Changing bits? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 10-05-2011, 06:07 PM Thread Starter
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Changing bits?

Sky is a 5 yr old Paint. The man I bought her from had her for a year and is the one that trained her. He rode her every day, had her in parades, took her camping, and put miles and miles of trails on her. She doesn't spook or bolt, and doesn't fight me at all. She can neck rein and back just fine. She doesn't have any special training. I'm not sure if she can even side pass. So that's what I know of her background and this is the bit that she's uses

The only issue I have with her is that she tosses her head a lot. She does what I ask but tosses her head in the process. She has a very soft mouth. Her old owner said he refused to sell her to a man that was too heavy handed with her. I'm not sure why he chose to use a tom thumb on her but I would really like to change it. So I was thinking about this dog bone snaffle. Is this a good bit to try or is there something else that would be better?
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post #2 of 8 Old 10-05-2011, 06:17 PM
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I am not a fan of broken curb bits in general, though I do understand there are a lot of people out there that do like them.

This right here is my favorite bit. It has the independent side movement so you can easily pick up a shoulder or get that perfect bend but it won't collapse onto the horse's face whenever you pick up on one rein or if you have to pull a little harder than you wanted to in an emergency. The shanks are super short and the pressure ratio is very low. As far as curbs go, this is about as mild a bit as you can find anywhere.
AT Low Port Loose Cheek Low Port Western Bit 5in -

Whenever you get a new bit, no matter what kind it is, it will likely take her a little while to become accustomed to the different pressure and feel of it. Give her a few rides before you make a final decision on whether it's a better bit or not. Also, if she has been tossing her head for a long time, changing the bit may not correct the problem. While it may have begun as a reaction to the bit or the way it was handled, it may be more of a habit now so a new bit may not make it any better. You may end up having a training issue to be corrected.
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post #3 of 8 Old 10-05-2011, 07:13 PM
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I completely agree with smrobs. That is the bit (the one smrobs posted) I use on my mare and she is very light and responsive.
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post #4 of 8 Old 10-05-2011, 07:30 PM
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I'm definitely no bit expert (not even close), but I CAN tell you that I used to use a Tom Thumb, too, and I had a major problem with my horse throwing his head (violently) and sometimes even rearing, so I switched to a plain old O-ring snaffle, and he hasn't tossed his head or reared since :/
I've heard others complain about that bit, too...
I honestly think it's a horrible bit and I'd never put it in one of my horse's mouths again - but that's just my opinion and I've also heard that some horses go great in it. It's your choice.
I wouldn't use any shanked 'snaffle'.. (or broken mouthpiece) because, IMO, it's just a bad mix. Shanks + Broken Mouthpiece (no matter how many breaks) = Bad News IMO.
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post #5 of 8 Old 10-05-2011, 07:57 PM
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If you're gonna go the curb bit route, I love the bit smrobs is suggesting.
I use this one: NP Sweet Iron Loose Cheek Western Curb Bit 5in - on Lacey and it works really well for her. However, the shanks are a little longer than the one smrobs posted, so it's going to be slightly harsher.

Alternatively, you could just get a loose ring snaffle (btw, any bit with shanks, no matter what anyone calls it, is a curb-never a snaffle), or a french-link snaffle which is even a littler gentler than a single jointed snaffle. Either of those two snaffles are about as gentle as you can get, bit-wise, and there's nothing you can't do with a snaffle.
Here are a few right off (to help you in looking, if you want):
French link:
Alternatively, sweet iron encourages salivation and I know a horse that LOVES this bit (also a french-link):

Single jointed snaffle:

A curb bit might have a little bit more finesse but you say that she's very soft mouthed and responsive so she'll probably have plenty of finesse in a snaffle. And, with a snaffle, you can direct rein or neck rein instead of only being able to neck rein in a curb.

Good luck! :)

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.

Last edited by Wallaby; 10-05-2011 at 08:04 PM.
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post #6 of 8 Old 10-05-2011, 10:00 PM
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Get her teeth floated, too.
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post #7 of 8 Old 10-06-2011, 04:55 PM
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If you're going the shank route:
Metalab Stainless Steel Argentine Dog Bone Bit - Stainless Steel - 5 3/8" Argentine Bits Western
AT Low Port Loose Cheek Low Port Western Bit 5in -

The one you posted looks like something I would use as well.

Tom thumbs are basically no good for any horse in general. The ones who do ok in them, are the horses that just plod along at a walk, with the reins a mile long. Any pressure to the mouth, just goes to whack with a tom thumb.

if she's soft mouthed, any simple snaffle would be fine for her as well.

Whatever you choose, I would suggest aiming for a shorter shanked, slightly curved, three piece mouth bit. Or any snaffle with a three piece mouth.

"You're just as sane as I am."~Luna Lovegood.
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post #8 of 8 Old 10-06-2011, 07:51 PM Thread Starter
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This is going to be a harder decision than I thought. I'll be honest, I never thought of using a bit with a solid mouth piece. The trainers I used for my other two horses were all about single link and french link snaffles. I have not had the help of a trainer with this new one though. I see one of them all the time but he's a quiet man and just shrugged when I mentioned switching her out of the tom thumb. He doesn't see anything wrong with them. So that wasn't much help.

I'm not against trying a solid one, I'm actually kind of curious to see the difference it makes. But I'm thinking I might get both to see which one works best. It seems either a 3 piece or a solid would be the way to go and staying away from the single link all together, as no one seems to like those much.

Her previous owner said he had her teeth floated, so I don't think that's the issue. It would really suck if her head tossing was a habit, that might drive me crazy.
Thank you everyone for your recommendations. At least I know what I should be looking at now. I know very little about bits and what does what.
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