To my faithful readers – all two of you LOL – I wish you a happy holiday season. This time last year, I was working in Bhutan and 2014 has just flown by.

This year, we decided to stay in New Zealand over Christmas/New Year. El Hub’s family have gone to Cape Town and we are somewhat regretting we didn’t join them. We felt it was time to chill out and relax with Zeph, Zsa Zsa and the horses. We also decided not to celebrate Christmas at all; no gifts to each other, no special Christmas turkey or pudding.

Sounds very bah humbug doesn’t it? But really, Christmas is nothing more than commercialism run rampant. People get stressed out buying presents for family and frineds; shopping centres are just awful places to be in when hundreds of people are buying up big for the Christmas period.

Besides, since Bhutan we’ve been to Hong Kong and Indonesia plus three trips up North. So time to stay home. Glad we did. It’s been a lovely quiet day albeit a bit hot. Summer has finally descended on us.

And can you believe it? It’s also Saffy’s third birthday. She greeted me early this morning when I took the washing out to hang up on the washing line. An area of the stream is close-by and Saffy was there eating some grass. She looked up and neighed softly.

She has turned into the most delightful mare. I give Karma full credit for having raised her very well, despite Karma never seeing another mare raise a foal. Miss Rosie has played the part of the stern Auntie pretty dramatically, at times biting Saffy. Saffy is affectionate, curious and bold.

Today, she walked all over the race beside me as I checked water troughs because of the heat. Karma was off in some other paddock and Miss Rosie was under a shady tree. Saffy accompanied me to the water troughs and then was happy to accept hugs and cuddles on the occasion of her third birthday.

I have already started her schooling but I don’t believe that horses should be started at two years of age (which seems to be the norm in the racing industry). Horses are not physically mature until five or six years old, so why start them earlier than they should be? You could inflict damage on the horse.

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Look at Saffy’s colouring – such a beautiful girl!!!

So Saffy’s schooling consists of going into the arena with me and doing our exercises – come to me, reverse up, flex the neck, hold up a hoof and so on. The aim is for to understand and accept my commands. I also rattle things at her such as willow branches (which she then gets to eat) and a large sheet of tarpaulin (she inspects underneath it and then I wrap it around her or rattle it at her). She’s as solid as a rock and doesn’t budge or spook. That’s my girl Saffy!

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