The Saddle Club (books)

The Saddle Club (books)

"The Saddle Club" is a series of intermediate children's books published by Bantam Books between 1986 and 2001. The series was created by a publishing house using the contract writing services of self-professed equestrian novice Bonnie Bryant. Many titles were also written by ghostwriters. Spin-offs include three other book series, The Saddle Club Super Editions, Pine Hollow and Pony Tails, a TV show also called The Saddle Club, a club with a monthly newsletter, and a line of model horses manufactured by Breyer.

The books follow the adventures of best friends Carole Hanson, Stevie Lake, and Lisa Atwood, who live in the town of Willow Creek (fictional), Virginia and ride at Pine Hollow Stables. In the first book of the series, "Horse Crazy," Carole and Lisa help Stevie with her mathematics project, which launches the girls' friendship and the title club. (For purposes of this article, "The Saddle Club" refers to the books and "The Saddle Club" refers to the three founding members of the club.)

At the beginning of the series, Carole and Stevie are twelve-year-old seventh-graders and Lisa is a thirteen-year-old eighth-grader. Although the characters live through several vacations and years of school, they do not age until the "Pine Hollow" series.

Structure of the Books

"The Saddle Club" is written in a third-person style. In early books, the narration was third-person limited and shifted from character to character, often offering more insight into the thoughts and feelings of The Saddle Club and their friends; in later books, the narrative style became much more omniscient.

Titles

* For a complete list of titles, see List of Saddle Club books.

Main Characters

Carole Hanson

* First appearance: #1, "Horse Crazy" Page 4
* Age: 12
* Family: Father, Mitch Hanson, a Colonel in the United States Marine Corps; mother, Karen Hanson, died of cancer when Carole was 11.
* Horse(s): Starlight, a part-Thoroughbred gelding whom she receives as a Christmas gift from the money her mother left her, in #13, "Starlight Christmas."
* Education: A seventh-grader at Willow Creek Junior High School, a public school.
* Personality: Carole is the best, most experienced, and most serious rider of the three; she began riding when she was five. Stable owner Max Regnery selected her as the best overall junior rider in #6, "Dude Ranch". She is very organized as far as horses are concerned, but she can be scatterbrained regarding anything else. She tends to be a know-it-all at times, but sometimes it is very helpful. Carole has a cat named Snowball.
* Inconsistencies: In the first book, "Horse Crazy", Carole's mother died "six months earlier" from cancer. Later books refer to Carole's mother having been dead for "a few years," probably because although time passes, the characters do not age. Carole has never forgiven Veronica for killing Cobalt and ever since Cobalt had to be put down Carole's hated Veronica even more.Also, in the original printing of the cover, Carole was Caucasian. In later books, she was referred to as black or African-American.

Stevie Lake

* First appearance: #1, "Horse Crazy" Page 1
* age: 12
* Family: Father, George, a lawyer; mother, Catherine, also a lawyer; big brother, Chad, 14; twin brother, Alex, 12; little brother, Michael, 9.
* Horse(s): Belle, a bay mare whom she receives in #38, "Horse Trade". She almost bought Stewball, the horse she rides at her friend Kate Devine's dude ranch.
* Education: A seventh-grader at Fenton Hall, a private academy.
* Personality: Stevie began riding when she was eight. She is the least serious of the three and the most unorganized. Stevie dropped her given name, Stephanie, almost before she could talk and has always been a bit tomboyish. Now being uncomfortable with the activities other girls of her age do, but at the same time getting tired of being "one of the boys," one thing remains: her love of horses. She excels at practical jokes, one of which is her first interaction with Lisa. Ironically, one of her strongest skills is dressage, a precise type of riding that requires great subtlety and poise. Stable owner, Max, selected her as the best overall junior rider in Super Edition #3, "Western Star". She is the only one who has a steady boyfriend, Phil. Stevie is the only girl in her family, and her feuds with her brothers are a major element of most of the series; her brothers love to tease her about Phil. Stevie is younger than Alex by six minutes. Stevie has a cat named Madonna.

