Assuming the same mouthpiece, curb chain set-up etc, which is the stronger bit? I had thought the Kimberick because you always have a bit of curb pressure if you pick up the reins, but was recently told otherwise?
We went XC last year in a Kimberwick with a guard on the curb chain, but now that my mare has useable half halts XC we want to move to something milder. I'd been thinking a pelham with two sets of reins.
A 3-ring is the wrong action for her, and she doesn't really seem to care what's IN her mouth so a slow twist etc isn't the right choice...
"Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."
A kimberwick gives you moderate curb action every time you pick up the reins. A pelham can be used with very little to no curb action if you are just keeping the curb rein loose. It requires a little bit more of an educated set of hands, but is a strong bit with a lot more options than a kimberwick, which is sort of without subtlety.
Personally I am in love with the Myler combination bits. Although they look strange, they can be used with a great deal of subtlety and the amount of curb pressure cranked up as needed with increasing rein pressure. You can even use them with two reins, which I have done schooling. I'm fairly comfortable with 2 reins but would not really love going XC that way if I didn't have to.
Bonnie goes in a pelham every now and then when she forgets that it's HER job to hold up her big head. I have to go very easy with it or she worries. Same with the three-ring bits, which she and I both hate. But she goes wonderfully well in the Myler and I have plenty of brakes when I need them but also the abillity to ride it like a snaffle if she's going softly.
I personally love Pelhams even though I don't ride my gelding in it anymore. I've found that a broken pelham is more "mild" than the straight kind because it's basically just a snaffle if you don't have a death grip on the curb rein. My horse use to have a huge problem with rushing his fences 3 strides before and then basically running for the next 20 strides but just a few reminders with the curb rein and he was a lot better. Half halts came in a lot stronger and I didn't have to rip his teeth out for a response.
This was 2 years ago and now he goes in a bubble Pessoa jumping bit and I love it. It's kind of like a 3 ring but with with 2 rings and it doesn't pinch like I've found the 3 rings do. I tried a 3 ring in a jump lesson once and it was THE WORST ride of my life. I've jumped my horse in everything from a halter and leadrope to a pelham and he's never been so terrible. He ground his teeth and twisted his body and pretty much wouldn't even go forward.
I ride with the snaffle ring for stadium and the bottom ring for more leverage in XC since he still gets a little excited now that we're going faster with the upper levels.
Any bit can be "too much" in the wrong hands, it all depends on the horse & rider.
The Pelham would give you the option to ratchet down the curb pressure. You could also try a different noseband with a plain snaffle. Have you tried xc in the plain snaffle since you got the useable half halt? I was surprised by it, but was able to go all the way from a segunda to a regular eggbutt with my pony once the half halt was there.
I echo the love of Mylers. You can even "rent" them now to see if they work for you.
In spite of some on the forum who will pretty much always have another recommendation besides a pelham, I think it can be a great bit!
My old TB mare evented and fox hunted in a jointed pelham for years. Most of the time we just used the snaffle rein but on those occasions when I needed to get her attention, I was glad to have the curb rein in my arsenal. I didn't like the kimberwicke because I didn't like/need the curb all the time.
Can you downgrade the kimberwick by just using it without putting it in one of the slots? That way, if you're out in public (say, XC warmup) and you find that you still need a little more, you can take it off the "snaffle ring" and put it on the first slot or the second slot. Just a thought?
Otherwise, a baucher has made a lot of my horses happy, or a full cheek with keepers.