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Kissing Spines

Updated: Jan 22, 2023

Recent study with UC Davis of the differences in distance between the spinous processes when a horse is hanging out in the neutral position vs in an “engaged” position.


The engagement shift is due to the the correct activation through his muscles and ligaments. Just another important reminder with all of the crazy influx in kissing spine cases that we keep seeing, just how preventable spinal issues can be if we take the time to condition the horse properly.

Myth number 1 -

❌ As long as you keep the horses head down, he’s collected and lifting his back. Side reins and lunging systems help achieve this.

Not at all -

It’s all about how the tension is, during the head placement. If a horse is bracing against the contact, then he’s tense in his lower neck. If there is tension in the lower neck, then there is tension is the psoas and the horse is physically incapable of truly activating his core.


It all starts with proper connection. Side reins and lunging systems shut down the shoulders and exasperate this issue.

Myth number 2 -

❌ You must drive from behind to truly activate the core.


Wrong. There’s an entire set of muscles in the front of the horse that are actually responsible for holding up the majority of their weight that we need them to carry. By only focusing on the hind end we end up putting too much stress on the hind limbs, which is why we see so much dysfunction in hocks and stifles. The most effective way to achieve true core work out, is to put equal emphasis on the pectoral and shoulder girdle muscles to help the horse adequately stabilize and “lift”.

All while encouraging and maintaining independent mobility in all 4 limbs. After all, you wouldn’t want chiseled abs and a saggy chest/arms would you? It’s all about balancing the body for optimum strength. Myth number 3 - ❌ Once a horse has kissing spine, his career is over. Not true. I have several top end performance horses in various disciplines, all with different variants of kissing spine and all competing with great joy and soundness.


Please do remember that it takes about 2 years of truly correct conditioning to build the correct muscles to support the horses body.

So as always, TAKE YOUR TIME


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