What is a tom thumb? Isn't it about the same as a snaffle but with cheek piece? How harsh is that?
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It's a poorly designed "transition" bit.
By no means is is close to a snaffle, as it's a bit with leverage. Mouthpiece makes no difference.
They're not harsh to a horse that can be ridden completely neck reined with little to no pressure to the mouth. That's about it. When you start taking up contact, and direct reining, is when it gets off and confusing for the horse, because of the design. Any bits harsh in the wrong hands, and you just have to understand the mechanics of each different bit.
Tom Thumbs really have no flexion to them, and are very straight shanked. Therefore, that makes them meant for more loose reined, neck reined stuff.
I partly agreed to that video. Yes, he kept ranting, but true snaffles are losing their meaning. I can say a lot about tiny, twisted wires, but if you never touch the horses mouth, then the bits just sitting there. Not much harm done. It all goes down to how each bit works, and where your horse is at in it's training to handle the different mechanics.