'Snaffle' is a term defining the lack of leverage/shanks, not the type of mouthpiece. They can have any kind of mouthpiece you like: french link, mullen mouth etc. The 'argentine snaffle' is not technically a snaffle.
I'd tend to stay away from anything with shanks AND a single joint. Leverage + nutcracker action is always going to be a fairly severe combination that I was taught never to use unless a horse went miraculously well it in.
A broken mouthpiece- Not as much tongue pressure as a solid mouthpiece. Will have a slight nutcracker effect, but a three piece will have less of that.
Solid mouthpiece-More tongue pressure than any other bit. On the plus side, no nutcracker effect.
Broken, ported mouthpiece-Still have a nutcracker effect, plus port will hit roof of the mouth in a different way than snaffle.
If your horse is light in a french link, I would go for the three piece argentine. A solid mouthpiece will add toungue pressure, which ou don't need, and a ported will add roof pressure. For the curb strap, I suggest using leather rather than chain and keep it loose, this will make it less severe. Just my 2 cents. Here are some pictures of random bits, just so you can see your options. If anything, buy a few bits and find what works best. My tack room has 200 bits, and I use them all at least once a month as I ride a ton of different horses. I recommend a few websites to look at bits-
And of course, ebay! I have gotten about 50 bits on ebay.
We don't really have bits with ports like that in the UK, so I've never seen one used or anything - don't they hit the roof of the mouth? They look really high.
Yep, they will hit the roof of the mouth. But in the right hands, they are usefull tools for many events. You can perfect a horses stop, headset, ect, they just have to be used properly. In the wrong hands, you can make a horse bowed up and high headed in 10 minutes.
I agree with Kyani about the Argentine Snaffle not technically being a snaffle. It also does tend to be rather severe w/ the wrong hands.
Here's my opinion on regular curb bits with ports: Going straight from a snaffle to a curb will often confuse the horse. The higher the port the more severe and what ever you do DO NOT go from a snaffle straight into a high ported curb! That's a lot of confusion. Also curb bits put pressure on the poll and snaffles put pressure on the mouth. I like the Argentine because it puts pressure on both and gets the horse used to giving to poll pressure. I don't like keeping the horse in the Argentine for long though, just until the get the idea of leverage. Then I use a medium port, long-shanked grazing bit for the most part to really refine vertical flexion and other skills.
Shanked bit + Broken Piece = BAD BAD COMMUNICATION.
People think tom thumbs are nice because they are like a snaffle. On a true snaffle bit, the reins are attached to a relatively small, swiveling ring which could be considered a working part of the mouthpiece itself. When the rein is pulled, as you would do when asking the horse to turn, the ring that the rein is attached to moves completely away from the horse's mouth. The mouthpiece itself slides in the same direction, which causes the ring on the opposite side of the horse's mouth to apply pressure on that side. Because the horse is taught to go away from pressure, it then makes sense that if you are pulling to the left, and the pressure from the bit is on the right side of his mouth, he will naturally turn his head to the left. This is the simple principle that is commonly referred to as direct reining, or "plow reining". It is also a principle that is almost impossible to perform properly with the Tom Thumb, due to its design. Unlike a true snaffle bit, the Tom Thumb has shanks similar to the ones found on a solid curb bit. It is to the bottom of these shanks that the reins are attached. The headstall is attached to the top of the shank, as is some type of curb strap which fits around the bottom of the horse's jaw, in the chin area. These shanks swivel and are attached to the bit's mouthpiece.t is that one flaw in the bit's design that renders it almost totally useless when it comes to any kind of training which involves direct reining. Again, using direct reining in a snaffle bit, the horse is taught to move away from pressure. To turn to the right, the pressure is on the left side of the horse's mouth. To turn to the left, the pressure is on the right. There should be no other pressure being applied by the bit that could cause the horse to become confused.
Unfortunately, confusion is precisely what happens to a horse when the Tom Thumb is used. Because of its shanks, any attempt at direct reining results in pressure on several different areas around the horse's mouth. For instance, if you are aking the horse to turn to the left, you will be pulling on the left rein, with the idea that the pressure from the bit will be on the right side of the horse's mouth, thereby turning the horse left. However, because the rein is attached to the bottom of a swiveling shank, pulling on the rein results in the shank turning and tipping into the left side of the horse's face. When the shank tips, it also shifts the mouthpiece, which, in turn, puts pressure on the right side of the horse's mouth by pulling the right side of the bit into it. You now have pressure on both sides of the horse's mouth, as well as a shifting of the mouthpiece inside the mouth.
If this wasn't bad enough, tipping the shank also results in the tightening up of the curb strap that is under the horse's chin. Suddenly, the simple act of asking the horse to turn to the left is no longer a simple act. The bit is applying so much pressure in so many places, that the horse has no clue as to what you were asking for in the first place.
He then tries to tell you that he doesn't understand what you want by twisting his neck and shaking his head. Of course, we look at this as him being belligerent and not wanting to do what he was told. So, we simply apply more pressure to the rein which resluts in an even bigger fight on his part.
Eventually, the horse does finally turn to the left - but only as a last resort. Before he does, he will first try several different options. Among these will be: 1) turning to the right, because the left shank tipping into the side of his face is forcing him that way; 2) lifting his head as high as he can get it; 3) dropping his head as low as he can get it; 4) backing up. Rearing is also an option which sometimes happens as well.
Asking the horse to stop or back up, using a Tom Thumb, often results in much the same behavior. The reson for this is, again, the bit's design. Pulling back on the reins causes the hinged mouthpiece of the bit to collapse and jut foreward and then downward inside the horse's mouth, putting pressure on the horse's tongue. At the same time, the bottoms of the shanks (where the reins are attached) tip backward, causing the top of the shanks to tip forward. This, in turn, causes the curb strap to tighten under the horse's chin. Again, pressure is being applied in several different areas and this results in total confusion for the horse. Neck reining with the Tom Thumb can also result in confusion on the horse's part. This is because the idea behind neck reining is to be able to turn the horse by applying light pressure on his neck from the rein. To turn to the right, the rein is laid on the left side of the horse's neck. To turn to the left, the rein is on the right side of his neck. When done properly, there should be no movement or involvement whatsoever on the part of the bit. The solid curb bit, because of its design, lends itself very well to the act of neck reining. When laying the rein on the horse's neck to turn him, even if slightly heavy pressure is being applied, the curb bit usually will not move in the horse's mouth. This helps to eliminate the possibility of mixed signals which could confuse the horse.
However, because the Tom Thumb has so many moving parts, even the lightest pressure during neck reining with it often results in the shifting of the bit. Again, the shanks tip and turn causing the curb strap to tighten, the mouthpiece to collapse and the horse to become confused. The horse usually responds by raising his head and tipping it to the outside, or in the opposite direction that you want him to turn. Our response is usually to grab the reins with both hands and direct rein the horse back in the direction we want him to go. Of course this begins the series of problems that I mentioned earlier, head shaking, head tossing, and almost total unresponsiveness to anything we ask the horse to do.
I could go on and pull out further use full tidbits but that should be enough.
I've been researching and I found the website you got that information from incase anyone else wanted to see it in its entirety.
Thanks for all your added input, mlkarel2010. Glad to hear someone else is on the bit hunt with me!
I'm just about sold on the double-jointed Argentine, but then I keep reading some bad things about the Argentines too. Ok, so I'm still undecided! I guess the best method that was mentioned is to buy 200 bits and try them until one is perfect!