Recently, I read a fascinating article published by HorseTalk™ on the topic of How to help your horse kiss ‘kissing spine’ goodbye
. You may be asking yourself “What is that”? Or perhaps you have, at some time in your experience with horses, heard of kissing spine or even dealt with it… It’s an interesting topic and far more common than we know. The article motivated me to begin more research on the subject as many of my customers have claimed that their “kissing spine” equine-friends have benefited from our products which offer ceramic and magnetic therapies.
Kissing spine is a medical condition that can cause equine back soreness, mild lameness, incorrect carriage, sloped hooves, and quarter cracks (this symptom sounds strange to a lot of people, but think about it… If your horse can’t stand squarely because they are constantly trying to relieve pressure in their spine, then the hoof becomes unbalanced) and in severe cases, the inability to perform. According to Dr. Phillipe Benoit, DVM, of France, almost all back soreness in equines is a direct result of bony issues which goes hand-in-hand with soft tissue damage. By ‘bony issues’, he is referring to arthritis between vertebrae or bony fractures of the spine.
According to Dr. Liz Maloney, DVM, the definition of ‘kissing spine’ is “he impingement of the dorsal spinous processes… a diagnosis made through evaluating radiographs of a horse’s back. The condition occurs in the dorsal spinous processes, which is the tips of the spine that you can feel if you press down on the horse’s midline. When they touch or overlap this is considered to be ‘kissing.’”
What can we do about it?
So enough about what kissing spine is and where back soreness can come from, but what can we DO about it is the better question. After my research, I have found an overwhelming amount of information and helpful tools for things we can do to help. There are many different therapies that veterinarians practice to help with the condition such as mesotherapy, chiropractic, cortisone injections, and a variety of other therapies.
A friend and associate of mine, Dr. Carla Francheville, DVM, of Florida, offers a unique treatment to kissing spine that has delivered tremendous results – She uses a combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbs, shockwave therapy, and intravenous Tildren® treatment (for bone and cartilage related problems – in simple language, this medicine helps to smooth rough areas within the bone). Although this option is not the least expensive route, fantastic results have been seen and it’s a wonderful option for specific cases.
BUT still the question remains “Is there anything I can do to help reverse this diagnosis? OR better yet, anything to help PREVENT the onset of kissing spine?” From my research, I would say YES!
Here’s what I have found…
Core weakness in an equine can begin the onset of ‘Spinal Crowding Syndrome’ (SCS) which can eventually lead to the dreaded ‘kissing spine’ diagnosis. SCS is far too often overlooked as it can be perceived as heaviness to one side more than the other, greenness in youngsters, or simply a training issue. In reality our horses need CORE STRENGTHENING. This will help avoid the onset of SCS, often found in hollowed-back horses (think about this, the vertebrae is much more likely to be crowded and narrowed if a horse is dipped downward through the back… In other words, sway-backed).
So, what are a few exercises we can do to pull the back up and the hind-end underneath the horse to help alleviate SCS?
Think of yoga for horses….
The article published by HorseTalk™ mentions four individual elements to building core strength in our equine partners:
I hope that this write up helps you and your horse to perform to the best of your abilities. Begin practicing the four elements and start building core strength today!
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- STRETCH – elongating muscles and the spine while increasing range of motion and relieving pressure
- TRUST – build confidence in your horse so that he knows that he can bend freely without restriction
- STRENGTH – building core muscles and peripheral muscles
- EDUCATION – teach our horses how to properly move and bend and support the movements with our aids.