Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: In Sunny, HOT and HUMID S.C.
I won't say what you should do about your horse. That's someone only you make the choice on. A person makes their own choices for their own horses, so you do what you feel is best. No matter what it is there will be someone who agrees with the choice you made and someone who doesn't. So do what you want and be happy, because that's what most of the rest of us are going to do.
I will state that in the 70's Gordon Naysmith rode unshod from southern Africa to central Europe and of course was told not to ride unshod, but did it anyway. It's an interesting story, but for another time. He did say that when he finished the journey he gave the horse to a farmer who complained that a grinder had to be used to trim the feet (or something like that, because the hoof had gotten so hard from the riding....it's been a long time since I read Gordon's account, but I'd recommend if you want to read about a really tough journey on horseback). I'd say that with the miles that he covered on that trip (central Europe is a long way from southern Africa), over often brutal terrain, he pretty much put the nay sayers to rest on the need for horses to be shod for hard riding and hard terrain.
Back in my teens and early 20's (around the same time Gordon was making his epic ride) I worked cattle and did some distance riding (30-40 miles a day, but never had enough free time to ride more than 2 or 3 days) and obviously rode on the highway. Like Gordon I was constantly told (well for a few years) by my vet and some other folks that my horses were going to have problems because I wouldn't shoe them (the hoof will wear too much, split because I ride on pavement, etc, etc, etc,). The vet finally stopped after so many years of my horses never having any foot issues (unless you count getting really hard an issue). 40+ years later I still have never had a shoe put on any of my horses and the only hoof problems I've had to deal with were problems that came with new horses (most of which were shod before I got them).
Ok, now everyone can tell me how if I rode on their terrain I'd need something protecting the feet :)
I'll concede that I haven't ridden everywhere. Not above the Artic Circle (but I've lived in New England and rode there....it got pretty cold, snowy and icy), or in Death Valley (but I rode in AZ when I lived there....some very rocky terrain there and does get pretty hot on the pavement). So I'm not sure what terrain I've missed that my horse would have to have shoes for? Certainly don't need them here. It's some of the softest ground I've dealt with. I have to ride on the paved road to toughen the hoofs up. :)