Alright, so here's the deal. I have a new mare (new being that I haven't quite hit the six month mark, but we're getting there), Willow, and I absolutely adore her. She's little but feisty, and we're slowly (but very surely) working through her attempts to take off and whatnot, with great success. Progress is going well, etcetc, but I've noticed she has a rather hard mouth and doesn't want to bend at the poll. This can make it difficult when she decides she wants to run, but it's nothing I can't get under control. I'm working on this with her but, in digging a little deeper, I thought I may take a look at the tack. When I first purchased her I took her old bit - the one she had been used to - and put it onto my bridle, without really considering otherwise. I figured she was used to it, and had been using it for years, so it would be a wee bit of a shock to change.
Well, I've been doing research on the bit ( it looks somewhat like http://cotswoldsport.co.uk/shop/images/loztomthumb.jpg with a chin-chain and whatnot ) and have come to the conclusion that I believe it's a version of a Tom Thumb. I'll get pictures up to be certain, but I'm quite sure. In digging, I found this is practically a universally hated bit which, in the wrong hands, can apparently make a horse have a hard mouth. I'd never really looked into them before despite usually going with snaffles, but I realize now that this may not be the best bit for her.
The owner before me was a younger girl, but one who was coached and very rarely left the ring. She said Willow was a perfect Western horse, and she is, though she responds much better to an English rein. With that said, I have a feeling the previous owner used a strong bit because Willow is a very forward, dominant little mare. If you don't have full control, you might as well not have any. She's pushy, but only really while riding and, when she hunkers down and decides against what you're telling her to, it does take effort to correct it.
So, my dilemma is this; should I try switching her to a snaffle and see how it goes, or continue with the bit she's familiar with?
If it's relevant, also, I usually just do western pleasure. May try barrels and such for fun, but I'm very much a trail gal. C:
I think that you might like to try a true snaffle. If the hrose is bracing against the bit, then any kind of curb bit , IMO, is a mistake. For the hrose to ride well in a curb bit, they should be trained to operate off a light feel, and although that bit has two joints in a broken mouthpiece, it is still a curb bit.
I would not say that the TomThumb bit is evil. But, since it mixes two seperate ways of transmitting the signal, you can imagine that it might get "noisy" to the hrose, and their reaction become one of bracing against the bit. The noisiness of it might not be an issue if the rider has very steady and quiet hands, and the horse is soft to the bit.
this does not sound like your mare. Sounds like she has it in her mind to resist the bit, and a lot more.
Why don't you get a French link snaffle, and I might get either an eggbut or a loose ring. Do put a chin strap on the bridle (not CURB, but CHIN strap), and start working her in that, with focus on building her lateral flexibility and responsiveness to the bit. I'd do most of the work at the walk to start with.
A snaffle was definitely where I was wanting to go, thank you so much for the quick response! I'll definitely look into adding a chinstrap, as well.
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