It really is down to the individual horse. In the US I can get away with barefoot for most of the year but as soon as work picks up in the summer and they begin to look sore then they get shod
I have tried loads of different boots and never really got on with any of them either because they don't fit well, rub the horse or make them feel 'clompy' to ride, we go up and down some pretty steep slopes with rocks and sharp loose stones so I need to at least feel that my horses are surefooted and I don't seem to get that with boots
In the UK our hunters would do 2 to 3 hours of road work a day as part of their fitness programme, lots of trotting and I never had a horse go lame or get leg problems from being shod.
I certainly wouldnt argue with anyone who was happy riding in boots, barefoot or shod - none of my business what they do.
My mare was bare foot for 6 years on the back and at least 3 on the front. After riding her in a SLIGHTLY rocky area her soals started to look a lil bloody (yeah that freaked me out) so she got front shoes, but it took forever to find someone who would be able to her back for this reason
^ this is how her foot looked for years. She was sould but I had no idea she was in any typo of pain untill I put shoes on her
I have to say, I am in the Ozarks and regularly ride over very rough and rocky terrain using Easyboot gloves. I was told that my QH would always need shoes, but that just hasn't been true. We've been barefoot since September, and her feet have improved tremendously. My trainer even commented on what good feet she had at our lesson last week. We have almost worn a set of boots out, though. It's that rocky where we ride. I think it's a matter of correct barefoot trimming and a good boot fit to have it work well, but we've been lucky in that. I am very happy not to have to shoe. A $100 pair of boots has lasted me 9 months, which is cheaper and easier for me, and my horse is comfortable.