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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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
http://www.horsetrainingvideos.com/bittinginfo.htm


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
http://www.horsetrainingvideos.com/bittinginfo.htm

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.
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
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.
This guy is not new. He has about a year and a half on him. I like the idea that I can ride him in a snaffle and then if he shows any disrespect for the snaffle in less then 30 seconds I can have the reins connected to the curb setting and I have my curb complete with the curb chain.
Any new guys are back in the D ring copper roller snaffle.
 

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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 ****ed 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. :)
 

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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.
 

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This guy is not new. He has about a year and a half on him. I like the idea that I can ride him in a snaffle and then if he shows any disrespect for the snaffle in less then 30 seconds I can have the reins connected to the curb setting and I have my curb complete with the curb chain.
Any new guys are back in the D ring copper roller snaffle.

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.
 

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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.
Would love to see a pic I tried doing a search for Billy Allen Pelham and came up with nothing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I'm a little confused...I didn't think you were supposed direct rein in a curb. Please forgive my ignorance.
You can direct rein is a tom thumb which is any jointed curb bit. A grazing bit is one solid peice while the tom thumb is jointed and each side can move independent of the other side.
'The Billy Allen is the best of both worlds in that is acts solid when you stop and yet direct reins really well. While my horse neck reins great I still direct rein at least 50% of the time.
I switch back and forth regardless of which bit I am using.
Don't judge the tom thumb until you have tried it. It cost about $30 so buy one and just try it. I have dozen of bits sitting around, all experiments just to see.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
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.
wild spot I did this for you. I just grabbed 2 pictures.
The bit is small, not more then 3 inch shanks, my hand is in there for comparison. Also a tom tumb is right next to it to again show the small shanks of the pelham.
If I put the reins on the rings by the mouth piece I have a snaffle. they are in the curb position here.
Also if the horse wipes out and his muzzle slams into the ground the bit shouldn't dig into the dirt


 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
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.
No I want to keep it simple. I don't need the curb, I don't even need a bit but I like having a bit. I have ridden in a hoola hoop, a rope hoola hoop but I found it uncomfortable with having to keep my hand right on his weithers and when leading the horese again it is uncomfortable.

If my guy is fresh, he is grained daily, worked every second day at the least, just turned 5 and in great shape so he loves to move, like any strong arab and if you shows any disrespect for me by not regulating speed on a simple voice command or just picking up the reins, if he even thinks about running through the bit I would quickly put the reins in the curb setting, the ratio is less then 2 to 1 so my pull is not that much, but he must respect my hands at all times.
When he settles I would just stop and quickly switch back to the snaffle setting.
I am just thrilled with my find. This bit offers the best of both worlds, is compact enough to not look heavy on a fine arab head , gives me the snaffle option, the curb option and he seems to like both settings. No head tossing.
It has not stood the test of time and I only have about 3 hours max on it but I like my first impressions.
 

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Thanks for that.

A lot of people around here use pelhams for hack classes when they don't want to/their horse doesn't like a double. have been playing with the idea of trying one out on bundy, would love to find one with a myler/billy allen mouth as around here you can only get them in single jointed or mullen mouthed.

I'd never thought of using the bottom rein similar to a western curb as opposed to a english double - Here you only see them used with contact like a double.

May have to go off and do some more experimenting :]
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I just measured the tom thumb bit I pictured and the upper arm,the bridle part of the arm is 2 inch, center of bit to where the leather passes under the bit. The arm, center of bit to where the reins attach is 3 1/4 inches.
So the mulitplcation of your force to the force the horse feels is 3.250 divided by 2 or less then 2x mulitplication. Close to 1.6 times mulitplication.
So if you pull with 10 pounds the horse feels 16 pounds.
 

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I would love to see a picture of it on Rio - That has always been one of my worries about the pelhams, the bulk might dwarf the head. Though Bundy does have a big moose nose so I shouldn't really worry!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I just ran the Billy Allen with the 8 inch shanks and it has 2 1/2 inches center of bit to the bridle leather and 5 1/2 below so the is 2.5 into 5.5 or slightly over 2 times the pulling power.
So if you applies 10 pounds of pull the horse would feel about 22 pounds on his mouth. The curb does not only apply the load to the bars and tongue but spreads part of that load out in the curb chain and part in the pole. The load is spead out over these area, again the horse doesn't feel the entire 22 on the bars.

I posted a good link on bits.. It is worth spending time and reading.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I would love to see a picture of it on Rio - That has always been one of my worries about the pelhams, the bulk might dwarf the head. Though Bundy does have a big moose nose so I shouldn't really worry!
I'll do that for you wild spot on Tuesday if I remember my camera. He is off tomorrow but running Tuesday. He has a small head even for an arab with a tea cup size nose. the bit looks in proportion for him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I always forget my camera :] I don't know why it bothers me, both of mine have large muzzles. I think I am imagining more bulk as most people here ride pelhams with roundings.
this is the tom thumb on my boy, the one before Rio. this is also an arab and you can see the size of the tom thumb on him. the pelham is alot smaller then this,
 
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