Tom Thumb question - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 04-17-2012, 10:31 PM Thread Starter
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Tom Thumb question

I know we've done the tom thumb discussion to death already, but I was recently talking to another boarder and she was adamant that what she had in her horse's mouth is NOT a tom thumb because the shanks aren't straight, they curve back and somehow this makes it gentler then a tom thumb because it prepares the horse for the signal whereas the straight shanks on a tom thumb don't?

I've never heard of this, I thought virtually all bits with a jointed mouth piece and shanks were referred to as tom thumbs and considered not very good bits?

What I'm referring to is that she was told by a "bit expert" apparently that this is a tom thumb and should never be used:


But that is this not a tom thumb and a very good bit:


So what is it? Are they both tom thumbs? Is there any difference in how they act in a horse mouth?

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post #2 of 9 Old 04-17-2012, 10:33 PM
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post #3 of 9 Old 04-17-2012, 10:35 PM
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Subbing because I have been wondering the exact same thing!
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post #4 of 9 Old 04-17-2012, 10:37 PM
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Your friend is correct. The Tom Thumb is not a good bit. It's too straight and gives conflicting signals.

The 2nd I believe is called an Argentine Snaffle, because it does have the curved shank. She is correct that this particular bit does prepare the horse better for the signal, and when the signal is given, it's much more "to the point" and "precise" when you ask something.

(Someone please correct me if I'm going down the wrong path)

"The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with
him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too."

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post #5 of 9 Old 04-17-2012, 10:38 PM
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I peronally am not a fan of any single jointed bits, however if I had to pick I would put the swept back shank in the mouth as opposed to the true tom thumb which has the straight as a board shank. She is true that it is nicer, however I still would not like it.

The only time a horse can be free of the pressure from the TT is when the horse is on a loose rein and on the vertical. The curved shank also allows for the horse to be off the vertical some more and still be free of pressure.
COWCHICK77 likes this.

Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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post #6 of 9 Old 04-17-2012, 10:47 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys! She has a show Arab that basically always holds himself "on the vertical" and on a loose rein so I can see why this bit works well for them. I'd just never heard of there being such a difference due to shank curve so it threw me for a loop!

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post #7 of 9 Old 04-17-2012, 10:50 PM
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The slightest change in the shape of a bit can make a world of difference in some horses.

"The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with
him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too."

-Samuel Butler
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post #8 of 9 Old 04-20-2012, 06:40 AM
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Your friend is right. The biggest problem with a real TT (American, not Australian) is the straight shanks. Once you have a curve in the shank, then it becomes a simple leverage bit.

I'm not arguing with you, I'm just explaining why I'm right.

Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.


It's not always what you say but what they hear.
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post #9 of 9 Old 04-20-2012, 11:39 AM
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I use something similar to the second bit on my Percheron, and it works well for her because I'm almost never in her mouth and it gives her preparation time if I do need to use pressure on the reins. She likes this bit and listens well off of seat, leg, and voice, so it's a good choice for her.
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