She is a 16.3hh tb who just turned 4 in march. She has a mild clubbed foot or grazing foot on her front left which she has never taken a lame step on (*knock on wood!*). I ride her 5-6 times a week, just flatwork but i'm hoping to start her over fences in the near future.
"smoochie" has had a full set of shoes on since long before I bought her last june. When I bought her, she originally had metal pads on her front feet as well.. the woman I bought her from told me it was because the area we live in is too rocky. I continued using the same farrier as the woman I bought her from for a short while.. he ended up putting thick rubber what he called "draft pads" on her feet. Long story short I ended up very displeased with him after a while and found a new farrier.
My new farrier immediately said there was no reason to have pads at all as my mare had hard soles. So starting last november we took the pads off but left all 4 shoes on. We then went through a period of having pulled shoes one after another. She must have pulled 6 shoes (my farrier said she was stepping on them) within 2 1/2 months time.
Smoochie had she shoes reset last in feb and is due again next week. This time she has managed to keep all 4 shoes on the whole time. Last time my farrier was out I had mentioned maybe just pulling the shoes and seeing how she does barefoot hoping to get some sort of opinion from him. The only real response I got was "well I can pull them if you want, or I can just leave them. Doesn't really matter much". Not the answer I was looking for!
So like I said, I keep coming back to "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Smoochie has never been lame (once again *knock on wood!*) so why change what isn't broken, right? At the same time, from what I have learned based on internet and books barefoot is the best way to go.
The other thing driving me towards barefoot is when smoochie went through her period of constantly losing shoes, there was a time when my farrier was away for the holidays and it took about 2 weeks for him to come replace her shoes. During this time (i could be imagining this, could be wishful thinking) it looked to me like on her mild club foot the heel actually expanded slightly.
So I really need some good solid opinions, go barefoot or not and why. Like I said I tried to get advice from my farrier on this but he really had nothing to offer.
So sorry that was so long! And thank you all in advance!!