Tom Thumb / Argentine Bits

There seems to be a whole lot of confusion surrounding the Tom Thumb bit. A lot of people mistakenly refer to the Tom Thumb as a snaffle bit because of its broken mouthpiece. It is considered a “transition” bit by a lot of folks, although their horses would disagree. The Tom Thumb is a leverage bit and with the broken (jointed) mouthpiece, it can be extremely severe!

The Tom Thumb was named after a small locomotive that, at the time, was the most powerful engine of its size. This fits the Tom Thumb. For a bit that looks small and humane compared to others, it is most severe.

Sadly a lot of people use this bit to “transition “ and it regresses their training. I’ll say it this way – by the time they, and their horse, were ready for this bit, they wouldn’t want to use it anyway. In my opinion, the Tom Thumb is one bit that has no place around horses at all.

The Argentine “snaffle” is another bit I prefer not to see people use – even though you see it a lot. It was originally developed in Argentina, where it gets its name. It looks just like the Tom Thumb with the exception of a ring by the mouthpiece. This allows you to move your reins from the leverage position at the bottom to the lateral position at the mouthpiece

With proper training, a horse and person can make a transition from a snaffle (broken mouth) bit to a leverage (shank) bit without all the need for these “gimmick” bits.

Sadly I often see these bits especially the Tom Thumb used on kid horses. There’s a lot wrong with that and it shouldn’t be.

For questions concerning the Tom Thumb and Argentine bits, please contact us.

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