I am with you both a true bridle horse is a sight to behold.
And yes it is a very misunderstood bit. People think it is cruel and used as a torture device which is so far from the truth. It is actually very comfortable for the horse and there is, depending on the sway bars and balance, quite a bit pre-signal before it engaged.
We don't have any true bridle horses, Gracie and Zorro are ridden in half breeds but just recently figured out that Zorro prefers a Spade over the half breed mouthpiece.
I have tried riding him in everything, I have put him in a snaffle, a correction, square swivel port, various half breeds of widths, heights and amount of tongue relief and he loves a Spade. The spade we use on him is pretty forgiving it lays back and has a large spoon which fits him well with his big wide mouth, so he by no means is "straight up".
I would love to train a horse completely the vaquero way, without starting with a snaffle and take my time.
I DON'T LEAD 'EM AND FEED 'EM, I RIDE 'EM AND SLIDE 'EM.