A little back ground. I rode bitless for more then 20 years, broke everything bitless and then switched horses over to a snaffle or a tom thumb which the horse kept for the rest of their time with me.
I actually switched from bitless to a bit, a plain solid carriage bit on my endurance horse because it was lighter in weight for him to carry and every pound counts over distance and the bitless was slowly wearing his hair away over his nose. I hated the looks of the line it left so I switched, light reins, light bit and soft soft hands. He ran the last few years I kept him with this combination.
I started my next horse bitless and he being a hard case, a confirmed bucker bucked right through 3 fences and finally stopped up against a post, which he snapped off anyway.
I then went with a snaffle which again he promptly bucked me off and me hanging onto the reins, he destroyed the head stall and ran off. After that I put a big big western bit in his mouth and that was the last time he ran off or anyone had to hold his head while I got set for the explosion that followed even after hundreds of miles running roads and trails. The last time he misbehaved. A few weeks later I switched to a curb training bit , a tom thumb as all curb jointed mouth pieces are called and he staying in that , extremely light for the next 1 1/2 years until he was killed. A tragic loss for both of us.
My next guy started right off in a snaffle and I rode him for year and was very happy but lately I decided to go to the tom thumb the one I liked so well and I was happy UNTIL I read this article. I already posted this link but it is worth reading a few time
That link got me thinking, maybe there is something better out there so I started to look and buy. The Billy Allan bit really appealed to me since I don't really like the nut cracker of the tom thumb. I bought my first Billy Allan for about $90, rushed home and took my guy out for a run , HE HATED IT. I thought it might be the 8 inch shanks so I cut them down to 5 inches, he still hated it and the bit became unbalanced, it actually flipped forward and upward and he would put his head high to escape. I then added 7 inch heavy shanks to add weight and curved them backwards. He still hated it.
I went back to the tom thumb and he was good , he no longer lifted his head to escape the bit BUT while he neck reins great I don't do it all the time and wanted to continue direct reining for head position, I am a stickler for proper head position while neck reining. I did find the original Billy Allan bit really direct reined nicely. He would turn his head nicely into the turn, round his neck and I could see his inside eye. Going back to the tom thumb he was happy but the direct rein wasn't as good as the billy allan.
I had just blown $100 on a useless bit but I went hunting again. I found a billy allen PELHAM, well made, curved mouthpiece, heavier 7/16th material and only 3 inch shanks but again extremely pricy, over $200.
I bought it yesterday, brought it home and put it in a head stall. Today I did a nice 3 hour run. Right off I picked a nice lope around a big field regulating his speed and in the curb position be backed off nicely, didn't throw his head, steered great, seemed very comfortable with it.
When I hit the bush I stopped and switched my heavy reins to the curb position, I have really nice buckles on the reins, not the tied leather thongs, hate those attachments, I want heavy good buckles so I can change in a few seconds.
I rode with the curb for the next 2 hours and he again seemed to really like it. Once again I did the big field on the return trip, cantering towards home but he regulated speed easy, relaxed.
I was extemely happy with the bit. A mild mild curb with 3 inch shanks that don't hang below his muzzle and quickly converts to a snaffle.
I beleive strongly in this statement
The practice of using a stronger bit to lighten a horse up and then switching back to a milder bit for every day riding, works really well to preserve the horse’s mouth while keeping him working right.
I have the stronger bit for when he is well rested/ that is one day off for a fit youngster and I can quickly go back to the snaffle when we hit the same old boring trails or settle down to just long slow distance.
If we hit fast open going and he doesn't regulate with a simple touch or a work I can switch to the curb, reinforce my commands and then switch back to the milder snaffle.
I feel the bit is worth every cent and this just might become my regular working or breaking bit.
I have never ever spend $100 on a bit before, let alone $200 but agian well worth the investment.