Horse Illustrated’s Online Bit Guide: Tom Thumb


Western Tom Thumb BitWestern Tom Thumb: This bit combines the simple, single-jointed mouthpiece of a snaffle with the shanks and chin strap of a curb bit. The idea is to maintain the basic nutcracker action of a snaffle, yet introduce the leverage action of a curb and the concept of neck reining.

  • Sometimes referred to a colt breaking or training bit for western horses.
  • Though often perceived as a bit for transitioning a young horse from a snaffle to a curb, it can actually be a very severe bit due to the leverage action of the shanks.
  • Green horses can become confused by this bit as it can be an abrupt change from the direct rein action and non-leverage action of a plain snaffle.

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  1. I use a Tom Thumb on my horse that would NEVER respond to a snaffle (believe me, I tried) and it works great.

  2. I have used the tom thumb on all my horses,it never fails to lower the high heads,soften hard mouths,even emproved neckreining with green horses


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