Although this bit is called a snaffle, because of the shanks it’s actually a leverage or curb bit. It’s used with a curb chain, which tightens under the chin as the bit rotates in the horse’s mouth.
In addition, as the bit rotates, the nutcracker action of the broken mouthpiece acts on the tongue and bars of the mouth.
Because of this “double whammy”, the Tom Thumb snaffle, also known as a shanked snaffle or a broken leverage snaffle, can be a severe bit in uneducated hands.
This particular bit has a copper mouthpiece, which helps some dry mouthed horses salivate and become more responsive to the bit.
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