I had the same thought about one of my horses, "there is no way my horse can go barefoot" even my shoer I had in the past said your horse has crappy feet. And I fed almost every hoof supp to try and make them healthier. Recently I went to a seminar and learned a lot about proper nutrition and how that plays in the quality of your horses feet. So I decided to give it a go. He's been barefoot for about 3 months now and with the proper trim I have not had any chipping.
I may get off on a bit of a tanget but hear me out a little.
If a horses foot is trimmed properly; the walls are level with the hard sole, the bars are not over grown and the frog has good pressure, your horse can do well bare foot. Now don't get me wrong he's a bit tender at times. But his foot was in shoes for atleast 25 years and basically numb/dead. Now that he's getting frog pressure his foot is able to function and flex the way it should. I use boots when I ride him for the time being untill he can toughen up some. Also he was a "corrective shoeing" case. His one from hoof grows more outside wall then inside wall ( hope that makes sense). He would grow off balance within a week. Now with him barefoot I can keep him more balanced. I'm also learning how to do my horses feet on my own (Saving a ton of money owning 5 horses!).
If you get a chance check out this website www.swedishhoofschool.com
click on video clips and watch some of the videos. It gives you an inside look of how the hoof should function and what happens when a horse has shoes on that won't allow for the hoof wall to flex.
And you had mentioned about putting shoes on that would raise the heel... Just a suggestion BAD Idea! By raising the heels you are putting pressure on the horses toe. Take a look at horses that have "Navicular", in most cases the heels are TOO high which is allowing the coffin bone to point downward. The first thing you should do with Navicular is to take the heel down and toe back which will bring the coffin bone back to parellele (sp) in time.
Enough of that, I can go on forever. Hope that little bit helps out some