What are the symptoms of kissing spine in horses?

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Determining whether your horse has a kissing spine can be tricky, as the symptoms are often quite subtle. 

Many horses go their entire lives without ever being diagnosed with the condition. 

However, some key things to look out for if you think your horse may have a kissing spine. This includes stiffness in the neck and shoulders, reluctance to move his head or lower it to the ground, and muscle wasting in the affected area. 

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to speak with your veterinarian right away. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for preventing further damage to the spinal cord.”

16 Symptoms 0f kissing spine horses

  1. rearing
  2. head tossing
  3. kicking out
  4. hollowing the back
  5. trouble with transitions
  6. cross-cantering
  7. refusing or rushing fences
  8. Avoidance behaviors
  9. Inability to bend direction
  10. Abnormal gait
  11. Pain in the back region
  12. Not willing to jump
  13. Irritability when being brushed
  14. Stiffness in the back
  15. Buckling


horse rearing with rider
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Rearing is a natural behavior for horses, and many people believe it should be allowed.

However, rearing can also be a dangerous behavior that puts the horse at risk of injury from hitting its spine on something. 

In addition to being risky, sometimes rearing can lead to behavioral issues such as cribbing if the horse starts associating the act with obtaining food or treats. 

It’s essential to know how to deal with your kissing spine horse to keep everyone safe and happy!

Head Tossing

horse Head Tossing
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Horses have a unique way of expressing themselves. When they are happy, it is common for them to toss their head and wag their tail. 

But when they are in pain or uncomfortable, this behavior changes significantly. 

The horse will hold its head down with its nose tucked into its chest in some cases. This is often misinterpreted as aggressive but is a sign that something may be wrong.

A horse wants to tell you if anything is bothering him, so listen carefully!

Kicking Out

People often kiss their horses on the neck as a gesture of affection. However, this could be harming your horse.

Recent scientific studies have shown that when humans kiss their horses on the spine, it can cause the animals to kick out violently. Horses are not used to this type of human contact and can become confused or agitated. 

So next time you want to show your horse some love, give them a pat on the head instead!

Hollowing the Back

The back of a horse’s spine is called the hollow. The back of a horse’s spine should be rounded and smooth.

Horses with hollow backs are prone to injury from falling or being hit by something. In addition, a horse can have a hollowed-out backbone if overworked, neglected, or malnourished.

If you suspect your horse might have a hollowed-out backbone, take them to the vet for an examination.

If your horse does have a hollow back, some things can be done to help fix this problem, such as massage therapy and chiropractic care.

Trouble with Transitions

If you’re like most people, then you apparently think of kissing spine horses as gentle and docile creatures. 

However, it turns out that these animals can be pretty troublesome when making the transition from pasture to the trailer. 

Researchers found that 25 percent of all kissing spine horse accidents occur during transport in a recent study. This is likely because these animals are not used to being in close quarters with other horses and can become agitated quickly. 

As a result, it is important to take extra precautions when transporting kissing spine horses to remain safe and secure during the journey.

Cross Cantering

Cross cantering is when a horse moves its legs on two different diagonal pairs of legs simultaneously. 

This type of movement makes the horse difficult for predators or other prey animals to catch because they have four points touching the ground at any given moment. 

There are many benefits for cross-cantering, but there are also some disadvantages if not done properly, which include soreness caused by muscles being used in unfamiliar ways and an increased risk of injury due to less control over movements with all four feet off the ground.

Refusing or Rushing Fences

Rushing fences is a behavior often seen in horses that have been kissed on the spine. 

The behavior is exhibited to get away from whatever it is that caused the pain. For example, horses will usually gallop away from the stimulus and rear or jump if they feel particularly threatened.

Kissing spine syndrome (KSS) is a condition that can cause this type of reaction, and it’s important to be able to spot the signs so you can get your horse treated if necessary.

Avoidance behaviors in kissing spine horses

Some horses are more prone to develop avoidance behavior in kissing spine than others. Therefore, if you have a shy or spooky horse, it is essential to be aware of the signs of kissing spine and take steps to prevent the condition from developing. 

Avoidance behavior can make it difficult for your horse to lead an everyday life, so it is essential to get help if you think your horse may be affected. 

By understanding what kissing spine is and how to treat it, you can help your horse live a happier, healthier life.

Inability to bend direction

The spine is a long, rigid column of bones that runs up the back and down the front of the horse’s body. The spine has many articulations or joints which can be classified as either flexible or rigid. 

Flexible joints are found in between vertebrae, whereas rigid joints are not. Rigid joints allow one bone to slide over another, while flexible joints allow movement around an axis point (i.e., rotation). 

