It seems while I was away people got to talking. Sorry I'm pretty busy on weekends and with no computer it's a pain to try to type everything out on my phone.
So first off Corporal, I think I may always prefer the trot. I'm english all the way, hate western saddles, and the trot really helps posting. Also gaited horses don't really show up in the dressage and eventing scene, which is my goal to get back in to. Although for trail rides it may spoil me, especially the really long ones that take all day and my legs get tired lol.
And now on to the bitless conversation. There's a time and place for that but for trail rides I would not. There's to much that can happen, I like the control and feel a bit gives. In an enclosed area, like a pasture, sure bitless can be fine. But it also depends how you go bitless. I prefer a mechanical hackamore if there's no bit. There is more control and definitely more stop than if you rode in say a rope halter.
Lessons are a marvelous thing for the beginner rider. I took lessons for 10 years, only time I got to ride as a kid. You can read all the books you want, or watch all the videos you can but nothing compares to having someone there with you, showing you and correcting you. Unfortunately my current horse's health issues have taken the extra money that was supposed to go to lessons.