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TripleB
Beginning Rider



65 Posts

Posted - 02/15/2006 :  6:51:23 PM  Show Profile  Visit TripleB's Homepage Send TripleB a Private Message
I was looking online for a bit like the one I have. The guy at the farm store had recommmended it when he didn't have a jr cowhorse bit.
(what the previous owner used) I have found the bit that looks like mine to be a Tom Thumb with copper rollers... I hear alot of people don't like them, he doesn't "seem" to mind it, but I am not positive I would know, he is so tolerant. Should I just bite the bullet and get a jr cowhorse bit, and if so which one would you guys recommend?
Or what would be a comparable bit? And lastly, (stupid question) Does the jr bit use a curb strap? if so where does it go? I just want him to be as comfy as possible, ecspecially since he is nice enough to carry my butt around!

Thanks!

Stormie
Clinician

1630 Posts

Posted - 02/15/2006 :  8:26:34 PM  Show Profile  Visit Stormie's Homepage Send Stormie a Private Message
Do do you have a link to the bit you found that looks like your" Chances are if it has rollers it isn't a Tom Thumb. THE Tom Thumb has a single jointed mouth piece with short straight shanks. Many catalogs and store misname other bits as Tom Thumbs with the idea that people think it is mild so they will think any thing named that is mild. The Tom Thumb is a badly designed bit but what you have probably isn't one.

The Jr. cowhorse bit isn't a bad bit you do need a curb strap it goes on the same ring as the headstall. BUT is it or the bit you have the right bit? Hard to say without more info.
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TripleB
Beginning Rider



65 Posts

Posted - 02/15/2006 :  8:53:31 PM  Show Profile  Visit TripleB's Homepage Send TripleB a Private Message

Here it is, looks just like this

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Red Hawk
Clinician



USA
5092 Posts

Posted - 02/16/2006 :  10:33:35 AM  Show Profile Send Red Hawk a Private Message
Your bit is a 2 piece(sometimes referred to as "broken") mouthpiece curb bit. It is not a TT, but is close. The difference is that the shanks are slightly curved, which will allow for a pre-signal to the horse that the bit is about to be engaged(activated by your hands). I'd call this bit a grazing bit because of the backward bend of the shanks. This is very similar to the bit I use on my mare, Terra:



As you can see, the main difference is instead of having copper inlays like your bit has, my bit is solid copper. I use this bit mainly for trail riding or everyday riding. But when I'm training her in an arena, I will switch to a mild D-ring snaffle bit for better flexing and bending.

"God forbid that I should go to any heaven in which there are no horses"
--Robert Browning

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
-- Author Unknown
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TripleB
Beginning Rider



65 Posts

Posted - 02/16/2006 :  8:30:26 PM  Show Profile  Visit TripleB's Homepage Send TripleB a Private Message
Thanks again RH, they just had it listed on the website as a tom thumb so I got worried! She had used a d ring snaffle on him one time I went to ride him, he didn't like it, However I know it was too small for him. She had said his normal bit was somewhere else that day with another horse. He neck reins pretty good, but is it totally training for that? or does the bit have anything to do with it? He definatly has room for improvement though. I have been weaving trees and things trying to work on it, but I don't know if he was just trained that way. Another horse we have was a cutting horse and turns on a dime, but he is not as nice to trail ride. He is too push button, and I don't know them...

Thanks for your patience, I have so many questions

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Stormie
Clinician

1630 Posts

Posted - 02/16/2006 :  8:33:06 PM  Show Profile  Visit Stormie's Homepage Send Stormie a Private Message
Yep that's not a TT. It's a step up frm a TT but you have to keep in mind that those bits have a straight mouth piece so no shaping to the mouth. Where the one that Hawk posted tend to be shaped a little.
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TripleB
Beginning Rider



65 Posts

Posted - 02/16/2006 :  8:36:17 PM  Show Profile  Visit TripleB's Homepage Send TripleB a Private Message
Sorry, another question...
I was told there is a right and wrong with this bit, one way will pinch and the other won't... Which way does it go? Is it supposed to fold all the way together toward the head stall or the chin strap?
I was told but don't remember... I was thinking toward the chin strap... Thanks!

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TripleB
Beginning Rider



65 Posts

Posted - 02/16/2006 :  8:45:00 PM  Show Profile  Visit TripleB's Homepage Send TripleB a Private Message
Thanks Stormie, So it needs to be shaped different then? What kind of bit do you use? I like to see what different people use and why they do.
Red Hawk Thanks for posting a pic of your bit!

