Here are examples of barefoot horses doing anything and everything their riders ask of them. It is a fallacy that horses need shoes to traverse rocky footing, as the shoes only lift the hoof at most a 1/2″ off the ground, whereas most rocks are larger than that. Further, metal on rock is slipperier than the natural hoof horn on rock. The hoof is flexible and can bend to the rock, whereas a shoe lands flat. This is where injuries actually occur – the foot landing flat partway on a rock or other protrusion, and when weight is applied to the unsupported part of the hoof, the leg twists, resulting in a sprain, or what is often called a ‘tweak’. Bare hooves are also much more stable on asphalt than slippery steel shoes.
The other myth is that horses’ hooves wear down more than they grow back if they are barefoot and get a lot of work. This is where physiologically correct trimming comes into play. The hoof that has adequate circulation as a result of correct trimming actually grows back faster than it can be worn down, and still needs to be trimmed often! Just think of the mustangs who travel as much as 30 miles a day, without shoes of course.