Pan (Black Panther) broke out of our round pen four times last Saturday. I was so frustrated with him. Our round pen is not particularly secure. Partly because it's temporary... until it's not. We don't know when that will be as the farm takes shape.
Well, we have the water obstacle settling now. But our plans for it to be spring fed died as the spring either dried up or only works part of the year. Or perhaps we broke it. Actually, I recommended my friend not divert the spring out of the pond. This was before we were sure that the old pond would become a water obstacle and diverting the water made a kind of sense at the time.
Hindsight is sometimes 2020 but not always. In the case of the pond we don't know a lot of things, except the old pond was too big and stagnant. At least our water obstacle has stayed about an inch full and we know it will fill up from spring rains. And we can always fill it for events if we ever have any.
So when Panther broke out of the round pen, he ran around the pond over to the pasture where I caught him easily and tried again. I finally solved the escape route by stacking apple crates by the gate and even though he could technically break out anywhere, he doesn't know that.
Also, to prevent him from learning that I had to rethink what I know about training a horse to turn in rather an away. Most trainers use a lot of pressure to teach the horse that turn away is wrong, but sometimes having less than perfect teaches you things you didn't know.
Now, one thing I've been doing a lot of lately is using the words, "good boy" and "good girl." Our horses know their names so they perk up when we say their names. These are things they had to learn though. Horses don't start out knowing their name and they don't know "good boy/girl" from all the other sounds we make. They have to learn what it means.
How do you teach them? The easiest way, and fastest way to teach a horse their name is to call it and either give them attention or a treat. We use a mixture of both and it's not a specific training but a day to day interaction. It's very useful to call one up to the barn by their name. Our horses also know the word "no."
This means a lot of our interactions are verbal. But still, most of my round pen work has been non-verbal. Yet, instead of applying pressure to Panther, I decided to try removing pressure and using "Good boy," so he could get what I wanted. Now, if he didn't already know "Good boy," the results would have been minimal to nonexistent.
Pan is also a "yes" man and in that he is unlike our other horses. Super says, "mayyyyybe." Thunder replies with an emphatic, "No." And Thor plays dumb.... "I'm confused and my feet are tangle." And since this is also often true-- he fell down about six times last year, once in the barn while being saddled, another time with me on him, and the rest were just as surprising --- I'm still learning how to when he's playing dumb to avoid exertion and really struggling to understand.
So, with Pan it takes almost no cue and he goes, "Yes!!!!!! Ma'am!!!!!" Thus I realized, both by his attitude when I caught him and his breaking out, that my pressure level was just too high. To be fair, all of our horses go off of light pressure. Still, with Pan, he really needs to learn to be less reactive and a lot of things don't mean anything ,which is what we're working on.
Every so often the Korean kids, especially young ones, like kindergartners, will point at my belly and say, "Baby?" Baby is just one of those words that translates so well that second language learners get it the first time they hear it. Hamburger is another word.
I am in fact fat. The polite term is overweight, but I don't hedge on this. I usually weight 95 kg which is 211 lbs. I'm five foot five and a half. That half is very important to me. Its both a genetic thing and an eating thing.
The genetic part is this. I like things like pizza, friend chicken and hamburgers. Actually, I don't just like. i love. I've met people who absolutely love veggies as much as I like fries and fried cheese sticks. The other genetic component is a love of eating. I find it a most relaxing and pleasurable act. And I've always been this way. I didn't talk as a young child for the longest time and then suddenly, at dinner time I said "Please pass the mashed potatoes."
Anyway, sometimes when overweight people come to teach in Korea the struggle. When you are a child surrounded by size 0 adults, the plus sized stand out like a sore thumb and the only word you know for it is fat... well, one better grow a thick skin. The kids aren't being rude. By 3rd, though sometimes 4th grade, they know better. But even then they want to talk about it. Not because they think you are bad, but it's strange as curly hair or blue eyes. With blue eyes, you'll hear, "Pretty, and for curly hair they ask, "Perma?" which is perm in Korean. They understand, "Natural."
They also understand, "Hamburger belly." It's not exactly true. I don't eat that many hamburgers and anyway, pizza, fried chicken, cake, cookies, gimchi, gamjatang, and thousand other things are to blame for it. But it's honest. Refreshingly so, that I never fail to get a smile an break the ice even with adults. But what I'm really saying is that I'm okay with my body.
This isn't to say I've given up and just eat whatever I want. For the most part I simply don't buy the things I'll really overeat. That keeps temptation low on days like today, where I've had a healthy dinner of boiled cabbage, meat, mint leave and broth. It's a new Korean dish my friends mom made. When I first came to Korea it was the kind of the dish that made being here so hard. But now I really enjoy this kind of food.
Nevertheless, I'd really love something sweet to chase it down with.
My friend was driving. Squeezed between her and I was Gabe, her 8 year old son. We were talking about the horses.
Me: Thor makes my butt look small.
Gabe: No, your butt is big.
Me: No, your butt is big.
Gabe: No, your butt is as big as a galaxy. (Friendly insults are our thing. Like smell you later and so on.)
Me: Then the Guardians of the Galaxy are guardians of my butt.
Gabe who loves everything superhero; Nooooooo!
Me: Yeeees. Since my butt is as big as a galaxy then the Guardians of the Galaxy or guardians of my butt. I'm better than a superhero.
Gabe gets this look on his face. To an eight year old boy this is a really difficult problem.The only way to save the Guardians of the Galaxy is for him to say my butt isn't that big.