My old endurance horse is 25 and has not walked a single mile barefoot since he was 6 and has never been off a day lame in his life.
We also have a 34 year old endurance horse and again he hasn't been without shoes in the last 25 years and again he is totally sound.
That said my 4 year old new horse is barefoot.
When the wear exceeds the growth or the ground get icey on will go the shoes on my youngster. When things get too dry and we start running alot of road miles he will need the shoes for wear purposes.
Kiwigirl I think you did the right thing in shoing.
While I have been fortunate that my two horses have been able to go barefoot, over all types of terrain, I am not a die hard barefooter.
What is best for the individual horse must come first. Glad Phoenix is doing well, and I know it was a tough decision, not wanting to cause further discomfort or damage. But sounds like you made the right/best one for her.
Riosdad, while I am riding T without shoes, that may change in our future. The last few trail rides over gravel based trails took her hooves down to the point there was nothing to trim. Just cleaned up a bit. Never showed any tenderness, or lameness, but she is not producing the hoof growth she has in the past. Not sure if it is due to her age, or maybe a combination of that and the "challenge" she's experiencing with her immune system. The vet and I are trying to sort that part out.
So, I may get the hoof boots to use on those particular rides, and if that isn't satisfactory, I will discuss what is best for her with my very trusted farrier. He is also the one that use to shoe her, and when I brought her and Walka home, suggested no shoes. So he is very open to what is best for the individual horse and the riding that is being done. I like his open mindedness and willingness to discuss this. Shows he is very secure in his knowledge. He's also always willing to show me and explain every thing he is doing, and I'm not asking him to either.
So back to the "shoe or not to shoe" topic. I remember a saying my grandmother used for a number of things and it fits here.
"You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear". Interpretation, if the horse has bad hooves due to structure and conformation, do what's best for the horse. It may need shoes all it's life to be sound and comfortable. If you have a horse that has good hooves, count your blessings and go barefoot if that works well for your horse. It must be what is best for that horse, based on the reality of its hooves then.
Just my two cents.