I personally don't think bits are abusive. But also, that being said. ANy bit in the wrong hands, could be abusive.
But so could hackamores, sidepulls, and bosels. All depends who's using them Posted via Mobile Device
Riding a horse is painful. A saddle is painful. Heck, a halter is painful. My point is that yes everything has the opportunity to be uncomfortable and painful if used incorrectly. Bits aren't bad, the riders hands are. I've ridden some horses who like bits and some who don't. For instance, if bits were hurting my gelding then would he grab his bit with his mouth when I present it to him, seriously, I've never had to get him to open his mouth he just ducks his head into the bridle and starts munching on his bit!
If it was painful I highly doubt that he would do this.
IMO the people who make these videos and who present the topic in such a way are often extreme in their thinking. They will see one video or picture of a bit being used in a negative way and think that all bits are bad. I ride my horses in bits AND in halters/bitless and either way I don't have a problem. My horses are not in pain when being ridden, they aren't uncomfortable because I've seen that it's properly fitting and adjust when needed. To me that's being a responsible rider: making sure that your mount is comfortable and pain free.
My personal opinion has always been that if you think that a bit is bad then you better take a long hard look at your hands. That's how I was taught and I've stuck to that. Anytime I've had a horse act weird in a bit (pending that he liked bits/never had a problem before) the first thing I did was look at my hands and be sure that I was not interfering or doing anything wrong. If I was okay then I checked the fit. 9 times out of 10 doing these two things fixed the problem and the horse never had a problem nor a medical condition due to using a bit.
I'd call it a stupid and dishonest video meant to deceive people into believing bits are cruel. They are not. One might as well say a leash is cruel to a dog because some idiot can jerk on the leash hard enough to break a dog's neck, or that belts are cruel to humans because someone could beat another person with a belt.
It is flatly dishonest to pretend bits work that way...and I write that as someone who spent his first 3 years trying to be kind by riding bitless. It wasn't kind. If anything, it was harmful to my horses - they WANTED the communication a bit can provide. I'd love for the bitless crowd to explain to me why my horse and millions of others will stand quietly and calmly with a bit in their mouth - even the EXTRA CRUEL curb bits, tormenting the horses below:
If you couldn't tell, I get pissed at the dishonest people pushing this nonsense, in part because I'm pissed at myself for having believed them when I was a newbie to riding horses!
This is going to be a long post and I apologize in advance. It will be full of personal experience and opinion and no scientific fact.
When I got my horse I borrowed some tack from a friend to see if he was trained to ride. As I approached him with the bridle equipped with snaffle bit he became anxious. He pawed the ground and lifted his head out of reach. He was extraordinarily unhappy. My mom was helping me at the time since he lives on her property. She only ever rode horses in mechanical hackamores the last time she had horses. She thought bits were cruel. Couple her beliefs with my horses reaction and I started to think that maybe there was something to that. I knew my horse had some sore teeth so we decided to try a mechanical hack. I approached the horse and he calmly accepted the hackamore. So ok, this would be what we were going to use.
And we used it for nearly a year, he rode ok in it (even put it on by himself lol) but he is a stubborn horse and I had a hard time giving him subtle cues as well as *making* him listen when he was having a bad day. My mechanical hackamore had 8" shanks. So my understanding is that they amplified my force by 8x. I am not a strong person. I'm fat, short and have very little upper body muscle. I welcomed the extra 8x force. Because let me tell you, if that horse did not want to turn there wasn't a darn thing I could do short of applying EVERY OUNCE OF STRENGTH I POSSESSED on the reins. Now he had good days and bad days but the bad days were more like horse wrestling than horse riding. So I knew I wanted to give a snaffle bit another shot. Afterall, that's what all the people on horse forum swear by.
I bought a 5 3/4" loose ring snaffle bit from a tack swap for $5. I have a brand new horse. He holds his head still and does not toss it. I can give subtle cues and he responds. If he is having a bad day and being stubborn I can calmly direct rein him to turn in the direction I want and he gives instantly to the bit. I can use a minimal amount of strength.
It didn't take me long to figure out that for now our best bet is to stick with the snaffle. He seems happier, possibly because we are able to communicate more easily and we are no longer fighting during our rides. If he pitches a fit about something I am easily able to control the situation and turn it around. Maybe it has made him more confident in me as a leader? Maybe he's happy to not have 8x my force pulling on his nose. I don't know, but I'll take what I can get and I truly believe that calm, quiet communication is certainly less cruel than wrestling and frustration. And that goes for any type of bit, hackamore or bitless bridle. There will always be different solutions for different horses. A style of head gear is not inherently bad or good.
Here is my old man on Christmas showing off his bit (our second ride with it).
I have listened to people who HATE Tom Thumbs and call them abusive. My mare fights me in a snaffle. She took off once and I tried everything from turning her head to yanking and sawing. All she got was a bloody mouth and I was unable to walk for a week (turned sharply after running a quarter of a mile looking behind her and I fell). I tried a gentle curb and she would ride with her face looking up. I ride her in a Tom Thumb and she is light, willing and relaxed. I can now ride with a lose rein as apposed to on her mouth. Thanks to that bit I can school her in a snaffle with little complaint, and even a bittless, though she tosses her head and will lope in place with it if she wants to go. She is a solid trail horse but she has her quarks (That being barn sour every now and then).
I don't care for snaffle bits.... I ride gaited horses. A gaited horse has to ride into the bit. This video shows why I don't think a snaffle is good for this type of bit.
A curb bit is much easier on a gait horses mouth. There is nothing cruel about a curb.