I live in Michigan and me and my family have rode across the state twice. On the west side of the state it is very rocky. We usally just put steel shoes on anjd that seems to work. Next year were planing a trip to Montana and Wyoming I was wondering if you think we should stick to the steel shoes or try somthing else cause I heard it is really rocky.
When I lived in PA we used to have borium welded to our horse's shoes in the winter. It provides great traction on ice and rocks. I would check with some local vets or riding clubs in the area you are going to see what they use/recommend.
We trail ride a lot at my barn and some of the places we go are real rocky, too. We tried these new boots they came out with for trail horses that supposedly you can put on their feet for the trail and take them off when you're done. Ergh, I wish I could remember what they're called...I think they worked fairly well though. As long as your horse is barefoot, you can put them on and they're pretty durable. They're also flexible enough for your horse to move his hoof properly.
Yeah, iron shoes would be just fine, but you could look into this if you wanted.
A lot of people also use horse boots like the easyboots or boa boots - I haven't personally tried them, but they might help out over the rocky terrain - and you can always take them off in the softer stuff if you wanted to
My Freinds horse has ouchy feet on stones,pavement etc and her vet gaver her some horse boots, She hasnt gotten them yet but when we try them out I'll let you know if they work good or not. I would consider just using the Steel shoes again and maybe buy the cheapest pair of horse boots and bring them along incase it does hurt it hooves.
I use Boa boots on my tender footed mare I just got. It will take her a while to get to where she can be barefoot. Lots of correcting to do after MANY years of shoes, but she'll get there! My gelding was worse than she is!
ANywho, The Boa boot is the easiest one I have found to put on. They are also VERY reliable and work better than shoes IMO!
I live in Utah and ride some of the roughest ground there is. Most of my horses are barefoot. I can probably ride any trail barefoot. I just can't do it several days in a row or for 25 miles a day. If you are coming out for a single day ride and your horses are used to being barefoot. Go for it. If you are going to ride 7 days straight, you may want to consider some kind of protection.
I have used the boots and they will protect the hooves. But I seem to destroy a lot of boots. If your horses walk along and carefully lift each foot. Great. If you want to boogy down a trail at a canter or at a fast gait. Where the horses are not as careful about foot placement, The horses will tear up the boots.
As far as rocks, Ours are no different than what you have at home. When I shoe a horse I just use Keg shoes. ( Usually the St Croix Easy Eventer) No caulks, no studs, no borium or anything special. Steel shoes are little slick on granite rock. But most the time you don't ride on solid granite. The trail will be made up of many rocks or dirt and other matter mixed with rock.
I would like my horses to stay barefoot, so I've started using some Vettec Sole Guard on my barefoot horses. It seems to offer some protection against the ouchies from rockie trails. But it only last about 2 weeks. But that may be enough for your horses that are used to being barefoot to survive a vacation trip. Just give them a good trim and apply the Sole guard as you start your trip.
Most of these horses are barefoot and doing just fine.