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Kissing Spine and Navicular

Kate Hore RNutr(Animal). Snr Nutritionist at NAF

Kissing spine is a relatively common problem, affecting around 39% of the equine population, and is clinically known as over-riding spinous processes. The dorsal spine is made up of processes which are usually regularly spaced with a small gap between each segment, however in some horses these gaps are much smaller or even non existent. This is where they spinal processes essentially overlap, causing them to touch, which in mild cases may only occur when performing a certain activity, though can be severe to the extent where these bones fuse.

When the spaces between the spinal processes begin to narrow, the tension on the interspinous ligament is reduced, destabilising the spine which can ultimately lead to the loss of the ligament due to bone reactions. Once the bones fuse, there tends to be very little pain reported, though it has been noted that the degree of pain shown by the horse is not correlated to the level of change visible within the spine when x-rayed.

A well-fitting saddle is crucial for all horses, but those who have kissing spine are more likely to display symptoms if their saddle fits incorrectly. Always ensuring that saddles are fitted to your horse by a trained saddle fitter is one of the easiest steps in management of kissing spine, as this helps to spread the riders weight more evenly, preventing pressure points. This also helps prevent the kinetic chain model, where injury or pain in one area leads to problems elsewhere, such as tight saddle and kissing spine resulting in lameness.

Navicular is another osteopathic disease, this time of the small Navicular bone within the hoof and its associated tissues. Often this causes lameness, frequently bilaterally