I prefer leather halters. They look classy and look nicer longer, IF you get a good quality one. You want something made in the USA, Canada, or Europe with SOLID brass hardwear, or stainless steel. I clean and condition my halters 3-4 times a year. They get bathed in and left outside frequently, and usually last a good 5-7 years before they start looking fugly, lol.
My avatar pic is my mare wearing her 5 yr old (at the time) leather halter.
Bareback pads with stirrups can be dangerous. You're better off going with a Cashel Softsaddle, as it has more grip and a little more stability. I would still use a breastcollar with it though