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neigh.neigh
May. 5, 2010, 08:10 PM
I was going through my trainers box of bits and found a western bit and thought it would be fun to ride my junior jumper in it lol. Well I LOVE it and my horse goes so well. I was wondering if this would be looked down upon in the jumper ring? I know that their aren't illegal bits, but I wanted to check :).

Here is a picture
http://www.amazon.com/Abetta-Pinchless-Tom-Thumb-Bit/dp/B002HJ50B6

Right now I use it with a leather/chain curb strap with the chain covered in black vet wrap.

Any thoughts?

mroades
May. 5, 2010, 09:02 PM
as long as you are the fastest with the jumps up....who cares what other people think?

RyuEquestrian
May. 5, 2010, 09:38 PM
as long as you are the fastest with the jumps up....who cares what other people think?

Agreed, but if you are very worried, why not use a Pelham with the same length shank and only use the curb rein? Same function with an "English" bit.

Jane Honda
May. 5, 2010, 09:44 PM
Bits with shanks and broken mouthpieces are horribly cruel in the wrong hands.


Let's just put a nutcracker in the horses' mouth and see what happens. [/sarcasm]

ERollison
May. 5, 2010, 10:11 PM
A tom thumb is one of the worst bits you can put in a horse's mouth. It is a very unbalanced but which can easily create a nutcracker effect on the lower jaw causing a lot of pain and has been known to break horse's jaws when used harshly. I would NOT use this bit ever in ANY horse's mouth. There are tons of threads and articles about this on other sites.

Ok, that is my rant about tom thumbs, as far as bits in the jumper ring, ride in what ever you want. Just go clean and fast.

SkipChange
May. 5, 2010, 10:18 PM
Can I add go safe?

All this go clean and fast talk...safe is important too! :lol: I feel like some jumpers tend to forget that as they gallop around like chickens with their heads cut off. So....If this bit allows you to control you horse and navigate the course safely, go get 'em!

(Although you should certainly make yourself aware of the strong and possibly painful nature of this bit when used incorrectly.)

rugbygirl
May. 5, 2010, 11:02 PM
A lot of people in the Western world (rightly or wrongly) consider this a "starting" bit, or milder trainers consider it a good transition bit. Remember that they are teaching a horse to work of imperceptible cues, on a loose rein. That's what this bit is designed for. Sliding stops notwithstanding.

I can't use a bit like this over fences, I'm not sure I'll ever trust my hands enough, in all scenarios, to not tear my horse's jaw off. Which is what happens if his head is down and you're a bit behind and not giving adequate release.

That said, if you trust your hands and know your horse...giver, I guess.

mvp
May. 6, 2010, 07:58 AM
Jimmy Williams would give it a whirl if he had good reason.

What others say about the Tom Thumb, pro and con, is true. In Western World, it is a modest, middle-of-the-road bit. But those guys are looking for loose reins eventually.

I think there are plenty of English bits that can do just as much/similar damage to a horse's mouth.

One thing to keep in mind with any leverage bit is that unless you do ride with the Western philosophy in mind-- where you don't want contact unless you have "something to say" to the horse-- you will worry your horse or deaden him to the bit. If I thought I could/wanted to ride this way, I'd borrow the bit and try it at home. You don't have much to lose and I don't think you'd do irreparable harm in one or two rides.

findeight
May. 6, 2010, 08:27 AM
I dunno what "they" say on other sites or who "they" are or how often "they" have actually used any particular bit but there is nothing wrong with this bit. It is available in English versions but called a broken mouthed curb and comes with a snaffle rein in addition to the curb...it is NOT like a nutcracker in the mouth any more then a standard snaffle when used correctly.

Sometimes wonder about the...well...attitude and assumption whoever asked the question is a total novice and completely unqualified for anything but a 3" thick rubber snaffle plus being in need of a lecture on the cruelty and misuse of this bit or that.

I have actually used bits like this and a Tom Thumb correctly and in appropriate situations. They are fine and allow softness in the rider's hands.

But that's where you might get into some trouble-the "when used correctly". The object of the curb bit, any curb bit, is to be used as little as possible. So they come with 2 reins so you can use mainly the snaffle and only engage the curb when needed for extra control. The double bridle gives you both bits for this reason as well.

Western horses are heading towards ever so subtle rein signals working mainly off the seat. And no contact.

With your Jumper? I fear you are going to have to keep too much contact throughout your course and you will have nowhere to go if horse gets evasive-and he will. I also found curbs are great to slow down or stop, not so great for turning. Most of your elite level jumper riders use some kind of set up (like a Mikmar) with 2 reins to provide both brakes and steering as opposed to trying to get both out of a single bit.

