The elusive "come to Jesus" moment. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 05-12-2014, 02:32 PM Thread Starter
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The elusive "come to Jesus" moment.

I have been pondering on this thought for a while now. It isn't relevant to any horse experience I am having currently, but about a year ago, it did.

A come to Jesus moment is necessary in a variety of scenarios, typically in the case of a dangerous horse, or a horse who has you figured out from head to toe and is nearing the stage of becoming dangerous because of it.

Back when I worked with Chance, a rescued TWH, we often had trouble with our "come to Jesus" moments. Maybe I was doing them wrong, or maybe I just wasn't fierce enough? Or maybe the horse just thought I was a funny looking creature. Anywho. Every time I attempted it, i.e. stepping into his space in a "large" manner (I'm 5'0" so I tried everything I could think of to be big). Yet, he'd just stare at me quizzically as if wondering what it was I was trying to attempt.

He was pushy, he was rude, and very A.D.D.

Eventually with help of my instructor we got him sorted out, and found some very helpful tips to focus him. We even managed to fix our lunging problem after about an hour of literally running in 90* heat every time he challenged me.

The purpose of this post is this:
How do you guys do your come to Jesus moments? Have you ever had a horse that was absolutely oblivious to them? What constitutes as such a thing?
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post #2 of 22 Old 05-12-2014, 02:44 PM
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If a horse is trying to physically harm me, a come to Jesus meeting is in order. How they're done depends on the situation but they're always short, no more than a couple moments long usually, then I resume what I was doing beforehand.

I'm 5'0 and maybe 95lbs soaking wet, there is nothing intimidating about my size at all. Looking big is going to do nothing when a come to Jesus meeting is needed, you need to follow through by making that horses feet move, now. That's not the time to steadily increase pressure and teach the horse to move off of light pressure. It's the time to really make a horse believe that you are the boss and that there are consequences for things.
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post #3 of 22 Old 05-12-2014, 02:51 PM Thread Starter
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The "looking big" was something I was always told to keep in mind as for some reason, my body language always fits my size.

I laugh at it now, because it was so frustrating and exhausting at the time. I wouldn't say he was dangerous, but a few times he did kick out during our work. Mostly during lunging, which he'd do a half circle and challenge me.
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post #4 of 22 Old 05-12-2014, 03:13 PM
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If I have a 'Come to Jesus' meeting then I can assure you that the horse will move out the way and darn fast too!

I don't think it is just a matter of making yourself big or having your shoulders back, something that is nigh impossible for me to do, but much more the energy you have.

Horses that know me will usually get the verbal, "Eh!" Followed by "You want me to get cross or very, very cross?"
They do not understand the words but they sure as heck know the tone and energy and rarely take it half an inch further!

Horses that have no manners because they either haven't been taught them or have been allowed to ignore them, will get more of a chase around with me going into their space, arms waving and sometimes using the rope to slap them across the chest.
The important thing is the timing as to when to continue or stop.

When I had about eight young TBs in a loose shed all winter, they knew when it came to feed time they could follow behind me as I spread the feed along the manger but they could not go in front.
One lad decided to push his luck, came in front of me and when I shushed him away he kicked out at me. My immediate reaction was to wallop him across the butt with the feed bucket and give chase.

He ran around the barn and the others all stopped eating and moved into a corner whilst I went after the offender, who was not, at that point showing any remorse. When he tried to get in with the others they blocked his path and just stood there not moving even if I was close to them. They knew I was not mad at them and seemed to agree he needed a good meeting!

That was the end of the issue when he started lip licking and lower head. I mixed more feed and when I went back in he stood well away until I finished and never crowded me again.
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post #5 of 22 Old 05-12-2014, 03:20 PM Thread Starter
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From what I understand now, the work I did with him definitely paved a nice road for him. I haven't heard of any further issues with him, but I no longer work with the boy, so hopefully he does well. The owners are actually going to keep him, which is good.

With him, I could shout, wave my arms, stomp, or do anything that would remotely get the attention of any other horse... but Chance? He'd stare at me with his eyes wide and a look of "whatcha doin' down there?"

That's a good example though, I have also noticed that horses tend to know who you're after and because of that it helps a lot. Especially when catching one who doesn't want to get caught.
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post #6 of 22 Old 05-12-2014, 03:44 PM
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I have had a few "comin' to Jesus moments", but have also employed the "welcome to Hell" talks too.
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post #7 of 22 Old 05-12-2014, 07:26 PM
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I've had plenty of CTJMs as well with many horses. Like BreakableRider I'm a very tiny person- 4'11 when stretching, petite as all get out, and not even 90 lbs. Even so, I've scared the crap (quite literally) out of a 17hh, 1400 TB before when he decided it would be cute to aim his butt at me for asking him to move. I'm pretty sure everyone including the humans on the farm feared me that day. I have NO problem with getting as rough as is necessary to get the point across to a horse and I've definitely gotten some disapproving looks from non horse people.

