Well this is a big Pandora's Box to open
I have trail ridden all my life. I have ridden "over & in the river and the thru woods to grandma's house" , and done my fair share of climbing rocks and have my horse literally sitting on his butt and "walking himself down power lines.
All of those horses wore shoes to do that. My 16H TWH that has been with me 12 of his 14 years, has hooves like a goat and can be ridden in rough/rocky terrain without shoes for 4 or 5 hours and not come back sore.
That being said, if I know my "Ya-Ya Sisters" are coming and I need all three of my Walkers ready to go, "ready to go" means shoes on everyone, because we all still like a bit of a challenge on the trails
My Arab can ride barefoot in some pretty rough terrain , but I've never tested the butt-sliding and rock climbing" theory because he has a vertebra injury from before I rescued him and cannot carry more than 100 pounds. Anyone that weighs 100 lbs or less is generally under 12 and I won't take little children on butt-sliding escapades.
I can't shoe but I have done my own trimming for 49 years. I currently adhere to Pete's Ramey's philosophy for barefoot trimming.
My horses are all barefoot at the moment. Not because I am a barefoot cultist and just know that's the only right thing to do; but because the horse in my avatar is metabolic and I need $$$$ I used to give to my shoer for the things Duke needs to stay healthy.
Except for my metabolic horse, I could take any of my four horses down my macadam road barefoot for an hour or two of riding.
The metabolic horse would have to have boots on the front. I will never shoe him again because the EMS exploded his arthritis and it's all he can to stand for a trim, much less having nails pounded into his hooves. In summary:
Barefoot, if done correctly, is a great thing. It has done wonders for my metabolic horse and learning the Pete Ramey method has also helped me with my horse that is slightly club-footed,
If I were still slidin' horses down a power line and knee-digging them up the other side --- make no mistake they would be sportin' a set of rim shoes and borium head nails 8)