Argentine vs. Tom Thumb - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 03-16-2017, 12:51 PM Thread Starter
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Argentine vs. Tom Thumb

Okay, someone please educate me on what the actual difference is between these bits.

My latest info is that an Argentine is okay, and a Tom Thumb is the worst.

I can't spot the difference between them. To make this even more confusing if you do a google image search for them you'll see bits listed as a "Tom Thumb Argentine Grazing Snaffle" from online tack shops. Well which is it?

Are these really interchangeable names for the same thing?

If not there has to be a defining characteristic that is pretty subtle, and I'd love to know what that is.

By the way, I have one of these (Argentine with Roller, #5021-10X-GS - LesVogt) haven't used it yet. Also have a Reinsman Argentine, the one with a sweet iron mouth.
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post #2 of 11 Old 03-19-2017, 01:14 PM
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Generally the bit called argentine snaffle is compared to the tomb thumb but they are not the same bit. This is an argentine snaffle and the second one is the tomb thumb. The bit you posted is not an argentine snaffle but would be fine for a horse and rider trained to use it. I would not use a bit with such a long cheeck piece or shank for any sort of beginner or green horse. The argentine snaffle has more curved mouth pieces to give tong release while the tomb thumb does not. The shanks on the argentine are also more curved which give the horse more warning before engaging fully while the tomb thumb gives no warning. This argentine snaffle also has a spot to attach a second set of reins so that the rider can use just the direct pressure instead using the curb. I would not use a tomb thumb on my horses (have used on horses I was showing because that is what the owner had on them) but I have used the argentine snaffle for a few horses that really liked it. I feel like the argentine snaffle is more fair and a better training tool than the tomb thumb. People will tell you horror stories about the tomb thumb but I have never seen the tomb thumb really damage an animal when used correctly but it easy to have make a horse fearful of the bit in with one because of the lack of warning.
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post #3 of 11 Old 03-19-2017, 04:07 PM
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I've used this Reinsman Tom Thumb with 4 horses, none of whom have any problems with it:







Most of our riding is done in a snaffle, but I'm 4 for 4 in horses going fine in a Tom Thumb. The horse I ride the most seems to prefer it to a Billy Allen, although he does just as well in this snaffle:



Some Tom Thumbs are cheaply made, which could be a problem. But that is true of any bit.
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post #4 of 11 Old 03-19-2017, 04:37 PM
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Yes, the Tom Thumb bit suffers the same misnomer as 'shanked snaffle, in the fact that catalogs apply that name to any curb bit with a jointed mouth, either calling them 'shanked snaffles or Tom Thumbs
This is not correct Below is a link that describes the features of a true TT, which is not one and the same as any curb with ajointed mouth piece
http://abitaboutbits.blogspot.ca/201...affles_20.html
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post #5 of 11 Old 03-19-2017, 04:40 PM
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The bit you have pictured< BSMS, is NOT a true TT,regardless of how catalogs list them
No way is the bit you have pictured, a Tom Thumb, BSMS . IT has sleeves, there is some curve to the shanks, plus a non protruding , non pinching joint
The bit you have, I simply refer to as a jointed mouth curb, and while TT also are jointed mouth curbs, all jointed mouth curbs are not TT!
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Last edited by Smilie; 03-19-2017 at 04:53 PM.
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post #6 of 11 Old 03-19-2017, 04:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anniemay View Post
Generally the bit called argentine snaffle is compared to the tomb thumb but they are not the same bit. This is an argentine snaffle and the second one is the tomb thumb. The bit you posted is not an argentine snaffle but would be fine for a horse and rider trained to use it. I would not use a bit with such a long cheeck piece or shank for any sort of beginner or green horse. The argentine snaffle has more curved mouth pieces to give tong release while the tomb thumb does not. The shanks on the argentine are also more curved which give the horse more warning before engaging fully while the tomb thumb gives no warning. This argentine snaffle also has a spot to attach a second set of reins so that the rider can use just the direct pressure instead using the curb. I would not use a tomb thumb on my horses (have used on horses I was showing because that is what the owner had on them) but I have used the argentine snaffle for a few horses that really liked it. I feel like the argentine snaffle is more fair and a better training tool than the tomb thumb. People will tell you horror stories about the tomb thumb but I have never seen the tomb thumb really damage an animal when used correctly but it easy to have make a horse fearful of the bit in with one because of the lack of warning.
Nope, true TT do not have sleeves, nor is there any curve to the shanks, what so ever!. See link above, regarding true TT and Argentine snaffle (God, I hate these terminologies, as of course, both are curbs !) Was looking at the bottom bit-sorry ! Top one is a TT
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Last edited by Smilie; 03-19-2017 at 04:49 PM.
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post #7 of 11 Old 03-20-2017, 12:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smilie View Post
...No way is the bit you have pictured, a Tom Thumb, BSMS . IT has sleeves, there is some curve to the shanks, plus a non protruding , non pinching joint...
It is extremely close to being straight, the proportions are the same, and the sleeve functions just like the regular cheap TT, which does NOT allow the top to swivel into the horse's mouth - unlike what some have written about them. It is, structurally, every bit a "Tom Thumb".




