common cause of back pain and reduced performance in competition horses
remains impingement of the dorsal spinous processes (IDSP’s) in the mid and
lower back. The colloquial term “kissing spines” is often given to this
radiographic picture, but Svend strongly believes that this terminology
should only be used for a clinical situation where the radiographic changes
are confirmed in one or other ways, such as scintigraphy, regional
analgesia or “diagnostic medication” as being significant and the reason
for back pain and reduced performance.
is a complex performance reducing problem and therefore frequently not
realised by the rider until significantly affecting performance.
Surprisingly few thoughts have been given to the cause(s) of this
debilitating condition, but material published in the German literature has
supported Svend’s observations that this may be a problem caused and
accelerated by skeletal immaturity, incorrect training and certain types of
use of the horse and in particular its back.
Early cases of
kissing spines with minimal radiographic changes can be managed by
injections and a change of training with the emphasis on improving the
horse’s core musculature. More severe cases require surgery which can be a
“gap widening” procedure or a more involved reduction in height of
alternative processes. Svend has now performed approximately 400 such
surgeries with excellent results, in many horses followed over a 10-15 year
period post surgery!
post surgery is extremely important and aims at as little interruption of
training as possible. 4-6 weeks of hand walking is therefore followed by an
intense lunging programme over an additional 4-6 weeks using Pessoa-lines
(see video below) or similar aids to rebuild both the upper and
lower contraction system. The aim is to have the horse back in ridden work 3
months after surgery or sooner.