Thank you for the reply Mark,
The lameness issue is that the next morning after a shoeing he is lame, then as time goes by he gets better and better.
I'll stick with my original guess regarding lameness post shoeing. Sole pressure. Photos suggest he is hot fitting. Nothing wrong with that but if he's not forging sole relief into the shoe it can certainly leave a horse lame. Assure he does not carve relief into the sole. Forge it into the shoe!
For about 2-3 weeks after shoeing I don't do much of anything with him, just turn outs because he isn't rideable. He doesn't stay that lame, whether it improves as his hoof grows out or he gets used to it I am unsure.
As new horn grows out the pressure at the live sole is somewhat relieved. Continued failure to relieve pressure incurs a risk of sub-solar abscess.
I am aware that his initial problem may not be caused by the farrier,...
If the horse is worse after the shoeing than before, the farrier needs to take responsibility.
As far as I know about shoeing, the horse should not be worse after one. If the horse is off, it should not get any worse. I'm not expecting him to fix my horse's lameness issues.
The farrier can't make a 20 year old horse younger nor can he cure sidebone, ringbone or any of the other arthritic changes that may be present but he certainly should not add to or exaggerate those issues.
I have considered saddle fit, side bone, farrier work and old age/arthritis are all possibilities.
If the horse is worse after shoeing than before, there's little need to consider issues other than the farrier's work. If my work lames a horse or worsens it's condition, I take responsibility for the problem.
Its all a matter of time before I can get the vet, farrier, chiropractic, and saddle fitter out. I have to go on a payday by payday basis.
I'd skip the chiro and saddle fitter. Focus on a good set of radiographs and the problems with the farrier. If the farrier is inattentive to the problems, it makes sense to seek another practitioner that will address what needs the horse has.
I wasn't horribly concerned about the hole, more of found it as a surprise, if it was an abscess or whiteline infection I would like to know about it. I want to know what is going on with my horse and if something is off, I want to know about it.
Under no circumstances do I ever fail to notify an owner of any significant issues I may encounter. Moreover, I prefer to have the owner present when I'm working on their horse and share that policy in advance. It is an unusual circumstance when I work on a horse without the owner present.
I have specifically left messages asking for a meeting time and letting him know exactly when I am available to answer the phone, I would expect him to possibly leave a message and try and do the same except calling me at the exact same time of day, the few times he has responded.
No good answer for this. Sounds like you did your part. If he is unresponsive, find someone that takes their business more serious.
He is one of the more expensive farriers in the area, am I wrong to expect better service than I am getting? I always try to look at it from his point of view to see why things are going the way they are, but I am coming down to a point where I just want what is best for my horse. I want to eliminate all possibilities of what could be causing his soreness.
Presuming that your side of the story is both honest and accurate, one might easily speculate that it's time for a change. You're the only one that can know if it's time to make that decision.
Theoretically would you be willing to go out and do an hoof exam on a horse that doesn't need work at that point in time? For example could I try and call another farrier to do an exam on his hooves? I would be willing to pay, but unsure if that is something anyone would be willing to do.
I can't speak for all farriers but if an owner requests a consult I'm probably going to accommodate that request. I do charge for my time but that's just business. If, during that exam, I identify a specific lameness issue and also determine the cause, odds are pretty good I'm going to suggest addressing the problem right then and there.
In all honestly, it's rare that I recommend an owner change farriers. You've had this fellow shoe your horse three times and shared that the horse went lame after each attempt. Time to make a change.