Originally Posted by PaintHorseMares
All our mares are barefoot (trim myself). The two younger ones have never been shod. Our lead mare has thinner soles and was always shod (all four) by her original owner (who shod every horse), but has been barefoot since then (the original owner was amazed when she saw the horse doing the rocky trails barefoot without a problem). We just do pleasure riding, but they are all fine on the roads and trail riding even over the gravel and rocks.
Cost: some sweat and a new rasp every once and a while.
This sounds like me. I keep them barefoot by default, because I think it's healthier and I maintain them myself. If I am trailering out with a friend and I don't know what the terrain will be like, I bring Easyboot Epics, just for the front feet, just in case. But on our home turf, so-to-speak, I ride barefoot.
I really believe it's healthier because most horses I've seen that have been in shoes "forever" have very upright, contracted feet. And once you are used to seeing round, non-contracted feet, it's hard to go back to shoes.
I would say keep him barefoot if he has good feet (and the farrier should know) and just boot him if he needs it in the rocks.
But I also have a friend who keeps all her horses shod, so I respect that too. She doesn't want to have to worry about stone bruises and such. But in 5 years of keeping my Mustang barefoot (he was kept shod by previous owner) I have only had him out of use for a stone bruise one time (and it took about 2 weeks for him to heal). But once in 5 years is pretty good, and whose to say he wouldn't have gotten bruised in shoes too? I still think it's a small risk to take for healthier feet IF your horse is sound doing it. Now if he were chronically sore, I would get him in boots or shoes.