Thursday, March 13, 2014

Saddle Club #5: Trail Mates

By Bonnie Bryant. Published 1989.

There’s a group of tourists going on a trail ride, and Max wants Carole to go along to help out with the inexperienced riders. It has to do with horses, so she gladly accepts. Among the group is a boy about her age named Scott. He asks her questions about riding, and then gladly listens to her very long answers.

A thunderstorm comes up suddenly. Scott is on Patch, who, if you’ll remember, has a fear of loud noises. Carole has just enough time to jump up on behind Scott before the thunder comes, and Patch takes off. She is able to keep Scott on the horse, and eventually Patch slows down. Scott says Carole saved his life.

When they return to the stables, Scott offers to come the next day to help Carole with her chores. Stevie and Lisa see him hanging on her every word, and tell her he obviously likes her. But Carole says she’s not ready for the whole dating thing yet. Thank goodness, a twelve-year-old with a bit of sense. Stevie, always eager to help, says Carole has to turn him off in some way. They come up with the plan that they’ll muck out the stalls the next day, pretty much the worst job at the stables.

But it turns out, Scott is a hard worker, and doesn’t seem to mind it at all. He even impresses Max, who talks about the wonder boy for days after. So that plan didn’t work.

Carole is having a problem outside the stables, as well. Her father has been dating a woman, Lynne, who is very interested in Carole. She is nice to her, to make her father happy. She did want him to start dating and having fun. Lynne insists on taking her shopping, and buying her a dress. Carole finally agrees to a simple one that’s not disgusting. Stevie and Lisa think Lynne is trying to act as a mother to Carole.

Lynne drops the news that there’s a dance at the Officer’s Club, to raise money for Toys for Tots, and her father got a table for four, and Carole needs to find a date. Her father was scared to tell her. Carole asks Scott to go with her. Way to not lead him on, Carole, damn.

At the dance, Lynne and Carole’s father are planning on being in a dance contest. First prize is a pair of airline tickets. Carole jumps to conclusions, and thinks that’s perfect for a honeymoon, so they must be getting married. She completely freaks out, and runs to the bathroom, crying. She runs into a table, and sprains her ankle.

Scott has his dad take Carole home, so her father can still participate in the dance contest. They end up winning.

Carole mopes about for a few days, until her father asks her what is up. She says he should share his happy news first. He has no idea what she’s talking about. Of course he’s not getting married. He likes Lynne as a friend, but in fact he finds her a bit bossy. Carole realizes they have the same problem, and both need to be more direct.

Carole can’t ride because of her ankle, but she can still go to the stables to do some work. Scott joins her to soap some saddles. Carole is direct with him, and says she likes him for a friend. Scott understands, and says he’ll be going back to Ohio soon anyway. But he has gained a love of horses, and he wants to continue working with them when he gets home. They promise to write to each other.

During all this, Lisa and Stevie have something they’ve been hiding from Carole. The day Carole went on the trail ride, a photographer came to watch their class. She liked Stevie and Lisa, and asks her to do some work for her. They immediately have fantasies about their top model careers.

They soon find out that that’s not exactly how it goes. She has them “modeling” things for a riding catalog, and it’s really hard work. They find themselves down in the dirt, and behind horses. Apparently she’s really just interested in photographing the products for the catalog.

They do, however, get paid fifty bucks each. They feel guilty for doing all this without Carole, or even telling her, and decide to give her the money, to put towards her fund for an airline ticket to go see Kate Devine at her dude ranch.

But wait! Carole’s father has the two airline tickets that he won. He says they’d be perfect for them to go to the ranch, but he probably won’t have time off before they expire. So she can bring a friend. She just doesn’t know how to choose between Stevie and Lisa. But, when they give her the money, she doesn’t have to. Now the whole Saddle Club can go to the ranch.

o   Stevie thinks a girl making her own clothes is “drippy”. I take offense at that.

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