I am so glad to have found this sight! My father in law puts a curb bit in all his horses and just figures it doesn't matter what the horse likes. What do you guys have to say about curb bits? pros...cons...We put a Billy Allen reining bit on the cutting horse with advise from a friend, but don't know if that is the best either, he is such a worker he won't relax!
Thank you thank you guys!

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Red Hawk
Clinician



USA
5092 Posts

Posted - 02/17/2006 :  11:27:12 AM  Show Profile Send Red Hawk a Private Message
What Stormie was talking about is the shape of the mouthpiece. That's the part of the bit that the horse holds in his mouth. The more of a gentle curve there is to the mouthpiece, the more room the horse has for his mouth to fit under it. It really depends on the shape of your horse's mouth and his tongue as to what kind of bit will work best. A bit with a rather straight mouthpiece, like your bit, doesn't bend over the tongue... and because of how straight it is, when you activate it by pulling back on the reins, the sides of the mouthpiece will come down and push that spot where the 2 pieces join together right into the roof of your horse's mouth. Ouch!!! A bit that has a more curved appearance will not have a tendency to do this as much. More comfortable to the tongue and the roof of the mouth. But, again, it depends on the horse's training and the shape of his mouth and tongue.

When adjusting the bit to be carried in the horse's mouth correctly, try these tips:

First, the bit must fit the horse's mouth. It shouldn't stick out the sides where it can slip from one side to the other or look similar to a dog carrying a bone in his mouth. If so, the bit is too wide. Too narrow, and the bit will be pinching and/or rubbing the horse's lips causing pain and discomfort. An average mouth is around 5 to 5 1/2 inches. My mare is on the petite side... not a lot of bulk though she's tall. Her mouth is smaller than most and she takes a 4 1/2 inch bit.

After your bit is attached to the bridle, the bridle's head stall should hold the bit so you can just see one or two wrinkles in the corner of the horse's mouth. Any tighter, and the horse will experiece too much discomfort and definitely pain when you pull back on the reins. Too loose, and the bit will be banging against his teeth, which is also very painful to the horse.

When using a curb bit(this is any bit that needs a curb strap to make it work), the curb strap(or chain) should be adjusted so when you pull back on the reins, the bit will stop moving when it's at a 90 degree angle(a right angle) with the horse's mouth. If it goes too far back, it's too loose, and if it doesn't go this far back, then it's too tight.

Snaffles, such as the D-ring I mentioned, are designed to be used with two hands and using direct rein pressure. A better trained horse will neck rein with a snaffle and on a loose rein, but they were not designed with this in mind. Either way is fine depending on the horse's level of training. A curb bit was made to be used with one hand and indirect rein pressure commonly known as neck reining. This type of bit should be ridden with a slack rein and minimal to light bit contact, such as cueing the horse to stop, for example.

Now that I've said all this, riding is actually done more through your legs, your seat, and your balance on the horse than through the reins. The more you use your body to cue your horse, the less you need to apply rein pressure. Your hands will become lighter and your horse much more responsive... and he'll really appreciate the rider not lugging him around with the bit.

"God forbid that I should go to any heaven in which there are no horses"
--Robert Browning

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
-- Author Unknown
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jrm21
Tenderfoot



USA
17 Posts

Posted - 02/17/2006 :  5:23:55 PM  Show Profile  Visit jrm21's Homepage Send jrm21 a Private Message
Red Hawk,

Your photo/description has me confused. I am not pretending to know much about bits, but the photo you show is what I have been led to believe is a Tom Thumb. What I think your are saying is that the curve in the shank is what make the pictured bit different than a TT? Aside from a little bit more of a curve, it looks the same as the TT pictured here:

http://www.todayshorse.com/Articles/TroublewithTomThumb.htm

Your bit is also identical to a bit used at my barn, which I have been told is a TT.

If the curve is the difference, what exactly does that do which would make the bits shown here any kinder than a TT? Wouldn't it still apply pressure in the same way as described on the web site listed above? How does a curved shank give the horse a "pre-signal" over a less- or non-curved shank?

Also, I though a grazing bit was a solid mouthpiece with a "U" shape in the middle. (To stays out of the way of the tongue?)

Not questioning your knowledge (especially considering your post count here!). Just trying to understand things better. There seems to be an endless variety of bits, each with seemingly minor variations. I look at pictures of different bits - they all look the same to me, but each has a different name.

Thanks in advance for any clarification you can provide.

