A Little 'Bit' of Advice :) - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 11 Old 06-05-2009, 09:44 AM Thread Starter
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Question A Little 'Bit' of Advice :)

I have a 6 year old Tennessee Walking Horse who is currently in a Tom Thumb bit. He hates bits and I hate that it has a shank. I want to switch him to a snaffle bit but everyone says that I shouldn't switch him to one. That TN Walkers normally have Tom Thumb bits and that he doesn't need one. Do you think it's a good idea to switch? I don't show and I don't want to, and I find snaffle bits more useful.

I was also considering a bitless bridle instead. The Nurtural Bitless Bridle. I sounds great but I don't know how well it works with TN Walkers though. Do you think he'll still rack with a bitless bridle?

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post #2 of 11 Old 06-05-2009, 01:43 PM
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I personally do not like tom thumb bits and find just their mechanics to be quite harsh.
There is no rule saying that he needs to be in a shanked bit, so if you want him in a snaffle, then put him in a snaffle.
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post #3 of 11 Old 06-05-2009, 01:54 PM
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Try a french link snaffle, such as a KK Training Snaffle. You might have a better horse than you think :)

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post #4 of 11 Old 06-05-2009, 01:58 PM
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Most trainers, I know, usually start all their horses with some type of snaffle bit. Maybe your horse is trying to tell you something? Like appylover said it's a harsh bit.. If the horse doesn't like his bit he will be hesitant to take it and accept it. I also agree with appylover in it being too harsh, esp, in the wrong riders hands (not saying you are unexperience).

You also have to take into account that he has only been under saddle for what, 2-3 years? So he is still learning the ropes. And starting him out with the wrong bit can lead to many problems in the future.

Last edited by White Foot; 06-05-2009 at 01:59 PM. Reason: adding
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post #5 of 11 Old 06-05-2009, 02:00 PM
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I tried one of those walking bits on my tennessee walker..he hated it...I went to using what the trainer had...a myler O ring snaffle...but I got the snaffle with the barrel in the middle...he likes it...but my goal is working to where he feels what I want with my legs and then guide him with the bit...he is learning fast...but he's 9 now and didnt get officially broke to ride until I got him at 8 years old...Im driving my husband nuts with how proud I am of how far he has come in such a short time, but as Im finding out walkers (as are most horses) are extremely smart and learn quickly.
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post #6 of 11 Old 06-05-2009, 02:01 PM
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post #7 of 11 Old 06-05-2009, 02:03 PM
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Shanked bits are the 'traditional' gaited horse bit. This seems especially true for Tennessee Walkers and Missouri Fox Trotters. I was looking at an old photo of me on my TWH when I first got him. The old owner had him in a bit with shanks that were at least 6-7 inches long! With a tight curb! OH MY GOD. That old boy was so patient with me. I was so novice I hadn't a clue.

Personally, I ride my horses (including my MFT!) in a hackamore. They do just as well, if not better, than with a shank bit.
I use a fleece padded one with awesome results. My MFT, Loki, was NEVER ridden in a hackamore before now and he responds just the same as he does with a bit. Honestly no difference!

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post #8 of 11 Old 06-05-2009, 02:14 PM
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I hate hate hate tom thumbs. Not only do you get the nutcracker effect of the single joint, but you're also adding in leverage of the curb, together creating a very harsh and unclear signal.
I personally recommend an eggbutt, dee or full cheek french link bit for most horses. It is a mild mouthpiece and cheekpieces that won't pinch.
A horse will not forget how to gait with a different bit - a bit is a communication tool between your hands and the mouth, and should also only be a third means of communication - first are your seat and legs.

Regarding the bitless bridle... some horses go great in them, some don't. I tried one on my gelding and he flipped out - he hated his nose being confined like that. I rode him in my french link before trying the bitless, he was fine; w/t/c absolutely fine. The bitless made him a different horse, he hated the contact. Switched back to my bit, absolutely fine again. I do think that the rubber grippers on the nosepiece pulled at his hair and skin as well.

Many people switch to a bitless bridle because they think it's "kinder" than a bit - untrue. A headpiece, be it a hack, bit or bitless is only as harsh as the hands behind it, and each can be harsh in their own respects.
A lot of people switch because they think their horse "hates" the bit when really it's a different problem - ill fitting saddle, bridle, pain on the horse somewhere, etc. It's a band-aid solution.
Having said that, some people and horses just prefer bitless. It's a matter of horse and rider.


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post #9 of 11 Old 06-05-2009, 03:04 PM Thread Starter
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Woah! I had NO idea! My trainer picked out that bit for him. I had no idea how harsh it was! And all this time when I asked him to stop and he didn't I thought he was being a brat. The french link snaffle looks good, so does the eggbutt, but I've heard that some hackamores can be harsher than bits. I guess it depends on the type though. Thanks SO MUCH for telling me!!!

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post #10 of 11 Old 06-05-2009, 03:25 PM
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it mostly depends on the hands that use the bit or hack, rather than it itself.

I personally would start in a french link snaffle and get back to the basics and make sure you can go through all 3 gaits and have a good stop. Then if you'd like move onto a hackamore. That's just what I'd personally do.
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