Lisa Atwood

* First appearance: #1, "Horse Crazy" page 7
* Age: 13
* Family: Father, Richard, 42; mother, Eleanor (Mr. Atwood's job is unknown. Mrs. Atwood is a model at the Mall.); brother, Peter, 21, who is at college or studying abroad for most of the series. In the "Pine Hollow" series, her parents have divorced and her father has married Evelyn and they have a daughter, Lily. Mr. Atwood, Evelyn, and Lily live in California.
* Horse(s): Lisa never owns her own horse, although her parents once considered buying her a horse. In #11, "Horse Wise", they view a horse called "Pretty Boy," but Lisa knew she was not ready to own one. Lisa did the right thing and told Colonel Hanson about the horse and he ended up buying him. Carole later changed his name to Starlight. In the "Pine Hollow" series, Lisa's father makes plans to buy Prancer, a retired Thoroughbred racehorse, for her, until Prancer dies during a difficult pregnancy, as do both of her twin-foals, in the ninth book of the "Pine Hollow" series, "Riding To Win".
* Education: An eighth-grader at Willow Creek Junior High School, the public school she attends with Carole Hanson.
* Personality: Lisa is the oldest of the three but the newest rider; she begins in #1, "Horse Crazy" at age 13, because her mother thinks that every "young lady" should know something about horses. She is extremely organized, a straight-A student, and a perfectionist. Although stable owner, Max, often tells her that she has potential, her desire to "catch up" to Carole and Stevie is an element of most of the series. Lisa has a dog named Dolly.
* Inconsistencies: Lisa's brother is mentioned peripherally in two early books - #1, "Horse Crazy", in which Lisa's mother wouldn't let Lisa borrow a tie from him, and #7, "Horse Play", in which he's at summer camp. Since Peter is eight years older than Lisa and living away from home for the rest of the series, it is likely that these are errors.

Max Regnery III

* First appearance: #1, "Horse Crazy"
* Family: Grandfather, Maxmilian, who founded Pine Hollow Stables, deceased; father, Maxmilian II, deceased; mother, Elizabeth, who is known as "Mrs. Reg"; wife, Deborah Hale, a newspaper reporter whom he marries in #45, "Stable Groom"; oldest daughter, Maxine "Maxi" Hale Regnery, who is born in Super Edition #5, "Before They Rode Horses"; youngest daughter, Jeanne "Minnie" Hale Regnery, mentioned in the "Pine Hollow" series.
* Horse(s): Max owns about 25 horses at the start of the series, a number that grows over the course of the books.
* Personality: Max owns the stable and also teaches classes for riders of all ages. He requires that all students not only ride but also take care of their horses, clean tack, get good grades in school, and perform chores around the stable; he believes that these are all part of what it means to ride. In addition to being a respected teacher, he is also an accomplished rider.
* Inconsistencies: Max's full name has been spelled Maxmillian, Maximillian, and Maximilian at various points in the series.This is all truuth we think,.

Elizabeth "Mrs. Reg" Regnery

* First appearance: #1, "Horse Crazy"
* Family: Father-in-law, Maxmilian, who founded Pine Hollow Stables, deceased; husband, Maxmilian II, deceased; son, Maxmilian "Max" III; daughter-in-law, Deborah Hale; granddaughter, Maxine "Maxi" Hale Regnery; granddaughter Jeanne "Minnie" Hale Regnery.
* Horse(s): It is implied that when Max II died, he left the stable to his son, not his wife. Mrs. Reg rides frequently, but does not own her own personal horse.
* Personality: Mrs. Reg manages the stable, schedules classes, and coordinates orders and special events. She dislikes seeing people stand around with nothing to do and often assigns them odd jobs if they aren't already working. She is also famous for telling stories that are seemingly unrelated to the situations that The Saddle Club finds itself in. Mrs. Reg also gives good advice.

