Shanked bits aren't evil. Some horses really prefer a curb bit, especially a mullen mouthed one with porting for tongue relief. This is the most common bit for neck reining, or at least it used to be 30 years ago.
When I gave him to my friend, the bit went with him. It wasn't "necessary" on him... I could ride him in a snaffle. But I figured a leverage bit would be easier for him since he was always ridden one handed.
Tiny, can you maybe explain to me in better detail why (or if) using a leverage bit when neck reining instead of a snaffle is better? Does it make more sense to a horse from a pressure standpoint?