My boy has been barefoot all his life, including on rocks and hard ground, and he's evented to around Training height. He has Arab soles and TB walls, and by that I mean his soles are like steel but the walls are sort of more like hard cheese. They crack and chip if I let them get anywhere close to "traditional" length, he is trimmed in the "barefoot" way because there's no way I can keep his hooves long enough for the other way! Not without shoes, and I don't want to go there with him because he's perfectly sound without them... he just needs to have his feet kept short.
He was shod for a while by someone who leased him for competition because they were one of the many people who believe you can't event without shoes, and his feet got really soft and horrible over that time. They're still toughening back up, nearly 2 years later.
I've been to showjumping days in awful weather on horrible surfaces (fetlock high grass and a particular kind of weed that is like wet ice when it rains), and the horses that slipped the least were barefoot, including the pony I was competing on. And HE slipped going in a straight line twice! The trouble with shoes is that they're metal, and can get very slick, whereas the horse's natural hoof is more porous and therefore doesn't get as slippery.
Shoe when it's needed for soundness or your horse isn't getting through the surfaces you're asking it to get through (if it's slipping, if it's going sore on hard or rocky ground), but if you don't HAVE to, why spend that kind of money when you could be spending less than half that and just getting trims?
Last edited by blue eyed pony; 03-25-2012 at 07:21 AM.