Kissing Spine Files

Part 1

Introduction

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My lovely amateur jumper prospect as a 5 year old, prior to any issues

Welcome to the Kissing Spine Files, a short series about my horse’s kissing spine diagnosis and how we navigated surgery, recovery and rehabilitation. I have written this series to help you know more about kissing spine and prepare for surgery and recovery if your horse has been diagnosed. I want to share my experience with you because I wished I had something like this when I started my journey. Reading someone else’s story would have helped me prepare for the months ahead. By writing this series, I hope to help you prepare for the journey.

Before we begin, a little back story…

I bred my mare in 2009 and had a lovely warmblood colt born in April, 2010. We named him Moose after his dark brown coat and gigantic ears. He was going to be my heart horse whether he wanted to or not, so I spent a lot of time building a relationship with him on the ground. I know this opportunity isn’t afforded to most equestrians, but no matter what age your horse is when you meet, take some time to develop a relationship. Understand how they communicate and give them space to understand you. I was well equipped to notice when something wasn’t quite ‘right’.

Developing a strong understanding of your horses’ body language and subtle clues can help pinpoint what's wrong. They speak to us in slight movements until they don’t (insert eating dirt and unforeseen flying hooves). Like many horses, my horse needs me to see and hear him. If I don’t listen, he gets louder. By the time my horse was diagnosed with kissing spine, he was deemed ‘dangerous’ to ride after being considered an amateur jumper prospect. Quite the personality change.

 

If your horse is anything like mine, you best start listening to those subtle cues so you are better equipped. If I don’t listen to my horse, he turns into a bull in a china shop, and I happen to be the china.

It’s simple to find pain when we can see: swelling; an abrasion; or feel heat. But, when we can’t find the source, we are left stumped to what is causing pain. We involve veterinarians, farriers, trainers and internet searches (although never recommended), to help us figure out why our horses’ movement or behaviour has changed. We are often left wondering, is this a behavioural or pain issue? My horse had just recovered from a different injury when back problems arose making the diagnosis long and drawn out.

Younger horses who sustain an injury requiring a pause in exercise can start showing signs of other issues after being brought back into work. This could have been my horses’ situation. He was on stall rest for a broken splint bone before ultimately coming back into work with back problems. Pondering this idea, I might say that the loss of back muscle at a young age revealed a problem which was hidden by his fitness prior to the period of rest.

How did my horse develop kissing spine and what do you need to know about this mysterious diagnosis? Follow my journey as I take you through my own experience with my horse, Moose, and find out how a kissing spine diagnosis changed our relationship while learning about the condition and preparing yourself for your own horse’s recovery. 

Stay tuned for the next instalment of the Kissing Spine Files, where we dive into the symptoms and diagnosis of my horse.

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This series is not intended for equestrians looking for veterinary advice. I do not claim to be a veterinarian or replace the need for veterinary expertise.