Veronica diAngelo

* First appearance: #1, "Horse Crazy"
* Family: Father, a banker and the richest man in Willow Creek; mother, a prominent social figure.
* Horse(s): Princess, a pony that she owned when she was 11; Cobalt, a black Thoroughbred stallion who dies as a result of her carelessness in #2, "Horse Shy"; Garnet, an Arabian mare that her parents buy for her in #11, "Horse Wise"; Go For Blue "Danny", a well-trained black Thoroughbred that her parents buy for her in #49, "Stable Farewell".
* Education: A seventh-grader at Fenton Hall, a private academy.
* Personality: Veronica is extremely spoiled and acts as The Saddle Club's perpetual enemy, particularly Stevie's, since the girls attend the same school. Veronica always has the latest clothes and doesn’t approve of The Saddle Club's clothes. Earlier books are more generous toward Veronica, suggesting that she acts badly because her parents have little time for her and often agree to buy her something as a means of solving problems. Veronica's character suggests that she would love to be part of The Saddle Club, but chooses to keep people at arm's length from her. She doesn't seem like she can trust people as she's been let down by her own parents many times. Her spoiled exterior seems like a cover for her true feelings. She is very lonely but would never admit it. Veronica has three friends from school. Veronica hates being called "Ronnie". Veronica cried when she sold Garnet in "Stable Farewell" indicating that she really cared about her even though she fussed over Danny and took care of him. Veronica's first dog Robespierre got sick and Dr. Takamura put him to sleep. Veronica has a new dog named Sugarlump, and she's cute. When Robespierre was put to sleep Veronica clearly didn't care.

Recurring characters

* Dr. Judy Barker - equine veterinarian who treats most Pine Hollow horses
* Alan Barker - Dr. Judy's husband and her vet assistant.
* John Brightstar - son of Walter Brightstar, a wrangler at the Bar None Ranch. John is often romantically involved with Lisa.
* Marie Dana - injured in a car accident that killed her father and left her unable to walk for months; The Saddle Club befriends her and Mitch Hanson dates her mother, Olivia, briefly.
* Dorothy DeSoto - former student of Max Regnery and an excellent rider; suffers an injury in #8, "Horse Show", that ends her career as a competitive rider, so she has to sell her horse Topside to Max. Stevie rides Topside until she gets her horse Belle. Marries Nigel Hawthorne in #27, "Bridle Path".
* Kate Devine - former champion junior rider and a friend of The Saddle Club; her parents, Frank and Phyllis, know Mitch Hanson from when Frank was a pilot in the United States Marine Corps. They now own a dude ranch in the Southwest called the Bar None Ranch. Like Merrill, Phil, A.J., and Cam Kate is an honorary member of The Saddle Club.
* Eli Grimes - wrangler at the Bar None Ranch, who considers the members of The Saddle Club "dudes" when he first meets them in #6, "Dude Ranch". He starts a riding summer camp with his wife, Jeannie, in "Ranch Hands".
* Nigel Hawthorne - Dorothy DeSoto's British husband; also a rider.
* Jasmine James - eight-year-old rider at Pine Hollow; she and her best friends become the main characters of the spin-off series Pony Tails.
* May Grover - eight-year-old rider at Pine Hollow; she and her best friends become the main characters of the spin-off series Pony Tails. Started taking riding lessons at Pine Hollow and joined Horse Wise in "Racehorse". Has a pony named Luna because of the perfect moon shaped mark on his face.
* Corey Takamura - eight-year-old rider at Pine Hollow; she and her best friends become the main characters of the spin-off series Pony Tails.
* Christine Lonetree - Native American Indian whom the Saddle Club and Kate Devine first meet in #6, "Dude Ranch"; her German Shepherd Tomahawk dies saving Stevie from a rattlesnake.
* Phil Marsten - Stevie's boyfriend; he lives in Cross County, which is fifteen miles away from Willow Creek. Early books spelled his last name Marston. Phil has a Quarter Horse named Teddy. Teddy threw Phil once. Like Kate, Merrill, A.J., and Cam Phil is an honorary member of The Saddle Club.
* Red O'Malley - head stablehand at Pine Hollow and Denise's boyfriend.
* Denise McCaskill - Pine Hollow stablehand and Red's girlfriend.
* A.J. McDonnell - Phil's best friend and a fellow rider at Cross County Stables. Like Kate, Merrill, Phil, and Cam A.J. is an honorary member of The Saddle Club.
* Cam Nelson - young rider from Arden Hills whom Carole first meets over an Internet message board. Cam has a horse named Duffy. He moves to California when his dad gets a new job in #49, "Stable Farewell". Like Kate, Merrill, Phil, and A.J. Cam is an honorary member of The Saddle Club.
* Skye Ransom - seventeen-year-old actor whom the Saddle Club meets and teaches to ride in #8, "Horse Show".
* Lady Theresa "Tessa" - English lady whom Lisa meets in England when Tessa falls off her horse.
* Emily Williams - young rider with cerebral palsy. The Saddle Club meets and befriends Emily and her horse P.C. in #52, "Riding Class".
* Scott Forester - First appeared in the "Pine Hollow" series. Scott is Callie's brother and is older by one year. After Stevie hit Callie and her horse with her first car he blamed Stevie for the accident and the death of Callie's horse. Scott has trouble forgiving Stevie for the accident and for killing Callie's horse.
* Callie Forester - First appeared in the "Pine Hollow" series. Callie is Scott's sister and is younger by one year. Callie and her horse Fez got hit by Stevie when she was driving in her first car in the first Pine Hollow book. Callie survived the accident, but Fez was killed.

