Originally Posted by Dave Singleton
I think that question very much depends on your horse, your lifestyle and you.
If your horse turns out to have long term tender feet then this is most certainly not an option. Also, if his hoof condition is naturally not that great then probably it will cause quite a few headaches in the near future!
Keeping a horse barefoot requires more time in general care - if you do not have this time then do not consider it. However, it does mean a significant reduction in overall upkeep of the horse.
Finally, if you are a worrier then with a barefoot horse you are most likely going to spend all your time worrying rather than riding! Horses can cope pretty well barefoot really - you just need to be a bit careful.
I agree with Dave here. What I might do, is if I ride a lot in the spring and summer months, go ahead and shoe him. Then, in the winter when you are riding less, let him go barefoot. That way, he is getting time to harden up his feet, and you are riding him less, so you don't miss out either. I personally prefer for my horses to go barefoot. I have a TB who used to be VERY sensitive, she has gotten a lot better. She is somewhat sensitive, but I don't use her in really rocky areas. We also have a QH who HAS to be shod because of work and I hate it. We have to give him time off from shoes every so often to give his feet a break. The farrier is a good one, it's not him, but Dukes feet get brittle when wearing shoes.