--Joe

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Stormie
Clinician

1630 Posts

Posted - 02/18/2006 :  12:42:50 AM  Show Profile  Visit Stormie's Homepage Send Stormie a Private Message
I don't like the wrinkle rule at all. It's old and out dated. Any 'rule of thumb' is just avg and should not be counted as the end all. I don't like the wrinkle rule because with a bit set with wrinkles there is pressure all of the time on the corners of the lips. The horse gets no release of this presure. Since we train a pressure release style this is does reward the horse. So I start with it right at the corner of the lips and then go from there. Some will want it higher some lower, that depends on the horse. The bit should just be shoved up high with wrinkles unless the horse wants it there.


With this bit it readly doesn't matter which way the mouth piece is as long as the shanks are right. The pinch or not pinch comes in with shaped mouth pieces. Then you take a jointed mouth piece and fold it in half you get this () or this )( Okay that really doesn't work that well....guess I'll have to due up drawings for this too. Anyway when you fold them they should fold nearly flat together not lock up half way. So fold it in half and find which way folds up. When you have it like this open it back up. The way the V it made pointed is forward so that goes to the front. Is that clear or more confusing?

Curb bits are great, the bit you have in that photo is a curb bit. If it has shanks it works off of curb pressure so it is a curb bit no matter the mouth piece. But curbs are for more finished horses.



jrm21

Yep its' the curve in the shank that makes the one above not a TT and the one in the article a TT. Really it isn't that simple.

The shank and how it is attached to the mouth piece decides: Ratio, Balance, Presingle and Release. This are four very important things when you are dealing with curb bits.

Ratio: this is your leverage, it decides how much leverage a bit has. It is the ratio of the Shank to Purchase. The shank is the part of the cheek that is below the mouth piece and the purchace is the part above the mouth piece. To measure the Purchase it's just from the butt of the mouth piece to the top of the headstall ring. The shank is a little harder because you have to take into account the angle of it. That angle effects the physics of it. To measure the shank correctly you need to take a ruler and place it on the shank so that it runs from the top of the headstall ring through the butt of the mouth piece and straight down. Then take a stick and place that so that it forms an L shape with the ruler so that it touchs the ruler and the bottom of the rein ring. Here is a picture.

The red line is where you would place the ruler. This doesn't show the measurement so lets say that the purchase(yellow section) is 1". The rest of the lines are measured out so we know that the shank is 3". The ratio is 3:1 OR 3 lbs of pressure for every 1 lb you place on the reins. Here is another photo that shows the same bit with the shank angled. See how that angle changed the ratio to 2.5:1




Balance: How the bit hangs and releases in the mouth. This is decided in how the shank is attached to the mouth piece but is also effect by the shape and weight of the shank. This is easiest to see with a solid mouth piece. Hold you hand out flat and place the bit across it. Let it hang down and balance. If the shank hangs straight up and down it's a "Balanced" or "Straight Hanger" This is good for horses that are naturally vert. in the head or for cases where you need the head vert(but the horse needs to be trained to it first). If the shanks swing forward in front of that it's "Over Balanced" Most horses and riders do well with this since the horse can get out of the vert and go more natural and there is release of pressure. If the shanks stay behind it's "Underbalanced". This bit should only be used in rare cases and only with a rider that knows how to use it because there is no release of the curb. Weight does effect how quickly a bit returns to it's balance point or how quickly it moves off of it.

Presignal: This is your built in Half Halt on a bit. One you don't need to cue for but a good rider can use. The shank decides the presignal in how it balances, how quickly the curb is engaged. How the shank is attached to the mouth piece can effect this too. One that has a slight sliding action as more presignal. A fixed shank has less. The angle of the shank can effect this also. More angle gives you more presignal.

Release: I think that this is one of the most important things with a curb bit. It takes a dang good rider to use a bit without a release. We train on a pressure/release style. We pull on the reins to cue the horse, the horse answers correctly we release the reins to reward the horse. A bit with release does just that but one that does keeps pressure on the horse all of the time even if you don't have your hands on the reins. You could be drinking a beer in the bar and the horse is standing tied up outside and still he feels that pressure. The balance, weight, butt of the mouth piece and angle of the shanks affect the release.


How does it go with the TT. It has straight shanks so for a shank length of it's size it has a higher ratio then others of the same length. It has little to no presignal. The horse has no warning, just bam full force pressure. It has little to no release. The horse gets no reward for doing the right thing even if you aren't holding the reins. Where the bit that was posted(both of them) have a slightly longer but better shank. There is a good balance, ratio, presignal and release.

