~waves hello~ I’m Kristen, and Nikki asked me to guest blog this week, which is great, because it gave me an excuse to pull one of the books off the back of my shelf. Yes, that’s right, this is one that I never got rid of after I read it 7 thousand times when I was 10. I took a couple pictures:
You can probably see that my copy is pretty well worn. I drank these up when I was a kid. The tiny horseshoe decorations on the back cover, the clever riding crop rule line under the teaser, every tiny nuance of the girls’ outfits. I so totally wanted to join the Saddle Club myself, it was pathetic. But hey, when you’re 10 and it’s 1988 and you ride past a riding stable every day of your life (with your nose tucked in a book, of course), this is the perfect book to suck you in.
So let’s start with Carole. All of these clubs really start with one girl — the BSC had Kristy, the Saddle Club has Carole. She’s the conscientious one, loves riding, has her act together. She, and her best friend, Stevie, are 12 years old and take riding lessons at Willow Creek’s Pine Hollow Stables. They go to different schools, but they became best friends because of a joint love of riding. Then Lisa joins the mix. Her snobbish mother thinks that all well-bred young girls ought to learn to ride horses, so she enrolls Lisa in riding lessons. Lisa is a natural, but not so sure about whether she can make friends with the others until Stevie’s life turns upside down: she might not be allowed to go on the coveted Mountain Trail Overnight camping trip if she doesn’t bring up her math grade!!!
What’s a girl to do? If you’re Stevie, and your parents won’t pay for your camping trip if you don’t bring up your math grade, there’s only one logical option! Why, start your own small business, of course! Um…right. At 10, reading this, I’m sure I was all excited by Stevie’s big idea, just sure she could pull it off and earn the money, then torn when Carole wasn’t so confident — after all, Stevie’s always attempting one scheme after another. Now, not so much. I’m reading this and instantly do a mental forehead slap: Doh! New equation: Stevie + Small Jobs + Crazy Scheme = Math Project.
Much hilarity ensues. There’s riding! There’s sage wisdom from the wise Mrs. Reg! There’s informative details about where a horse’s whithers are and how to cinch a girth! There’s overwrought sentimentalism about stable traditions! But the real mystery remains to be determined: will Stevie be allowed to go on the MTO (MTO = Mountain Trail Overnight [it wouldn’t be any fun to just say ‘trail ride’ or ‘campout’]), or will she blow all her money at the music store buying these newfangled ‘tapes’? Will Lisa’s over protective mom let her go?
And, I kid you not, there’s a couple of pages in here about the moon, and how the moon’s reflection makes two halves of a whole, and how people are sometimes hard to understand, because sometimes they’re very different than they seem at first, and sometimes an activity like riding can surprise you, because it’s different than you expected, but surprises don’t have to be bad and what it all really boils down to is that you might just find a friend in an unexpected person. Deep thoughts.
And my personal favorite, after Stevie realizes that after weeks of farming out odd jobs to dozens of her friends and relatives, she only has four bucks after her marathon music shopping trip, and she has to turn her bookkeeping into a math project: “There was still a lot of work ahead of them–and when a big job needed to be done, it was better if friends did it together.”
~HUGE eye roll~
Of course Stevie gets an A+ on her project, and they all get to go on the camping trip, and they are BFFs, and they form the Saddle Club. And I LOVED these books when I was a kid. I bet I kept about a dozen of them, but I had a lot more than that back in the day. And aside from the tape’s Stevie’s listening to, and the dreary “shopping center” where everybody’s hanging out, these actually hold up pretty well over time. After all, the clothes the girls are gabbing about are riding jodhpurs and boots, not jean jackets and legwarmers. I have no idea if any of the horse info is really true, but it all sounds pretty close. And I’m sure I was a complete know-it-all about horses more than once based solely on information gleaned entirely from the Saddle Club. And I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve ridden a horse. Ok, maybe two.