Does Your Horse Have a Kissing Spine?

Many horse owners believe that a diagnosis of “kissing spine” is career ending. It does not have to be. The condition occurs when the bony ‘spikes’ at the top of the horse’s vertebrae start to rub together, causing pain and swelling, especially when in motion. If the long back muscle is very contracted, it can pull the vertebrae together and cause pain. Kissing spine is most prevalent in dressage horses doing many collected movements, jumpers, and upper level event horses. Thoroughbreds seem to be predisposed to developing the problem.

Surgery and injections are often recommended, but I have seen horses recover with the following:

Spreading out the fibers of the tight muscles through massage is one way to allow the spine to return to a normal state. Teaching the horse how to raise his back by releasing the posterior pectoral muscle also helps. Cold laser is another way to ease pain and help relaxation. Proper saddle fitting is essential. Don’t overdo sitting trot. As in humans, it is always worth trying physical therapy solutions before surgery. Chiropractic treatment, cold laser, acupuncture, and massage have all been very effective in many cases.

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2 thoughts on “Does Your Horse Have a Kissing Spine?

  1. Maddie

    Hi Bev! Another question for your Monday column…show season is here and my goal this season is to compete at the 2** level. Our biggest challenge at this point is passing the jog. My horse is not lame but he gets tight and his trot can look short…any suggestions?


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