My Vet put him self thru Vet school by being a farrier. He has often questioned why owners shoe horses for rides in arenas or short trail rides. He has been very supportive of my experment in barefoot horses.
A friend I ride with is a small animal vet. He also put himself thru college by shoeing horses. He keeps all eight of his horses barefoot. He has been a great influence on me in trying barefoot on my horses.
My farrier has taken his horses barefoot and taught me how to trim my horses. Even though it has cost him my repeat business.
Another friend that I ride with several times a year, his daughter has gone to training and converted her entire practice from shoeing to barefoot trim
So I have lots of positive re-enforcement to stay barefoot.
My horses went barefoot for 5 years, They did fine, We rode some of the roughest country in North American. But what I learned is that while they can go on any trail, They can not go barefoot on nasty footing multiple days in a row. If I give them a day off. They are fine to alternate every other day. But if I expect to ride them on rocky trails several days in a row, I need to boot them.
Over the last 5 years, I have added profits to EasyBoots bottom line. But I have learned that my horses will destroy or loose boots. That since I am usually the wrangler for my group, I spend all the time booting up 4-5 horses and unbooting them after the ride. It just cost me too much to replace lost boots, replace torn gaiters, broken buckles and cables etc.
So last year I gave up. I started putting shoes back on my horses for the summer months, This is when I ride the most, When the horses go for multi day rides in the mountains. I still keep my horses barefoot 8 months of the year, I find they are more comfortable, Move out with less encouragement, Stay in the center of the trail and stopped rubbing me into trees as they tried to get off the edge of the trail.
This is a Easyboot Glove after 4 days of riding at Bryce Canyon area of Southern Utah.
Bushwacking through sagebrush just chewed up the gaiters.
So while I do believe boots will protect a horse and allow you to ride barefoot. I've just decided that if the horse can't go barefoot all the time, I'd rather put shoes on for the high use rides.