Kissing spines rearing it’s ugly head again?

ponyparty

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Sorry, it’s a long one... Trying to give some background (have probably missed loads out!)

My horse was diagnosed grade 1 (mild) KS last May. I spent the summer and autumn lunging him in an Equi Ami religiously on vet advice - I was also pregnant and suffering all sorts of horrible related ailments, so it was a struggle, but I did it.

Come October I was so big and uncomfortable I had to stop and get the yard groom to lunge him for me a couple of times per week (all I could afford) to try and keep him ticking over. Vet reexamined in October and said his back was better and he was ready to start ridden work again (he also has hock arthritis which he had steroid injections and cartrophen for). Obviously I wasn’t going to be able to start ridden work at that time! I had a c section early Nov so was out of action for a few weeks after too.

I am still not riding as need to lose another stone and get my core and some fitness back before I would even consider putting my weight on his poor back. But I had got a pro rider to get on him a couple of times, and had a new saddle (K&M, very adjustable with prolite pads) fitted a few weeks ago.

Pro rider was due to ride today, I couldn’t get there in time so the yard staff tacked up for me - apparently he dipped his back when she put the saddle on him (I wouldn’t have got on/would have stopped her if I’d been there and seen this).

I checked his back, palpated along the spine, he’s clearly very sore again.

He did get cast yesterday but only for a few mins and he was calm and wriggled himself free.

I clipped him the day before but that shouldn’t make a difference, the sensitive part of his spine is where I have left a saddle patch of hair. It may have made him want to roll more and possibly caused him to roll so much he got cast. He also tried to roll loads in the school with rider on, then rolled when she turned him out on hard standing pen after, I did wonder if his back might be sore from rolling on that surface.

It’s got to be the kissing spines 😭

Got vet coming out Friday - insurance claim has run out for his KS. Best case scenario he can have steroid injections (I can afford that) and try to rehab him through groundwork again - but better and properly this time (groundwork lessons with a trainer, raised poles, carrot stretches etc.) - not just round and round in an Equi Ami! Which frankly I have noticed no improvement in his way of going in!

I can’t afford surgery and he’s not a horse that will retire easily; I’ll have to make some tough decisions if I can’t get him right. Devastated. I thought I’d be riding him again in another month or two.
Pointless self-pitying post really. Any ideas on anything else I can do to help him very welcome 😓

Got to see what the vet says on Friday I guess. Got a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach, not helped by someone telling me they have never seen a kissing spines horse come right 😭

**Edited so the bit about rolling makes sense, sorry!**
 
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ponyparty

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Did the vet re x-ray him before advising commencing ridden work? I'd be a bit cross if not!
No he didn't - he palpated him very thoroughly but of course this doesn't show what's going on in there. The spinous processes were close together on X rays back in May/June - close but not touching, no calcium deposits.

I didn't even think about re-X raying, of course this will cost me a fortune now as bloody insurance claim has run up *I THINK* - I'd better double check the dates, I know it's January some time... almost certain it's already passed though.
 

ponyparty

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Why would rolling = kissing spines or am I missing something?
Oh no, sorry - that was so badly written, my mind is all over the place at the moment. The rolling isn't to do with kissing spines - I was just saying that's what he did. I think the rolling is because he was clipped 2 days ago so has some residual itchiness! I think this is probably also why he got himself cast yesterday (or was it the day before... I can't remember now). I was wondering more if his back might be sore from getting cast, or from rolling on the hardstanding. But I suspect it's actually just kissing spines.
 

DabDab

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Why would rolling = kissing spines or am I missing something?
Yes this...particularly rolling on hard standing?
I wouldn't panic too much, just get him x-rayed again and go from there. It's not unusual for a horse to get a little sore in the back if their work has been intermittent - the problem with getting a pro to ride irregularly is that they probably won't be doing the long boring slow fittening work to build him back up.

ETA: sorry, just seen your clarification re rolling
 

ponyparty

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the problem with getting a pro to ride irregularly is that they probably won't be doing the long boring slow fittening work to build him back up.
Yeah, she rode him in walk trot canter for the saddle fitting, then the next time she rode I was distracted by baby and didn't think to say, No, please just work him in walk! I just left her to her own devices. She's a very nice rider, quiet hands and horses look beautiful when she works them but he needs lots of long and low, stretching, lateral work in walk, raised poles etc. Anyway that was back in December, the week before Christmas. He hasn't been ridden since until today, when I did tell her that I only wanted him worked in walk. I thought that doing this once per week, plus me lunging, doing groundwork, leading out in hand around our tracks (which are hilly), and raised poles, would be sufficient to get him started until i can hop on him and start the long boring slow stuff properly!

