Deep Dive: Kissing Spines Disease

Deep Dive: Kissing Spines Disease

Your horse is cold backed and unpredictable at the mounting block. Under saddle, he goes around inverted, and can sometimes even kick out or spook suddenly. One of your friends casually says, “Maybe he has Kissing Spines,” and your heart skips - you’ve heard of it before, and know that it’s definitely not good. 

Kissing Spines disease in horses has been increasingly diagnosed in recent years, and can even be a reason why some people pass on a horse during a pre purchase exam - but we know more about diagnosing, treating, and managing this condition than we ever have. In this conversation, Dr. Kara Brown helps us break down the in/outs of this disease, as well as what you should be worried about (and what you shouldn’t) if your horse is diagnosed with it. 

Along with listener questions, Caroline and Dr. Brown discuss:

  • The anatomy of the back, and how it relates to Kissing Spines
    What we know (and don’t) about what causes this condition
  • The grading system vets use to assess severity
  • How to properly palpate your horse’s back
  • The best (and most recent) diagnosis methods
  • Surgical and non-surgical treatment options 
  • Longer-term management and strengthening methods

The book referenced with regard to rehabilitation and strengthening: Activate Your Horse’s Core by Hilary Clayton and Narelle Stubbs.

A bit about Kara Brown, VMD, DACVSMR: Dr. Brown attended veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania and completed specialty training (including a fellowship in Large Animal Cardiology and Ultrasound and residency in Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation) at the University of Pennsylvania, New Bolton Center.  She is also a diplomate of the American College of Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation and will be joining the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in July.  She has a special interest in complex poor performance in the sport horse, and has published research on varied topics within this subject.