I ride caleb in an english saddle and bridle, but the bridle has no noseband and until recently it didnt have a browband either. I pretty much always leave his halter under and a noseband just gets in the way, besides that, I've never really gotten the point of them for regular riding.
I ride in an English bridle, an Aussie saddle with western rigging and western trail stirrups (bought it that way...would have preferred regular Aussie rigging), denim leggings, half chaps, and Ariat Terrains. Yep. I'm a bit mismatched. Do I care? Nope. My saddle is comfy and fits my horse. My horse likes the bridle. Does anyone else I ride with care? The BO makes fun of my saddle because he's a die-hard cowboy, but no one else cares. And even if they did, it doesn't matter. You use what works for you and forget what anyone else says.
My friend and I have a favorite saying: "Trail riding isn't a beauty contest...and if you make it one, you're not doing it right."
As long as your horse is happy and you have adequate control, it really doesn't matter WHAT you are riding in. While a judge at a show would certainly look at you a bit funny (which would be understandable) what you ride in at home or on the trails is completely irrelevant. There is no "rule" for trail tack - just ride with what you're happy, comfortable and safe in.
I've known people who had horses that really only worked well in one (expensive!) bit - since they didn't feel like wrestling with changing out bits every time - they just rode in the same bridle regardless of what they were doing. - My friend used to joke and say her tack was "Wenglish"
Your experience strikes me as people who were looking for something to criticize.
I am taking western riding lessons with a very respected trainer and she uses an English bridle on her western school horses. She is also training my horse right now (he is a 6 yr old Morgan/quarterhorse that was used just for trail riding) and he seems to like an English bridle and looks awesome in it. When I bring him home I will be trail riding with him in my western saddle and a brand new English bridle that I am buying tomorrow. Oh and the last trail ride I was on this summer was with 5 other people and 3 of them had mismatched tack
Honestly, the people you were riding with sound like pricks and I would try not to worry about what they said (easier said then done, I know). Sure, you look a little mis matched. But you know what, who cares! Its not like your trying to show at the high levels. Ride in what works for you and your horse. If its comforable and safe for both of you, and fits your horse properly then do it! Go nuts! Have fun! Because really that's all that matters is that its safe and fits your horse. Nothing else matters!
SaddleOnline- haha I like that, Wenglish! Im going to have to remember that one LOL
Hey, you should try living in England and riding a quarter horse in full western tack! There are a lot of hunting people round where I live and some of the looks and comments I've had when out riding you wouldn't believe! I just ignore them - I know my horse is happy!!