How To Prevent Kissing Spine In Horses?

Kissing spine in horses can be a debilitating condition, causing pain and discomfort. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent this condition and ensure the well-being of your equine companion.

Regular exercise and correct training techniques are crucial in preventing kissing spine. By promoting proper muscle development and movement, you can minimize the risk of spinal abnormalities.

Proper saddle fitting is another important aspect to consider. Ill-fitting saddles can contribute to the development of kissing spine, so it’s essential to ensure that your horse’s saddle provides proper support and doesn’t put unnecessary pressure on their spine.

Additionally, maintaining a balanced diet and managing your horse’s weight can help prevent excessive strain on their back, reducing the risk of developing kissing spine.

Regular veterinary check-ups and consultations with a qualified equine professional can also be beneficial in identifying and addressing any potential issues before they escalate into kissing spine.

By being proactive in your horse’s care and taking preventative measures, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of them developing kissing spine, allowing them to lead a healthy and comfortable life.

how to prevent kissing spine in horses

Identifying Common Symptoms of Kissing Spine in Horses

Kissing spine, also known as dorsal spinous process impingement, is a condition in horses where the vertebrae in the back become overly close or even touch each other. This can cause pain, discomfort, and limited mobility for the horse. Identifying the common symptoms of kissing spine is crucial for early detection and treatment.

Here are some common symptoms to look out for:

  1. Back pain: One of the most obvious signs of kissing spine in horses is back pain. The horse may show signs of discomfort when being saddled, groomed, or ridden. They may exhibit sensitivity when pressure is applied to their back.
  2. Stiffness: Horses with kissing spine may experience stiffness, especially in the back and hindquarters. They may have difficulty bending, turning, or performing certain movements.
  3. Lameness: In some cases, horses with kissing spine may exhibit lameness. This could be due to the pain and discomfort caused by the condition.
  4. Behavioural changes: Kissing spine can also lead to behavioural changes in horses. They may become irritable, resistant, or exhibit changes in their performance. They may also display signs of aggression or become reluctant to be ridden or handled.
  5. Loss of appetite: Horses in pain may experience a loss of appetite. If your horse is not eating as usual or showing signs of decreased interest in food, it could be a symptom of kissing spine.
  6. Weight loss: Chronic pain can lead to weight loss in horses. Kissing spine may cause discomfort that affects the horse’s overall wellbeing, leading to a loss of body condition.
  7. Abnormal gait: Horses with kissing spine may exhibit an abnormal gait. They may have a shortened stride, stumble frequently, or have difficulty maintaining a steady rhythm while moving.

It is important to note that these symptoms may vary depending on the severity of the condition and the individual horse. Some horses may show all of these symptoms, while others may only exhibit a few. Additionally, these symptoms can also be indicative of other back or musculoskeletal issues, so it is crucial to consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.

In summary, identifying the common symptoms of kissing spine in horses is essential for early detection and appropriate treatment. If you notice any signs of back pain, stiffness, lameness, behavioural changes, loss of appetite, weight loss, or abnormal gait in your horse, it is recommended to seek veterinary attention. A thorough examination and diagnostic tests can help determine if kissing spine is the underlying cause of these symptoms, allowing for timely intervention and management.

Preventative Measures for Kissing Spine in Horses

Kissing spine, also known as dorsal spinous process impingement, is a common condition that affects the back of horses. It occurs when the spinous processes of the vertebrae in the horse’s back touch or rub against each other, causing pain and discomfort. While treatment options are available for horses with kissing spine, prevention is always better than cure. In this section, we will discuss some preventative measures that can help reduce the risk of horses developing kissing spine.

1. Proper Saddle Fit

One of the primary causes of kissing spine in horses is an ill-fitting saddle. When a saddle doesn’t fit correctly, it can put excessive pressure on the horse’s back, leading to the development of kissing spine. To prevent this, it is essential to ensure that the saddle fits the horse properly. A professional saddle fitter can help assess the fit and make any necessary adjustments to avoid saddle-related issues.

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2. Regular Exercise and Conditioning

Regular exercise and conditioning can play a significant role in preventing kissing spine in horses. Keeping horses active and in good physical condition helps strengthen their back muscles, which can reduce the likelihood of spinal issues. Implementing a well-rounded exercise routine that includes a combination of flatwork, jumping, and turnout can help keep the horse’s back strong and healthy.

3. Proper Warm-up and Cool-down

Before and after each exercise session, it is crucial to provide the horse with a proper warm-up and cool-down routine. This helps prepare the horse’s muscles for work and prevents them from becoming strained or stiff. A thorough warm-up and cool-down can contribute to the overall health and flexibility of the horse’s back, reducing the risk of developing kissing spine.

4. Regular Veterinary Check-ups

Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for maintaining the health and well-being of horses. During these check-ups, the veterinarian can assess the horse’s back and detect any early signs of kissing spine or other spinal issues. Early detection allows for prompt treatment and can help prevent the condition from worsening. Regular check-ups also enable the veterinarian to address any concerns or potential risk factors specific to the horse’s individual needs.

