Kissing Spine In Horses, Symptoms, Treatment

Kissing Spine In Horses

If you are looking for what is kissing the spine in horses, then here are all details, Symptoms, Treatments of the kissing spine.

What is Kissing Spine In Horses?

The Kissing Spine is known as the overriding process. It refers to the back pain of horses. The horse’s spine is structured with individual vertebrae. It connects through ligaments and muscles that support the spine. In the kissing spine problem, the bony prominence of vertebrae sticks up. The bony prominence helps in the spinous processes. It provides the perfect space equally for flexible running and extending their back. During the kissing spine problem, the spurious processes come close together even with touching. Due to lack of space, mobility gets reduced, and pain occurs in the back. Kissing Spine develops arthritic changes, back pain, and bone cysts. This problem can occur in any of the horse breeds, but Warmbloods and Thoroughbreds recover fastly. At any age, this problem can occur. In most of the cases observed, kissing spine problems arise in the last few vertebrae.

Kissing Spine in horses Symptoms

In medical terms, the kissing spine symptom is named “Overriding Dorsal Spinous Processes” (ORDSP). The symptoms are different in different breeds and according to the horses’ condition. It generally occurs in thoracic vertebrae (T)-13, (T)-18, with (T)-15. Under the saddle or rider’s seat, it happens. Clinically the kissing spine issue can not be recognized at the beginning of the problem. After some days, the horse’s behavior may change in terms of lameness, poor performance, reduced speed, etc.

Other notable symptoms are hypersensitivity during brushing, rearing, hollowing backside, grittiness, tossing head, bucking, cross-cantering, kicking out, rushing fences, transition issues, etc. It mostly appears in young horses that aren’t in better physical condition. The most common symptom of the kissing spine is kicking at the time of girth tightening or jigging for the rider’s movement. These are the symptoms shown in the unhealthiness or discomfort nature of the horse.

What Causes Kissing Spine in horses?

In clinical research, the exact cause of the kissing spine cannot be identified. In most cases, during the 5 to 10 years of age or at a young age, the problem is observed. The old horses may suffer due to this kissing spine issue. Currently, research says the kissing spine problem occurs due to the rider’s overweight. But in some cases, due to the horse’s skeleton structure, the problem may happen. The long-extinct structure can be the reason for the kissing spine. So, riders are not the reason sometimes for the kissing spine problem.

The engagement of the riders to sit on the hind end allows the kissing spine. The inhabitant discipline of the rider allows the kissing spine for the horses. In many cases, the perfect cause of the kissing spine is not confirmed by the diagnosis department. Improper fitting of the saddle can cause back pain in horses. During the training period, improper treatment of the horses can raise the problem of the kissing spine. Sometimes it comes through genetics and identifying the problem at the time of diagnosis occurs.

Is Kissing Spine in horses curable?

The diagnosis says that for different causes, the kissing spine occurs. It is difficult to understand the correct reason for this issue. Radiographs or X-rays are used to diagnose the kissing spine with proper analysis. Thermography is used to detect the pattern of the kissing spine with an infrared camera. Bone scans, Ultrasound are used by professionals to diagnose the right reason for this issue. The kissing spine is the predisposing factor for the horse’s back pain. In most horses, those affected by the kissing spine problem are returned to their work life with proper medical and surgical treatment.

Physical therapies require commitment and time to improve the horse and take care in the future. The local anesthetic injection is not the perfect solution to this kissing spine issue. Continuous observation, therapy, and doing of X-rays show the changes in the horse’s spine. Chaining the saddles or refitting may help to cure horses of the kissing spine problem. Quarter horses and other breeds of dressage horses are in demand by the people. These horses can recover faster than other breeds from the kissing spine problem.

Treatment for Kissing Spine

The treatment for the kissing spine helps to make it more comfortable for the horses. The treatment requires reducing the pain and providing muscle relaxation. It improves posture, and mobility, and makes it stable. Shockwave therapy effectively recovers vertebrae and other supporting muscles. The anti-inflammatories injections help to reduce pain from the kissing spine. Other injections like corticosteroids lessen the space between vertebrates.


Sometimes doctors provide physical therapy regularly to encourage horses to move freely and feel relaxed. The Pessoa lunging system used for encouraging core muscles and regular exercise on a treadmill offers better symptoms of improvement. The unique theories, such as Acupuncture and Chiropractic, help to reduce the gaps between vertebrates. Surgical treatment serves in special cases to remove the bone. But it takes a long time to recover. For removing dorsal spinous processes, use Endoscopy. It helps to rejoin the ligaments between the spinous processes. On the other hand, “Interspinous Ligament Desmotomy” (ISLD) helps to cut ligaments for providing relief to the horses on a physical level and relief from the tension of the kissing spine. These approaches offer positive results in relief from back pains.

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