Tom Thumbs? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 08-31-2009, 11:05 AM Thread Starter
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Question Tom Thumbs?

So people have told me that a tom thumb is a horrible bit, it is mean on the mouth,etc. Can you tell me if this is true or not? When I look at one it looks a lot nicer than then curb bits with ports. Can someone explain to me why they're such a viscious bit?

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post #2 of 20 Old 08-31-2009, 12:01 PM
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Well, I would not call it vicious, but in the wrong hands it can be quite damaging. It is a leverage bit, and from what I understand, if a rider is new or has rough hands, it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on a horse's mouth....I made the mistake of putting my very young gelding into one and immediatley had behaviour issues. He's much happier in a KK ultra split snaffle. There are tons of good articles out there, both online and in magazines. Do your research before you make your choice ;)
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post #3 of 20 Old 08-31-2009, 12:06 PM
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First and formost, a tom thumb is not a snaffle. It's a leverage bit. Unfotunatly, it is usually called a "tom thumb snaffle" and is ridden in like it is a snaffle. It should be ridden one handed like the leverage bit it is.

A tom thumb can confuse a horse as it does not communicate as clearly as other bits, however I had a lot of luck with one on a mare I used to ride (not so much on other horses). Personally, I think there are much better bits out there both for snaffle and curb but the TT is not an evil bit.

Also, a tom thumb bit in austrailia or pretty much anywhere that isnt america is a very mild snaffle bit. The tom thumb I was talking about it not.
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post #4 of 20 Old 08-31-2009, 12:18 PM
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Yeah, it's basic design makes it a virtual nightmare in the wrong hands or on the wrong horse. First, the combination of the nutcracker action of the broken mouthpiece along with the leverage of the curb action can make for a very painful experience for a horse if the rider has anything less than VERY light hands. Plus, on a young horse, every now and then, they need a one rein correction while neck reining and that is where the most confusion comes from. Lets say that I want to turn my young horse to the left and he is being sluggish to the neck rein. The first thing that I do is urge with the right leg and pick up the left rein. However, when I pick up the left rein, it pulls the right side of the bit against his lips, telling him to turn left and at the same time, the broken mouth flexes and the left shank tips sideways and the top of the purchase starts poking him in the side of the face, telling him to turn right. So essentially, he is being told to turn both directions at once and that is very confusing to a young horse.

The American TT is an okay bit so long as your horse likes it, you have very light hands, and are on a well trained horse that neck reins well. I personally prefer to have a solid mouth on anything with shanks because it is not confusing or a combination of nutcracker/curb pressure.
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post #5 of 20 Old 09-03-2009, 12:29 AM
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I wouldnt call the TT a vicious but it wouldnt be too uch of a stretch to call it a severe bit that in my opinion ( and this is just my opinion) is completely unnecessary and even dangerous if used by anyone but a professional (though in my opinion if you call yourself a professional you should have no need to use such a severe and confusing bit. i think that any one thinks they NEED to use one, that a horse would benifit from it,that the horse needs more proper training with a proper bit and a more experienced rider.)
now this is just my opinion i dont mean to discredit or bash anyone who uses a TT bit.
i have a q though and im serious about it, what purpose does the bit serve, like what was it created to do? ive never gotten a clear answer on that.
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post #6 of 20 Old 09-03-2009, 12:49 AM
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^^ Keep in mind that I am not sure of the "proper" answer to your question but IMHO, it was probably originally designed as a transition bit from the snaffle to the curb in the process of training a young horse and for some reason, the idea of it caught on even though it really isn't a very good bit. I don't know if that is why it was really created but it sounds about right to me.
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post #7 of 20 Old 09-04-2009, 08:26 AM
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Here is a negative point of view about the TT: Today's Horse - The Trouble with Tom Thumb

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post #8 of 20 Old 09-04-2009, 08:37 AM
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TTs can be harsh or confusing to the horse if used incorectly or if the horse has a low palate. If you use the TT like a snaffle, two handed pulling to turn or pulling a lot to stop, it can pinch the tougne and twist in the horse's mouth. If the horse has a low palate, it can poke the roof of the mouth with the joint of the mouth piece.

SOME horses, when ridden correctly (one-handed, loose rein) seem to like or prefer TT or broken mouth curb bits. If it works, it works .

However, I prefer to try ANY other option myself, lol. Billy Allen mouth or comfort mouth Mylers have a broken mouth piece with limited movement. They lay flatter in the mouth (no port, usually) and have some play, but you don't get that nutcracker action on the tongue or as much confusion. If a horse doesn't seem to like the movement of the bit, I'll try a mullen or low port mouth with swivel or fixed cheeks. Mullen or low-port bits are quite mild (depending on the shanks and length of purchase) and accepted well by most horses that are trained to curb bits.

If you're looking for a transition bit, to go from a snaffle (true snaffle, no shanks) to a western shanked bit, then I like the short shanked, "gag-y" type bits like the tender touch or jr cow-horse bits. I prefer the ones with smooth mouths (no twist or wire wrapped) and a dog bone or life saver (circle piece) in the middle. The double joint helps the bit to lay flatter in the mouth, giving clearer signals. The short shanks allow you to direct rein (pully/plow rein) some while teaching the horse to respond to neck reining.

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post #9 of 20 Old 09-04-2009, 08:45 AM
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American Tom Thumb:

European Tom Thumb:

The Jr Cow Horse or Tender Touch bits I mentioned:

Another bit that I have that works well as a transition bit (no gag action). It's called a "black training snaffle" (though not truly a snaffle since it has shanks).
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post #10 of 20 Old 09-05-2009, 09:01 PM
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I would like some more info on the black training snaffle as I think this may be a good choice for switching from a snaffle to a shanked bit. Do you need a curb strap for this and can you show in it? thanks

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