5. Appropriate Jumping Techniques

Jumping can put significant strain on a horse’s back if not done correctly. To prevent the development of kissing spine, it is crucial to practice appropriate jumping techniques. This includes maintaining proper form, ensuring that the horse is jumping from the correct distance, and not overworking or over-jumping the horse. Working with an experienced trainer or coach can help ensure that the horse is jumping in a way that minimizes the risk of back problems.

6. Balanced Diet and Weight Management

A balanced diet and weight management play a vital role in the overall health of horses. Obesity or excessive weight can put additional stress on the horse’s back, increasing the risk of spinal issues such as kissing spine. It is important to provide horses with a nutritious diet appropriate for their age, breed, and workload. Regular monitoring of the horse’s weight and making adjustments to their diet as necessary can help maintain a healthy body condition and reduce the likelihood of back problems.

7. Environmental Considerations

The horse’s environment can also impact their back health. Providing a suitable living environment, including adequate space for movement and access to pasture, can promote natural movement and prevent stiffness or muscle imbalances that may contribute to kissing spine. It is essential to provide a clean and comfortable stable with appropriate bedding to ensure that the horse has a comfortable and supportive resting area.

In summary, preventing kissing spine in horses involves various measures that focus on proper saddle fit, regular exercise and conditioning, warm-up and cool-down routines, regular veterinary check-ups, appropriate jumping techniques, balanced diet and weight management, and creating a suitable living environment. By implementing these preventative measures, horse owners can help reduce the risk of their horses developing kissing spine and promote their overall back health.

Proper Training and Exercise Techniques to Avoid Kissing Spine

Kissing spine, also known as impinging spinous processes, is a condition that affects horses where the bony processes in their back come into contact or “kiss” each other, causing pain and discomfort. It can greatly impact a horse’s performance and overall well-being. However, with the right training and exercise techniques, it is possible to prevent or manage kissing spine in horses. In this section, we will explore some of these techniques in detail.

1. Correct Warm-up and Cool-down

Before starting any training session, it is essential to warm up your horse properly. This involves a combination of walking and stretching exercises to prepare the muscles and joints for exercise. A proper warm-up helps to increase circulation, loosen stiff muscles, and reduce the risk of injury.

Similarly, cooling down after each session is equally important. This allows the horse’s body to gradually return to its resting state and prevents the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles. Gentle walking and stretching exercises can help to relax the muscles and prevent stiffness.

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2. Core Strengthening Exercises

Building a strong core is crucial for horses with kissing spine, as it helps to support the spine and alleviate pressure on the affected area. Incorporating exercises that target the abdominal and back muscles can significantly improve the horse’s overall strength and stability.

Exercises such as belly lifts, back lifts, and lateral flexion can help to engage and strengthen the core muscles. These exercises should be performed under the guidance of a qualified trainer or veterinarian to ensure correct form and prevent further injury.

3. Hill Work and Overground Exercises

Incorporating hill work and overground exercises into the horse’s training regime can be beneficial for horses with kissing spine. These exercises encourage the horse to engage their hindquarters, lift their back, and strengthen their abdominal muscles.

Gradually introducing hill work by walking up and down gentle slopes can help to improve the horse’s balance and proprioception. Overground exercises such as raised poles, cavaletti, and small jumps can also encourage the horse to engage their core muscles and promote a more rounded and lifted back.

4. Regular Stretching and Flexibility Exercises

Regular stretching and flexibility exercises are essential for maintaining good spinal health and preventing stiffness in horses with kissing spine. Stretching exercises can help to lengthen and release tension in the muscles, improving overall flexibility and range of motion.

Exercises such as carrot stretches, tail stretches, and gentle lateral flexion can be incorporated into the horse’s daily routine. These exercises should be performed slowly and gently, without forcing any movement or causing discomfort.

5. Proper Saddle Fit and Riding Technique

The proper saddle fit is crucial for horses with kissing spine to ensure optimal comfort and prevent further irritation to the affected area. It is essential to work with a professional saddle fitter who can assess the horse’s conformation and recommend a saddle that provides adequate clearance for the spine.

In addition to saddle fit, the rider’s technique also plays a significant role in preventing further issues with kissing spine. Maintaining a balanced position, using light and even rein contact, and avoiding excessive pressure on the horse’s back can help to minimize discomfort and strain on the spine.

In summary, proper training and exercise techniques are essential for managing and preventing kissing spine in horses. Correct warm-up and cool-down routines, core strengthening exercises, hill work, regular stretching, and ensuring proper saddle fit and riding technique can greatly contribute to the horse’s well-being and overall performance. It is crucial to work closely with a qualified professional to develop a tailored exercise program that suits the horse’s individual needs and condition.

Veterinary Treatments and Therapies for Kissing Spine Management in Horses

Managing kissing spine syndrome in horses requires a comprehensive approach that involves veterinary treatments and therapies. This condition, also known as dorsal spinous process impingement (DSPI), is characterized by the impingement of the dorsal spinous processes in the horse’s spine, leading to pain and discomfort. In this section, we will explore the various treatments and therapies available to effectively manage kissing spine in horses.