The ability for horses to bend their direction during locomotion relies on having both types of joint at each spinal level, with more flexible ones at mid-level and more rigid ones at the top and bottom levels, respectively. 

If there were only one type of joint present, bending would be restricted to flexion/ext.

Abnormal gait

Horses with kissing spine syndrome exhibit an abnormal gait which can cause them difficulty in walking, running, and even standing.

This condition usually affects horses between the ages of one and three years old, but it can also occur in older horses. Although, at the same time, the exact cause of kissing spine syndrome is unknown, a few theories about what may be responsible.

Pain in the back region

It’s no secret that horses are prone to back pain. And while there are a variety of potential causes, one of the most common is kissing spine, a condition in which the vertebrae at the top of the horse’s neck start to fuse. 

This can lead to stiffness and discomfort, and even paralysis in severe cases.

Pain in the back region

A common cause of pain in the back region is kissing spine horses. This condition can be diagnosed by taking a thorough medical history, performing a physical examination, and ordering appropriate laboratory tests. Procedures for this condition include medications and surgery. 

Pain in the back region may be caused by injury or infection to your bones or muscles; however, one of the most common causes is kissing spine horses (also known as spondylolisthesis). 

Symptoms usually include lower back pain that worsens with movement and improves with rest. 

The pain is typically felt on one side of the body only; it might radiate down into one leg or up into one arm or shoulder area.

Not willing to jump in kissing spine horse

Horse show unwillingness to jump is a common problem for riders and trainers. The most usual reason of this issue is the horse’s fear of kissing spine pain. You should follow the horse others kissing spine symptoms & give proper treatment to overcome. There are many ways you can help your horse overcome their reluctance to jump, but it will require patience and training on both the rider’s and trainer’s parts.

Remember, it would be dangerous for your horse. Make sure that the horse is healthy and sound. If they are in pain or have any other health issues, this will only aggravate their fear and make it harder to train them.

Irritability when being brushed

Horses are susceptible creatures, and brushing is often an uncomfortable process. For example, suppose they have a kissing spine in their back. This can lead to the horse showing irritability when being brushed.

The best way to help your horse overcome this sensitivity is with patience. Begin by petting or murmuring to the animal before further grooming it. 

This will help calm the horse down and make it more receptive to your touch throughout the process. If you’re not sure if your horse might be feeling irritated during a grooming session, watch out for signs that could indicate this, such as ear pinning back against its head or shaking off aggressively after being groomed. 

And remember- don’t force anything! Many horses need time to adjust to new things in their lives.

Stiffness in the back

Have you ever noticed that your horse is stiff in the back after a horse show? You’re not alone. Many riders see this phenomenon and often wonder why it happens. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the possible reasons why horses may be stiff after a horse show.

Many things can cause stiffness in the back, but for horses, it is often due to the constant bending and flexing of their spine at a show. Mainly it happens for kissing spine in horse backside.


Have you ever been riding your horse and suddenly felt them go stiff underneath you? 

You may have seen them start to buckle, but what does that mean? 

Bucking is a symptom of several problems, from mild discomfort to actual pain. 

It’s essential to identify the cause of your horse’s bucking so that you can address the problem as quickly as possible.


Can a horse recover fully from kissing spines surgery?

A horse can recover fully from kissing spines surgery, but it takes time. The horse may show signs of pain and discomfort for up to six months following the operation; however, these symptoms should gradually diminish over time.  

Horses typically regain their full range of motion within four weeks after the procedure. And if they are not used regularly during this recovery period, muscle atrophy can occur quickly. 

Even though horses usually experience a full recovery from the surgery, there is no guarantee that future episodes will be prevented or less painful than before due to structural changes in their spine that may have occurred due to the damage incurred during an attack of kissing spines syndrome.

Is horse kissing spine degenerative?

Many people have a misconception that horse-kissing spine is degenerative. 

It is not a disease or an injury but rather a harmless side effect of how horses move their necks while grazing. 

The truth is, the only thing to worry about when it comes to this condition is arthritis later in life.

Can poor saddle fit cause kissing spine?

A saddle that does not fit a horse properly can cause several problems like kissing spine.

Fit your saddle before riding correctly. If you need the best saddle pad for kissing spine, which the top veteran suggests.

Final Word: 

One of the most common symptoms of kissing spine in horses is a shortened stride. It may be difficult for your horse to pick up his back hooves and move them forward at any speed in many cases.

Other signs that you might notice include difficulty breathing, weakness, and stiffness when moving around or standing still. 

If your horse displays these symptoms regularly and doesn’t seem to get better after trying some simple treatments like deep massage therapy or chiropractic adjustments over time, 

it’s essential to have him examined by an equine veterinarian as soon as possible so they can rule out other conditions such as laminitis before treating him with medication or surgery.

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