Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Saddle Club #8: Horse Show

By Bonnie Bryant. Published 1989.

The girls are super envious of Max and Mrs. Reg. They get to go to New York, to watch his old student, Dorothy DeSoto, compete in the American Horse Show. Every bit of that sounds exciting to them, and they think they should be able to go, too. So they have a Saddle Club meeting at TD’s to discuss how to get their way. Carole gets a little Kristy-like, not allowing Stevie and Lisa to talk about anything else besides horses during a meeting. So they work up a plan, and Lisa realizes how late it is. She calls her mother, who tells her to come home immediately. Why? Because Max called, he’s taking the Saddle Club with him, and Lisa has nothing to wear! Well, that was easy.

So, just like that, they’re arriving in New York and Madison Square Garden, where the show is taking place. They get to go everywhere behind the scenes. Carole gets a little sad seeing how cramped things are backstage for the horses. They find Dorothy, and her mother, Jean, who works as her groom. The adults go get coffee, while getting some free child labor out of the girls. They groom Topside, Dorothy’s horse, but of course they enjoy it. They then get to watch Dorothy’s practice session.

Well, for fuck’s sake, how much money do you make riding horses? The whole group is staying with Dorothy, and there is definitely enough room for them. She lives in a private four-story house in Greenwich Village. Jesus Christ. The girls unpack, Dorothy gives them a map, and they’re let loose on the city. Max isn’t too happy about this, but Dorothy was able to sway him.

It only takes them a few minutes to get lost, but they don’t really care. They get really judgey and make fun of peoples’ different hairstyles. It’s pretty annoying. A woman with green spikes hears them, but instead of being offended, just asks them if they like it, and tells them where she got it done. The girls head there, and Lisa decides to get her hair cut. Nothing crazy, but they all think it’s cool. On the way back, they go through Washington Square Park, and run across a movie being filmed, starring apparent super hottie, Skye Ransom. They don’t get to see him, but they’re sure they’ll run into him eventually. Ok.

The horse show doesn’t really get started for a few days, so Dorothy has set the girls up to go riding in Central Park. The girls have to have an instructor, Marta, go with them the first time, but she’s really nice. They all start to canter at one point, but Lisa’s horse starts on his own, so Lisa let the others get ahead of her while she corrects him. All of a sudden, she hears another horse coming up behind her, very quickly. A boy has lost control of his horse, but Lisa acts the hero and gets them stopped, even though the guy falls off at the end. When Lisa reaches him, she finds out he’s Skye Ransom! Holy shit!

So, here’s the deal. Skye totes lied to the studio, saying he could ride a horse for this movie. And he has to start filming the riding sequences in a few days. It appears he’s shit out of luck, and is going to be in a lot of trouble with the studio. The Saddle Club to the rescue! Lisa gets him back up on the horse, and comfortably walking before the others join them. After explaining his predicament, the girls promise to teach him enough so he won’t look like an idiot. They have to keep it a secret, but they figure no one would believe them anyway.

And so they begin their lessons the next day, teaching Skye how to trot. He kind of gets it, but it’s a lot to remember at once, in such a short amount of time. The girls can only ride for a couple of hours; they have to watch Dorothy ride in the show that afternoon. And they tell Skye he’d be too sore if he rode any longer anyway. But they suggest he accompany them to the show. He’ll probably pick up on how to at least act like a rider, watching the professionals. He agrees to go with them, until he has to be on set later that day.

The girls are thrilled to take Skye’s limo downtown, and when they get to MSG, Skye even lets Stevie pretend it’s hers. A girl asks her for her autograph, and she signs it “Princess Di.” It’s silly, but I don’t blame them.

They watch a Working Hunter class before Dorothy’s Open Jumper class. They explain all sorts of things to Skye. Carole looks across the arena at one point, and sees a woman in a bright red cloak talking to a rider. The girls dub her Big Red Riding Hood. The rider she was talking to is in Dorothy’s class, and doesn’t do very well. Big Red Riding Hood is obviously disgusted. Dorothy is next up, and is doing great. That is until Topside is going over a jump, gets spooked by Big Red Riding Hood’s cape moving, and throws Dorothy off.

