Unlimited access >

Success stories with kissing spine?

My mare recently escalated in spookiness, taking to rearing. Got the vet in, took rads of her spine and she has kissing spine. We injected her, infused tildren, and will rest her for 2 days, lunge for 2 days, and will start riding again to see how the injections are working.

Would you please share your success stories?

The mare is a 3rd level dressage horse and is 10. I really hope to make her comfortable in her work and not retire her this early in her life.

My guy is a success story - with surgery. He didn’t have typical KS symptoms and it took years to figure out what was going on with him. We injected him twice and they worked great. The 3rd time did nothing. He was also 10 at the time and I wasn’t ready to retire such a nice horse that young, so opted for the bone shaving surgery. Best thing I’ve done for him, and it is SO nice to not have the worry anymore if he’s having a good or bad day.

I have has my horse since he was 3 and had 30 days on him. He is now 11. Never had one “classic” sign of KS. Never cold backed, no bucking, no obvious backsoreness, etc. Loves to jump. Loves to work. Always been tough as nails.

Last fall he all of a sudden started stopping at shows when he was ridden too deep. At first we thought it was just rider error and he was tired of getting put to distances that he had to rock back hard to get out of. But then he become funny about even small jumps and normal distances. Brought him to the clinic and he was diagnosed via MRI with soft tissue strain in both front feet and 3 areas of KS via x-ray. The theory is that he was loading his front feet funny on the landing in an effort to get the weight off his back.

Did stem cells for the feet and the ligament snipping surgery in April. Did not do the normal “aftercare.” No stall rest and no lunging. As soon as the stitches came out (couple days) he went back on supervised small paddock turnout to keep him lightly moving. Eventually worked back up to normal turnout with a calm buddy. We gave him 2x the normal amount of time off before restarting.

Then when we restarted he never lunged. No small circles. Long lining and then slowly adding riding. Lots of use of the Equicore to build proper musculature on the back. Again, doubled the time for everything and was very conservative. He was up to 100% normal flatwork at the end of December. I am again being conservative and continuing with flat work until Spring. Then I will bring him back for a repeat MRI and assuming that looks good, we can add jumping. But even if he can only flat, I am pretty happy with what I have.

Some things that I always thought were “just him” have gone away. He was always stiff to the right in corners. That’s gone (though the rider needs to stop GRABBING WITH THE INSIDE REIN, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?). He was at best a 6-7 trot mover before. Now I’d say he’s an 8. He feels softer and more balanced at the canter that I have ever felt him feel. I think he put up with a LOT of pain for a LONG time before it got bad enough for him to say “no” because he’s a tough guy with a good work ethic.


Read the article published by Tracy Turner DVM. Google Tracy Turner DVM, AAEP, Kissing Spine. It should pop up. Lots of wonderful information as he did a case study with like 212 horses and no surgery.

Thank you! I have great hope we help her be comfortable.

My mare is a success story. Was diagnosed, tried injections which made no difference for her. Did the ligament snip Sx 2 years ago and she’s been doing great!

eta: she was 13 at the time of the Sx and has been back in the same work that she was prior to the Sx (dressage 2/3rd level).


This is fascinating. I have one that I think I am about to go the full diagnostic route for KS. I bred him and think his trot at 2 was an 8/9, but after being started and always under saddle it’s a 6. Always dives into the right corner, misses right to left lead change, small things that seem to add up to something being nqr, but super work ethic, never stops if he can help it.
He does have the classic cold back, likes to buck thing also though.

Off Topic, but…

I have ridden 4 symptomatic horses, subsequently diagnosed with KS via x-ray. All 4 were really stiff when tracking right, especially in the canter, in some cases almost to the point of being counterbent. I find it really interesting that @vxf111 has experienced something similar. It is a private observation that I haven’t really shared with anyone, but it is something I have kept a mental note of.

The management is really key for these horses.

Did you also x-ray the neck?

