I am hoping to do a limited distance ride (our first real ride!) some time summer 2013, and I am beginning to think about what I need aside from a fit horse and a fit me. I know people ride in every combination under the sun, and saw that when I crewed a ride a while ago.
Is there really an advantage in having a bridle that doesn't place something in the horse's mouth? Is it really that difficult to bridle/halter switch and back during rests assuming your horse is normally good for that anyway? My horse is happy to eat and drink with his french link bit, and while I would take it out at rests, it doesn't seem to phase him when there's a tasty trail side snacking opportunity, nor has he ever seemed to have difficulty chewing or choked doing so. I ride him in a flat halter and lead rope near home and he's not much of a bolter, so I imagine I could train him to some other mouth-free gadget if there was a real reason to.