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Kissing spines in horses *H&H Plus*

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    This article has been edited and approved by Karen Coumbe MRCVS, H&H’s veterinary advisor since 1991.
  • Kissing spines can cause severe pain and seriously affect a horse’s performance. Find out what the signs are and how it can be treated...

    A horse with kissing spines is thought to feel consistent, low-grade pain from its back because the spinous processes (the sections of bone that point upward from the main vertebrae that carry the spinal column) press against or rub on each other during movement.

    The bones with the spinous processes run from the first thoracic vertebra (T1) at the horse’s withers to the last lumbar vertebra (L6) at the point of the hip, with the T13 to T18 bones being the most commonly affected. This is the area where the saddle and the rider are located.

    It is important to be aware that although changes on X-rays can be readily identified, they are insufficient to make a diagnosis. Many horses with changes on X-ray do not show any discomfort. This is certainly a challenging condition with more to it that might at first appear.

    Kissing spines in horses: Typical signs | Diagnosis | Horses at risk | Treatment | Prognosis

    Typical signs of kissing spines

    The signs of kissing spines can be subtle and are non-specific, but may include: