From what you've described, I don't think your experienced enough to start this horse. My advice is to send him out to a reputable trainer for backing and let him/her put a few good months into the horse before you start riding him.
There's nothing wrong with bits; my horses have no problems with them in the right hands. I find that they are conducive to better communication and more precise aids than the average bitless bridle.
Good luck with your pony.