The elusive "come to Jesus" moment. - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 22 Old 05-12-2014, 09:30 PM
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In the old tent revival days, you would "come to Jesus" to avoid Hell - which was often described in lavish detail. IIRC (from reading, I'm not quite old enough to have participated), some even burned a little sulfur to enhance the atmosphere. "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" would be an early example of such a sermon.

By the time I was growing up, a "Come to Jesus Moment" had entered the vernacular as giving someone a taste of hell so they will repent of their evil ways...and it is in that sense, tongue-in-cheek, that it enters the horse world. The Baptist in me takes no offense, and I'm sure none is intended to anyone.

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #12 of 22 Old 05-12-2014, 09:56 PM
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The Catholic in me has always thought of it as a "sort yourself out or feel the brimstone!" lol

Anyhow, I do not take a CTJ moment lightly. In my mind horses have two herds: they have the horse herd, when they are out with their friends in pasture; and then a 'people' herd which is whenever a person steps into the equation. I establish the people herd with me as the leader (Or a dictatorship with perks) and they know that like in the horse herd I will not hesitated to bite, kick, scream or yell to get them to back down.


I had a horse in training. He was a very testy gelding and he one day decided to pin me against the wall of the barn and kick me. By some miracle in his blind fury to kick me I got madder than a hornet at this horse and kicked him right back. I can't accurately describe what happened but I'm told that there was biting, kicking and lots of me screaming and fighting while backing this horse off of me and out into his field. After we were done we stood there breathing heavily, he took one look at me and backed away on his own. I took one look at him, and led him back to being worked like nothing had happened. It was no different than how horses discipline each other and establish a hierarchy.

This is an extreme case but I use it to get the message across. Are all of my CTJ moments like this? No. Some are as simple as me making myself look big and threatening and getting the horse to back off. Some are just me using my voice. But in a situation where the horse is endangering me or itself I will unleash all 200lbs of alpha me to teach it it's position in the 'people' herd. Usually if I have to get this extreme it only happens once or twice before the horse goes: "Yes Mam!"

That being said a CTJ meeting should never be used on a horse that is genuinely afraid and needs taught. As another example I had a colt who was being trained on the lead. He got spooked by a bird and jumped on top of me and knocked me down. Instead of giving him a CTJ moment I took a moment to instead gently reinforce the proper way to behave in that situation. When I'm confident he knows it, just doesn't want to do it then he will have a CTJ moment.

Yet again in my mind the come to jesus meeting should serve a purpose. Maybe that purpose is to restablish the herd dynamics, maybe it's to tell the horse to back off but it should never be without cause or to 'break' them.
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post #13 of 22 Old 05-12-2014, 10:13 PM
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I think of Coming to Jesus moment as more of the "aha" moment when both parties have reached a point of understanding.
Last year we got this really spoiled Appy. She had horrible ground manners and no respect for your space. She had learned to run over people and move into them to get her way. She did that to me when I was leading her to turn out. So we ended up in the round pen for an hour in the middle of a hot day working on her respecting my space and not ignoring me. I backed her all the way there since she wanted to run over me going forwards.
Not what I planned to do, but I happened to have the time that day and it needed to be done.
She's really hard horse not light at all. You had to ask then demand. No in betweens and your timing had to be spot on.
I hate having those kind of conversations with a horse. That's why I try to stop things before they reach that moment.

So in lies the madness, the pursuit of the impossible in the face of the complete assurance that you will fail, and yet still you chase.

