Kissing spines

The main aim of my blog page is to provide health information. Occasionally it means I get to ‘hear’ something which in some ways is obscure but still relatively part of the series of painful conditions Imhet to treat. Today I learnt about ‘kissing spines’ in horses and how one solution may involve just using a change in exercise routine.

Kissing spines or spinous process impingement is where the large spines which stick upwards from the vertebrae in the horse’s back rub together and cause low grade inflammatory changes in the edges of the bone where they meet.
When a horse is affected it displays unpredictable behaviour and understandably doesn’t want to be ridden and may be reluctant to Jump. They may also display irritability when the girth is tightened or when the horse’s back is brushed during grooming.

X-rays of this part of the back are fairly easy to obtain as the bony processes involved are near to the surface of the horse’s back.

The interpretation of the X-rays must be cautious since many normal horses and ponies have some signs of bones changes in between the spines of the vertebrae.

Kissing spine is most often seen in the rear vertebrae of the horse or pony’s thorax.

The confirmation of the diagnosis of kissing spine, which show that it is the contact of the spines of the back causing the pain, can be improved by the injection of a local anaesthetic into the space between the bones. This acts as a nerve block
If the horse or pony is then observed under saddle there should be a dramatic improvement following the injection of anaesthetic if the horse’s problems are being caused by kissing spines.
The treatment for Kissing Spines is either prolonged rest, or surgery. Some vets recommend cortisone injections.A long rest can sometimes be the best way to cure or treat a horse with kissing spines.
Surgery involves surgical reshaping of the spines of the vertebrae so that they no longer rub together as the horse flexes
An alternative treatment is to try physiotherapy. This can involve ultra sound, acupressure and the use of a tens machine. Some more details of Physioteherapy advice can be found at
An alternative to the above may be to change the way the horse is exercised.
I have heard there is a Frenchman who is known as a Master Horseman who has developed a special technique, as far as I know amongst many approaches the technique involves leading the horse on a shorter rein, this means he uses shoulder muscles to naturally pull apart verterbrae. I believe the trainers name is Jean Luc Cornille his website is at I guess this is Pilates for horses in a way , however the difference of course is that in horses we cannot use static postures which is very much part of modern postural and calisthenic training. Maybe there is a therapy out there that uses dynamic natural movements to enable health and create greater strength. The Health Warning for training specifically is that the body doesn’t work that way and we could be creating and increasing mechanical stressors.