Yup trying not to panic too much, think that the unhelpful comment has just sent my mind into overdrive thinking he'll never come right.
 

DabDab

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Yeah, it's a tough one with you out of action - it's probably more his core that's lacking than his back muscles given how he's reacting to the work, so the slow, gentle build-up work with a rider on board will be when you'll get a better idea of what he'll be fit for long term.

You could always get an opinion from another (specialist?) vet, particularly if you're not super sure about the rehab programme prescribed by your current vet.
 

ponyparty

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Yeah, it's a tough one with you out of action - it's probably more his core that's lacking than his back muscles given how he's reacting to the work, so the slow, gentle build-up work with a rider on board will be when you'll get a better idea of what he'll be fit for long term.

You could always get an opinion from another (specialist?) vet, particularly if you're not super sure about the rehab programme prescribed by your current vet.
Well, I wouldn't feel comfortable a rider getting on him if he's dipping his back when the saddle goes on anyway. He's clearly in pain. This needs to be resolved before anyone gets back on him again.

I'll see what this vet says when he comes out on Friday. He is meant to be the specialist in lameness and back issues, at that practice; so I thought he would be the best one for the job! He was the one they said would be the best suited to this case way back when I first called to book an appointment.

From perusing many forum posts (and discussing in a few of my own last year) and kissing spines groups on Facebook, I see that a lot of vets seem to advise medicate/operate and/or work in Pessoa/Equi Ami; but away from veterinary intervention there seems to be lots of success with rehabilitation through exercise, groundwork, classical training etc. I feel I can't very well tell my vet that his rehab program isn't working unless I've tried it - so I have, and my horse has a sore back again :-/ so clearly something needs to change.

I'm thinking IF the vet recommends steroid injections to make him comfortable, I'll go for that - as then he'll hopefully be able to work correctly and we can start to build up muscle. Then I'll do rehab my way (the way recommended by many people).

Here's a question: at my current weight, me + clothes + tack = 15.6% of horse's body weight. I wanted to get this down a bit before getting back on (even though generally people say 15% is ok) just in light of his back issues. Do you think I ought to just get back on and start the walk work?! Once he's comfortable of course.
 

DabDab

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Yeah, sorry I wasn't really clear - I was talking about the work with rider in response to the worry that he might never come right. In a you'll have a better idea when you get to that point sense iyswim.

Sounds like a plan in terms of next steps anyway - like you say, you've given the equi ami in circles a good go so might as well try a different approach that has worked for others along with the steroid injections if recommended. Nothing to lose by trying. No idea on the weight issue, generally I consider 15% ok for backing if that's any help? You could always gently start adding weights to a roller while doing in-hand work to give you an idea of how he's coping/start to encourage his support muscles to put a bit more effort in.
 

ponyparty

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I get ya... thanks.

Adding weights to a roller - surely then the weight isn't distributed evenly across his back? I've not heard of that being done before, so forgive my ignorance!

Ugh I'm going to try not to think about all the what ifs right now.. why does this stuff always happen at the most inconvenient time? Well not inconvenient, I've just got so much other stuff going on this week, could have done without this worry to top it all off!
 

DabDab

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It's not like a rider weight, more just a bit of extra stimulation when building their body up to work properly. I've used it quite a lot but no really sure where I picked it up from now! I don't mean add weight like hanging boulders off there, it's more like a weight belt, with weights taped on.

Hope baby is well btw!
 

ponyparty

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Pahaha boulders! Hmm well you've given me food for thought anyway...

Baby is all good thanks - he's a very smiley happy chap, and only waking once in the night for a feed now so I'm starting to feel more human again too :)
 
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A little confused. Did he have his back injected or anything done to it once they found it? Or just lunging work? I don't understand vets who don't medicate or operate.

KS is so painful, even after building the muscle by lunging it would be incredibility painful to him.
My mare had the op it was about 3k on insurance, it was a instant relief and the secondary problems were what killed her. Ulcers, bad arthritis all across her hocks etc.
 

ponyparty

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A little confused. Did he have his back injected or anything done to it once they found it? Or just lunging work? I don't understand vets who don't medicate or operate.

KS is so painful, even after building the muscle by lunging it would be incredibility painful to him.
My mare had the op it was about 3k on insurance, it was a instant relief and the secondary problems were what killed her. Ulcers, bad arthritis all across her hocks etc.
The vet recommended steroid injections back in June - but at the same time, horse was also diagnosed EMS and was a hair's breadth from a laminitis attack! As I wasn't planning on getting back on anytime soon anyway, vet agreed that, as steroid injections carry small risk of laminitis and he was already close to an attack (thank god I took him off grass at my first suspicion) we would not inject but would try and rehab through exercise. This did appear to have worked - the vet reexamined in October and was happy with how his back looked, how he was moving and how he reacted to really quite vigorous palpation along the spine. The spinous processes are close, not touching.