Last edited by flytobecat; 05-12-2014 at 10:20 PM.
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post #14 of 22 Old 05-13-2014, 12:01 AM
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My guess would be if the horse just stands there and looks at you it isn’t getting the message, and need it to be amplified. Also just getting big and stepping into a horse’s space, depending on the horse, may well just escalate things, step into their space and they may give you a bit of room, but if the horse is a pushy one, and if it’s getting bity of kicky then it’s just going to get irritated and come back harder probably. The stepping into space has to, with horse like that, become for the trainer “all of this space is mine pall and Ill drive you right across the roundyard and back again if I want to”.
Personally I’m an atheist and don’t think of any religious overtones to it, I think of it more in terms of eating the horse. And if you get good at it you can do it with a look. But the crucial part of it is, as Foxhunter’s example demonstrates, that it must be followed through to completion and decisively.
A good example of it I heard of once was between two horses. My old gelding, he’d be pushing 25 or 26 now, and his half-brother who is a stallion. They are in paddocks not too distant to each other and usually ignore one another. When I go to my uncle’s place where they live and train a batch of horses for him he brings the horses from his lease land and keeps them on his farm where I train them. On this occasion they were all fillies. They were put in with my gelding, who thought he was THE MAN, with his girlfriends. When they started to come in season the stallion started going round the bend. My uncle told me when I went back up there that about a week after I left the last time that the stallion got out of his paddock and in with the fillies, and my old guy. My old guy went to take his little brother on and coped a complete A@# whipping. There was no getting big and stepping into space, that stallion went at my old gelding with everything he had. My old guy eventually realised that stallions and geldings are a little different and decided that he should hightail it outa there. He hid in some thick scrub and didn’t come out till my uncle had the stallion back where he belonged.
The point being that horses didn’t get the memo about all the gentle and fluffy natural horsemanship stuff that seems to b everywhere these days, and they tend not to do things by half measures. The see it through and then leave it at that.
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post #15 of 22 Old 05-13-2014, 01:38 AM
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Many horses are desensitized to people waving there arms around or "looking big" or are pushy enough/giving enough attitude not to care if you just look the part and don't act upon it. If the horse isn't moving out of your space you must drive him out of it. Use a whip/stick to extend your reach and make him move out of your space ASAP. You may not need to tap/hit the horse with the whip, but he needs to know you mean business. You may want to read up on some of the join up methods out there. Before the 'join up' portion, many of the different join up techniques rely heavily on driving the horse away (similarly to how horses drive misbehaving horses away from the herd/out of their space) in order to get the horse to listen to you, gain respect, dominance, whatever you want to call it.

Also, I think of a "come to jesus moment" as one where a horse drastically realizes that their behavior is not acceptable. I envision that moment where the horse looks shocked/startled that their bad behavior was greeted by the sudden appearance of 'satan.' This isn't to say that I think all problems with horses should be/can be/or can best be addressed with a come to jesus moment, but I think come to jesus moments can be helpful in some situations with some horses.

Last edited by littlebird; 05-13-2014 at 01:46 AM.
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post #16 of 22 Old 05-13-2014, 02:37 AM
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I shocked a family friend yesterday morning whilst walking my dogs. I was attacked by a dog (no harm came) end of last year, and since, my English Setter will park in front of me and bark and snarl.. until a bigger dog barks and snarls, then he looks up at me and tells me its my battle.. however, he started barking at our friend's bitch. I used my CTJ voice. The guy was bewildered. I pointed out that when dealing with 700kg+ animals, you're never going to win them through strength, you have to think of other means.

On the flip side, when I first got Dubai as a three year old stallion, I did a lot of groundwork in a knotted headcollar (which aren't the popular choice out here.. bizzare!) and my previous trainer walked in with a stallion chain. Keep in mind this horse had barely any work done with him previously. He was doing well, in my eyes. Well.. trainer came in, barked at me to get out and go because the horse was focusing on me too much and he wanted to work him.

I got a horse back that was covered in welts across his chest, fur missing, dripping in sweat and looked completely defeated. I was horrified. I'm no push over, but it was BEYOND a joke. Then I smelt alcohol on my ex-trainers breath. He never touched the horse again.

There was no requirement for the CTJM as others were watching, the man just flipped his lid.

Timing, as well. If your horse does something.. correct immediately. I generally always have something in my hand. A bucket, a leadrope, a crop... something or anything. That way, when I need an extra something, it's there. Doesn't have to be for long, though ;)
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post #17 of 22 Old 05-13-2014, 03:18 AM
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Personally I don't tend to allow it to get to the point of nessessitating a CTJ moment. In 25+ yrs of horse ownership I've only had to do it twice and my god did the horses know I ment business. You can also have a CTJ moment without ever laying a hand on a horse if the are done properly. I have left marks from a stick on one horse but IMO if you draw blood you have gone too far!
Someone mentioned a horse that just stood and took a beating untill she was bleeding, I'm sorry but that is a sure sign of a horse who had been badly beaten and just shuts down, there is never a need to draw blood and with that mare smacking was never going to work any way
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post #18 of 22 Old 05-13-2014, 08:32 AM
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I have only had a few "come to Jesus" moments. One was a mare who we bought from a sale barn, and I would say that she and I had more of a "come to Jesus" year.....