I once owned a cheap Tom Thumb. I'm not crazy about cheap bits and have no great desire to go buy a cheap Tom Thumb to prove my horses would ride they same...but they did.

The knuckle in the top picture is no more extreme than the knuckle on my O-ring bits.

"The bit you have, I simply refer to as a jointed mouth curb, and while TT also are jointed mouth curbs, all jointed mouth curbs are not TT!"

No kidding. You can call it anything you want, but it clearly is functionally identical. It is just that Tom Thumb bits do not work the way a lot of people, including Mark Rashid, claim they do. And that is obvious if you simply stand next to the horse and watch what happens when the reins are used.

They are not scary bits. Cheap ones are often used by people who themselves are scary on a horse, and that causes problems. People who have no business using a curb bit will buy them to impose control on a horse, and that gives them bad reputations. But they work just fine when ridden using with frequent slack in the reins, timely release, and on a horse who has been taught how to respond - which is true of a huge number of bits. Not every horse will respond well to them, just as some horses prefer a double joint snaffle to a single joint snaffle, and some prefer a curb to a snaffle or the reverse.

How much bend there should be to the sides depends on how the horse carries its head. A horse like Bandit, who often carries his head close to the vertical, will find a TT reasonably balanced. A horse like Mia, who typically carried her head at 45 degrees, will not find them balanced. But then, a strongly curved shank that balanced well for Mia does not balance well for Bandit. Bandit will accept Mia's old favorite, but it doesn't function as well for him as the TT because the shanks have too much curve for how he typically rides. It isn't balanced right for Bandit, although it was perfect for Mia.



Ideally, at rest, the weight of the reins should have the far end of the shank resting under the mouthpiece. With Mia, whose head was normally at 45 degrees, the weight of the reins would rotate straight shanks 45 degrees to rest underneath - and that removed the period of free rotation prior to the curb strap tightening. Thus any additional pressure on the reins would cause immediate pressure in her mouth, without any warning (signal).

But Bandit carries his head steeper, and the TT bit stays stable with the ends supported. Thus there is still 45 degrees of rotation available before the curb strap tightens and pressure is applied to the mouth.

The Argentine bit pictured:



is functionally almost identical to a TT. It has a little more curve to the shanks than a TT, so it will accommodate a horse whose head is tilted out more...slightly more. But I used to own one like that, and used with Mia, it would also rotate by the weight of the slack reins until the curb strap had tightened - so it gave no warning either.

All of this is apparent if one just takes these bits out and watches them while standing next to the horse, using horses who naturally carry their heads at different angles.

BTW - Bandit seems reassured by constant contact when he speeds up, so we've been using snaffles exclusively for the last 6 months. But I could pull the TT out of the closet tomorrow and he'd be fine with it - better than he would with the Billy Allen.
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post #8 of 11 Old 03-20-2017, 11:21 AM
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No, those bits are not the same.
i You can't see as to how that sleeve prevents pinching, where the mouth piece exits, nor where the recessed joint is not the same as that protruding joint?
Far as Mark Rashid, he is talking as if someone is using a jointed mouth curb, TT or otherwise, but esp TT'
, to start a hrose, versus it;s intended use,
In other words, using it as if it were a snaffle, due to mouth piece, on a horse who has zero education to a bit
Jointed mouth curb, is a big mouth full, so that everyone, including professionals, refer tot hem all as either shanked snaffles, or TT, often using only length of the shanks , to call those with shorter shanks TT and those with longer shanks ,shanked snaffles
It is the very narrow design of the configuration of a true TT, that separates it from it;s fellow jointed mouth curbs with relatively short shanks and a more straight shank design
Far as the angle of shanks, between those straight up and down, and those with some sweep, it is the lack of signal time, in the straight up and down shanks that increases severity, esp if they are also fixed
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Last edited by Smilie; 03-20-2017 at 11:29 AM.
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post #9 of 11 Old 03-20-2017, 11:16 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the replies.

I understand the difference better, and thank you for the article @Smilie and explanation @Anniemay .

@bsms I would have thought those were sort of an Argentine. The bit that my most recent horse came with (weird right?, she likes it though so they gave it to me) is basically identical to the dark bit you have pictured there made by Reinsman.

Some people in my area call any curb with a jointed mouth an "Argentine", a few people a "Tom Thumb" and some a "Snaffle" even though we know they aren't.

Some examples from quality bit makers for the sake of discussion.





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post #10 of 11 Old 03-20-2017, 11:47 PM
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not sure I care for the first one, but the last two are lovely looking bits! not Jeremiah Watts, are they?
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