If you like the broken mouth? Go to a pelham that adds that snaffle rein so you don't have to overuse the curb.

But there is nothing inherently wrong with this bit, a Tom Thumb or any Pelham.

Madeline
May. 6, 2010, 09:30 AM
If you like the broken mouth?

Why would anyone like a broken mouth curb (or pelham)? Look at the physics and mechanics. You use a curb for leverage. If the mouthpiece is broken, you have guaranteed that the leverage signal and the action of the curb chain will be inconsistent and unpredictable, depending on how much the mouthpiece has "broken". Why would anyone want that? Not to mention giving up the option of effective direct rein steering.

(Hey, I've stayed out of the stupid "hunter hair" discussions for months...)

findeight
May. 6, 2010, 09:44 AM
The option of direct rein steering exsists via the snaffle rein. Which is why the western version here with the curb rein only is probably unsuitable since it doesn't have one and Western horses don't need one since they work on no contact.

Thinking a typical Junior Jumper course at a show? Bit might bite OP pretty good because she will not have such hot steering to get around a 4'+ course. She will have brakes...until horse gets sick of the constant curb pressure.

I think we are saying the same thing. But disagree about the broken mouth, it suits some horses and, with the snaffle rein, you can steer fine with all the rein aids. You cannot use most of the rein aids with a single rein on any curb bit.

It might be OK to use at home occasionally just to mix it up a little. If OP is doing Jr Jumpers, she is no novice and is not going to use it as a nutcracker. I just don't think it's going to work that well after a very short time.

Also think questions like this are very good for discussion.

Vandy
May. 6, 2010, 09:50 AM
Why would anyone like a broken mouth curb (or pelham)? Look at the physics and mechanics. I have a (big eq)horse that goes beautifully in...a WATERFORD pelham - how's that for broken? In my experience, all the physics and mechanics in the world don't necessarily make one bit work well for a particular horse (and rider) and another not. Again, just in my experience, finding the right bit for a horse is often more intuitive rather than scientific - an art rather than a science, if you will.

rideforthelaurels16
May. 6, 2010, 10:00 AM
I agree that the turning may be an issue. Correct me if I'm wrong (and I most likely am as I have very little western experience!) but I thought that Tom Thumbs were designed to be ridden with one hand, using seat, leg, and neck-rein cues to steer - and NOT to be ridden with each rein individually, the way English bits are. I would try a pelham, or even an elevator or something similar. Of course, bit choice is at YOUR discretion. If you are comfortable riding with this bit and your horse is happy and goes well in it, then that's what matters.

rugbygirl
May. 6, 2010, 10:06 AM
but I thought that Tom Thumbs were designed to be ridden with one hand, using seat, leg, and neck-rein cues to steer - and NOT to be ridden with each rein individually, the way English bits are.

You are correct.

It isn't a bit meant to be ridden in constant contact. The horse will find it almost impossible to get relief from this bit if you keep constant typical-English contact. It is also not meant to be used with a typical English cavesson. Very tough to give the designed-for release.

If you like it, you like it. My experience with Tom Thumbs, which parallels that of many people, is that it is a crummy "in between"...you either have a two-handing snaffle horse, or a finished curb horse in Western. And in English riding, when you use a curb, you usually have either a snaffle rein or bradoon with snaffle rein and use the curb only intermittently.

findeight
May. 6, 2010, 10:19 AM
May be a bit of a terminology issue here with the name "Tom Thumb".

Thinking some folks are envisioning a Western broken mouth curb with very short shanks ridden with one rein/hand.

There is a short shanked peham with broken mouth that is ridden with two reins in the Hunter world. That is the one I was referring to but it looks like others are thinking the Western version.

BTW, not to go into a ton of detail as am about out of fun time for today. BUT the shank length does not effect the severity of a curb. The RATIO does. It's the distance from mouthpiece to the upper ring where the curb strap/chain attaches (which may also be where the bridle cheekpiece is placed or may be a seperate slot on the more exotic versions) compared to the distance from mouthpiece to lower ring where the reins attach.

You can have a very long shank that is a 4:1 that is alot milder then you'd think (meaning the lower shank is 4 times the length of the upper measurment). And you can have a short shank that's a 1:1 and works like a teeter totter with alot of pressure on that curb chain/strap with very little pull.

skrgirl
May. 6, 2010, 10:23 AM
A tom thumb is one of the worst bits you can put in a horse's mouth. It is a very unbalanced but which can easily create a nutcracker effect on the lower jaw causing a lot of pain and has been known to break horse's jaws when used harshly. I would NOT use this bit ever in ANY horse's mouth. There are tons of threads and articles about this on other sites.

Ok, that is my rant about tom thumbs, as far as bits in the jumper ring, ride in what ever you want. Just go clean and fast.


