Originally Posted by smrobs
They will build up strength in time, but sometimes that transition is several months in the making. Whether or not you put shoes on him should be determined between you and your farrier. There are some horses who can't seem to stay sound without shoes and there are many who never take a lame step barefoot. If you want to give him a shot barefoot, then by all means go for it. You can always add shoes later if barefoot doesn't work for him.
Lots of riders pull their shoes in the wintertime. The horses aren't getting used nearly as much or as hard, plus bare feet have much better traction than steel so the chance of slipping and getting an injury is lowered without shoes.
I do mainly trail, mountain riding and gymkhana and have put shoes on my horses all of once & that was when we went on a week-long trip to the mountains where she was being ridden on rocks & rough ground.
Apart from that, she doesn't need shoes at all as her hooves are amazing.
I did own another mare who was a bit of a tender-foot, to the point where I couldn't ride her for 2 weeks because she couldnt handle crossing the gravel drives or even walking on pavement. A horse like this I would recommend shoes for but like others have stated you just have to wait & see with your guy. It may take a bit for him to get used to not having shoes (his feet will be tender) but many horses harden up