Dorothy seems to be ok for the most part. She spends the night in the hospital, sedated, and they’ll do some scans the next day. The girls show up at the park to ride the next morning, but Skye doesn’t join them. He took off right after Dorothy fell, so they guess that he’s scared. They go riding by themselves anyway. But when they get back, they try reaching his manager, but they’re told he’s in a meeting, trying to get the horse riding parts cut from the script. The girls figure they’ll never be seeing Skye again.

When they get back to Dorothy’s house, they can tell right away something’s wrong. Max tells them Dorothy has a broken rib, but also a compression fracture in one of her vertebrae. It will heal fine, but any other back injury could put her in a wheelchair for life. Which means she can never ride in another competition again. Oh snap.

They get to visit Dorothy in the hospital, and she really seems alright. She’s just grateful that she’ll still be able to work with horses, and ride for pleasure. She receives a bouquet of flowers from Skye, and the girls tell her about him not showing up, and how they can’t reach him. Dorothy tells them not to give up, and the card on the flowers is from the Plaza Hotel florist, so he’s probably staying there.

So the girls go straight there, but unsurprisingly, the front desk is not helpful. So the girls decide to set up camp in the lobby, and essentially become stalkers. They see Skye’s manager, and somehow convince him to let them see Skye. He gives them the room number and the special knock he uses.

Skye is surprised to see the Saddle Club at his door, but he lets them in. They manage to convince him to visit Dorothy with them. Of course, she’s just so inspiring, he agrees to give riding another chance, with a lesson with the girls that afternoon. However, only on one condition. The girls then have to be on the set the next day, and be extras in the riding scene. Well…ok then, if you insist.

And so, the big day is upon them. Skye has to do some fast talking, though. The scene didn’t actually call for any extras. But he gets the girls in. However, they’re one horse short for all the girls to ride. Max has the idea to use Topside, who could use the exercise. No mention is made of what I’m sure is a pain in the ass to transport him out to Staten Island, where they’re filming, but whatever. Stevie’s the one who gets to ride him.

All the girls have to do is walk their horses in front of the camera, and they kick ass at that, of course. But in the rest of the scene, Skye and the girl playing his girlfriend, Molly, are supposed to trot, then she takes off cantering, Skye says a line, and then he canters after her. However, Skye’s horse keeps taking off too early, and he can’t stop her. During a break, Skye tells the girls that “Molly” is a bitch, who wants to make him look bad. She keeps making a clicking noise, causing his horse to speed up. He could tell it was a bit of a flighty horse, anyway. Then Stevie has a Great Idea™.

Whoops, wrong series.

Anyway, Topside and Skye’s horse look a lot alike, so they switch them. The clicking doesn’t faze Topside at all, and the rest of the day goes smoothly. Yay! But the girls then have to say goodbye to Skye, and don’t think they’ll ever see him again. Boo!

When they visit Dorothy in the hospital the next day, she has some sad news. She’ll have to sell Topside. Not for the money, but because he deserves to be ridden, in a way that she won’t be able to provide for him. Stevie is particularly upset by this. To make their last few hours in New York enjoyable, Dorothy gives them some money and directions to an ice cream shop. The girls have a Saddle Club meeting, and decide to make Dorothy an honorary member.

When they arrive at the train station a few hours later, they realize Max doesn’t have his suitcase. That’s because he’s going to spend a few more days in New York, signing papers and arranging a van for Topside. That’s right, Topside is coming to Pine Hollow. Yay! The girls spend half the trip home arguing who will get to ride Topside first, before realizing it doesn’t really matter, as long as they each get a turn.

o   So, it’s never stated just why exactly Max decides to take the Saddle Club girls along with him on this trip. It doesn’t really seem fair. A major case of favoritism there, Max.

o   I know Dorothy used to be Max’s student, so that makes this weird. But I swear I read a lot of sexual tension between them. I know they don’t ever end up together or anything, but it sure seems like something’s there in this book.

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