..don't believe everything you hear. There are lots of right answers, and in my experience, horse people are very opinionated on issues that that do not have black and white answers!
Boy, ain't that a fact, lol!
The other thing I've found is that price does not determine quality. I will usually look at a number of websites and at least one shop before purchasing anything of any value. But there are often good deals to be had at consignment shops, Craig's list, etc.
Very little I can add to the good advice you've gotten, but...
-For a lead or lunge rope, look for something that won't burn your hands unless you wear gloves.
- I use rope halters, but I might have drank some Koolaid on that one.... but if you use them, there's a certain way to tie them. Not difficult, but necessary. If you get the regular ones and you can afford brass fittings, they won't rust out as easily.
- Hoof picks are cheap and easily misplaced. About $2 max. Get twice as many as you think you'll need!
- Take your time before purchase -as you already stated you would - but try out as many different horses, breeds, sizes, etc. as you can before you settle on one. There's a lot of variety. Never purchase one on the first visit (like me, lol).
- Fly masks. Mine don't usually make it through much more than one season. The newer type of velcro attachments stay on much better.
- You probably already know that most horses prefer company - one horse alone is usually not a good idea, depending on the horse. They are herd creatures and most need the security of others.
Best of luck!