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freia 01-23-2012 11:20 AM

Which bit to use after a Tom Thumb
My lease-horse is using a Tom thumb bit (the american version of tom Thumb). Straight shanks and a single-jointed mouthpiece with curb-chain. As an engineer, I've been sitting with this thing at my coffee table trying to figure out the physics of it, and it seems like the worst possible design for a bit. Poor communication and harsh. Maybe I'm wrong. The horse direct-reins with this bit - I don't know how he does it. I don't want to ride with this bit, and the owner has given me the green light to use whatever bit I want.
2 pieces of information: I ride English - pleasure and trails only - no shows. His only vice is that at least once per ride, he spins around on a dime and bolts for the barn. He's easy enough to stop. I need to make sure that I can still stop him in the bit I end up using. He is very responsive to all cues.

I'm considering going to a low-port Kimberwick or a Baucher. The Kimberwick has a little leverage and curb action, which he's used to. It has some extra stopping power if I need it for the bolting. I can reduce the leverage if he turns out to do well in it.
The Baucher has the pressure on his poll that he's used to, while having the direct contact of a snaffle.
I prefer a simple snaffle. I've always used single-jointed loose-rings for starting horses, then french-link eggbutts for seasoned horses. I tried the French-link on him, and he hated it: fidget fidget tongue-lolling, gaping mule-face.

Any preferences on Baucher vs Kimberwick vs something better?

mls 01-23-2012 11:27 AM

Before I even finished reading, I was going to suggest a Kimberwick!

Wallaby 01-23-2012 12:17 PM

I have a horse that *crosses fingers* used to like to pull the same tricks. What "fixed" her was riding her pretty hard when we were out (so she was tired going home) and switching her bit, for the time being, to a pelham with double reins.
I rode her on the snaffle rein for the most part - whenever she was behaving, but as soon as she got out of line, suddenly, magically, she had a curb bit in her mouth to slow her down (since I engaged the curb rein). haha
The double reins were a little tricky to figure out at first but I got two pair of western reins (the "one long rein" kind) in two different widths, lengths, and colors so I could see and feel which was which. I put the longer rein on the curb part so I would never accidentally engage the curb.

The only reason I suggest a pelham is that I was able to successfully transfer my mare out of it and back down to a simple snaffle because she respects the snaffle now (after learning that it can turn into a magic curb, hahaha!).

First though , if I were you, I might get a nice french-link snaffle (or since you say he dislikes that, maybe a single joint) and ride him around in an arena, if you have one, or a fenced in field, or basically somewhere where he is contained by fences as well as by you.
Then, ride him around, get a feel for him in the snaffle, try him out at all gaits, just see if he really needs a stronger bit when he gets excited or if he's bolting due to a training issue you couldn't detect in the TT or out of a pain response to the TT. If it's just a training issue (like, he needs to get softer on the bit/etc) and not a personality trait, there will be indicators in the "arena" and you can work on those. I bet, if that's the case, you'll get those issues ironed out and take him on a trail ride and be like "what? He hasn't tried to kill me yet!!" :lol:

I don't have any experience with Kimberwicks or Bauchers. However, I'm not a huge fan of the idea of Kimberwicks since there's never a way to completely remove the curb like pressure and since I think of stronger bits, in the english world, as a way to get to a softer bit, Kimberwicks kinda defeat that purpose for me.
Bauchers, the snaffle part of my pelham is basically a Baucher and I can say that there was never any poll pressure with it. I Googled it because I too thought Bauchers=poll pressure, but apparently the majority of internet people is pretty sure that the poll pressure thing is an old wives tale. I did read that apparently the thing with Bauchers is that the bit is extremely stable in the mouth and some horses reallllllyyyyy like that.

Here's a link to a sticky with lots of great bit info that might give you some great ideas:

And remember, it often takes a horse 3 rides to get comfortable, settle, and make up their mind about a new bit so no worries if he acts a little unhappy the first ride, just stay gentle and soft and try it out again the next ride.

Good luck! And props for getting out of that TT. :)

chrisnscully 01-23-2012 12:25 PM

Does he really need that strong a bit?

I would try him in something kinder like a Rocking S - the spin and bolt sounds more like a behavioural thing that he could be trained out of.

freia 01-23-2012 02:39 PM

I haven't seen any indication at all that he needs a strong bit. The only thing would be that I don't know how well he would stop after a bolt with a mild bit. He carries his neck and head very nicely, doesn't grab the bit, doesn't ignore any cues. I can't see any reason for him to have a Tom Thumb (wait, I can't see any reason for any horse to have a Tom Thumb...). My only concern is that his mouth might be pretty numb after years in a TT. I hadn't thought of a Pelham. I do like that idea. I prefer the snaffle by far, and then I'd have an emergency brake ready to go. If he turns out to be easy to stop with the snaffle, then I'll just put him in a regular snaffle after that.

Question on the pelham bit:
If the Pelham has a single joint, would it be the smame as a TT when using the curb reins?

Wallaby 01-23-2012 05:10 PM


Originally Posted by freia (Post 1322036)

Question on the pelham bit:
If the Pelham has a single joint, would it be the smame as a TT when using the curb reins?

I have heard a single jointed pelham be described at "the TT of the English riding world", but I have no real world experience agreeing or denying with that idea. :/
The pelham I was using was something called a "Polo Pelham" which has scary long shanks, but a slightly ported, mullen mouth, mouthpiece which I liked since there was never any worry about it being possibly like a TT.

You could try a mullen mouth pelham like this to avoid the whole TT possibility...:


Or, if you have a higher bit budget, here's one that isn't completely broken mouthed (so there's no collapsing action to it like there is with a TT) but at the same time, still has a little more oomph to it that a mullen mouth would (and, if he likes this mouthpiece, you can get him a Billy Allen snaffle/Myler Comfort Snaffle later on as he progresses)

MYLER PELHAM 5in. MOUTH LOW PORT MB04-Big Dee's Tack & Vet Supply

freia 01-23-2012 06:17 PM

I think I need to open a bit rental/exchange business. $5 to rent a bit for a week. If you like it, buy it. Try them all!

chrisnscully 01-23-2012 06:31 PM

I love Myler's - an MB02 is the only bit I have found that my girl will accept.

Mark Rashid is pretty ****ing of the TT !!

chrisnscully 01-23-2012 06:39 PM

See his article on the Tom Thumb on this page - Mark Rashid Horse Training - Articles Archive

freia 01-23-2012 06:50 PM

Thanks for the link about the TT. Now I don't feel like quite as much of an imbecile for not being able to figure out how this bit was supposed to effectively communicate with the horse. It can't! I sat there a few nights ago twisting and pulling on this bit in all directions trying to figure out what on earth it was trying to tell the horse.

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