Literature / The Saddle Club

Business-minded teens and pre-teens in the 1980s and 1990s had The Baby-Sitters Club. For the horse-crazy, there was The Saddle Club.

Set in Virginia, primarily at Pine Hollow Stables, the books revolved around three good friends, Carole Hanson, Stephanie "Stevie" Lake, and Lisa Atwood. They all attend school together and share a passion for riding and horses, though only Carole and Stevie own their own. Other notable characters include their trainer, Max, and rich rival, Veronica diAngelo.

In general, Carole is the most dedicated to riding and has probably been doing it the longest. She lives with her father, an Army colonel, and eventually owns the horse Starlight. Stevie, on the other hand, is a tomboy. With three brothers, she's more comfortable with the guys than the girls. Riding is about the only "girly" activity she enjoys, but her struggles in school means her parents often threaten to pull the riding unless she does better. She eventually owns the horse Belle. Lisa is the newest member of the group. Though a year older than the other two, she just started riding and is the greenest of all. Through her, less horse-involved readers learn the ins and outs of riding and equine ownership. She started riding because her mother thought it would be proper for a lady, but eventually grows to love it. She never owns a horse, though her parents offer to buy her one several times.

The series spawned two spin-offs, Pine Hollow (which followed the girls at high school ages and revolved more around their personal lives than horses) and Pony Tails (aimed at younger kids, following around three younger girls from the same barn).

The books were eventually adapted into a Australian live-action series.

This series provides examples of:

  • Alpha Bitch - Veronica.
    • Lovable Alpha Bitch: In the TV series moreso than in the books, although she has her moments there, too.
  • Ascended Extra- Alex Lake and Phil's friend AJ have more larger roles in the Pine Hollow books
  • Automaton Horses - Averted. Several books revolve around what can happen if you don't take proper care of the horse, including injuries and illnesses like colic.
  • Bizarre Taste in Food - Stevie is known for ordering bizarre and outlandish combinations of ice cream and ice cream toppings when the girls go for sundaes. Pretty much nobody will eat them but her.
    • In a "Christmas special"-type book, Lisa's cousins visit from Scotland. Turns out one of those cousins, Eliot, has the same penchant for weird ice cream, which Stevie, of course, appreciates.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead - Technically, Carole has black hair, but Stevie is blonde and Lisa is a redhead, so the rest fits.
  • Friendship Moment - Many throughout the series.
  • Junior High - The girls are in seventh and eighth grade (and never age, despite going on many, many summer vacations).
  • Lethal Chef- Stevie
  • Missing Mom - Carole's mother passed away before the beginning of the books.
  • Negative Continuity - The girls never age and never get older, although some plots in books are given a nod in others, which makes the whole thing rather hard to decipher.
  • New Transfer Student - Lisa, in the very beginning. She provides are viewpoint as she gets to know Stevie and Carole, and is also new to the equestrian scene. Through her, readers learn about both characters and horses.
  • One of the Boys - Stevie has four brothers, plays football, spits, and does nothing girly except riding.
  • Overprotective Dad - Carole's father sometimes fit this bill. He lost his wife a long time ago, and was also a colonel in the army, which can lead to being rather strict at times. But he also bought his daughter a horse, so all's good.
  • Series Continuity Error - Lisa has gotten the chicken pox at least twice, each time acting as though she never had before. See Negative Continuity above.
  • Spared by the Adaptation - Pepper was put down in the book 'Autumn Trial' after he was put out to pasture. But in the episode 'The Home Straight', Pepper was brought by Bud and looked after.
    • In the Pine Hollow series, Delilah dies from the Equine Virus and Prancer dies while giving birth to twins. Neither of them die in the TV show, though Delilah isn't seen or mentioned after season 1, and Prancer never is a mother to be.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely - Said about Stevie, the resident tomboy.
  • Shrunk in the Wash: In Show Ponies Part 1 Ashley rode Comanche. Veronica gave Ashley her coat after it shrunk in the wash since it wouldn't fit her anymore.
  • Spoiled Sweet - Desi Beggins is almost as rich as Veronica and Kristi, if not, moreso. Yet, she gets along so well with everyone regardless of this, and according to Melanie and Jess 'she gives smiles, hugs and love, she's not like Veronica at all'.
  • Token Minority - Carole, who is black.
  • Tomboyish Name - Stevie; played with in that her given name is Stephanie, but she refuses to let anyone call her that name.
  • Wild Teen Party- happens in the Pine Hollow books Stevie's brother accidently leaves beer in the basement.
  • Younger Than They Look - One of the later books has Lisa flirting with a college student who somehow mistakes her, an eight grader, for a high school senior. She doesn't bother to correct him.