I have 4 horses and a donkey. Our Appy needs shoes because he has softer feet and when we got him, his heels were really low. He has improved but needs to be monitored and shod.
My KMSH is working on going barefoot. When we got her a year ago, her feet had been neglected and needed corrective shoeing. Started on barefoot this winter and her feet look great so far!
My paint has hooves of steel that hardly even need a trim! She wears boots on gravel. We do ride on gravel, sometimes as big as 2", but mostly on dirt and finer gravel. We will also be riding on pavement at our new place, so barefoot and/or boots seem best.
We also have a 3 yo rescued filly, we think she is Appendix. She is huge now! She grew from 14' 3 hh to 16'1hh in a year. She has TINY feet and keeps getting white line in one. Not sure what she will need, but I totally trust my ferrier's opinion. So far, she is barefoot while she is still growing up and doing very little work.
My farrier never seems over eager to shoe. In fact, she prefers barefoot if the horse can do it. She also tells me we don't need to pick out the hoof as much as we thought we should. She says if they are walking sound, leave em because the dirt in the hoof acts like a cushion. Once a week to check the hoof is adequate. Except our filly, whom we clean often to treat her little problem.
I'm sure if you have a good farrier and talked to him/her about barefoot, you will get good advice for your horse. So, based on my limited experience, it depends on the horse.
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