Mark doesn't touch on those things with his article. It is a great article even though he doesn't. He is focused more on the idea of direct reining with the TT then all of the poor points of the design. YES direct reining with either of the above bits cause a lot of the same problems. But this is why all Curb bits are for neck reining not direct reining no matter if it is a solid mouth or a jointed mouth piece. No matter if it has shanks or is a snaffle a single jointed mouth piece has a nutcracker action. In many horses it isn't a probelm but it is a problem in more horses when there is shanks on it. Ideally by the time the horse is ready for a curb bit you hardly use the reins enough to rally engage that effect.

Marketing....I love marketing. I love to watch how it is used to sell things. They way they color it and how some people can slip on rose colored glasses on buyers without them knowing. This is why you use bits like the two above call Tom Thumbs. For years you would never see any bit but the one in the article listed as a Tom Thumb. But they became THE thing to use. With the poor design they cause problems like not wanting to back, head tossing, hard to stop...so some people think they need a new bit. Many people are afraid of curbs. Since many misname jointed curbs as snaffles(the TT included) they feel safe in this group but which one? Stores and catalogs which don't always hire people based on their knowledge started misnaming anything with a shank and a single jointed mouth piece as a Tom Thumb or Tom Thumb Family. This was caused in part by people not knowing what to group them as because they didn't know any better but also by the idea that if you call it a Tom Thumb people will think higher of it because they have learned that Tom Thumbs are 'good, mild bits'. "If a Tom Thumb is good but my stupid horse needs something harsher a Tom Thumb with longer shanks must be better then the evil Curb bit!!"

This is also why you end up with bits like the above listed as Grazing bits. Really that it's true since "Grazing bits" got the name because of the shape of the shank. Many believe it was designed for that, so the horse could graze. It is really designed with the key points above in mind. It just happen to make it easier on the horse when it did try to eat(huge no no here I don't let them eat with bits on). For a long time you never saw anything but a low or med. ported(the U is the Port) mouth piece with grazing shanks. Things change. Also most true grazing bits have much more curve to them. It's really a sweeping shank.

Nameing bits is not easy. Many don't carry names of if they did at one time it was lost in the sea of knock offs. Like the Forman shanks, so many knocks now the common name is western pelham. Some makers still use names like Jr. Cowhorse, Tender Touch and those bits haven't been made by enough companies yet to lose the name. So for most bits all you can do is go on the basic Design. You can find them named by Shank style like the Forman/Pelham, Seven, or Calvary. Or by the mouth piece like with the Billy Allen, Donut or dog bone. Sometimes you get names with both shank and mouth piece like a Billy Allen with a Seven Shank, or a Calvary Donut. With so many knock offs the names do get mixed around. There are a number of names of Billy Allen mouth pieces and really the Billy Allen was a set of bits not just one or just one mouth piece. Same with Forman bits. Those had a couple close related shank styles but different mouth pieces. Now the billen allen tends to be the mouth piece and the Forman is a shank.
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jrm21
Tenderfoot



USA
17 Posts

Posted - 02/18/2006 :  09:20:19 AM  Show Profile  Visit jrm21's Homepage Send jrm21 a Private Message
Stormie,

Thanks for the excellent explanation. I didn't realize how much the curve of the shank effected things. I am saving your post in my "keeper" file for future reference.

At least my basic thinking was right in one regard... the bits shown are at least similar in design to to a TT and would have similar drawbacks if used with direct reining.

Because of the confusing array of bits on the market (and their subtle visual differences which translate into major practical differences), I have not become too learned on the subject. Part of this is also due to the fact that I currently half-lease and do not own a horse... I use "his" bridle and bit since it is not my place to re-school him. I will have to look at the shanks more closely to see how much curve there is.

As odd as it may sound, everyone at the barn refers to the bit as a snaffle or "Tom Thumb Snaffle (because of the jointed mouthpiece). When pressed, they will admit it is a technically a curb bit, but still insist it is mild. They use it for direct reining and teach it that way (while we have a few western riders, all instructors and most riders are english). After reading the TT article previous linked to, I tried neck reining the horse with that bit. Needless to say, he responded much better. Your explanation helps to explain why.

Thanks again.
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TripleB
Beginning Rider



65 Posts

Posted - 02/18/2006 :  10:44:21 AM  Show Profile  Visit TripleB's Homepage Send TripleB a Private Message
Stormie, All I can say is wow! Do you get paid for this? You should if you don't! You are very helpful and give lots of great information.
One last question, and then I'll give you a well deserved break!
What is the difference in how a bit preforms if it is broken or a un-broken curb? Thank you for all the info, you must really love what you do! I have been doing alot of reading and learning, and this site is awesome!

Thanks a ton!

