Bits are funny things. I'm glad you found one that really works!
This isn't for you, Riosdad, but I have just a thought about the tom thumb bits:
One thing that most people don't know about tom thumbs, is that they are really a pretty harsh bit, especially in heavy/rough/untrained hands. Most people are taught that a tom thumb is one of the mildest bits out there, but it just isn't true!
Think about it---- a tom thumb is a curb bit with a broken mouth piece. It isn't a snaffle. It works on leverage.
When you pull on the reins, the shanks apply 5x the leverage as a regular snaffle with the same amount of pressure. So, even with a light pressure on the bit (especially if you are direct reining, which I'll get to in a minute), the horse gets a large amount of pressure. In addition, the curb chain is applying pretty heavy pressure to the chin. On top of that, the bit breaks and bends back, pinching the lower jaw and corners of the mouth, and the tongue is pinched pretty severely with the nutcracker action of the bit. And finally, the joint of the bit pops the horse right in the roof of the mouth.
Now, if you are direct reining with a tom thumb-- it's even worse. It is basically asking the horse the opposite of what you really want him to do. All of those things happen in the above paragraph. A tom thumb is meant for neck reining at most, so the bit pushes the horse over (applying the left rein to the neck, the left shank applies pressure pushing the head over). When you direct rein, you apply pressure to the right shank only, which applies pressure to the right side of the face asking the horse to turn left, but you want him to go right! Also, the pinching action of the tom thumb is increased exponentially when you pull on just one side of the bit.
I don't know how this bit got such a good rap for being a mild bit, but it really isn't at all! A low port training curb is much less harsh on the mouth.
When I have a heavy handed student, I always ask them to try this exercise:
Have one person hold the rings/shanks of any jointed bit. Have the heavy handed person wrap their palm around the bit, loosely enough that they can feel the bit, but it isn't in a vice grip. Have the person holding the bit lightly twist the bit around, mimicking the action of reins moving the pieces. It hurts! A LOT! I'd be pissed if someone put some of the cheap bits out there in my mouth and did the same thing.
I just thought I'd share. It horrifies me to see young kids riding horses with a tom thumb in the mouth, it horrifies me even more to see adults with tom thumbs yanking on the mouth to "set their head".
Thanks for listening to me rant. :)
Owner and head trainer of SE-Wisconsin Horse Care
*Lessons*Training*Farm/Pet Setting*Dog Walking*Equi-Eval*