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Talk to me about - Kimberwick, Pelham or Tom Thumb

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  • Talk to me about - Kimberwick, Pelham or Tom Thumb

    My riding instructor has told me to either get a jointed Kimberwick, Pelham or Tom Thumb bit for my gelding. I had been riding him in a plain jointed snaffle bit but he began to take off with me so last week my instructor brought over his jointed Pelham and my horse listened a lot better. Before anyone starts flaming me about harsh bits, etc. I want you to know my full intentions are to work thru his bolting right now with a different bit then my main goal is to go back to the snaffle bit and ideally a hackamore. I ride my mare exclusively in a hackamore so I really don't know a lot about the bits mentioned so any information on these would be greatly appreciated.

  • #2
    think one thing that you should be looking at BEFORE switching bits is why did he take off? A lot of times people automatically switch bits as an answer to a training issue that doesn't really have to do with the bit at all.

    If it is truly a bit issue there is usually a snaffle that can get you through it. If you don't know much about bits, then I would be cautious about putting a harsher curb in his mouth as you may do more damage than any good. You need to know how to properly use a Kimberwick or Pelham as they have curb chains which run under the chinstrap and if you don't know how to properly adjust them, then you could be asking for even more trouble.

    There is usually a snaffle for just about every use and I have always tried to use snaffles as opposed to curbs.

    You don't say what kind of snaffle you are using so it's hard to give advice as to which one to try but your trainer knows your horse obviously better than me in cyberspace so I'm not trying to say you're trainer is wrong by any means. I would say have a talk with your trainer about the benefits of using a curb as opposed to switching to another snaffle. They come on all sorts of weights and mouths so it could be that your trainer thinks that having the shanks like a pelham or tom thumb would benefit your horse by putting pressure on the outside of his mouth giving you a bit more steering control. If that's the case then there are full cheek snaffles that have shanks.

    Jointed bits are more severe than a straight bar bit or a ported bit because when the jointed bit is used, the two pieces end up creating a point in the horse's mouth that ends up pressing the tongue or roof of the mouth putting direct pressure to a certain spot whereas a straightbar bit has a more even pressure over the mouth. The ported bits are harsher than the starightbars because they also put direct pressure at a certain point but the pressure is less severe because the rest of the bit absorbs and distributes some of the pressure.

    Many people think incorrectly that a jointed bit is less severe because the joint makes it look forgiving but the truth is that unless you know how the joint piece actually works, it is a misconception. People will look at a straight bar bit and see just a solid piece of metal that isn't flexible like the jointed bits but what they don't understand is that when that joint is initiated, it becomes a poker and really, who wants a piece of metal jabbing them in their tongue or mouth?

    With that said, double jointed bits are less severe than the single jointed bits because the bit "breaks" in 2 places causing a more "rounded" action.

    Play with some jointed bits and think about how that would feel in your mouth. It truthfully could be that your horse does need a different bit because of the way your's is hitting him but I would try different snaffles first before switching to a curb, IMHO.

    Another thing to look at before switching bits is tack issues. If your saddle doesn't fit properly it may be causing him pain that he thinks he should run away from. Remember horses only know to run away from potential pain so really look at saddle and girth fit too. Also make sure your bridle has his bit sitting properly. a lot of times we tack up using the same stuff over and over again leaving it buckled at the same spots and we don't think about the changes their bodies go through. Is his bit sitting where it should? How many wrinkles does his buckled bit create? Is his noseband tight enough to slip only one finger through or can you stick your whole hand through it? Does the crownpiece sit comfortably behind his ears?

    Also, when was the last time you had his teeth done? It may be that he needs some dental stuff done too. That can cause all sort sof pain through his poll neck and back that you aren't aware of and could be an underlying cause of his bolting.

    And lastly, when he bolts, are you 100% positive that you aren't doing something to initiate his response? Perhaps your outside leg is swinging where your trainer can't see it- happens more than people realize because the trainer is usually inside the center of the ring and doesn't get to see what your outside body is doing so there is the possibility that you could be causing him to bolt in order to get away from what you are doing.

    These are all things that I would seriously look into before sticking a harsher bit in my horse's mouth. My goal as a rider is to keep my horse's mouth soft and sometimes people tend to over react when a horse does something and immediately think it's a bit issue when it's really more than that. Bits are usually the first thing that gets changed because everyone assumes its the horse's fault when actually it's a response to something that the rider has or has not done, including tack issues.

    Hope some of this helps. I'm sure others will have different opinions but I try to always ride in a snaffle and since your goal is a hackamore, I'd seriously look into other options before going the curb route.

    Comment


    • #3
      kimberwick w/ curb chain and single rein on the bottom slot.

      I use a low port solid kimber with my guy when we go tot he beach. He thinks he's Secretariat when i let him run, and i have to stand straight up in the stirrups and crank his face to my knee to stop him.

      Comment


      • #4
        I don't like Kimberwickes because they are pretty much a stop/go bit with nothing in between. Years ago, when I got a new "schoolmaster" type eventer who was VERY strong on cross country AND had a short, thick neck, I briefly used a Tom Thumb. Now...there are disagreements about what is a "Tom Thumb" and I do NOT mean the broken mouth short shanked semi-western versions. I used a short shanked rubber mullen mouthed pelham - pretty much what I always understood to be a "Tom Thumb." At least with a double-reined pelham you can modify the curb effect and use the snaffle rein when the horse behaves, leaving the curb rein for "emergency brakes" if necessary. You don't really have that option with the Kimberwicke, and a broken-mouth kimberwick is quite severe.

