With respect to the above quote ... His diet is mainly just Lucerne and grass
That's good I reckon. Most horses don't need more than this sort of thing & a nutritional supp if they're healthy. Probably wouldn't make the lucerne(aka alfalfa) more than about 1/4 - 1/3 of the ration, or else it can be too much protein for the horse. It's also very high in calcium & other nutrients, so it's important to consider that when working out what supps the horse needs for a balanced diet.
I am yet to find a farrier that is of good value but am scouring the local vets for their help in locating one. I will take some pics that are better quality soon and post them. He does seem to be chipping away at his back feet a little also, in treatment for the cracks that started to form I have been using hoof oil and tried Stockholm tar.
If you want to PM me with your location, it's possible I may know someone good in your vicinity - trees in the pic & calling that green stuff 'lucerne' give me the idea you're in Oz?
Pics as per the link in my signature would help. Chipping is generally nothing big to worry about, as others have alluded to, tho it can come about due to other probs - thin, weak walls for eg. Cracks are often more serious & good frequent trims to balace hooves & relieve walls from excess pressure, along with treating any infection that may be contributing is effective to deal with them. I wouldn't be using any topical goo other than to gently disinfect on them as a rule tho, especially not oil based, as this can create an even better environment for growing the infections.
I'm going to check and see of I have any pics of his basic stance also.
I presume you mean the kind of 'camped under' look, esp with the front feet? Could be his feet, that his heels are so weak that even standing with them weighted is uncomfortable, so he weights his toes & leans forward. Or it could be to do with his back/hips/sacro area or such. I'd be inclined to find a good bodyworker to check him over too.
i would definitely put shoes back on your horse. They will help protect the hoof from spreading any more on the heels
Good regular trimming - which he will need regardless - will 'protect' walls from further flaring, heels & elsewhere, without putting further undue pressure on the weak walls. If you do choose to shoe though, I'd also definitely be using Vettec or some such to pad/support/protect his soles & weak heels. IME padded hoof boots are generally a better - and ultimately cheaper - option.
It may take awhile for him to adjust to being barefoot. Same as a person who has always worn shoes and then takes them off for a walk across rocks - it is going to be uncomfortable.
I think comparing to people feet provides a very good analogy, because as with us, if you don't use it, you lose it - or fail to develop it in the first place, but if we're lame or have very delicate skin to begin with, forcing the issue can make the state of affairs a whole lot worse. Injuries & weakness really need to be healed before we can *start* to move comfortably & therefore gradually build strength & callusing.
Likewise, as with people, even if we have healthy feet but rarely walk bare on anything but carpet, yes, attempting to walk on gravel or such will be painful & potentially do further damage. So again forcing the issue is not a good move. Instead keeping your horse on - or at least giving very regular exposure to the terrain you want them to get used to & gradually increasing the amount you ask of the horse, *considering their comfort*, can work, but depending on the environment & management of the horse, hoof boots may always be necessary in some situations.