Spin-Offs

Books

Two additional types and two series of books were spun off following the popularity of "The Saddle Club".

The "Saddle Club Super Edition" books also focus on Carole, Lisa, and Stevie, but are longer and occasionally written in a different style. For example, Super Edition #1, "A Summer Without Horses", is broken into four sections, and the first three are about Lisa, Stevie, and Carole's personal experiences. Other "Super Edition"s follow the same third-person narrative style of the regular series. For more information about the "Super Edition"s, see the List of Saddle Club books.

The "Inside Story" books are written as diaries or journals. In each, the premise is that the title character - Stevie, Lisa, or Carole - is doing a project or writing a journal that requires her to explain her impressions of events in regular "The Saddle Club" books that involved all three girls. The Inside Story books are longer than the Super Editions. For more information about the "Inside Story" books, see the List of Saddle Club books.

One peripheral book, called "Just For Girls: The Saddle Club: Happy Horse Day", was published by Jean Naté and bundled with a short peripheral called "Just For Girls: The Fabulous Five: Friends Forever", based on Betsy Haynes' book series The Fabulous Five. The books were part of the Petite Naté line. In the story, which is only 20 pages long, the girls plan to have a sleepover and use Jean Naté products, which strains credibility for anyone familiar with Stevie and Carole's personalities.

The "Pony Tails" series is similar in style to "The Saddle Club" and follows eight-year-olds May Grover, Jasmine James, and Corey Takamura, who first appeared in "The Saddle Club". The girls form a club called the Pony Tails because, as May explains, The Saddle Club is the head of Pine Hollow, so they must be the tail. Sixteen books were written in all.

The "Pine Hollow" series is about the same characters but is set four years later, beginning in the summer that Carole and Stevie are sixteen and Lisa is seventeen. Although horses and riding are still a major part of the series, the focus is on the girls, their friends, and the problems that teenagers face. Two new characters, Scott and Callie Forester, joined the series, and Phil Marsten, A.J. McDonnell, and Emily Williams gained much bigger roles. Seventeen books were written. In April 2001, the last Pine Hollow book, "Full Gallop", signified the end of all "The Saddle Club" and related books.

TV series

In 2001, "The Saddle Club" was adapted into a TV series called "The Saddle Club", which was filmed and set in Australia. There are notable differences between the characters and plotlines in the books and the TV series. It has been broadcast on ABC and FOX8 in Australia, on Discovery Kids and public television in the United States, on YTV network in Canada, and on CITV in the UK. Episodes are available on DVD. The third season of "The Saddle Club" is scheduled to air in the fall of 2008.


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