tom thumb bit

Horse prepared for riding

Tom thumb bit when we’re aware, we act better. With the growing spotlight on animal welfare, particularly in disciplines like dressage, ensuring our horses’ comfort and happiness is paramount. Our love for them compels us to constantly seek ways to enhance their well-being, even if it means reassessing traditional practices.

Just as we’ve evolved from black and white TV to high-definition screens, and from crank phones to smartphones, it’s time to reconsider the tools we use in horse care. While some may argue against change, clinging to the adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ it’s essential to recognize that horses, though stoic, can suffer silently. Advances in bitting research reveal that many traditional bits may inadvertently cause discomfort and pain.

To foster better equine welfare, I propose retiring five outdated bits to the ‘bit wall,’ replacing them with modern, gentler alternatives tailored for the 21st century horse.

The Tom Thumb

This popular single-jointed little snaffle with short cheeks, often seen in pony clubs, aims to provide control for young riders on their ponies. However, its design can inadvertently lead to discomfort and issues for the horse.

Unfortunately, this bit’s nutcracker action and short curved cheekpieces can squeeze the horse’s inner cheeks against its molars, causing discomfort and potential problems such as head shaking and pulling. As our understanding of equine comfort evolves, it’s time to consider kinder alternatives.

Enter the Neue Schule Pony Full cheek with the NS Tranz Angled Lozenge mouthpiece. This modern alternative offers a wider weight-bearing surface and a design that minimizes pressure points, promoting a more consistent contact and response from the horse, all while maintaining control for the young rider.

tom thumb bit

The Copper Roller Dee Bit

This single-jointed bit, often seen in racing or for horses with low salivation, aims to address issues like leaning or one-sidedness. However, its design can lead to unintended discomfort and roughness over time.

The stacked rollers on the bit cannon can create pinch points, while the single joint combined with the dee can act as a fulcrum on the lower jaw, potentially trapping the tongue between the bit arms. As we strive for gentler, more horse-friendly equipment, it’s time to explore kinder alternatives.

Enter the Myler MB02 Level 1 Dee Ring bit. With fixed cheeks providing stability and aiding in clear direct turning aids, this bit prevents sliding through the mouth while minimizing discomfort. The Myler pressure-release mechanism ensures instant release of bit pressure when the horse relaxes, promoting self-carriage. Additionally, its independent side movement helps unlock resistance, while copper inlays encourage salivation, promoting a happier, more comfortable ride for the horse tom thumb bit.

The Twisted Wire Snaffle

In both Western and English riding, the twisted wire bit, with its thin, spiral wire construction, is often employed to elicit a sharper response from horses deemed hard-mouthed. However, its design raises significant concerns regarding the comfort and well-being of the horse.

The thinness of the wire, sometimes as little as 6mm, coupled with its twisted, abrasive texture, can cause undue discomfort and even injury to the horse’s mouth. As a respected horseman once aptly put it, “Sharp enough to cut through a block of cheese, imagine what it does to his mouth!” Additionally, the roller version, intended for horses prone to getting their tongue over the bit, adds another layer of potential discomfort.

To promote gentler communication and ensure the horse’s welfare, it’s time to explore kinder alternatives, such as the Bombers McHardy Snaffle. Specifically designed for dull-mouthed horses or those exhibiting head shaking under bit pressure, the McHardy features a medium port that alleviates tongue pressure and provides space for tongue movement. The Buster Roller in the middle serves to activate the tongue, refining communication and eliciting a sharper, more responsive reaction from the horse without compromising its comfort tom thumb bit.

tom thumb bit

The Dutch Gag

The Dutch gag, often the initial choice for riders grappling with control or braking issues, typically comes in single-jointed, French link, or mullen mouth forms. However, its design presents significant concerns regarding equine comfort and well-being.

The flat, straight leverage arms of the Dutch gag exert immense pressure on the horse’s face, pressing into the cheeks and potentially tilting forward, causing discomfort and even impacting the sensitive eye area as the bridle cheekpiece is forced upward. Coupled with a single-jointed mouthpiece, this bit can generate excessive lower jaw pressure, leading to issues such as the horse falling behind the vertical or heavily on the forehand, and displaying resistance or head tossing, especially before a fence.

To prioritize the horse’s welfare and improve communication between horse and rider, a kinder alternative like the Neue Schule Tranz Angled Universal is recommended. This bit is highly effective for riders seeking assistance in faster work or stride control before a fence, effectively eliminating head tossing during downward transitions. Its gentle, even pressure mouthpiece encourages responsiveness without causing discomfort. The curved universal rings ensure minimal pressure on the horse’s face, allowing for improved comfort and responsiveness, even for the most sensitive of horsestom thumb bit.

tom thumb bit

The Tongue Plate/Grid Bit

In the realms of racing and horse breaking, tongue suppression bits have been a common tool to prevent horses from getting their tongue over the bit. However, as our understanding of equine anatomy and welfare evolves, it’s becoming evident that these devices may not be the most humane or effective solution.

In today’s era of advanced bitting technology, it’s time to acknowledge that tongue suppression bits are often a quick fix for underlying training issues or a lack of knowledge. Moreover, they can be uncomfortable for the horse, hindering their ability to swallow and breathe nasally.

For a kinder alternative, consider the Neue Schule Verbindend. Unlike traditional tongue suppression bits, the Verbindend doesn’t exert downward pressure on the tongue. Its ergonomic design ensures a comfortable fit in the horse’s mouth, allowing the tongue to move freely and the jaw to relax. Made from Salox Gold, a copper alloy that quickly warms to body temperature and encourages salivation, the Verbindend promotes quicker bit acceptance and a more harmonious connection between horse and rider.

If you’re currently using any of the mentioned bits and seeking guidance or considering alternatives, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. As Australia’s most experienced and trusted bit experts, we’ve assisted thousands of riders in navigating the complexities of bit selection, ensuring the well-being and comfort of both horse and rider.

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