I read The Saddle Club growing up, and I loved them. I don’t think I read every single one of them, but I read at least 60% of them. They were great for a kid fantasizing about having her own horse. I even loved that their vague location of, “40 minutes outside of DC in Virginia,” was exactly where I lived as a kid. However, it wasn’t the countryside described in the book, but rather, endless suburbs. If I was going to theorize on exactly where the books took place, I would have guessed Great Falls Equestrian center, where I used to take lessons. I’m pretty sure its demolished now, though… a pity, it was an incredible facility, with a huge indoor, at least 50 stalls, two outdoors, trails… It was the first and only place I’ve seen standing stalls in use. They had a row of them for the lesson ponies, and they’d be in there all day. Somehow, they could even lay down in them.
But I digress.
As I didn’t grow up with cable, I was pretty surprised when I found out there was a Saddle Club TV series. When I first watched them, I was horrified. The Saddle Club takes place in Virginia! Why are they in Australia, and all have accents?! It was a personal slight, you see. Also, they completely messed up the story lines. Eventually, I got over it, and tried to accept it for what it was: An over the top, mostly unrealistic show about horses. Which is why when I decided I wanted to watch another horse movie, I found a 4 pack of The Saddle Club horse movies to buy. That’s right, after this one, I’ve got three more. Buwahaha.
The movie starts with the lesson group doing a jumping lesson, while Max stands silently and watches, giving no instruction. Stevie is beside him, on Belle. I guess she had just gotten Belle at this point because Max reassures her she will be out there jumping soon. Belle is apparently way too green to jump even the tiny crossrails. Veronica comes by and mocks Stevie for not jumping, and Stevie quickly reassures Belle that she’s just not ready yet. Carole chimes in that Stevie just got Belle, and therefore, can’t jump her yet. I guess there’s some kind of initiation process that must be completed before Stevie can attempt to jump her. Then The Saddle Club spends some time mocking Veronica, making me wonder who the real villains are.
Veronica finds Carole feeding her horse treats, and asks her to stop. Carole refuses and insists she will give Garnet treats. Carole has apparently decided that she is the owner of Garnet, and she can do whatever she wants with her. They wrestle over the bag of carrots until Carole lets go, and then Veronica falls backward into a wheelbarrow full of manure. Hopefully, Veronica has learned her lesson to not question what other people are doing to her horse. The Saddle Club laughs at her, bringing me back to my earlier point – The Saddle Club are the real villains.
Veronica is forced to change, and then she is then mocked for wearing jeans. Poor Veronica, it’s not right she gets bullied so much.
One of the farm workers leaves the gate open, and a foal decides to make a bid for freedom. We all know how much foals hate being turned out with their dams, they want to live their own lives, and get away from their embarrassing, helicopter mothers. It sprints towards the farm exit, but The Saddle Club is there to scream at the other farm worker to do something. Luckily Red, the farm worker, always turns out horses in their bridles, so he mounts up and gallops after it bareback, leaping dramatically over a fence gate. What a talented guy. The Saddle Club badgers him about where he learned to do it, and he reveals he rode before, but gave up two years ago. Not only is his backstory mysterious, he also maintained his riding muscles mysteriously.
The farm worker who accidently let the foal out is named Jake, and he is a very poor worker. He is asked to bring hay in but waits until it’s raining to start bringing it in. I sense trouble afoot!
The Saddle Club decides they aren’t going to respect Red’s boundaries, and they must know why Red stopped riding. They discover he qualified for a big competition two years ago, but mysteriously stopped riding. It is unacceptable to The Saddle Club that someone isn’t interested in riding, so they have to figure out how to get him to ride agian.
Stevie decides to trick him into riding by telling him Comanche needs exercise. I’m sure as a lesson horse, he would never otherwise get exercise. Also, it’s not exactly a trick, it’s very obviously asking Red to ride the horse. She explains that she has to ride Belle, and Red is the only person she can trust to ride Comanche. Comanche doesn’t belong to Stevie, and Stevie is not responsible for him, so I’m not sure why she says this. The Saddle Club truly has no boundaries.
Red decides to just put Comanche away, but somehow the horse is in on the trickery and sits down until Red agrees to ride him.
Red leaves, Max, the barn owner left earlier, and now the barn just has Jake, the love-sick Veronica, and her friend who’s name I can’t ever remember. Both Veronica and her friend have been walking around the whole day in their show clothes. They are rich, dammit, and that’s what rich people do!
Veronica is convinced that her and Jake are meant to be together, and her friend tries to read her fortune up in the hay loft. She’s having trouble seeing the cards, so Veronica brings over a hot lamp to see and sets it on the hay. Despite bringing the light over, they give up on the fortune in less than a minute, and leave the loft, leaving the lamp on the hay. The horse gods really want that hay to catch fire.
The Saddle Club run into Red while out riding, and everyone is merry until Lisa discovers the barn is on fire. That’ll ruin anyone’s ride. They return to the barn, and find Jake spraying the hose ambiguously into the barn, Veronica rescuing Garnet (I guess she must have cared about her!) and Veronica’s friend rescuing her own saddle. At least she understands the value of a nice saddle, it’s totally worth your life to save it.
