to take a shortcut across some unknown fields. Of course, something goes wrong. A bull starts charging the girls. Carole and Stevie escape just fine jumping over a fence, but Lisa has never jumped before. She’s only been riding a few weeks at this point. But she copies the other girls, and jumps just fine.

It’s time for the Mountain Trail Overnight! Carole helps keeping everything organized. And also takes care of Cobalt, because Veronica can’t be bothered. When they get to their campsite, they play some horse games. Another game they play involves making up stories trying to guess about Max’s grandfather, Max the First. He’s the one who founded the stables. They come up with all sorts of wild stories. Lisa comes up with the idea to go look him up in the library to find out the real story.

The next day, Max has everyone but Lisa practice jumping. His rule is that you can’t start jumping until you’ve been riding a year. Veronica gets in a shitload of trouble for galloping Cobalt downhill. She doesn’t care, though. You can just see her bitchface.

Back at the stables, Carole gets to exercise Cobalt all week, and she’s in heaven. They have a very good workout before Carole heads out of town to her aunt’s for a few days. But when she gets back, she gets an urgent call form Stevie, telling her to get to the stables right away,

Veronica was galloping to jump, just like Max told her not to, and Cobalt landed wrong. Veronica broke her arm, and Cobalt broke his leg, and had to be put down. Carole is understandably heartbroken, and says she’ll never ride again.

Stevie and Lisa get to work at the library looking through old newspapers for info on Max the First, but don’t find anything. They decide to hit up Mrs. Reg, Max’s mother, but she’s not talking. She does, however, say that Carole will be back.

Carole goes back to the stables just to sort out stirrup leathers left over from the trip, because she promised she would. While working, Mrs. Reg tells her about a lot of horses she’d ridden in her life, but that she never had a favorite. Carole also meets a new batch of kittens at the stable. When she leaves, she thinks it might be forever.

Stevie and Lisa continue their search for Max the First at the library. They spot Veronica engrossed in a book, sitting backwards in her chair, obviously practicing jumping. She does it perfectly. Stevie says that’s the one good thing to come out of Cobalt dying.

An old man overhears them talking about Max the First to the librarian, and he says he knew him. The girls take him to a diner, and he tells them he was the most boring man he’d ever met. But they do learn that their Max runs things exactly like his grandfather. They decide not to tell anyone, and just continue to make up tall tales.

Carole finds herself going to the Pine Hollow without really thinking about it one Saturday. When she gets there, she goes into Cobalt’s stall, and finally cries about losing him. Then she falls asleep. When she wakes up, she hears Veronica and her father talking. Her father is trying to talk her into buying another horse. But Veronica owns up to the accident being her fault, and she doesn’t want to own another horse until she learns to take care of it properly. Until then, she’ll ride stable horses.

Carol realizes she still wants to ride, and goes to ask Max permission to rejoin her class. He tells her yes, but she has to ride a different horse. Delilah is pregnant, with Cobalt’s foal.

o   I normally like Max, and then he says shit like this. When Carole brings up her horse Delilah’s recent moodiness, he says, “Women…it doesn’t sound to me like there’s anything to worry about.” It just rubs me the wrong way.

o   One of the boys in their class is named Adam Levine.

o   The image of Veronica in the library is the one that has stuck with me whenever I think about Saddle Club books.

o   Carole gets to keep one of the kittens, a black one she names Snowball because he’s so contrary.

o   This book, along with Kristy and the Snobs, was put on my Do Not Read list after my dog died when I was younger.

o   This book is not really snarkable, at least to me.

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