Aha...the never use a bit and the never shoe debates. Got to love it. My horse has been shod all his life and he's still sound and showing and he's 17 years old. CORRECT trimming WITH shoeing has not harmed him in the least.
Bits, well the THREE aids for riding are hands, seat and legs. A bit is a tool just as a saddle, a halter, a neck rope, and a hackamore is. Sure you can ride a horse it's whole life without a bit, BUT that horse will not use it's body correctly which leads to unsoundness and body soreness issues. Bits aren't evil and neither are shoes. Let's see you get that horse to round and rate without a bit, run a dressage test, or do a reining pattern etc. People do it all the time, it really IS no big deal. But the horse was trained correctly in a bit to be able to do all those things.
Something that stuck me though....was the comment about riding up to people with a neck rope and watching them freak out. A little bit of ego and bragging here, because I assume you got satisfaction from their reaction? But yep, your horse your way. But scientific evidence has shown that shoes are not evil and neither are bits.