I believe that kissing spines is usually the secondary problem - it usually happens due to the horse carrying itself incorrectly due to pain elsewhere, in my horse's case he was later diagnosed with hock arthritis. This has been treated through steroid injections and cartrophen, he has been moving really nicely lately (on the lunge).

I'll just have to see what the vet says tomorrow - maybe it is just a product of being worked by pro rider too hard (not her fault, mine for not being clear what I wanted) and muscular soreness. I just don't know til vet sees him.

I was awake for what felt like hours last night after my baby's night feed, just mulling it over and thinking of what I'll do, plan of action for rehab if we can get him pain free.... Feel like a zombie today.

My insurance claim for this has run up, so surgery is out of the question and I'm not convinced they would recommend it for such a mild case. (I say such a mild case - horse clearly doesn't think it's mild! Poor boy).
 
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This has been treated through steroid injections and cartrophen, he has been moving really nicely lately (on the lunge).

I'll just have to see what the vet says tomorrow - maybe it is just a product of being worked by pro rider too hard (not her fault, mine for not being clear what I wanted) and muscular soreness. I just don't know til vet sees him.
Its the other way around (according to the specialist vet I saw) kissing spine is the first issue they're born with/bred into them or its created by to much to young apparently, then the secondary problems are arthritis in the hocks due to the back hurting they over load the hocks, stress causes ulcers from the pain etc

Aw. I do really feel for you. Have you had his hocks checked? If the spinal processes aren't touching i'd guess something else was wrong. My mare had 3 touching and 1 completely over lapping - agony. If you get a good vet they may x-ray the entire body and charge for one x-ray, approx £280. Thats what happened to me last year. Without sounding awful its possible they've moved since his last x-rays.

Mind working to hard can have a negative effect, specially if shes doing a lot of flat work and asking him to come into the bridle a lot. What about a bute trial? Cheap but effective.
 

ponyparty

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Its the other way around (according to the specialist vet I saw) kissing spine is the first issue they're born with/bred into them or its created by to much to young apparently, then the secondary problems are arthritis in the hocks due to the back hurting they over load the hocks, stress causes ulcers from the pain etc

Aw. I do really feel for you. Have you had his hocks checked? If the spinal processes aren't touching i'd guess something else was wrong. My mare had 3 touching and 1 completely over lapping - agony. If you get a good vet they may x-ray the entire body and charge for one x-ray, approx £280. Thats what happened to me last year. Without sounding awful its possible they've moved since his last x-rays.

Mind working to hard can have a negative effect, specially if shes doing a lot of flat work and asking him to come into the bridle a lot. What about a bute trial? Cheap but effective.
Had his hocks checked and treated in October - he went in to the vets fojr the full works, he was nerve blocked, X rayed and scanned - in the grand scheme of things the arthritic changes are mild - but again, this is an extremely sensitive horse. Hocks injected and he had a course of cartophen too.

I know from his history he showjumped as a 5yo and has hunted, done RC etc, he's fairly high mileage so at his age some issues are expected (just turned 16).

Pro rider did ask him to come into the bridle a lot - like constantly, for 20-30 mins, walk trot and canter in circles. It was way too much for him, that's why I asked her this time to specifically just work him in walk, long and low etc. But he was already in discomfort by then! :( maybe it's just muscular from that... it was 2/3 weeks ago now though...

But yeah - vet tomorrow, we'll know more then. If we need to re-X-ray then so be it, just want my horse sorted :'(
 

ponyparty

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Its the other way around (according to the specialist vet I saw) kissing spine is the first issue they're born with/bred into them or its created by to much to young apparently, then the secondary problems are arthritis in the hocks due to the back hurting they over load the hocks, stress causes ulcers from the pain etc
That's interesting - I am sure that this vet (and I attended a seminar on performance issues run by the practice in summer, and I'm sure they said it there too) that KS is the secondary issue! Perhaps they just don't know for sure. I've read q lot on t'internet to suggest KS is the secondary condition too - although i'm sure conformation has something to do with it too. My boy is very short-coupled.
Will let you know the outcome tomorrow!
 

ycbm

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The surgeon who operated on mine said he sees it in unbroken three and four year olds who are born with it, and that mine were so crowded he was definitely born with it. And then at either seven/eight or twelve/thirteen, when they begin to find the work they are being asked to do too much. I think it can be both, born with it and worked into it.

