OP, sounds like you don't have any experience with a lameness examination with a qualified performance vet .... and that's okay. Calm down. Yes, you are going to spend some money (most likely) but horses are a luxury item and they are expensive. Don't jump to conclusions about retiring your horse. That's pretty extreme. (This is why you don't ask friends for medical advice!!)Hi! My TWH, Finn, is 14 years old and I've had him for a year. He's been lame for the past month and a half and no one I've brought out can give me a straight answer.
We haven't taken him to the vet yet (because of the costs 😭) because I was hoping someone else's idea could help before doing so. I'm so tired of trying and testing. Because there's no obvious signs, we would have to get an X-Ray, which the farrier said might not even show anything. All it could do is rule out that the problem is arthritis. I got a bag of Bute-Less wondering if it could help him but I just don't know. Before I hand over my credit card to the vet, does ANYONE know what could be causing this? How I can help him? Is it permanent? Do I just have to retire him? I'm sick and tired of the anxiety and stress over the who, what, when, where, and why of his lameness. Thank you immensely for sticking to the end! Great job! 😂😭 Any ideas... I just want this to be over already. If he has to retire... so be it, he's only 14. I just need to know what the next step is. I feel so lost.
In the future, yes, the farrier can be a source of information but they are only 1 piece of the TEAM you should have for your horses. You also need to enlist the help of other professionals.
So when you schedule the appointment with the vet, make sure it is a vet that is qualified with lameness. Do not call a general all-animal vet. Find one that does horses only.
First the vet will examine your horse moving in a circle (both direction) and a straight line, usually at the trot. The vet will also do what's called flexions on each limb and then trot the horse off. This helps determine where the problem (or problems) might be. Horses are complex and sometimes it's more than one problem!
After that point, the vet will make a recommendation on where they think the problem is and what diagnostic testing would make the most sense to perform, whether it be xrays or ultrasound or whatever equipment the vet has available. And which limb to examine.
When the vet has a better idea of what's going on, then they can decide a treatment plan.
For example, if it's arthritis, that's going to respond best by exercise (and will be made worse by stall rest).
If there is a tendon or ligament injury, then it will respond best by stall rest (and made worse by exercise).
Based on the information you have provided, my guess would be heel pain or similar in the front feet. But again, that's a sheer guess just going of your descriptions without seeing the horse move. Usually a severe tendon or ligament injury will have external signs (some sort of bump or swelling somewhere)... but not always.
It could also be important to make sure the farrier is doing a good job with your horse. That can cause lameness issues if not done right.
Can you post good pictures of his feet?