No the gravel will most likely be almost every time I go to condition unfortunately. Our gravel is ping pong ball sized (not sure if you caught that in another post lol). I just really want to do what's best for him. I'd trailer somewhere but I don't have a trailer of my own :/. What do you think about the flexible shoes? Like tennis shoe type material? Would those absorb more shock? I'm trying to gather as many views, opinions, and facts as possible. I'm so tired of not being able to ride how I want to because of rocks! Posted via Mobile Device
In that case, I think that the most economical thing for you to do is to have shoes put on the horse. If they will not be enough protection, then you can add in a thin pad under the shoe. The space under the pad can be filled in with silicone gel.
I don't have experience with those new types of shoes; I have heard negative reports one some of them. They are very expensive.
The whole reason that I keep my horse is to ride her. My days to ride are limited. The day that I want her feet protected is every day. It is so easy to just go out and catch the horse, saddle up, and go. I don't have to worry about feet.
The farrier that did pads for me cut his own out of leather. I am not sure what the best commercially available ones are. I would send a private message to phantomhorse13 because I believe that she uses them and could answer your question.
I think you are WAY over thinking this. Just put shoes on your horse and go ride.
I took my horses barefoot for 5 years. My two youngest horses where just coming into training as I started my adventure down barefoot. So they were 8-9 years old before they got their first shoes. I can tell you I rode all over Utah and Wyoming barefoot. And most of the people I ride with keep their horses barefoot.
But I learned that my horses can only go a day or two on rocky ground before they need a couple days off to rest. If I want to ride rocky ground multiple days, I need to either use Boots or Shoes.
I think I made EasyCares annual production bonus with all the boots I bought. They are not cheaper than shoes. I have broken straps, buckles, cables, lost boots and torn gaiters. The repair and replacement cost was more than just putting shoes on. Plus the frustration of being on a ride and loosing a boot or damaging one so it would not work and not being able to ride.
In addition, for me. Was the fact that I almost always was bringing 4 horses and I was the person that had to walk around and spend an extra hour messing with getting the boots one before each ride.
After 5 years of barefoot, I've decided that my horses are better off with shoes. They move better, are more willing to move out when asked on rocky trails. I leave the barefoot all winter, we can ride in the snow with no shoes. It gives their feet 5-6 months of no shoes.
You can put the pads on if you want or just put shoes on and fill the frog area with some Vettec Sole guard if you want some added protection.
I ride some of the rockiest country around with just plan shoes and my horses have been fine. Steel shoes will make your horse more comfortable on gravel roads. Aluminum shoes work a little better if you are riding across Granite slabs, The aluminum us a soft metal and grabs the granite where the steel shoes slip more. But the aluminum will wear out much faster.
The plastic shoes should work fine for riding on asphalt or other surfaces. I don't think they will be any better for gravel roads than the steel. They are slightly thicker, so a little more clearance for the sole. People that I have talked to have said they work fine if they are properly installed. But they are much more expensive than steel shoes. I can buy 16 shoes for my 4 horses for $32 That's $2 a shoe. Most of the plastics are $9-$10 a shoe. And even if you get a reset out of the plastics, you are still paying twice the price of steel.
My advice, just use steel shoes for the hard riding months, Give your horse the winter months with no shoes and use a competent farrier.