This is very relevant to how practical, or even possible, barefoot is for many, but when if it's not, it still generally doesn't make horseshoes necessary, when there are so many good hoof boots available these days.
No argument out of me on that. From 14 I've never seen the need to put nails in any of our horses feet. Of course my grandfather had some influence there, since he didn't shoe horses and they all managed fine. Had me walking my 7 month old filly on the hwy in stages, so by the time she was 4 and ready start working her feet where like all the rest. Hard and tough. But then I had a lot of time to condition her feet, which unfortunately is not always the case. Even today, my almost mare
(she'll be 4 next month) has at least a years work ahead of her before I'll begin to be comfortable that her feet will hold up well for extended pavement.
I've never used boots (didn't even know about them 30 years ago), and for me it's a better investment to spend the time getting the feet ready. Being over 200 miles out and needing a boot become unusable (I've heard that thay can tearup) when I might still need their feet protected is not really an option. Fortunately most people don't get into distance riding
, so boots are an excellent choice over shoes. I'll never seen the good in driving nails into a horses feet. They should always be allowed to expand on impact with the ground which is another thing that would make a boot a better choice.
I just like to warn people not to expect their horse to be ready to ride anywhere under any conditions when they remove the shoes if the horse has spent a long time being shod and has never been conditioned.
I find it a bit distressing when someone wants their horse to be unshod like ours, but when they pull the shoes their horse is uncomfortable or in pain (more blood flow, etc...). They don't like (or don't believe) me when I tell them that it takes time for the feet to return to normal and they really don't like not being able to ride while the horses feet heel up (won't get into the some of the contracted heels you end up seeing and need fixing). Someone will tell them that shoeing will fix the problem, so they have shoes put back on and like magic the horse can be ridden again. So somehow they start believing that only certain horses (like mine
) can go unshod, but others (like their's) have to be shod or they'll go lame. I wish I had the time and money to always have one horse on hand that's recovering from being shod for years, so that I can always have one to show people that it's a process. It's ok if you don't have the time to condition them for hard surface. As you pointed out, there are boots that will allow you to ride hard surfaces without the lengthy conditioning time.
I just wish everyone would give some of these older horses the time needed to recover from being shod all their life. Somehow I don't think boots would solve the discomfort that they somtimes have to deal with for awhile.
But having read your feet comments on other strings I know that you are all to aware of all this, so I'm "preaching to the chior"