Red and the Saddle Club rush into the barn to save the horses. Everyone grabs a lead rope and a horse, except for Carole who makes sure to blanket the horse so keep it warm once it goes out into the balmy summer day.
Everyone else leads their horses out, but since Carole is pushing on the horse’s shoulder while trying to lead it, her horse won’t go. If she survives the flames, perhaps a Horse Leading 101 class is in order. She also didn’t even bother to attach the straps on the blanket, so it was basically just draped over her.
Red runs back in, and they employ the Black Beauty method of wrapping a standing wrap around the horse’s eyes so she can’t see. I wonder if Anne Sewell knew what a monster of a gimmick she created when she wrote Black Beauty. It will be used in every movie with a barn fire for the remainder of time.
The firemen and owners show up, and it seems that all the horses are safe, although somehow it was a close call with the blanketed horse, despite it having no visible injuries or blemishes of any kind. The attending vet declares that the blanket protected the horse from any burns. I don’t think fleece has any kind of anti-burn properties, but I guess this is why I’m not a TV horse vet.
Now that everyone is safe, it’s time for the blame game. Max yells at Red and Jake, and Red quits. It turns out this is the second barn fire Red has been involved with…which is actually super suspicious. Most people are involved with zero barn fires in their lifetime. Maybe Red has a habit of bringing terrible, fire-starting barn workers with him to work. But, Jake admits to bringing in the hay when it was wet, Red is re-hired, and everyone is friends again.
I thought this was the end, but this is only 27 minutes in. I guess they literally glued episodes together to create this movie. Luckily, despite it taking up a full hour, the next part of the plot goes quickly…quickly for me, anyway, because I only cared about the parts that involve horses. The rest is just white noise.
Max is planning to ask Deborah to marry him, and Deborah wants to learn to ride. She is planning a surprise for Max, and she’s ready after two lessons.
But, it turns out I’m being cynical, and she actually is ready. All she wanted to do was trail ride with Max, at a walking pace. She actually might have over-prepared for it, tourists go on walking trail rides all the time with no prep work.
She asks Max to marry her, and Max is shocked because he was totally going to ask her! A good laugh is had.
Word spreads quickly, and Phil, one of the riders, decides a great present to Max and Deborah is to give them a horse carriage they already own. They do have to clean it up though…and also get a horse to pull the carriage. Rather than picking a horse because of their training, instead its dominance match between Stevie and Phil. Apparently they usually fight over everything, but this time they generous suggest each other’s horse should pull the carriage. This indicates they have a crush on each other.
Meanwhile, Lisa decides the best wedding present she could give is winning first at a horse show that coming up weekend.
She brings the jumps up pretty high, especially since earlier in the movie she was doing little crossrails. But she literally only has a few days to prepare for it, so she needs to accelerate her training. The Saddle Club tries to talk her out of it, but she insists that there is no better gift she can give Max, and she has to practice. Veronica cuts them all off, tells Lisa to go for it, and tells Stevie its not any of her business. She adds that she can’t stand it whent the Saddle Club tries to bully people. It’s about time someone said it!
Lisa, shy, uncertain, and nervous, goes for it. I’m sure we can all guess what happens.
I was spending time trying to figure out how they did this falling scene. I was thinking there was no way they actually had the actress fall on purpose, but it sure looks like her falling. It’s not a prop they tossed over, the movement of it appears human. I’m not sure if it’s actually her or a stunt double, though.
Lisa’s gift ends up being tickets to a front row seat of someone in a coma. I’m not sure she’s going to get better either, as they went to a computer repair technician for her treatment: “She’s a bit like a computer that’s gone to sleep.”
Back at the barn, a random child teaches a horse to pick up a brush.
Stevie tells Max and Deborah that Lisa was trying to win for their present, and they feel so guilty they cancel the wedding. Clearly, this child going into a coma is a sign they aren’t right for each other. They were probably moving too fast anyway, it seems like they just got engaged days ago. I’ve never seen someone plan a wedding so fast.
Deborah leaves her rings with random child, and the horse performs his new trick of eating random objects on it. Child is now doomed to sit by horse for the next day, waiting for it to come out the other end.
As Lisa continues to be a party pooper and stay in a comma, Prancer, the horse she rides, is too devastated to eat, as all our horses get when they haven’t seen us for a few days. They decide to bring Prancer to Lisa to try to wake her up, and when Prancer starts doing her earth shattering whinnies, Lisa wakes right up.
Now the wedding can be back on, and the Saddle Club is going to organize it in less than 3 days… despite the couple not wanting to do it that way. But apparently, children get to decide this, so Max and Deborah are going to get married whether they like it or not.
There’s a boring chunk with no horses while they organize, and Stevie and Veronica feud over Phil, but it all works out. The child doesn’t even have to shift through horse manure to get the rings because the horse just knocked them into the aisle instead of eating them.
Max and Deborah then get married, and it’s all over. There was surprisingly very little horse action in the second act, it was mainly just boohooing about Lisa. Thanks a lot, Lisa, not only did you ruin Max and Deborah’s original wedding plans, you also ruined my movie experience.
I rate it a miniature horse, out of a possible shire, for sheer boringness, and lack of horses. The next three movies better have way more horses than this one. I suffer through these movies purely to see the absurd horse scenarios, and if there is limited horsing, what benefit is there to me?!