Anyhow she was spoiled by her previous owner to the point of dangerous, she kicked, I kicked back. If she tried to bite I came back with a right hook. I have never made any attempts to get loud or "big" I make any physical correction short and to the point much like it is handled on pasture. (it probly helps that I'm 6ft 270lbs).

More recently I have a gelding who is a jerk at feeding, he will rush the stall door, charge the other horses in the big arena from his stall, basically an Idiot. Under saddle or in hand you could not ask fro a better horse. Well a yearling stud colt we have was walking past the stall going to his stall the other day and my gelding went after him in effect hammering my on the side of the face with his teeth, I went over the stall door after him.

Some horses NEED a physical correction. It happens in the herd and it will **** sure happen in my barn.

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post #19 of 22 Old 05-13-2014, 09:05 AM
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How do you guys do your come to Jesus moments?One of my four is 20 and has been a "patience tester" his entire life (I bought him as a long 2 year old). I adhered to "three strikes and you're out" before it became popular with the Los Angeles Police Department For the last several years, all I have to do is say "you want a whuppin'!" and crack the buggy whip against a T-Post

Have you ever had a horse that was absolutely oblivious to them? Sadly yes - my friend's cryptorchid that born on her farm and, according to the vet (back in the 70's) was inoperable even if my friend could have afforded the very expensive surgery. The horse was dangerous, even by my patient standards so my friend took him auction with a full disclosure.

What constitutes as such a thing?Not listening out of pure pig-headedness. There's the horse that is genuinely afraid, even if it's only of the wind blowing, and there's the horse that says "meah, I hear what you're asking ---- sooooo what!?" After the second attempt at trying to get Mr. or Ms. Pig Head to listen the right way and they don't, out comes the buggy whip and I connect to Thy Butt. I am only 5'2", while I can swing hard enough to sting and get their attention, I can't swing hard enough to hurt a horse's fat hindend .
I am also not a person that easily loses my temper so when I do, they know all H**l is about to break loose and they all get really quiet, wondering what's going to happen to the Bad Guy - lol lol

I have seen them all stop chewing their hay --- makes it hard to hold back the laughter and continue with disciplining the horse that got in trouble

A Good Horseman Doesn't Have To Tell Anyone; The Horse Already Knows.
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post #20 of 22 Old 05-13-2014, 01:15 PM
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Sorry, didn't mean to make it sound like I beat the horse everyone! I worded that awfully. I didn't make her bleed, but she did have some good welts on her after I was done. I agree that I came at things wrong, I truly have never experienced a horse who would not respond to me whatsoever and I had no idea what to do. I've always been taught by the rule that you never back down from a horse, so when she bit me in the stomach and I lashed her HARD across the chest, I expected her to jump backwards and let that be that. Instead she just pinned her ears, threw her head up, and stood there. I gave her two more good thwacks (this was with a yatch rope lead- pretty tough material), and she still just tensed her body and didn't move. I tried marching her off and gave her one more good thwack but she still did nothing and that is when I gave up. I don't know why she was the way that she was...but clearly she needed someone much more experienced than me. The problem was, there WAS no one more experienced than I was at that farm, and I was her last chance. I honestly feel like I let her down, but I didn't know how to reverse her behavior. What I think happened to make her the way that she was, is that she was handled pretty roughly for a while before she became a therapy mount. She came to them 'broke' but with dead sides, so their solution was put her in a mechanical hack and put a big guy on her, and make her run. However she only ran when she wanted to and only if you were ultra-alpha on her, so they decided "well hey, she's a dead head- lets use her for therapy." And she was great with the kids...until the lead liners started letting her bite, then cow kick. That is when I stepped in. I never even considered that she'd shut down like that, and that was my fault. It was how she responded to everything. It could very well have been my body language that was confusing her, but I don't confuse other horses. She is the first and only that I've had just freeze like that with pinned ears. To this day I think she still bites- she lives in a pasture with a bunch of cows now.

I honestly don't know WHAT she needed. I'm open to suggestions though, because I sure as heck feel bad that I couldn't fix her. Gentle coaxing, treating, etc never worked for her either. The girl who tried that with her ended up kicked in the leg which was the last straw.

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