ROFL- Really? A short shank plain mouth tomb thumb thats designed to use with no rein contact? I mean really, ANY bit can do serious damage with the right rider.

caffeinated
May. 6, 2010, 10:28 AM
May be a bit of a terminology issue here with the name "Tom Thumb".

Thinking some folks are envisioning a Western broken mouth curb with very short shanks ridden with one rein/hand.

There is a short shanked peham with broken mouth that is ridden with two reins in the Hunter world. That is the one I was referring to but it looks like others are thinking the Western version.

Well, considering the thread is titled "Western Bit" and the pic in the OP is of the western version....

;)

findeight
May. 6, 2010, 10:40 AM
Well, considering the thread is titled "Western Bit" and the pic in the OP is of the western version....

;)


True enough;). But, despite 20 years in the Western world, I never heard that pictured bit referred to as a "Tom Thumb". It was always a "western snaffle" in Texas and California back then. Despite the fact it's not a snaffle at all. The one in the picture does not look short shanked either.

Regional and perhaps time based terminolgy I didn't realize was referring to different things until just a few posts ago.

mvp
May. 6, 2010, 10:41 AM
The Waterford Pelham. That's interesting.

Vandy, so the horse has an unstable bit he can't lean on, but you do have brakes and/or ability to have him flex at the poll (and presumably lift his shoulders so he doesn't fall on his nose?)

I assume, then, that the curb chain is just tight enough to be resting on his lower jaw all the time. It's not loose and then grabbing him when the whole jello-y bit moves?

Have I got this right? I'm always up for funky bitting options if I can figure out why they work for a given horse.

And to the OP. You say your horse digs the Tom Thumb regardless of what the Fashion Police say? Why is that? What does it "fix" about him? Just curious and up for a little education.

And findeight is right about the mechanics of western bits. In fact, the discussion of ratio is just the tip of a very big, complicated iceberg. Some of those guys get insanely technical and custom about their bits.

findeight
May. 6, 2010, 10:51 AM
And findeight is right about the mechanics of western bits. In fact, the discussion of ratio is just the tip of a very big, complicated iceberg. Some of those guys get insanely technical and custom about their bits.

Well, yeah, I started out in So Cal in the '60s in the heavily latino and classically influenced tradition that takes 4 years to go from ring snaffle, to bosal, to bosal carrying curb with reins on each to what they called straight up in the bridle (spade or half breed usually) And, lest somebody get the vapors over it, you COULD and should be able to use silk threads for reins so light the touch required in a finished bridle horse so attuned to the rider, a slight shift of weight is all that was needed. We have lost so much of that skill and patience these days. Everybody is in a hurry.

People select bits based on pictures with no knowledge of the mechanics and theory behind it. And I shudder still when people slap a curb on a horse with no preperation to introduce the curb action. Then wonder why it does not do what they thought it would.

I still have a selection of bits for schooling and swap depending on what I want the bit to do for me based on that days planned schooling.

OK, off soapbox.

AmandaandTuff
May. 6, 2010, 11:16 AM
Don't use that bit. Any decent rider in the western world wouldn't use that bit because of the action it causes.

Western bits aren't made to be used with a direct rein. They're made for neck reining. They're western bits for a good reason.

Vandy
May. 6, 2010, 11:36 AM
The Waterford Pelham. That's interesting.

Vandy, so the horse has an unstable bit he can't lean on, but you do have brakes and/or ability to have him flex at the poll (and presumably lift his shoulders so he doesn't fall on his nose?)
You know, I wish I knew why this bit worked so well on this horse :lol: He leans a little in a plain snaffle, and tends to travel downhill. I know bits aren't a "magic solution" to training/conformational issues, but as soon as we tried the waterford pelham, it was MUCH easier to get a more uphill frame, and the horse was much more responsive to half-halts (he is very scopey and tends to land far from the base of a from a 3'6" jump on a huge stride, and is difficult to re-collect - this was an issue in combinations until we switched to this bit). The rider basically rides on a very light contact through the corners, and half-halts 5 or 6 strides away from a jump to set the distance. She has a nice following release, and in the waterford, the horse is much more responsive to half-halts on the landing side of the jump. The curb chain is snug, but not tight.

Whew! That's probably more info than you wanted, and doesn't directly address your questions. More times than I can count, I've had horses that go great in setups that "shouldn't" work for them based on the science of it and vice-versa. I have one jumper that is strong, fussy, tends to twist his jaw, gape his mouth, and toss his head. Sounds like a candidate for a figure-8 noseband, right? Nope. Even worse in a figure-8 than in a plain cavesson. However, if he goes with NO noseband, the above faults disappear and the horse is happy and willing. Go figure.

