Pelham Converters?

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Pelham Converters?

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  • How to fit a pelham bit
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    01-08-2012, 11:02 PM
Pelham Converters?

I unintentionally started some controversy on another thread, which lead to a debate on the merits of using a pelham converter.

For those unfamiliar with the mechanisms of a pelham bit it's pretty simple. A Pelhams has room for the attachment of two different reins, the bottom one activating the curb and the top activating the snaffle. Activating the curb puts pressure on the bars of the mouth, the chin, and the poll (and the roof of the mouth if it has a port). The snaffle works like any normal snaffle on the bars of the mouth. They are very much like a kimberwick, however they have more flexibility because you can choose when you use the leverage and when you don't.

Converters, to my understanding undermine the flexibility of the bit, as they always activate both the snaffle and the curb. In my experience they are used by beginner riders that find it too difficult to use double reins, which leads to a horse being in a harsh bit with inexperienced hands (Though that's opinion since I personally don't think leverage bits are appropriate for beginners). I could be wrong, as I have never actually looked into the much since they are illegal to use in the USEF shows.

I'd actually be interested in hearing if they do provide any benefits and how they differ from a kimberwick as far as mechanisms go. After people responded I looked online and was unable to find much about bit converters. I'd actually love to learn anything more about them.
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    01-08-2012, 11:08 PM

Who decides and defines "correct" versus "incorrect"? Surely not the inventor of the bit converter....

There is actual a significant difference in action between a "rounded" Pelham and a Kimberwick. Each have their merits, I suppose, but I'd far rather use the former. For example, it has a much better "presignal," giving the horse the opportunity to respond to lighter pressure and thus making it gentler.
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    01-08-2012, 11:13 PM
Originally Posted by bubba13    

Who decides and defines "correct" versus "incorrect"? Surely not the inventor of the bit converter....

There is actual a significant difference in action between a "rounded" Pelham and a Kimberwick. Each have their merits, I suppose, but I'd far rather use the former. For example, it has a much better "presignal," giving the horse the opportunity to respond to lighter pressure and thus making it gentler.
I don't understand how it would give a "presignal" at all since a single rein would activate the curb and the snaffle at the same time...?

As far as "correct" for bits I think changing the fundamental effectiveness of the bit would be using it incorrectly.
    01-08-2012, 11:17 PM

Because the Kimberwick is not a "loose jawed" bit, it has a tight juncture at the mouthpiece/shank connection. It swivels, but not much else, so pressure is either "on" or "off"--no in between, and no warning that a cue is coming. Roundings on a Pelham, however, provide additional weight and feel. You get more presignal and more room for subtlety. You do get some direct pull on the snaffle part, too. Yes, it is always coupled with the leverage effect, but it pulls directly back on the bars, lips, and tongue more than a Kimberwick will. Keep in mind, too, that even when riding with double reins or just the curb rein, poll pressure is very minimal, and I honestly doubt that the horse even registers it most of the time.
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    01-08-2012, 11:34 PM
I'll pitch in again when someone states

They should absolutely never be used.
my answer is

Because they like it

Because horses don't read books and don't know about refinement in bits and persist in liking certain things.

Because they were brought up with seeing people choose to use the pelham with roundings and just got used to it and see no reason to change.

Because in a free world you can

When it comes to it using the roundings is using the bit maybe not to it's best advantage, but it can be effective, and some horses just go well in it.
    01-08-2012, 11:41 PM
To my understanding poll pressure is directly linked to the length of the shanks. A pelham can vary greatly bit to bit in poll pressure depending on how it's made.

I understand that people can do whatever they would like, however, I'm more interested in learning any possible benefits to using it, as opposed to a pelham.
    01-08-2012, 11:56 PM
It's not really the length of the shanks, per se, that determines poll pressure.

Look at what has to happen for poll pressure to be applied. You pull back on the reins, with causes the shanks to rotate and move back. As the shanks move back, obviously, the purchase moves forward. When the curb chain tightens as far as it can, this movement stops, and you get the leverage effect in the mouth, pulling the mouthpiece down onto the tongue and bars. It's the forward movement of the purchase, however, which pulls downward on the bit hanger, this tightening the crownpiece and applying poll pressure. But how much does the purchase actually move? Well, not much....

No one sane uses a bit like the above photo shows. If you crank back that far and that hard, you can see how the headstall tightens behind the ears. But if you pull back with less force--or if you have the curb chain adjusted tighter--that can't happen. You'll get some poll pressure, but only a negligible amount. Look at the first photo, again, and see how their is curb rein contact (bit rotation), but still looseness (slack) in the bridle.

If you really want substantial poll pressure from a bit, use a gag/elevator/draw, which is designed specifically to have this effect, by shortening the bridle as the reins are pulled.

Edit: Great visual!
Kaleighlg likes this.
    01-09-2012, 12:07 AM
Green Broke

This is all very interesting information, especially the leverage mechanics. I'm not too familiar with pelhams, but I'd always heard it was bad to use a converter.

Looking forward to hearing both sides!
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    01-09-2012, 01:11 AM
I was told it was the difference in the top and the bottom, which I'm pretty sure is just the physically cause of what you just posted. As it's the difference that causes the rotation.
    01-09-2012, 01:19 AM
You mean the ratio of shank:purchase? The difference doesn't cause the rotation, but it would influence force delivered by the lever...but only if all other factors were equal. It doesn't say whether or not you're influencing with enough pressure for the horse to feel, anyway (keep in mind that on most horses you're going to have the stubble of a bridle path right where the crown is pulling down, which will allow for transmission of feel down the hair shaft, but also tend to absorb some of the impact).

Far more important factors are the height to which the bit is adusted in the mouth (tightness of bridle), tightness of curb chain (as discussed before--a properly adjusted/tight curb will not allow for much rotation, thus preventing poll pressure), and of course how hard/far you're pulling back on the reins.

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