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Stormie
Clinician

1630 Posts

Posted - 02/18/2006 :  1:01:48 PM  Show Profile  Visit Stormie's Homepage Send Stormie a Private Message
I do love bits. To the point that family memebers look at me funny when I see a bit and say something like "O' that's a cool bit!" I have been known to spend more then my fair share on bits. At least the collection holds the roof of the tack shed down!


jrm21

Odd that english riders use it at all since it is a western bit. There are really Three Tom Thumb bits. The western which is the one we where talking about. The English which is a pretty good solid mouth curb. And the Aussie which is the only real snaffle. It looks like a full cheek snaffle but has the ends flattened not rounded so it looks like a 'thumbprint'. The English and Aussie are good bits. Also with english you have to remember that they use direct pressue with all bits even their curbs. Many forget though that by the time the horse is ready for that curb they are highly trained. Far to many just jump to the curb for control not for refinement.
You will find a lot of people that use the term snaffle for anything jointed. Snaffles can come in any mouth piece from leather to ported solid mouth. Same with curbs so the mouth piece can't be the difference. But you see more snaffles with the single jointed mouth piece then anything else. It's very hard to find a "western" snaffle that isn't single jointed or a billy allan. Of course a western rider could use an english snaffle but many won't and think that because of the lack of choices, snaffle = jointed.


TripleB

Nope no pay but I'm willing to take bit handouts! lol

The biggest difference is how it moves in the mouth. The solid mouth piece is going to work flat on the mouth. The jointed is going to fold it's shape. The areas that most bits work is the bars, the tongue and the corners of the mouth. Which a bit uses or how much of each it uses would depend on the mouth piece. With a jointed you have some movement in the mouth piece. So if you do need to pick up on one side you have some play area before the bit will cause both sections to go into play. So if a you have a jointed mouth piece like this and you pick up one rein you get this If you pull with more pressure then you get the whole bit to shift to the rigth. A solid mouth piece is also but if you pick up on one rein the whole mouth piece is going to shift in the mouth. This play is why a jointed bit is better as a transition bit from snaffle to curb. If you have to direct rein with a curb it's better to do it with one that has some play(jointed mouth piece and loose shank).


One reason there is so many bits is because one bit can't give you everything. A jointed loose shank might be better for a transition bit and give you enought play to do some direct reining but it's still not a good direct rein bit. A snaffle is a great direct rein bit but it doesn't give you the refinement needed in higher levels of western riding. So no bit is perfect and you have to give and take with the pros and cons. This is why I think that all riders need to understand the basics of bits even if it is just about the bits they use.
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Red Hawk
Clinician



USA
5092 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2006 :  09:49:20 AM  Show Profile Send Red Hawk a Private Message
Sorry I haven't been around to comment on this for a couple of days, but I've been involved with a major family emergency (see my post under "General" for more info).

Stormie; Thank you so much for pinch hitting for me in this topic. You've done a much better job than I ever could. What a fantastic and excellent post! I also thought of my bit as more toward the grazing bit "type" because of the back swept shape of the shanks. I really wasn't sure, but was actually making an educated guess.

jrm21; As Stormie has said, curbs are made for indirect rein pressure and little to no rein contact. This is basically how I ride my mare in the bit I posted, and it works just fine. I have solid curb bits in my collection also, but they are collecting dust at this time. I'm sure if I used them on the horses I have now, they'd put me in orbit the first time I'd ride them in it. I like the "give" the loose shanked, broken mouth piece has. I also ride more from my seat & legs than with my hands, and my horses are trained to respond to this. I'm sure they would get very upset the first time a rider would get on their backs and start yanking around on their mouths. Also, I wouldn't allow it. So this makes a HUGE difference in what kind of bits work for my horses and what does not. Also, I can ride either of my horses all day with a D-ring snaffle if I was so inclined, but I prefer my curb bits for trail riding.

"God forbid that I should go to any heaven in which there are no horses"
--Robert Browning

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
-- Author Unknown
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TripleB
Beginning Rider



65 Posts

Posted - 02/20/2006 :  8:24:45 PM  Show Profile  Visit TripleB's Homepage Send TripleB a Private Message
RH, sorry about your family emergency, I haven't read about it yet, but I hope everything is ok!

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Boots
Beginning Rider



USA
72 Posts

Posted - 02/21/2006 :  11:45:45 AM  Show Profile  Visit Boots's Homepage Send Boots a Private Message
Excellent, excellent posts, stormie & RH. Very thorough and great reference material.

Boots

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I learn. Ben Franklin
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Truth is not determined by a majority vote.
- Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
(Now Pope Benedict XVI)

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