Friday, January 10, 2014

Saddle Club #3: Horse Sense

By Bonnie Bryant. Published 1988.

In between summer camp riding classes, the girls of The Saddle Club are each busy with their own individual projects.

Carole is anxiously awaiting the birth of Cobalt and Delilah’s foal. The vet is there practically everyday checking on the expectant mother. She includes Carole in every step of the process, and even lets her tag along with her on another horse birth call. It’s pretty much all Carole can think about.

Max has a special project for Stevie. There’s an adult competition coming up at the stables, and Max wants something for the younger riders to do, so he comes up with a gymkhana, a competition with a bunch of silly games. He asks Stevie to pretty much be in charge of the whole thing. She tries to come up with a whole bunch of new games, things with hula-hoops, which spook the horses, and laser tag, even though she can’t actually get ahold of that. She just wants something more exciting than the old egg in a spoon standby.

Lisa at first feels left out with nothing of her own to do, but then she comes up with an idea. In order to be a real club, Lisa thinks The Saddle Club needs all sorts of rules and a mission statement. She spends a long time writing them up, and makes copies for each of the girls. She calls a meeting to ratify them, but Carole and Stevie are so busy they forget about it. So Lisa ratifies them herself, since she was the only one present at the meeting.

A new girl from France, Estelle, does have time for Lisa. She tells Lisa all about how she’s been riding since she was little, and about this magnificent white stallion of hers that she had to leave back in France. However, she doesn’t seem to have very good control over the stable horses. Lisa just figures it must be difference in American and French riding and teaching styles.

Lisa tries to set up yet another meeting, but Stevie and Carole both miss it again. Lisa had intended on asking them if Estelle could join, but goes ahead and makes her a member all by herself. Estelle doesn’t seem as excited as Lisa thought she would be, though.

One day after camp, things happen so it’s just the three girls left at the stables, and of course, that’s when Delilah decides to go into labor. They try contacting the vet, but she won’t be able to make it for about an hour and a half. Carole has learned what to do to get Delilah ready, though, and is able to do what she can, with Stevie and Lisa’s help. Then the three of them clear out and give Delilah privacy, but continue watching from the next stall. Before too long, Delilah gives birth to her foal, which is jet black, just like Cobalt was. When the adults get back to the stables, Max, tells Carole she can name him. She chooses Samson, natch.

The three girls realize how well they worked together, and that they’ve missed doing that. So Carole and Lisa help Stevie work on her games for the gymkhana. They decide they should do the egg and spoon game, which turns out to be a lot of fun when they try it out.

Lisa has to fess up to the others and tell them there are actually four members of The Saddle Club now. Stevie and Carole are not pleased. They’ve known from the beginning the Estelle didn’t know what the hell she was doing on a horse. When Lisa tries to relay some of Estelle’s stories, Carole is able to shoot them down quickly with facts, like there’s actually no such thing as a white horse, and that horses are unable to throw up. Lisa realizes everything Estelle has told her has been a lie, and she has to kick her out of the club. Estelle says she doesn’t want to be in the club anyway, and ends up quitting riding altogether.

Oh, and Lisa gets rid of all the rules. She realizes that the club is a real one with or without them.

o   Max keeps an eye on their grades in school, and won’t let them ride unless their grades are satisfactory.

o   Lisa buys each of the girls, including Estelle, a horse head pin. When Estelle quits, she throws it back at Lisa, so now they’ve got an extra fourth pin.

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