NorthFaceFarm
May. 6, 2010, 11:43 AM
I would not use that for prolonged periods. I would figure out which aspect(s) of the bit are working well for your horse, and find something a little more user friendly that utilizes those same functions. Is the curb making the difference? Start looking at pelhams. Poll pressure? How about an elevator?

I worry most about the indirect feeling you'll have of the mouth, which does come from the long shanks. While that doesn't equate to more leverage, it does translate into how well you can feel the mouth and the jaw. The rein is simply too far from the mouth piece to give you the kind of feel that I like in the jumpers.

SmartAlex
May. 6, 2010, 12:22 PM
I've never met a Tom Thumb which I thought was as well balanced as a similar jointed curb or pelham. I think the problem is in the individual engineering rather than the "jointed with shanks" combination. Maybe it's the fact that the rein rings are not set behind the shank axis. Dunno. Just don't like them.

skrgirl
May. 6, 2010, 02:33 PM
True enough;). But, despite 20 years in the Western world, I never heard that pictured bit referred to as a "Tom Thumb". It was always a "western snaffle" in Texas and California back then. Despite the fact it's not a snaffle at all. The one in the picture does not look short shanked either.

Regional and perhaps time based terminolgy I didn't realize was referring to different things until just a few posts ago.\

Im from the east coast, and have never heard it called anything but a tomb thumb.

neigh.neigh
May. 6, 2010, 02:40 PM
Thank you for all of your responses. I am very interested in what everyone has to say about the bit. However, I know that I have a light and well trained hand and that I am not doing damage to my horse.
I show the same horse in the big eq in a plain tom thumb english pelham. He goes well in it but no where near as well as he goes in the western bit. I understand everyones concern but he really doesnt seem to mind the bit at all. He stays light and in front of my leg and I have to use very little leg or hand to get him to do what I need.
Yesterday I took a lesson with the bit and jumped a 4'3" course including gymnastics in the course (long to short, bounces, hand gallop single jumps, vertical to cavaletti, rollback etc) He jumped everything in beautiful form and seemed very happy.

Question: What is the difference between this bit and a gag or elevator with one rein? (like this one http://www.fourwinds.net/ebridle/bimg/WB130058.jpg)

mvp
May. 6, 2010, 02:59 PM
Thank you for all of your responses. I am very interested in what everyone has to say about the bit. However, I know that I have a light and well trained hand and that I am not doing damage to my horse.
I show the same horse in the big eq in a plain tom thumb english pelham. He goes well in it but no where near as well as he goes in the western bit. I understand everyones concern but he really doesnt seem to mind the bit at all. He stays light and in front of my leg and I have to use very little leg or hand to get him to do what I need.
Yesterday I took a lesson with the bit and jumped a 4'3" course including gymnastics in the course (long to short, bounces, hand gallop single jumps, vertical to cavaletti, rollback etc) He jumped everything in beautiful form and seemed very happy.

Question: What is the difference between this bit and a gag or elevator with one rein? (like this one http://www.fourwinds.net/ebridle/bimg/WB130058.jpg)

First, good for you! If it works for your horse, ignore the rest of us.

And to understand the difference between an elevator bit and the Tom Thumb, reread findeight's post about the ratio of the shank to the part above the mouth piece (the "purchase") is 1:1.

Furthermore, the shanks and purchase are both straight. What does that mean? The 1:1 ratio means you'll affect the poll and lips ASAP as you engage the bit. Their straightness means there the action of your hand will change these things very fast, but also let go very fast.

I don't have the depth of Westerny knowledge that findeight does. But it's really good to read up on their bitting mechanics and philosophy. It will help out anyone.

IMO, the elevator is a training bit for someone who rides well and wants to make a particular point. I imagine that if I used that bit on a rank one in competition, I'd eventually run out of hardware options.

neigh.neigh
May. 22, 2010, 06:15 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zc5YBVHvwIs

Just wanted to show how well my horse goes in this bit! It's weird but it works!! :)

butkrustag
May. 22, 2010, 07:37 PM
If it is working I would use it. I think you and your horse are a lovely team. It is interesting that so many people get up in arms about particular bits. Usually the horse will "tell you" what they "like."

My medium pony only liked his Pelham. He was soft and very successful in it with me, as well as before and after me. I learned a lot from him including how to ride with two reins, lol. I could list other examples, but it looks like you've found something that works, so I'll just stick with go with it and don't worry about what others think...oh and leave the poles in the cups. Good luck!

fordtraktor
May. 22, 2010, 08:12 PM
This is a very common western bit for trail riders. Not common for showing western. My first pony went very well in one. We have always called them Tom Thumbs.

If it works, use it. Just keep in mind you have to release.