A flash is not a gadget. It's purpose is to keep the loose ring snaffle quiet, so as not to disrupt the contact. It is used incorrectly as a gadget to shut the horse's mouth and in the case of only using it when your horse is being hot. I don't see how a flash would keep a rider safe...
According to what you are saying MI, we should all be riding around bareback, naked, with nothing on the horse's head.
Olympians aren't all perfect. Yes some use gadgets, and it is to "get the job done", but the horses that they get up to International Grand Prix so quickly (by 9 or 10) usually only last a season or two and are then mentally and physically broken.
I am the most anti gadget person you will meet. I have spent thousands of dollars in vet bills correcting what draw reins, degouges, and other fun gadgets did to one of my old horse's spines, and it eventually ended up costing the horse it's career.
There are tools, and there are gadgets. A tool is something like a spur, or a bit. It refines the aids in order to make them invisible to the naked eye. Most tools can be mis-used, and this is when they become "gadgets", or just simply abusive. A gadget is something like a draw rein. It artificially takes place of something a rider would do, and attempts to "train" the horse to do something because the rider is too lazy to do it themselves.
A list of "tools": A saddle, a headstall (properly adjusted), bit(s) (appropriate to the level of the horse), spurs (of legal length and without sharpness), stirrups, a whip (not for beating, but touching. The whip is meant to touch and tap.), and certain variations of these things.
A list of "gadgets": Side reins, draw reins, degouge/chambon (all when used undersaddle), martingales, excessive bits, improperly adjusted headstalls, excessive spuring/kicking, excessive use of the whip, "sit tight", "stick-um" basically andything that straps the rider in of sticks them to the saddle, etc.. this list is largely incomplete.
MLK - Anky's horses have never halted for as long as I can remember :P And the reasons for the placings - politics.