So, now we lived in a cottage with three rather ramshackle stables, and Starr was all by himself. I didn't know this would become a problem, but I had much to learn about my young horse. For several weeks all was well, then one day a woman drove into our driveway and asked me if I owned the horse in the paddock up the hill. When I said yes, she told me that he had jumped out over the barbed-wire fence and onto the road, right in front of her car.
In a panic, my mum and I set off in the car to find him. We drove all over Assegai, searching high and low, me in a state of anxiety that he would gallop on the road and hurt his feet, end up with splints or laminitis or be hit by a car. Late in the afternoon, having searched just about every lane, road, paddock and garden in the area, we returned home exhausted, hoping someone had found him and brought him back with a belt around his neck. As we approached our driveway, I peered into the next door property's driveway. There was Starr, grazing on the neighbour's verge, close to the horses in his paddocks, no more than 200 metres from our house.
That was when I decided Starr needed a companion. I wasn't risking him jumping out again! I bought an old donkey who needed a good home, and who had been horribly abused. Flies had eaten most of the skin on his legs, leaving huge raw areas that they constantly fed on. I couldn't use fly repellent, since the areas were raw and bleeding. So I made him 'trousers' out of Hessian feed sacks, which protected his legs so the sores could heal. After months of battling to keep the flies away, his sores healed. We called him 'Happiness', because he always looked so miserable. Happiness didn't last long, however. He developed a strange illness that seemed to affect his mind, and he would wander in circles endlessly, in the stable and in the paddock, bumping into walls and fences.
The vet had no idea what was wrong with him, and he showed no signs of getting better. In the stable, he would eventually end up with his forehead pressed against a wall, but in the paddock he never stopped circling. A stream bordered the bottom paddock on one side, and once he fell in and we had to fish him out. I searched for a new donkey for Starr, and found a sweet, 18-month-old baby called Donald. Happiness was put out of his misery and buried in the vegetable garden. The vet did an autopsy at his own expense, and discovered a cyst in Happiness' pancreas, which, apparently, was most unusual.
Starr liked Donald, and the two were content together. At about that time, I finally got my own saddle, a Christmas gift from my fiancé . It was a Nautical III jumping saddle, since I had voiced a wish to show jump with Starr.