By this time I had made a couple of friends at Green Meadow Lane, and sometimes we trained together in the arena. One was Sarah, a nice girl who owned a young bay thoroughbred. One day Sarah and I were schooling our horses in the training arena when a few older girls led another young, skittish thoroughbred in on a lunging rein. I thought this was rather foolish, since there was a perfectly good lunging ring just outside the training arena, and rode over to ask them why they wanted to lunge this horse in the training arena.
The oldest girl, Robyn, informed me that she wanted to get him used to lunging without the benefit of a ring. I pointed out that other people were using the training arena for training, and a loose horse would definitely be a problem with two other young, frisky horses around. She waved away my objection without a second thought, and proceeded to let out the lunging rein and crack the whip. Moments later, her horse ripped the rein from her hands and took off across the training arena at a full gallop. Starr bounced and pranced, but obeyed my wish to not join the wild stampede. Sarah was not so fortunate. She did manage to stay aboard, but returned white-faced and trembling when she got her horse under control again.
Of course, I informed Robyn of how I had told her so, and that someone could have been hurt. She stomped off in a huff, and I thought that was the end of it. To my surprise, as I led Starr back to his stable, the owner of the livery stable and his wife came storming out of the house, a smug-looking Robyn trailing behind them. I don't know what she had told him, but he was positively apoplectic. He ordered me, in no uncertain terms, to pack up my stuff, take my horse, and get off his property before the sun set on Dodge. He even told me that if I had been a man, he would have punched me. All because I had an argument with Robyn about using the training arena as a lunging ring, and then been proven right? Odd! Need I mention that Robyn was a pretty girl, and the livery stable owner a rather overweight middle-aged man?
So, Starr was homeless, and the next day I saddled up and headed off into the wild blue yonder - well not quite. I rode him over to the house my mum had rented for us, which didn't have stables. There was a nice paddock across the road, however, and the owner had agreed to let me keep Starr there. My mum insisted on driving with me in her car, hazard lights flashing, as if Starr and I were a mobile disaster just waiting to strike. Mothers! Needless to say, he was as good as gold, and we arrived at our new home without mishap.
Starr wasn't happy about living alone, but the fences were high and kept him in. That was an unpleasant time. I had to run over the road in the middle of the night many times to put a blanket on him when it started to rain - and if he was lying down I had to persuade him to get up so I could! Then one day it got really cold and bucketed with rain while I was at work. My mum phoned to say that Starr was standing with his feet all tucked under him, shivering. I begged my boss to let me go home, but he refused. I phoned my mum again, and I would have left even if he'd fired me, but she assured me all was well, and she had brought Starr into our garage.
I found it rather hard to imagine a 16hh horse in our garage, and wondered how my mum had managed it. As soon as 5pm came, I raced home. My mum is no horsewoman, but Starr was no ordinary horse. I found him standing at the centre of a positive spider's web of string. My mum had put a halter on him and used every bit of string she could find to tie him to every possible hitching post in the garage, including the junk that clogged its corners and lined the walls. Starr turned to look at me with his white-ringed eyes, standing like a lamb in mum's web. His welcoming neigh told me that he wasn't at all sure about the web my mad mum had weaved around him, but he was warm and dry.
I was still schooling Starr pretty much every day after work, and he was becoming quite the well-behaved horse. One day I decided to show off to my mum just how good he was, and climbed on him in the paddock bare back, with just a halter. I wanted to show her how I had taught him to side-rein and stop when I pulled on the lead rein - look mum no bit! Of course my control was somewhat imperfect, and he took a route under a tree with a low branch. Judging by his surprised look when he found me sitting on my butt under the tree, I don't think it was intentional. Okay, I fell off three times.
At that time we had a mongrel bitch who loved Starr. She was my sister's dog, called 'Santy'. One day we were standing at the fence petting Starr, and Santy was sitting gazing at him with adoring eyes. Starr leant over the fence and nibbled her head, and she loved it. Next thing I knew Starr had gripped the skin on the top of Santy's head and lifted her until her front paws were off the ground. Evidently his grip was too gentle to hurt, because she didn't cry and when he dropped her she went into paroxysms of delight at his attention. I had to marvel at his gentleness.
A few months later, we rented a cottage with stables down the road.