Some background to help answer my question below:
My half draft has been barefoot her whole life. She's 12 now. I've had her since January and so far she's not had any problems with lameness or foot pain and I'm not aware of her having problems before with her previous owners.
She's been on soft ground almost all the time and worked in a sand riding arena or ring. Lately, though, I've been taking her out on trail rides on hard surfaces with either ashpalt or gravel mixed with grassy/weedy areas.
During the winter months and when she's only worked sporadically in sand, she needs a trim about every 4 weeks. But now that I've been working her 5x a week and going on 1-2 trail rides per week, it's been 4 weeks and she doesn't need another trim at all. She's self-trimming very nicely as far as I can tell. Her sole is concave with some false sole flaking off and her hoof wall is just slightly longer than the sole, except at the toe where it's almost the same level.
Today on our trail ride (after one yesterday too, mostly on asphalt), it seemed like maybe she was sensitive. She tripped a little and ... I don't know. Her gait seemed more ...hesitant or something. It might have just been my imagination, though.
I'm not experienced enough to know when she's having a problem, so I was hoping you all could give me signs to look for.
After our ride, I checked her feet. They're hard as rock and she has some false sole flaking off in some spots. The edges of the hoof wall are rounded and there are some small chips in them.
Is there anything I can do to test her feet? Anything I would notice when riding?
FWIW, I have some Easycare boots (Easyboot trail or something like that) that I can use if necessary. The reason I didn't use them so far is I wanted to try and toughen up her hooves, and my trail rides are pretty short. I go for about an hour, mostly at a walk, a little bit of trotting. Today our trotting was mostly just in grass. Yesterday there was about a total of 3 minutes of trotting on hard surfaces.