My horses went barefoot for 5 years. Two of my horses had never been shod. So they were around 8 when they got their first shoes. They could travel ANY trail for a day. But I could not ride them multiple days in row. So as long as I was riding Wednesday nights and Saturday, Everything was fine.
But when I went on multiday pack trips, During hunting season or if we camped out and rode several days in a row, They would get sore.
I've used most of the boots. I find Boots are more expensive than just getting the horse shod. You pay $100+ per pair. They last for summer if you are lucky. I have ripped gaiters, broken cables and buckles and ultimately lost boots.
I usually bring four hroses. Since I'm the owner, I'm the one usually putting the boots on and removing them. So I spend 30-40 minutes before a ride putting boots on. And usually one stop during the ride to fix a boot that has pulled of or twisted. As long as the rides are walks, They do OK, But if we start cantering, any kind of laterial work, like chasing cows, They twist or come off.
For me, I keep my horses barefoot 9 months of the year now and put shoes on for the heavy riding season when we are out camping and hunting.
I find barefoot horses slip less on granite than horses wearing steel shoes. But the barefoot horse slips more on sandstone, Since the steel shoe and nails seem to bite into that softer rock.
These were new boots that I used for 3 days at Bryce Canyon, Pretty chewed up for 3 days of wear. I just can't afford to replace boots every ride and my horses just can't go barefoot where I ride them
Sand grit and rocks just really wear on the boots
If they get wet, they trap the sand and it wears on them