Riding bare back can improve your seat and balance and lets a rider feel all the horses movements. Riders should remember that riding bare back is a concentrated force on a horses' back where saddle more evenly distributes your weight.  Only horses with well-developed back muscles should be ridden bare back.  
I purchased flex hoof boots for my mare which recently had her front shoes removed.  Hoof boots will provide her comfort and stability on the rocky trails.
Much about horsemanship and riding has evolved in the last thirty years since I first sat on a horse.  After only owning a pair of schooling chaps for the past 22 years, I finally purchased a new pair of tall boots since my chaps were too hot for the Hawaiian summer and getting a little too snug.  Wearing boots versus chaps allowed me to have a wider hip angle and were much easier to zip on and off.  In retrospect, the boots I purchased were a tad too tall for my short lower leg and it caused creasing to occur towards the top.  They still function perfectly and I'm much more comfortable now.
 Balance is something you have to feel to understand.  As a rider, you need to be a constant leader in your partnership with your horse and guide them to use their muscles to balance themselves.  You cannot balance a 1500 lb. horse but you can guide them using your legs, seat, and rein to explain to them the proper way of going around in balance.  That is, not popping their shoulder to the outside, leaning inwards, cutting corners, racing forward, leaning on the bit, on the forehand...  With young and green horses balance takes time and repetition.  Our horses are athletes and training takes time and a patient and a consistent rider.  Training young horses doesn’t always look nice, but it's important that the rider is constantly guiding and correcting or praising a green horse.  A good rule of thumb is that if you’re not schooling, you’re un-schooling.