I realize that shoes are not bad
I don't believe shoes are necessarily
bad. But I do believe hoofboots or such alternatives are generally a better option. Especially when talking about unhealthy feet.
They are more than a viable alternative. They protect and support
the whole hoof - rather than protecting just the ground surface of the wall. They allow for comfortable frog/sole pressure, allowing those areas to strengthen, and allow them to take a supporting role, rather than the hoof walls taking the entire load.
The horse doesn't wear them when not necessary, such as in the pasture, exercising in an arena or on soft or smooth trails. Depending on the horse, management, what you ask of him, etc, you may find you need the boots little or a lot at first, but may also find that you need to continue using them in certain circumstances or end up never needing them once the horse is healthy. They are generally pretty easy to put on & off & can be carried on the saddle for Justin Case. The rest of the time, the horse is bare, using his feet as they were designed. When on, they don't restrict the foot or its capacity for shock absorbtion as metal can either.
Being used only when necessary means they generally last far longer than a set of shoes, even if used all the time. That equates to $$ too. Horses generally don't require back boots either - they can stay bare. It also means you can trim or touch up the hooves whenever necessary without hassle. Especially handy for hooves which are rehabbing & needing frequent care. You can also add pads if necessary, say to provide further comfort & protection to a foundered horse, or more gentle frog pressure to one with high or sensitive heels.
Cons of boots are that they don't suit some horses. Tho this is infrequent & becoming rarer as various new designs become available. They are often an expensive outlay, over here mostly over $200 a pair. In some situations some may come off, or may not provide enough grip as shoes with studs. But again, the newer designs & accessories have those issues mostly covered. With an unhealthy hoof that's changing shape, boots may be difficult to fit, or the hoof may radically change size, meaning it's likely what fits the horse now won't later. It's a good thing there are buy/swap/sell classifieds for hoof boots. Some designs can cause rubbing & while it doesn't affect the majority of horses & there are 'socks' to combat the problem, I tend to prefer the boots which fit below the hairline, to avoid the possibility. Easy boots are my choice. Esp with the new Gloves, which are also quite affordable.