Starr bolted with me twice. Did I forget to mention that he was strong willed? That, combined with his competitive spirit, made him hard to control at times, especially in the company of other horses, which was why I rode mostly alone. The last time I rode with a group, everything was fine until the other girls decided to canter, whereupon Starr, thinking the race was on, proceeded to overtake from the back, with me hauling on the reins to no effect. When we reached the front, the girl in the lead decided to give us a run for our money. Boy, was that ever a mistake!
Starr took off. We were riding along the edge of the sugar cane fields at the time, next to a road, where telephone poles had steel cables that crossed our path at regular intervals. Starr, on the outside of the track, careered along it at break-neck speed, having already left the group behind. The cables whizzed past over my head, and, since I’d lost control of him, I couldn’t even guide him away from them. I decided the only way to slow him down was to turn him into the field. The sugar cane had been recently cut and the fields were ploughed. It took a great deal of tugging to turn him, but turn him I did, and we thundered across the ploughed up ground, the group now far behind.
I hauled on those reins, I yanked and yawed him, all to no avail. Starr was not going to slow down. He was a powerful horse with a lot of stamina, and I had visions of ending up on the freeway. There was a barbed wire fence around the sugar cane fields, however, and when we reached the far side, which must have been a good couple of kilometres from where we started – covered in lightning fast time at a flat out gallop – he allowed me to turn him, and finally stopped.
I rode home, and vowed never to ride with a group again.
So, we rode alone, and that was more fun in many ways, since I didn’t have to worry about other riders sparking Starr’s need for speed, or at least, for being in front. Then one day I cantered him up a long, fairly steep hill. I preferred to canter uphill, since down hills scared me, with Starr’s not so certain brakes and ticklish accelerator. About three quarters of the way up the hill, however, Starr decided this was far too much like hard work, and going down would be much easier. He swung around and took off downhill at an astonishing speed.
Once more, I hauled on the reins, but that only pulled me onto the Western saddle’s pommel, which I clung to. Each time I pulled on the reins, he would slow a little, but then I would overbalance, due to the steep incline, and loosen the reins, whereupon he would speed up again. We careered down a rutted road, heading for a much larger dirt road at the bottom of the hill, frequented by busses. My heart hammered in my mouth as we headed for this road, hell for leather. As we reached it, a bus approached, and I managed to turn Starr so we were racing away from the vehicle.
The passengers and driver of that bus must have been most surprised to be overtaken by a gold and white horse with a white-faced, wild-eyed rider. We left the bus in the dust, too. I never rode him up that hill again. Lesson learnt.