By Bonnie Bryant. Published 1989.
Carole and her father are going back to the Quantico base to meet up with an old friend of his, Colonel Devine and his family. Her dad says he has a daughter, Kate, that Carole will like. Carole’s just as excited to go visit her old stables on base, though. She likes Kate when she meets her, and then has a lot of fun schooling her all about horses. After they say goodbye however, her dad says he surprised Kate didn’t school Carole. Kate is actually Katharine Devine, a famous-in-the-horse-world championship rider. Carole feels pretty stupid.
Stevie is pissed, because her older brother Chad is going to start riding lessons, too. Riding is supposed to be her thing. And she’s not very nice or patient with him at the stables. Lisa, however, is. And that’s cool with Chad, because he has a crush on her. Lisa and Carole realize this about the same time, and break it to Stevie. She’s not too thrilled with the news. They figure that Lisa is whole reason he started riding, because he doesn’t really seem that interested in it.
Kate is going to come visit for a week, and Lisa and Stevie are excited to meet someone famous. Carole and Kate get their earlier misunderstanding smoothed over right away. Kate said since she didn’t say anything to begin with, it was hard to say anything at all. The girls take her to Pine Hollow and introduce her to all the horses. She likes all the horses, but doesn’t talk about her own riding at all. Later, Carole asks her about this, and Kate confesses that she has quit riding.
Carole is shocked by this news, and shares it with Lisa and Stevie later. They figure they can get her back into riding. Of course they do.
Chad eventually asks Lisa out on a date. They go to see some ridiculous mummy movie, and Lisa’s not down with it at all. She goes so far as to wait in lobby. Discussing it later, they decide she just can’t get into those type of movies, just like he can’t really get into riding. They discover they don’t really have anything else in common, either. When she gets home, Lisa decides it went so badly, it doesn’t even count as her first date.
The gymkhana is coming up still, and Max decides the teams. He put the Saddle Club together, along with Chad, since he’s such a new rider. They get to practice leading up to the gymkhana. After their date, Chad says he’s going to quit, but Lisa talks him into waiting until after the gymkhana. Their team would be disqualified otherwise.
They need help setting up and running it, so Carole enlists Kate. She doesn’t mind, she still loves the horses. It’s a three-day event. The Saddle Club team wins the first day’s events. They end up coming in third on the second. And they also lose a team member. Chad sprained his wrist pretty badly. After talking with Kate, the girls discover it’s not actually riding she doesn’t like any more, but the cutthroat competition, that it’s not any fun. But the gymkhana is fun, so she agrees to join the team, if Max allows it.
Max will allow it, but only if their team is handicapped. But even so, they win the day, and the whole gymkhana. Yay, Saddle Club.
The girls ask Kate if she’d like to join the club. She says she would, but only if there can be a long distance membership. Her parents have bought a dude ranch out west. They were worried about how Kate would like it, but after the gymkhana, and how much fun she had, they’re no longer worried. And of course, the Saddle Club will be invited to come visit.
o Lisa argued for two hours with her mother about going on a date. Major props to Mrs. Atwood. At least some adults think a thirteen-year-old going on a date is a big deal.