Ther perfect training bit for ME
A little back ground. I rode bitless for more then 20 years, broke everything bitless and then switched horses over to a snaffle or a tom thumb which the horse kept for the rest of their time with me.
I actually switched from bitless to a bit, a plain solid carriage bit on my endurance horse because it was lighter in weight for him to carry and every pound counts over distance and the bitless was slowly wearing his hair away over his nose. I hated the looks of the line it left so I switched, light reins, light bit and soft soft hands. He ran the last few years I kept him with this combination.
I started my next horse bitless and he being a hard case, a confirmed bucker bucked right through 3 fences and finally stopped up against a post, which he snapped off anyway.
I then went with a snaffle which again he promptly bucked me off and me hanging onto the reins, he destroyed the head stall and ran off. After that I put a big big western bit in his mouth and that was the last time he ran off or anyone had to hold his head while I got set for the explosion that followed even after hundreds of miles running roads and trails. The last time he misbehaved. A few weeks later I switched to a curb training bit , a tom thumb as all curb jointed mouth pieces are called and he staying in that , extremely light for the next 1 1/2 years until he was killed. A tragic loss for both of us.
My next guy started right off in a snaffle and I rode him for year and was very happy but lately I decided to go to the tom thumb the one I liked so well and I was happy UNTIL I read this article. I already posted this link but it is worth reading a few time
That link got me thinking, maybe there is something better out there so I started to look and buy. The Billy Allan bit really appealed to me since I don't really like the nut cracker of the tom thumb. I bought my first Billy Allan for about $90, rushed home and took my guy out for a run , HE HATED IT. I thought it might be the 8 inch shanks so I cut them down to 5 inches, he still hated it and the bit became unbalanced, it actually flipped forward and upward and he would put his head high to escape. I then added 7 inch heavy shanks to add weight and curved them backwards. He still hated it.
I went back to the tom thumb and he was good , he no longer lifted his head to escape the bit BUT while he neck reins great I don't do it all the time and wanted to continue direct reining for head position, I am a stickler for proper head position while neck reining. I did find the original Billy Allan bit really direct reined nicely. He would turn his head nicely into the turn, round his neck and I could see his inside eye. Going back to the tom thumb he was happy but the direct rein wasn't as good as the billy allan.
I had just blown $100 on a useless bit but I went hunting again. I found a billy allen PELHAM, well made, curved mouthpiece, heavier 7/16th material and only 3 inch shanks but again extremely pricy, over $200.
I bought it yesterday, brought it home and put it in a head stall. Today I did a nice 3 hour run. Right off I picked a nice lope around a big field regulating his speed and in the curb position be backed off nicely, didn't throw his head, steered great, seemed very comfortable with it.
When I hit the bush I stopped and switched my heavy reins to the curb position, I have really nice buckles on the reins, not the tied leather thongs, hate those attachments, I want heavy good buckles so I can change in a few seconds.
I rode with the curb for the next 2 hours and he again seemed to really like it. Once again I did the big field on the return trip, cantering towards home but he regulated speed easy, relaxed.
I was extemely happy with the bit. A mild mild curb with 3 inch shanks that don't hang below his muzzle and quickly converts to a snaffle.
I beleive strongly in this statement
The practice of using a stronger bit to lighten a horse up and then switching back to a milder bit for every day riding, works really well to preserve the horse’s mouth while keeping him working right.
I have the stronger bit for when he is well rested/ that is one day off for a fit youngster and I can quickly go back to the snaffle when we hit the same old boring trails or settle down to just long slow distance.
If we hit fast open going and he doesn't regulate with a simple touch or a work I can switch to the curb, reinforce my commands and then switch back to the milder snaffle.
I feel the bit is worth every cent and this just might become my regular working or breaking bit.
I have never ever spend $100 on a bit before, let alone $200 but agian well worth the investment.
Glad to hear you found a bit that works for everyone involved. I'm fairly certain some people would come on here and argue that starting a baby in a pelham is just worse than murder, but if it works for you and it sounds like it does, congrats.
Just be prepared for the next boy you ride to hate it with a passion.
Any new guys are back in the D ring copper roller snaffle.
I'm a little confused...I didn't think you were supposed direct rein in a curb. Please forgive my ignorance.
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. :)
Do you have a picture of the bit? I would be interested to see it. I also like the idea of a bit with both a snaffle action and a curb action - A jack of all trades, you could say. However I dont' like the look of a lot of them - they are big and heavy and often dwarf the horses face - I love the simplicity of a simple snaffle or western curb.
Have you thought about using two sets of reins? For someone with experience such as yours, a double bridle isn't tough to work with, especially if you've got a dual action bit, and you are just using two sets of reins.
Found one! Myler calls them "comfort snaffles"
My trainer uses a pelham on one of her ASB geldings cause he can get really strong and forward...
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