Would You Buy a Horse with Kissing Spine?

If you’re in the market for a horse, you may come across one with a condition called “kissing spine.” As a responsible and caring horse owner, it’s essential to be informed about this issue before making a decision. In this guide, we’ll explore what kissing spine is, weigh the pros and cons of buying a horse with this condition, and understand how it may impact your riding goals.

What is Kissing Spine?

Kissing spine, also known as “spinous process impingement,” is a condition in horses where the bony processes of the vertebrae in the horse’s back come into contact or rub against each other. This can lead to pain, inflammation, and discomfort for the horse. Kissing spine is most commonly found in the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae regions.

Identifying Symptoms and Signs of Kissing Spine

Horses with kissing spine may display various signs of discomfort, such as reluctance to work, bucking, girthiness, and sensitivity to touch along the back. A veterinarian can diagnose kissing spine through a thorough physical examination, including palpation of the horse’s back and imaging techniques like X-rays and ultrasound.

Buying a Horse with Kissing Spine: The Pros and Cons

Considering the Pros

One potential advantage of buying a horse with kissing spine is the opportunity to provide a loving home for an animal in need. Some horses with mild kissing spine can still lead fulfilling lives with proper management and care. Additionally, purchasing a horse with this condition may be more affordable, offering cost savings.

Assessing the Cons

On the other hand, owning a horse with kissing spine comes with significant challenges. The horse may require ongoing veterinary care, medication, and specific management practices to alleviate pain and discomfort. The condition could affect the horse’s ability to perform at certain levels, limiting its suitability for certain riding disciplines.

Consulting with Veterinary Professionals

Before making a decision, it is crucial to consult with experienced equine veterinarians. Seek expert opinions and get a detailed evaluation of the horse’s condition. Veterinarians can discuss treatment options, the horse’s prognosis, and whether the horse’s condition aligns with your riding goals.

Understanding Treatment Options and Prognosis

Treatment for kissing spine may include a combination of therapies such as physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, anti-inflammatory medications, and in some cases, surgical intervention. The success of treatment and the horse’s long-term prognosis depend on the severity of the condition and the horse’s response to therapy.

Evaluating Your Riding Goals

Assessing the horse’s suitability for your riding goals is crucial when considering purchasing a horse with kissing spine. If your primary focus is competitive riding or high-performance activities, a horse with this condition may not be the ideal choice. However, if you seek a companion for light riding or a pleasure horse, a horse with mild kissing spine could still be a good match.

Assessing the Impact of Kissing Spine on Performance

Consider how the condition may affect the horse’s performance and willingness to work. Kissing spine can influence the horse’s ability to engage its back, maintain balance, and perform certain movements. Be realistic about what you expect from the horse and whether it aligns with the horse’s physical capabilities.

The Importance of a Pre-Purchase Exam

Before finalizing any purchase, it’s essential to conduct a pre-purchase veterinary examination. This examination will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of the horse’s health, including the severity of kissing spine, any other existing health issues, and any potential limitations the horse may have.

Advantages of Pre-Purchase Veterinary Examination

A pre-purchase exam helps you make an informed decision and ensures transparency between the buyer and seller. It also gives you the opportunity to negotiate the price based on the horse’s condition and potential future care requirements.

Specific Areas to Focus on During the Exam

During the pre-purchase exam, pay close attention to the horse’s back and any signs of discomfort or sensitivity. Discuss the findings with the veterinarian to understand how kissing spine may impact the horse’s well-being and suitability for your riding needs.

Managing Kissing Spine in Horses

If you decide to purchase a horse with kissing spine, it’s essential to be prepared for the challenges it may present. Working closely with your veterinarian, develop a comprehensive management plan to address the horse’s pain and discomfort.

Exploring Treatment and Rehabilitation Strategies

Work with your veterinarian to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for the horse’s condition. This may include a combination of therapies and ongoing monitoring to ensure the horse’s comfort and well-being.

Long-Term Care and Maintenance Considerations

Managing a horse with kissing spine requires ongoing commitment. Regular veterinary check-ups, appropriate exercise, and tailored nutrition are essential to support the horse’s overall health and comfort.

Testimonials and Experiences

To gain valuable insights, seek out testimonials and experiences from horse owners who have purchased a horse with kissing spine. Hearing their stories can provide you with valuable perspectives and tips for managing a horse with this condition.

Lessons Learned and Insights Gained

Learn from others’ experiences and understand the unique challenges and rewards of owning a horse with kissing spine. Their stories can help you make an educated decision based on real-world experiences.

Can a Horse Still be Ridden with Kissing Spine?

Horses with kissing spine can still be ridden, but the extent to which they can be ridden depends on the severity of the condition and the individual horse’s response to treatment. Mild cases may allow for light riding or low-impact activities, while more severe cases may limit a horse’s ability to engage its back and perform certain movements comfortably.

It is essential to work closely with a veterinarian and a qualified trainer to develop a suitable exercise and management plan that considers the horse’s well-being and comfort.

How Much Does Kissing Spine in Horses Cost?

The cost of diagnosing and treating kissing spine in horses can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the severity of the condition, geographic location, and the veterinarian’s fees. Diagnostic procedures such as X-rays and ultrasounds, as well as various treatment modalities like physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, and medications, may incur expenses.

Additionally, if surgical intervention is deemed necessary, the cost can increase further. It is essential to discuss the estimated costs with your veterinarian and factor them into your budget before deciding on treatment options.

How Successful is Kissing Spine Surgery for Horses?

The success of kissing spine surgery in horses depends on several factors, including the specific surgical technique used, the severity and location of the impingements, and the horse’s overall health and response to surgery. While surgery can provide relief for some horses and improve their quality of life, it is not always a guarantee of complete recovery.

Some horses may experience significant improvement and be able to resume regular riding and training, while others may still have some limitations. The decision to opt for surgery should be made in consultation with a qualified veterinary surgeon, considering the individual horse’s condition and prognosis. Post-surgery rehabilitation and management are crucial to the horse’s recovery and long-term well-being.


Deciding whether to buy a horse with kissing spine requires careful consideration and a commitment to the horse’s well-being. Take the time to educate yourself about the condition, consult with veterinary professionals, and assess your riding goals realistically.

While owning a horse with kissing spine may present challenges, it can also be a rewarding experience if approached with care, compassion, and a willingness to adapt to the horse’s needs. Ultimately, the decision rests on your ability to provide the best possible home and care for the horse, taking into account its condition and individual requirements.