All horses can go barefoot but not all horse owners. It takes a little extra work. You have to become a bit of an expert on hooves. No longer ignoring the very important body parts at the end of his legs. You will find out that the hooves will mirror the horse's health when they are no longer shod and they get feeling back in their feet. (Well they do while shod as well but then it is easier to hide) Which is a good thing as long as you don't think ignorance is bliss.
So what do you have to do?
We all know that as soon as the shoes comes off the hooves will chip and fall apart and the horse will not be sound on rough ground. This is usually when shoes get put back on. But if we think of the big picture and realize that there is no way that a body part can function properly if not used. Use it or loose it! You have to condition it just like if you were a couch potato and decided to run a marathon. Are you up for it? If yes... then your horse can go barefoot.
To begin with, educate yourself. Read books about Natural hoof care etc. There are many good web sites that you can check out (look on the links page) Find a competent hoof Care provider. You need a proper barefoot trim which is different from a regular trim that is done before you apply a shoe. Your horse need to be trimmed on a very regular schedule. Barefoot is not something you do to save money. With long feet you will have the same problems as with shoes. You can prove it all wrong and show that barefoot does not work. It is easy. If you are happy keeping your horse in a small stall pen etc . Take him out only a few times a week or less. If you think that horses should eat high energy food twice a day and then patiently stand and wait for something to happen. Well then it does not work.
But if you are thinking that there might be a better way of taking care of your horse. That would mean that you are willing to learn something new and you will get a nice surprise. It does work and if you can't change everything for your horse you can at least make small differences and that is a good start. There is nothing wrong with having a horse that has to use boots for trail rides if you can't make a Paddock Paradise for your horse. Every little thing you do towards a more natural lifestyle for your horse will show up in his feet eventually.
Nutrition is a very important part of healthy hooves. A horse owner I know of told some people that, why is this farrier (A friend of mine) telling clients what to feed their horses? It is none of her business. Well if the horse owner does not know what to feed, and the farrier comes out and work on a horse that has the
Wrong diet she or he will sooner or later be blamed for being a bad farrier. Now that is why we try to tell the horse owner what to feed the horse.
A horse in its natural environment will eat almost all the time. Take many steps in between each mouthful until he has moved many miles a day. He will digest small amounts of food all day long. There will be minimal amounts of sugar in his diet. This is how a horse's stomach works. It is just facts. Domestic or wild, no difference. We feed our horses abnormal amounts of Non structural Carbohydrates which they can't handle. They eat at a standstill and then go without food for many hours. Most of our horse's illnesses will come from this. Colic, laminitis, founder etc. You can eliminate so many things by giving your horse a healthier diet less in sugar and non structural carbs. Alfalfa is very often a danger to horses and many will founder on it. Great cow food maybe but very often a No No for horses. Try to minimize these things in your horse's diet and you will get positive results. Safer Grass is the best way of learning about diet. Hard to read through as it leaves you feeling helpless at times but very informative. If you have a horse that does not tolerate sugar at all then Safergrass web site is a must to save your horse. If you don't get rid of the diet problem you will never get a healthy horse. One big relief for at least some is that you can get rid of most dietary issues if your horse actually uses up what you stuff in him. EXERCISE! Not a few times a week. Every day and lots of movement (turnout etc) in between.
So if you want to do something very nice for your horse, pull his shoes and make his lifestyle a little bit more of what he thinks is natural. He will be a very happy horse and you will be a happy owner.