1. Diagnostic Procedures

Before initiating any treatment plan, accurate diagnosis is crucial. Veterinarians employ various diagnostic procedures to confirm the presence of kissing spine syndrome in horses. These may include:

  • X-rays: X-rays allow veterinarians to visualize the affected area and assess the severity of the condition.
  • Ultrasound: Ultrasound can be used to evaluate soft tissue abnormalities and identify any associated conditions.
  • Nerve blocks: Nerve blocks can help pinpoint the exact location of pain and determine if it is originating from the affected area.

2. Medical Management

Medical management plays a significant role in alleviating the pain and inflammation associated with kissing spine syndrome. The following treatments may be recommended:

  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs such as phenylbutazone or flunixin meglumine can be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Corticosteroids: In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be administered directly into the affected area to provide localized relief.
  • Muscle Relaxants: Muscle relaxants like methocarbamol can help relieve muscle tension and spasms, promoting the healing process.
  • Joint Supplements: Supplements containing chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine may be recommended to support joint health and reduce further degeneration.
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3. Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation

Physical therapy and rehabilitation techniques can greatly aid in the management of kissing spine syndrome. These may include:

  • Therapeutic Exercise: Tailored exercise programs can help strengthen the horse’s core muscles and improve flexibility, reducing strain on the affected area.
  • Massage and Manual Therapy: Gentle massage and manual therapy techniques can help relieve muscle tension and improve blood circulation.
  • Stretching and Flexibility Exercises: Stretching exercises can increase the range of motion and flexibility of the spine, promoting healing.
  • Hydrotherapy: Water-based therapies, such as swimming or underwater treadmill sessions, can assist in reducing pain and facilitating movement without excessive strain on the spine.

4. Regenerative Therapies

Regenerative therapies aim to promote healing and regeneration of the affected tissues. Some commonly used regenerative therapies for kissing spine syndrome in horses include:

  • Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy: PRP therapy involves using the horse’s own blood components, rich in growth factors, to stimulate tissue repair.
  • Stem Cell Therapy: Stem cells derived from the horse’s own body fat or bone marrow can be used to regenerate damaged tissues and promote healing.
  • Shockwave Therapy: Shockwave therapy utilizes high-energy acoustic waves to stimulate blood flow and promote tissue regeneration.

5. Surgical Intervention

In severe cases where conservative treatments fail to provide relief, surgical intervention may be considered. The surgical procedures commonly performed for kissing spine syndrome include:

  • Dorsal Spinous Process Resection: This involves removing the impinging dorsal spinous processes to alleviate pain and restore normal spinal function.
  • Dorsal Ligament Desmotomy: In this procedure, the dorsal ligament is partially severed to release tension and reduce pressure on the affected area.

In summary, kissing spine syndrome in horses can be effectively managed through a combination of diagnostic procedures, medical management, physical therapy and rehabilitation, regenerative therapies, and surgical intervention when necessary. It is essential to work closely with a qualified veterinarian to create an individualized treatment plan that addresses the specific needs of the horse, ensuring optimal pain relief and increased quality of life.


1. How can I prevent kissing spine in horses?

To prevent kissing spine in horses, it is important to focus on proper riding techniques and saddle fit. Ensure that the saddle is correctly fitted and does not put pressure on the spine. Incorporate regular exercise that promotes core strength and flexibility. Provide a balanced diet, regular hoof care, and avoid prolonged periods of stall confinement.

2. What are the symptoms of kissing spine in horses?

Symptoms of kissing spine in horses include a shortened stride, resistance to being ridden or tacked up, difficulty performing specific movements, sensitivity or pain along the back or spine, muscle atrophy, and changes in behavior such as bucking or refusing jumps.

3. How is kissing spine treated in horses?

Kissing spine in horses can be treated through a combination of management changes, physical therapy exercises, pain management, and in severe cases, surgery. Treatment options may include rest, anti-inflammatory medication, targeted exercises to strengthen the core muscles, and adjustments to riding techniques and equipment.


In conclusion, preventing kissing spine in horses is essential for their overall health and well-being. By following a few key strategies, horse owners can significantly reduce the risk of this condition. Regular exercise and conditioning, along with proper saddle fit, can help maintain proper spinal alignment and prevent excessive pressure on the vertebrae. Additionally, implementing a balanced and nutritious diet, as well as scheduling routine veterinary check-ups, can detect any early signs of kissing spine. Lastly, providing a suitable and comfortable living environment for horses, including appropriate bedding and turnout, can contribute to their overall spinal health.

By taking these preventive measures, horse owners can ensure that their beloved animals stay free from the discomfort and complications associated with kissing spine. Remember, early detection and intervention are key to minimizing the impact of this condition, so it is crucial to stay vigilant and proactive when it comes to the spinal health of horses. With proper care and attention, horses can lead happy, healthy lives, free from the constraints of kissing spine.