I have a gelding with KS. Like vxf111, he never bucked, or seemed cold-backed, or even really misbehaved. But he had some quirks that I thought, once considering all of them, might be related to pain. He was funny about major shifts in footing, for the most part. Tense in his neck, which I always thought was weird (and later proved to be related to cervical arthitis). He had shifting “lamenesses”, that seemed to present more as general stifle weaknesses, but estrone didn’t make much a difference and he was already conditioned on foothills/full turnout. And he never flexed positive on any limbs… I kept calling my sport vet and my chiro-vet, and both thought these were just “young horse weaknesses”. They thought I was possibly wasting money to pursue further diagnostics.

He was a headscratcher for a while because I genuinely felt like this was the highest quality horse I have ever owned, but we weren’t progressing well and some things, such as cantering on the bit on grass, and lunging, seemed genuinely difficult to impossible for him. He would not misbehave, but he would get very tense and tight - not the “Track tight” but, “I cannot do what you are asking me to do” tight.

The biggest clue it was something physical was that, I could get a fantastic ride out of him W/T/C in ring-side/sand footing… but could barely scratch a respectable training-level (dressage) ride out of him on the grass… which was problematic because my home-base is a grass ring and for the longest time I felt like a horrible rider/“retrainer”, because he had been off the track for almost two years and was MILES behind the progress I made with far more difficult OTTBs… At first I thought possible laminitis? Low grade sole pain? Had his fetlock to hooves x-rayed, and his rads were pristine.

…but then I’d bring him to my trainers’ for her to watch him while I rode to help me break through this difficulty, and he would give me a fantastic ride that would make her say “and what were you complaining about before?”

It took me a few rides off property to realize it wasn’t a training issue, which I really believed for the two years I had him.

Rads of neck & spine showed enough that I said wow, he’s really been dealing with a lot… and hiding it. Major bone spur, multiple remodeling sites in the neck, several processes remodeled in the spine… injected & mesotherapy and really making sure the saddle fit. That was a fiasco, but finally found him the right saddle. But he was a different horse, completely – all the things that seemed difficult before, like the footing, and the tensity in the neck… kapoof.

Injections 1x year, mesotherapy, hind shoes (I found that for him, he had great feet, but putting the hind shoes on gave him that extra protection so he did not feel he had to compensate for some low-grade sole pain from being barefoot on MA rocky topsoil 24/7), REALLY staying on top of saddle fit, an anti-inflam supplement (I do devil’s claw/yucca, we are not showing ATM), full 24/7 turnout, ample ample ample warm up before any collected or “on the bit” work (I actually handwalk 2m, and then jog-in-hand for 2m before getting on, and then usually go for a 5-10m walk hack around property before ring work), have all made a big difference.

Also, I try to limit the lunging. I do not know if it is the neck, or the spine, or both, but he genuinely seems to have a hard time with it. Keeping the hard work (dressage) to 1-2x a week and hacking out the rest of the week has made him progress further in his training than schooling dressage 3-5x a week and hacking the other days. YMMV.

Every horse, KS or otherwise, is individual in that regard… but every KS horse I know is substantially better and healthier for being out 24/7. Stalling does cause stiffness, aches, and residual back pain.

Keeping them in shape and moving is paramount too. It does not have to be in dressage work, either. I would avoid Art-2-Ride, by the way – you may have someone try to rope you into that, but they also dismiss that KS is a legitimate disease and that horses cannot correctly work over their topline if they are in pain.


LuvRedHeads, no extreme stiffer side but all lateral work is a challenge and has gotten harder as her spookiness (and I assume ks) escalated. She’ll go forward and back all day long but shoulder in and half pass are harder.

Beowulf, yes, we got xrays from poll to SI and her neck has no findings. She can reach around to take a carrot from her haunches in both directions.

Unless I bring her home, 24/7 isn’t an option but she does have decent field turnout with friends for a larger boarding facility in New England and is out for 7-8 hours a day, sometimes more. I believe that the balance of ring work and other work will be key. I do trails once a week when we aren’t covered in ice and do a long warm up but can see how the hand walking/trotting would be beneficial.

Hind shoes is an interesting idea. She’s only on fronts now and having the balance of adding backs might be a benefit.

Vxf111 and tjkobol, thank you for your surgery experience. I hope to not get that far down the road but hearing success stories is very helpful.