Mark, Kevin's assumption is correct. I left my horse's shoes on when I first got him because he was my first horse and I had very little horse knowledge. I kept him as is until I knew otherwise. I quickly learned to sift out fact from fiction in the information that was given by any particular horse owner and that no two see agree on anything.
When I got my TB at age 5, his hind shoes had wedge pads under the heel, at least I think that's what they are called. Basically high heels. My horse is rather straight in his back legs and had an absolutely horrid short strided trot when I got him. I'm not sure why the person who sold him to me thought that type of shoe would fix it. The farrier I chose to use couldn't figure it out either, so we switched to a normal shoe. I spent the next few years building up muscle on his hind end and doing lots of dressage training with him to attempt to improve his trot. It has become much better, but I wanted to see if I could do more. I know I mentioned earlier that he takes at least 40 minutes just to warm up, and even then, his version of tracking up involves his hind feet landing a good 6"s short of his front feet. As you've probably noticed, I'm a tad stubborn, so I did more research on how to better the situation. That's where barefoot came up.
I decided to do it last year. I spent the past 6 months feeding him biotin supplements to get his hooves into top shape, putting venice turpentine on his soles to help toughen them up, and invested in a pair of boots. I don't do anything on a whim. Plenty of forethought went into this. Tomorrow will be 2 weeks. He is completely fine on asphalt, concrete and an absolute monster on grass. We're talking W/T/C as a happy, snorting, squealing lunatic. (He's so fun when it's colder out) He's still very uncertain about softer surfaces. He'll walk in the indoor sand ring and the slightly harder outdoor ring, but he still has no interest in trotting. His feet look surprisingly good. The area where the nail holes were have caved in a bit, but there is otherwise no chipping in the other areas. I haven't attempted to ride him yet. I want to wait until he's being a dope on all surfaces involved, so I know he's not in any discomfort.
I don't know if I should have the foot trimmed futher to help him with the softer surfaces, or if it's just a matter of waiting for his sole to toughen up. Any advice would be appreciated.
You just have to see your distance...you don't have to like it.