I don't want to 'steal' someone's thread, but I saw this thread, started reading, and thought that maybe I had been mistaken about horse bits too, like a couple other people had mentioned. You may want to read the whole thing to get the idea.
I had a grade saddle mare (who I figure was a Missouri fox-trotter) who had trouble staying at a walk. She had been trained by her pervious owner to pick up into her gait as soon as someone was in the saddle. For the 6 years I had her before she passed away, I could never ever ever get her to slow down. I rode her with a basic snaffle bit at the beginning, and she nearly ran off with me, so I moved to this bit: images.jpg
I found this bit in the garage because my dad used to own horses and has some left over stuff. Please remember that this mare was my first real horse that I could call my own, and that my dad had never been a horse person. He didn't even now what a 'frog' or 'bridle path' was. I had been studying for years before I got my first horse, but I never really studied up on bits..
Now my mare did really well with this bit for a while. She would want to gait and go faster, but she would tuck her head and have this beautiful show, flashy walk. She seemed to do really well with it.
I don't know if I was doing something wrong, but over the years her mouth got harder and harder, and I got to the point where I was scared she would try to bolt with me. So I went to the tack store and the man there told me I needed this bit, so I bought it.: download.jpg
The tack shop owner is a older man who has been riding, showing, breeding, and training Tennessee Walkers his whole life, so I trusted his judgement. He told me that my mare needed a longer shank, and that this bit would be the next step up. He said it would make her slow down and listen but wouldn't be too harsh and hurt her mouth. I rode her in it and OMG she rode like a dream. Nice and smooth and slow.
Was this bit too harsh? It this bit with its longer shanks like a tom thumb? My mare rode great in it, or so I thought... never threw her head or acted strange,. She tucked her head and moved great. So, whats the verdict? Just curious here.