Tom Thumb Woes
Hey folks, I just rode a new horse today whose owner has it in a tom thumb. She knows I am an english rider and claims to have a dressage background, but said the tom thumb is hardly harsher than an eggbutt snaffle. Which of course makes me shudder. But long story short: she doesn't want to change the bit.
The horse has issues with its head and the neck reining isn't up to speed because she won't turn with leg cues. Which means I need to direct rein on occasion, which with the tom thumb just results in head-tossing and frustration. So here's my question: the bit is like the one pictured, so it has an additional ring directly next to the mouthpiece. If I attach the reins there instead of on the end of the shanks, and leave the curb chain on, how much less harsh will the bit become? Or should I abandon the curb chain entirely?
Are you acting as a trainer or are you looking at the horse to lease or purchase?
In any case, and to begin with, the bit you show is not a TT. This is an American TT (a European or Australian is different - more of a full cheek snaffle).
The bit you show is a 3 piece curb with a gag action and twists that act on the bars.
If this is a horse that you are going to buy then whatever you decide for him is up to you once you own him. If he is to lease then you need to respect the choice of the owner unless you can convince them otherwise. If you are the trainer then they need to respect your choice after you give them a reasonable explanation and prove your point.
As to the other part of your question, you can put your reins on the rings by the mouth piece and it will act like a snaffle. The curb chain will have no effect so you can leave it or take it off - makes no difference. The bit, as a snaffle, will still be somewhat harsher then a smooth mouth but more gentle then using it as a curb.
Thanks for your response--I know the bit above isn't a tom thumb, just an example of the 3rd rein ring, in the center, near the mouthpiece. I'm kind of training this mare, it's just basically a free exercise agreement. I'll be riding her a couple times a week. The owner said it was okay to remove the curb chain and attach the reins to the middle ring, which is weird because that pretty much negates the action of the tom thumb.
I wonder why she isn't open to trying new things? Maybe you could sneak in a nice plain snaffle, or a double jointed one, like a french link and ride the horse in that. IF you see an improvement, you could demonstrate your reasoning for your requested change.
If this isn't your horse, don't sneak anything. Always be right upfront with the owner and tell her exactly what you are doing and why. Go ahead and move the reins up to the snaffle rings (the ones beside the mouthpiece) and see how that goes. I would personally probably just go ahead and leave the curb chain on there, just make it where it's pretty darn loose as that will secure the bit that much more (I use curb straps on all my regular snaffles too). Just keep mentioning that you would really like to see how she goes in a loose ring/d-ring or whatever you would like to use. Maybe if you bug her about it enough, she'll at least give it a chance
Tiny, I do love french links, but I agree with smrobs that I'm gonna be honest with her. That's why I outright asked her how attached she was to the bit. I guess I'll leave the curb strap on and just loosen it--it's pretty tight at the moment. I'll also use longer reins, these reins were the shortest I'd ever seen. I just think short reins + tom thumb + owner that thinks tom thumb is like an eggbutt snaffle = very frustrated horse.
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