Hey Jan (griffogirl) and other proponents of going barefoot. I am very much in favour of horses going barefoot, but of course its very dangerous for both horse and rider to not have shoes, if used for one of the disciplines and/or being predisposed genetically to having chronic problems. Here is one interesting race result that some will find interesting.
As well, a (sort of) comparative study that clearly identifies what I have always understood which is that "weight bearing" is shared by the digital cushion and the hoof wall, with the hoof wall taking most of the initial impact weight. Which makes perfect sense when considering the biomechanics of the entire structure.