Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: In Sunny, HOT and HUMID S.C.
Actually your horses feet will toughen up if needed. Most of my horses have never had a shoe, but some have and I had them removed as soon as they were mine. They've all worked out well. If you don't ride a great deal they will need pretty regular trimming. If you ride a lot they will have better wear and need less trimming. I use to average about 100 miles a week, but that was with working horses and they seldom needed an actual trim. Just their daily check and cleaning before starting to work.
The only time I've seen shoes actually "needed" was, fortunately not one of mine, a horse that had a badly damaged hoof. White line had resulted in a massive lose of hoof wall and a split that went to the coronet band. A shoe was needed to hold things in place while the hoof was treated and grew back out. Of course he had been shod initially anyway, but the owner went unshod after the hoof healed. She'd planned to anyway, but the damage to the hoof delayed it.
So there are times when for sever medical reasons you might need to have a horse shod. I've never had such a case in 40 years, but that doesn't mean some people have. One of the horses I'd bought did have the start of white line. A hole has started from a nail near the toe, but we caught it first thing and it's easier to treat when you catch them early. I pick daily, but that doesn't mean you catch everything right off. Some days can be pretty bad for cleaning :) But if there is something it's unlikely to go undetected for more than a day or two. Most of the issues I've had to deal with came from cases of taking a horse from shod to unshod. There can be issues with the foot and very often (if the horse was in shoes for a long time) it takes a while for the hoof to get proper blood flow and feel normal to the horse again. That can take the longest to get over, but once their feet have recovered they are fine.
Some people will say that you need to shoe for certain terrain, but keep in mind that unshod horses have successfully run (and won) the Tevis cup (which is not kindest terrain) and in the early 70's Gordon Nesbit (not sure about the last name) road from southern Africa to central Europe unshod and that's thousands of miles and some very unfriendly terrain. I've ridden all mine on pavement for 40 years without any problems.