Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: East Central Illinois
It's not harsh. It just doesn't communicate as well as a short-shanked, solid mouthpiece curb. It's kinda wimpy. I prefer the Pelham and the Weymouth for English over the Tom-Thumb, and there are many Western curbs that are a better bit.
You see, the Tom Thumb is a recently invented bit. Before it came along you either rode with a snaffle, which presses on the bars of the mouth, or a curb which could put pressure on the roof of the mouth, but ALWAYS acted like a fulcrum putting pressure upwards on the chin, with the expectation that your horse will slow down or stop bc he'll tuck his head towards his chest in response to the pressure. For finesse people rode with a "bit and bradoon", which is 2 bits (snaffle and curb), 4 reins, the curb used for flexion and the snaffle used bending. If you used a spade (Western severely high port curb bit) you rode with a slack rein and used fingerpressure to slow and stop, or else you could ruin the horse's mouth.
I guess if your horse is finished and you ride with a slack rein, it's fine to use it. I just won't buy one. =D