I'm working a friend's horse that is very green - barely broke. We ride English, he direct reins, has a very responsive mouth, and he was in a Tom Thumb bit when I started riding him. I explained to my friend why I didn't think the bit was beneficial to his style or level of training, and switched him to a french-link snaffle that he's very happy with.
My daughters spent last week at horse camp. It's a fantastic place, and I can't say enough about the positive instructors, horses, and program in general. However, on the last day, the kids put on a little show for the parents. My friend came along to watch. Then she stated the obvious: "Why are all the schooling horses in the bit you had me stop using?"
Good question. Which I could not answer. These were kids from age 6-10, most with very little riding experience. The horses are well-mannered. They all are riding English, and direct-reining only. All had Tom Thumbs, except one horse who was in a Pelham bit, but with only one set of reins attached to the shanked portion, not the snaffle portion.
What am I missing?
Why would you use a Tom Thumb bit with inexperienced little kids?
Why would you use a Tom Thumb bit to direct-rein?
Why would you use it to teach kids a soft contacting hand for English?
I would think it would be the wrong bit for this application, but this is a very reputable schooling barn with very experienced instructors/trainers, so I feel I'm completely missing something here.