        Comment


        • #5
          pelham, I have a mullen pelham that I need to try on my boy, he works great at home in his level 1 myler, and his other snaffles single and double jointed but at shows he can get cranky leaving his buddy and needs a bit of help to refocus on me and his job.

          after the last show where we were the ones that I am sure all other riders were trying to avoid due to his "need for speed" (we had steering but he did not want to settle down) I borrowed a jointed kimberwick from a friend since his antics "worked so well" at the show he decided to try it at home and all I needed to do was lightly touch him at the trot for him to decide that it was not a good idea. But the kimberwick was to much for him at the canter so I think that the pelham with two reins and a short shank would be so much better for him.

          nothing had changed tack wise from his schooling that week and he unloaded relaxed and he was calm and happy tied to the trailer but when he and his buddy went to the ring he got pissy.

          sorry for the novel, just pointing out that sometimes a horse that goes well in a snaffle at home might need a tad more at some times and to try new bits at home because a new bit might not seem like much but for the horse be more than they need.

          Comment


          • #6
            I used to ride a very nice little mare whose main fault was that she like to pull, particularly in the great out of doors. We used to use a kimberwicke, which we liked because if I was quiet with my hands, it wasn't a big deal, but if she pulled, it was kind of self-enforcing. And we set it on the gentlest slot (sorry, my terminology is hopelessly wrong, I could show someone better than tell them.)
            I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
            I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09

            Comment


            • #7
              Get a new instructor. Both those bits are shortcuts and quite frankly crap bits. You need a trainer to TRAIN and TEACH suggest short cuts and quick fixes.

              Comment


              • #8
                A Pelham can actually be a very useful bit on the right horse and in the right hands. If you are interested in learning about this, I would recommend Heather Moffett's book, "Enlightened Equitation". You can also check out her web site www.enlightenedequitation.com

                However, it does not sound like your hands are educated enough to use one correctly. In the wrong hands, this bit can be down right dangerous.

                I agree w/the poster(s) that say that it sounds like your trainer is just looking for a short cut.

                I too would recommend having you and your horse assessed by another trainer.
                Show me your horse and I will tell you who you are.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I also agree w/the poster(s) that say that it sounds like your trainer is just looking for a short cut.

                  I too would recommend having you and your horse assessed by another trainer.

                  How much time do you devote to groundwork and helping your horse to listen to you on the ground? I've seen some great things happen between horses and humans when they both go back to square one on the ground. Makes for some changes in routine and gives ya both a firmer connection. JMHO.
                  Be kind to the animals for they are the True Innocents!
                  True Innocents Equine Rescue: www.tierrescue.org
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                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I will respectfully disagree with the other posters who say don't go the way of the kimberwicke/pelham, etc. with the understanding that none of us have seen the OP ride her horse. At face value, if the trainer is decent and if the OP is a decent rider, a stronger bit to stop the bolting is a useful training tool. Why allow the horse to continue to get away from the rider in a snaffle and let a dangerous habit escalate? We can banter back and forth about the OP's legs and seat and why they aren't stopping the bolt but the bottom line is, we just don't know.

                    Back in 1979 at Foxcroft in Middleburg Mad Mags, the head instructor would NEVER allow a beginning student to ride in a snaffle. In her barn she wanted her school horses to have one tug on the rein and understand the riders que. Only the advanced students were allowed to ride the horses in snaffles because they rode on contact and would not deaden the horses mouths.

                    Just sharing some food for thought from one old school.....

                    To the OP- a Kimberwicke has one rein and if you purchase one w/ slots on the "D" ring you can keep the rein in the lower opening which gives you more leverage. Pelhams have two reins- one for the snaffle action on the horse's lips and one rein for leverage. The length of the shank determines how strong the pelham is. Adding a correctly fitted curb chain to either bit adds more power to the bit which requires sensitve hands on the riders part. An attachment for the pelham bit which allows you to use only one rein is available. The poster "onelove" did give you some excellent, excellent avenues to also explore.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I think you and your horse need to go back to the basics. This horse needs to be taught from the ground what whoa means all over again. Only then can you return to riding. And when you return to riding if the bolt is still there, then yes, I would agree with bitting up for a short time only. I'd prefer a metal mullen mouth pelham with a curb chain or a Dr. Bristol as I think a jointed pelham or tom thumb would hit the horse in the roof of the mouth. You would use a stronger bit to re-install the one-rein stop (one hand down on the neck, the other straight up and back towards your bicep), then gradually go back to the milder snaffles.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Do be prepared to ride with a bit looser rein if you move up in bit, I rode in the kimberwick exactly 3 times to make the point, twice just walk trot and once w/t/c, that was all he needed to decide that he better be a good boy.

                        I just like the pelham so that I can use the snaffle action and have the curb action as back up. I have an elevator that I am thinking of trying but since it is not show legal I am thinking of just sticking with the pelham (after I try it).

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Of the three, I prefer a pelham simply because you have the option of riding on the direct rein (at least somewhat like your regular bit) and only using the curb rein when absolutely needed.

                          That said, a jointed-mouth pelham is not a particularly mild bit. A soft rubber mullen, thick ported mouth, and maybe even a regular mullen mouth might also be options. Or leaving the curb chain a little loose.
                          ---------------------------

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