I also think it can be either a primary or a secondary condition. The practice which arranged my operation don't operate until they are sure that it is the only condition causing issues. If the horse also has hock/fetlock/psd/SI issues they tend to medicate and rehab those first and see if it resolves the spine.
 
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Hope all goes well ponyparty, do let us know. I have everything crossed for you.

Interesting regarding secondary issue, I suppose it can be both. I apologize if I was incorrect. Never thought into it a lot after speaking to the vet. My vet did say it was very common in TB's and Appaloosas, she was a cross between the both.
 

ycbm

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Here's my 'born with it' you can see that there simply no way he ever had room for all the processes in the half of his spine that sits at the back and behind the saddle.

SPINE-Thoracic-09_07_2013-14_36_56-625.JPEG



This, on the other hand, was a little TB mare worked too young by people who were too heavy. She also had PSD. She was PTS almost immediately on vet recommendation due to the extent of the damage to the spine, which has holes in it as well as other extensive damage.

breeze.jpeg
 
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jj_87

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No he didn't - he palpated him very thoroughly but of course this doesn't show what's going on in there. The spinous processes were close together on X rays back in May/June - close but not touching, no calcium deposits.

I didn't even think about re-X raying, of course this will cost me a fortune now as bloody insurance claim has run up *I THINK* - I'd better double check the dates, I know it's January some time... almost certain it's already passed though.
Fingers crossed, my insurer gives you 15 months for claims so check!!

Good luck!
 

ponyparty

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Right - vet visited today, palpated spine, and was actually really happy with the flexibility and range of motion, and when we put him on the lunge he moved, mostly, beautifully.

The vet did pick up that on the left rein (I think...) he wasn't using his right hind as well as he should, it was weaker than the left - due to the hock arthritis - and, probably as a result of this, was looking very slightly (almost undetectably) lame in his near fore. That is the fore that has mild arthritic changes in the coffin joint.
On palpation of his lumbar area the right hand side is weaker - again probably due to not using it properly due to arthritis. And he is basically unfit and has no core to speak of (bit like his owner then! My bursitis has flared up in my knees, hips and shoulders as a result of my lack of fitness so I fully understand the link between the two).
Vet says to continue exercising him, lunging, groundwork, polework, etc but also to just get back on him, alternate ridden work/non ridden but basically focus on getting him fit. The hock should improve with fitness and therefore take the pressure off the near fore - but if it doesn't improve or gets worse in the coming weeks, to let him know and he'll inject both hock and coffin joint.
He said about the back dipping - this could be remembered pain/habit and to persevere; let him get used to the new saddle and using those muscles/carrying a rider again. If he gets sore after being ridden, don't ride again for a few days (but do exercise) and give danilon and then try again, see how he is. Keep in contact with vet and keep reporting any niggles.
He didn't mention x raying again, not at this stage anyway.
He then suggested sending him away to a rehab yard with a water treadmill for a couple of weeks to get the process kick started. I think this is a great idea, start the core strengthening and help prepare him for a rider better.
I'll have saddle fitter back out when he's back from the water treadmill place, before i start riding him regularly, as the saddle was fitted with the pro rider on board so balance may need to be adjusted.

So basically I think I've panicked a bit (what?! me?! never), yes he does have issues but no they are not life threatening and I just need to get him back into work and see how he is getting on once he's regained some fitness.
Sorry if bits of this don't make sense, trying to type in between seeing to a cranky baby who hasn't poo'd all day and as a result is extremely grumpy!
 

ponyparty

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Also ycbm those x rays a very interesting - poor mare! what happened to the "born with it" horse?

and thank you jj-87! The insurance is deffo 12 months, i checked :-/

Edited to sound less brusque, things don't come out right via text sometimes do they!
 

ycbm

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My born with it horse was operated on with a ligament snip very successfully. His movement changed completely. But he had always had a very odd habit of occasionally running straight into solid walls and bashing his head. After the operation, that got a lot worse and he broke first an eye socket and then the opposite cheek bone. He had trigeminal neuralgia following that, which we couldn't control with massive doses of anti epilepsy drugs, so he was put down.

In retrospect, I would never have a ligament snip done again, I believe that the long term outcome for horses which have had it done isn't good enough. There is some suggestion that it destabilizes the spine.
 

Pinkvboots

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As his arthritis has flared up it could be that causing the sore back, any sort of lameness can cause a sore back one of my horses did a suspensory behind and his back was really bad, I got the physio out a few times once he was sound and she sorted it out for him.
 
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