Kissing Spine

Kissing spine (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. Most commonly seen in competition horses due to the demands placed upon them, kissing spine can be mild or severe.

Affected horses may have a decrease in performance, show reluctance to jump, demonstrate unpredictable behaviour when being ridden (e.g. bucking, rearing and bolting) and become extremely stiff.

Some horses with kissing spine are sensitive when touched around the effected area and may feel pain when the girth is tightened.

Can Equissage help?

With regard to Kissing Spine it is important to be aware of the severity of the condition for the particular horse concerned i.e. the exact location of the affected vertebrae and whether the spinal processes are actually overlapping, are just very close or just touching - and either all the time or only in certain situations. Your vet will be able to explain this to you. To apply Equissage without this knowledge could cause considerable discomfort and possibly an extreme reaction. When and how to use Equissage will depend on the course of treatment the vet prescribes. In the more severe cases, surgery is considered to be the best option, although unfortunately such treatment does not always prove to be successful.

For less severe cases where the administering of anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving drugs is the chosen treatment course, daily use of Equissage can help this condition. This is because Equissage helps promote good muscle tone (due to improved circulation and the positive effects the deep vibratory massage has) and it is very important in Kissing Spine cases that the muscles of the back are routinely worked into order to be of maximum support. Bearing in mind that when a horse has had back pain for any length of time, there is a knock-on effect to other parts of the body (the sacroiliac joints and surrounding area are routinely negatively affected) in terms of tension and of course stiffness - conditions which Equissage is so good at addressing.

For the horse that has undergone surgery, then Equissage comes into its own not only as the perfect physiotherapy tool to aid recovery from the operation itself but also to gently start "working" the muscles long before any rehabilitative ground training work can commence. And as the horse will be on box rest for a while using Equissage as part of the daily management routine will help guard against other secondary conditions manifesting such as filled legs and stiffness, as well as helping to keep necessary bodily functions working as they should.


Use the Pad twice daily for immediate post-operative recovery and to aid the continued management of the condition. A setting of 2-3 will suffice so as not to be too vigorous but it is perfectly acceptable to use the Pad for longer than the standard 20 minute setting - up to 30 minutes. Once ground work can commence then a higher setting can be used as a warm-up prior to exercise provided the horse doesn't show any signs of discomfort; then use the lower setting as a warm-down to relax the muscles and guard against stiffness. Use of the Hand Unit will again depend on individual cases and how sensitive a horse is along its back; remember the Hand Unit delivers a much more direct, localised "treatment" than the Pad. Apply either side of the spine, not directly along it. And of course the Hand Unit can be used on the hamstrings and other problem areas an individual may have.