Re: boots for barefoot horses
I used Old Mac G2's on Coco when I went barefot with him. They are manufactured by Easyboot or Easycare (I think) and they have a brilliant website/fitting guide which tells you the range of boots available, what boot is best for what work you plan to do, your horses foot shape and how to measure up for boots.
All horses will be footsore when you 1st take shoes off, even on the field, similarly if we took our shoes off and started walking around barefoot, it takes a while for the foot to harden up and change back to its natural concave shape but dont let this put you off, horses weren't born with shoes and their feet will change and adapt but it does take a while to transition. I used Keratex (advised by my farrier) on the soles and around the nail holes intensively for the 1st couple of weeks and then 2 - 3 times a week for 6 ish months (as advised on the bottle) whcih worked well with Coco. After about 18 months Coco's feet were so hard he often didn't need any boots on at all (my farrier used to joke that he hoped Coco never got a foot abcess as he wouldn't want to cut through his hoof it was so hard) but used them on an off in the summer as we do a lot of road work so it was more to protect his feet from being overly worn down on the sole. The boots lasted 12 - 18 months so although expensive (approx £130 a pair) they are long lasting. You can also get comfort pads to put in them if your horse is feeling it at first but in general a horse with hoof boots should be just as comfortable as a horse with shoes on as the boot protects the sole and much better for concussion on hard surfaces too.
The Old Macs do look bulky and seem heavy but Coco never had a probelm with them and we jumped and cantered whilst out hacking on bridleways and through woods no problem, often through mud and they were great.
If you are wondering why I now have Coco's front shoes on it is because we discovered a hoof imbalance as the outer edge of his front feet just does not grow and his near fore is (and always has been) significantly smaller than his off fore and he has needed some extensive remedial shoeing with a lateral extension to correct this issue. This was not caused by being barefoot is just an odd'ment about him and if I could I wouldn't think twice about going barefoot again.
Good luck with it!