At the same time though I try to be sensitive to the horse and be certain that a reaction is actually deserving of what I hand out. If a horse is just flat out terrified and bolts in hand, I won't go crazy hitting it over the head because the only thing I'll get out of that is even more fear. However, I WILL demand that they move their feet in the direction I tell them to immediately and focus on me because they must realize that they should NOT be afraid when I am their leader. I find it more productive to make them move in the direction that I ask at the speed that I ask than to try and fail to get them to hand still. The busier their mind gets, the faster it gets busy, the better the outcome.

For example, with my filly. She was the definition of a nervous nelly with good reason, but that just didn't work for me. She was 700 lbs at 2 years old but she could still drag me just fine if she wanted to, and I was often alone with her. When she started trying to overreact to new stimulus on our neighborhood walks by bolting in front of me, trying to jump on top of me, etc, I had to end it immediately or be injured. Trying to get her to stop didn't work- she just got more worked up. Instead I brought my lunge whip with me and a 15' lead line. The next time she stepped in front of me when she saw a thoroughbred eating dog (a 10 lb lap dog), I spun her butt round so fast she didn't know what direction she was facing, and sent her off in a circle around me right there in the road, reversed directions, halted her, backed her up, sent her off again, halted again, and walked off with her in tow like nothing happened. Never had to hit her even once. I had to do that twice before she got the idea, but she didn't try anything stupid like that again.

With my mare though, she was just flat out aggressive. I don't know why. She had a nasty habit of trying to bite when she was annoyed, and I corrected that on day one with a ROUGH lesson in herd dynamics. She tried to bite me when I picked up a hoof, and I had her flying 200 feet backwards before she knew what happened, and I laid into her face HARD with the end of the rope. I kid you not, that mare never even gave me an ugly look again and she was the QUEEN of ugly faces.

The only exception I've ever found was a therapy mare that I worked with once. She was a brat because she was allowed to get away with whatever when she had kids on her back. Biting was her biggest issue. The problem though, was that she was SO desensitized that you could beat her bloody and she'd just...stand there. Didn't matter what kind of punishment you used, it was darned near impossible to get a reaction out of her. I never did know how to fix her because I literally beat bloody welts into her one day after she tried to take a chunk out of my stomach, and not once did she even move a hoof. It was almost like she'd just tuck into herself and mentally brace herself, and just take it. Strangest horse I ever met. They ended up giving her away after she cow kicked a side walker.
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post #8 of 22 Old 05-12-2014, 08:09 PM Thread Starter
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The ones that react to nothing I find are the hardest to deal with. While I like "bombproof" if rather have a horse that isn't dead to all stimulus.
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post #9 of 22 Old 05-12-2014, 08:14 PM
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Same Deschutes. I truly had no idea what to do with her, but Cherie's statement that a spoiled horse is the worst horse really came through to me that day. Give me a scaredy pants over a dead head any day.

Everyone in your life is meant to
be in your journey, but not all of
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post #10 of 22 Old 05-12-2014, 09:07 PM
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Firstly, must say I have a problem with that term. While not very religious now, I was brought up Catholic & when I first heard the term I thought it meant something like lovingly accept & nurture - that's what Jesus was about, was he not?? It is an offensive thought to me that it apparently means quite the opposite to people - you should be saying 'come to hell' or 'meet the devil' if you mean have a confrontation with a horse that makes him terrified of you. How ever did that get associated with Jesus??

Now, off my soapbox... The only time I would get seriously 'aggressive' with a horse - that is, attack & punish it strongly - is if it was doing something dangerous & aggressive - a real rarity. But I will get assertive & 'big' as you put it, sometimes including punishment, as often as necessary, which is usually in the beginning of a relationship, to establish the 'rules'. It sounds like you were just wanting to do that with your horse, not make him fear for his life for his 'misdemeanor'.

The point of 'getting big' is to effectively make the horse do what you request, or 'mind his manners'. If you're not being effective, you're just desensitising your horse to your behaviour - he learns it's meaningless & should be ignored. Horses don't innately know 'manners' that humans expect of them & are naturally either 'pushy' against pressure, or reactive/fearful - they escape from it - when not understood.

You need to be clear, consistent & effective in your teaching them what is required. Eg. I'd make sure the horse didn't feel restricted, could easily move away, then I'd 'ask' him to move, before 'telling' him with 'bigger' bodylanguage, including stick/whip or swinging rope or such, & if he didn't respond to that, he'd get in the way of physical pressure from the stick/rope. I'd continue to make it uncomfortable(not painful) for him, until he moved away... even if to begin with it was only a shift of weight or one step. He's got to learn how to get rid of the pressure, so you've got to quit the instant he *starts* to do as you 'ask'.
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