To OP, in my opinion & experience, as a hoof care practitioner & rehab specialist, keeping a horse *out of shoes* is better for the horse. GENERALLY. There are always exceptions & conditions where a conventional shoe could well be the 'lesser evil'. And notice I didn't say barefoot is better. I believe it is, *IF* the horse has healthy, strong feet & copes *comfortably* with whatever we throw at it. But that's a big if for most domestic horses IME & most will require protection/support in at least some situations we put them in. I think hoof boots are *generally* a better answer rather than nail on peripheral loading devices for that.
As others have said, without pics & more info, as to your specific horse & problems, we can only roughly speculate. It could be that his feet are overgrown & flared & good regular trimming is required. It could be that due to congenital conformation, imbalance when he was young, injury, whatever, he is imbalanced, but if so, if the horse is mature, you may well do more damage to joints that have developed & adapted to that than if you leave the imbalance alone.
Originally Posted by Speed Racer
This whole barefoot vs shoes debate is idiotic. SOME horses can go barefoot while SOME horses need shoes.
Speedracer, the way you put it, I agree with all you've said 100%. I just don't think conventional rims are the best option for horses who need protection. OP it's also important to realise there are indeed fanatics & lots of theories & claims, not necessarily well founded, on either side of the 'debate'(ha!) so it is important that you educate yourself as best you can on the principles & pros & cons of different theories so you can make an informed decision.
That whole 'wild horses do just fine without shoes' argument has holes so big I could drive a semi through them. Wild horses with bad feet do exist, they just don't live long. Plus, they're not being worked the way domestic horses are.
I think environment & lifestyle is the biggest factor by far & is what makes the 'natural is best' argument a bit irrelevant. I do know of different regions in Australia where the brumbies live reasonably long, easy lives but have terrible feet - waterlogged swamp country, soft sand & rich feed country, for eg. They do fine despite their feet because they remain in that environment - they're not living in soft, cushy paddocks & then expected to go out every weekend on gravel roads for eg. But it's interesting that the whole 'wild horse trim' theory seems to be based upon wild horses having perfect feet - well, virtually all online egs I've seen have indeed had short, strong, tough feet, but have all come from the same sort of environment - arid, stony country with very little feed, were horses must travel many miles daily between feed & water. There is no mention on any of the popular sites about other 'wild' hoof forms in other environments.
After saying all that, I think it's invaluable to learn about & consider the differences in what the horse has evolved for & the situations he develops strong feet, compared to the more 'normal' state of affairs, of the majority of domestic horses - & possibly the majority world wide of feral horses. There is a lot to be learned from nature, but just because something is natural doesn't make it necessarily Right or Good.