I have never had shoes on Gabe. I know he wore shoes at the track, but when he came to me, he was barefoot and has the most beautiful feet I think I've ever seen, especially for a Thoroughbred.
His hooves are big, well-shaped and hard as rocks. He is not tenderfooted and does very well barefoot.
Lately I've been thinking about whether I should have him shod this summer or not. A lot of the trails/roads I ride near my farm are gravel. He does get "ouchy" on the gravel, which I'm sure makes the ride not so much fun for him. Then, I think about the damage that shoeing does to an otherwise healthy, hard hoof. I'm not so willing to start doing that and possibly weaken his feet too much, plus, it's an added expense every six weeks that I just can't really justify right now, especially since it's not a necessary expense.
But I need to do something so we can go riding even on the rockiest roads. I've been bouncing the idea of hoof boots around in my head and done a little bit of research on different styles of boots, but can't figure out what I need to look for. I've heard stories about hoof boots just not lasting long enough to justify the cost, boots that won't stay on, boots that rub pasterns raw or allow sand/dirt/rocks down into them and rub/bruise the pastern/hoof.
I've never used hoof boots on my horses before, so I'm a newbie.
Any suggestions as far as style/brand I should be looking for? What should I absolutely avoid? We don't do slow trail rides as often as we do plenty of trotting, cantering and a wee bit of galloping during our rides. The last thing I need is a hoof boot flying off during a gallop and having it whack him in the belly or get tangled up in his legs.