The right bit for a 3 year old TWH...
Ok, so I decided I'd better just start a new thread on this...
I'm trying to figure out if I am using an appropriate bit on my horse...she is a year old TWH. I just found out that I was using completely wrong terminology regarding types of bits, and apparently I am currently using a tom thumb type bit. SpasticDove informed me in another post that these are controversial...why?
All the tack store people around here...well, as soon as I say I have a walking horse, they're like, "Oh you need a bit with leverage!" and either pull a curb bit or a tom thumb type off the wall.
I always rode bareback with a halter and rope as a kid, and consequently know almost nothing about tack. In fact, I often ride my horse like that now. She actually does fine.
I'm not one of those people who believes in controlling a horse with a bit, just to cover up an underlying bad behavior, either.
I genuinely had no idea...is the tom thumb awful? I own a hackamore, I've just never tried it with Annie (the TWH) because everyone I talk to (not on the forum, just the area I live in) seems to think it would be suicide with a young walker.
I would love to hear everyone's differing opinions on this...
I say if your horse works well in it, then the bit is fine.
However since the tom thumb is a leverage bit, you should be riding with one hand on little to no contact. (Speaking of a western tom thumb. TT's in the UK or Australia are actually very mild snaffles).
Here is an article everyone likes to post about Tom Thumbs: Today's Horse - The Trouble with Tom Thumb
They are a confusing bit to the horse. I don't mind them because I had a mare who went lovely in one. However I will agree that there are better bits out there both snaffle and leverage.
As far as the hackamore, I don't like mechanical hacks. I think they are overly strong and can confuse a young horse easily. A three year old I would be riding in a snaffle.
However if she rides fine in a rope halter, ride her in one. People can make the argument that riding in a rope halter is also harsh, but like all bits, it depends on your hands. If you have light hands and understand how your bit (or hack) works, you will not be harsh on your horse. An unknowledgable or inexperienced rider with heavy hands can be harsh with a snaffle.
First off, I wouldn't ever use a curb/leverage type bit unless the horse has already been well-trained, and neckreins really well.
Since your horse is 3, I am going to go out on a limb and say you're still direct-reining, and your aids haven't been perfected. Before you use a curb (the entire point of a curb is to have subtle cues from the leg, seat and neck rein before you ever need to touch the horse's mouth) the horse should respond well to neck-reining, leg and seat cues.
Here is some information on the different snaffles and english-type bits:
I hope it helps.
The Tom Thumb is controversial because it can be very confusing to the horse. If you look at the information I posted in the above link regarding the singe joint mouthpiece, it says that the single joint mouthpiece has nutcracker action on the horse's bars, and the joint protrudes upwards into the horse's palate. Now, if you take that and add in the curb action, you have a very confusing bit. When you pull back on the reins, it is applying pressure to the palate, chin, and both bars are being squeezed by the single joint. You don't have a clear signal from either rein, if you ever were to direct-rein in that bit.
If the world worked my way, you'd only see very mild bits on the market. I truly don't understand the need for severe curb bits.
*note: I am of the belief that every bit is only as harsh as the hands behind it, but there are some bits out there that are just asking for trouble.
Wow...lots of info in that article. LoL, seems like the TT is NOT a good choice for a direct reiner. Annie doesn't toss her head or anything like that, but I have only really started riding her steadily. I would hate to confuse her or undo training (what little she has :).
I tried a grazing type curb bit and she HATED it. I mean really hated it. I like to think I have light hands...I don't know for sure...but Annie is really responsive. I hold her reins really lightly and just pull with my fingers to turn her. But in this particular bit, she seemed totally freaked out and acted like she had no idea what I wanted. But in all likelihood, I probably wasn't asking properly.
I have no problem with trying a snaffle, as she stops just fine. I would say she is well above green-broke, but below finished out.
Yeah, any leverage bit is not a bit to direct rein in. Allie described the pressure points better than I can. Like I said on the other thread, I wouldn't use a leverage bit until the horse was solid in a snaffle. A leverage bit is the next step up and used for kind of fine tuning.
If she is three, I wouldn't be using any type of curb bit on her.
Try a snaffle on her and see how she goes. :)
LoL, gah...I feel like an idiot. I can't trust any tack salesmen where I live, apparently...
Allie, I hadn't seen that Bit Information thread before. It's awesome!
^ Yeah, lol, I would actually love to take it to the 3 tack stores I have visited in the past year. They could use the info. :)
It's at the top of the section, so perhaps the eye just skims past it now? haha
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