Thera-Tree® and Smart Ride Rx Eliminate Kissing Spine

KISSING SPINE: Our Thoughts on a Pervasive Problem

Tad has long believed that a condition known as Kissing Spine is principally caused by saddles that inflict back pain in horses. This pervasive problem has caused many horses’ careers to be cut short, while others undergo invasive medical procedures. This diagnosis has even led to some being euthanized. 

What is Kissing Spine? Long fingerlike spinous processes stick up from the vertebrae of the equine spine. Muscles cover and connect along these bony extensions form the structure of the horse’s back where saddles sit. Tad explains that when muscles in horses’ backs are painful and tight, these muscles contract and draw the tips of the spinous processes together, and there is no other option than to have these tips get too close. This closeness or rubbing can cause pain. Tad points out that therapies to mitigate this pain will not be a long-term fix if horses are still ridden in the same saddles which cause them discomfort.

Horse Skeleton.jpg

This photo above shows the equine spine. Note the space between the tips of the spinous processes. The photo below is of a horse’s spine that has been diagnosed with Kissing Spine. Notice the lack of spacing between the spinal process. You can get a glimpse of the skeletal system in motion in the third image.

Xray showing Kissing Spine

Over the past few years we have had considerable success using our saddles on horses with Kissing Spine. Horses that were given a career-ending diagnosis have been able to be ridden and competed with great comfort and success. This is due to the strides we have made in the Smart Ride and now Smart Ride Rx technology.

Recently we have been generously given an opportunity to demonstrate the effect our technology can have on Kissing Spine. An off the track Thoroughbred mare in our area was recently radiographed and diagnosed with Kissing Spine. She’s become a case study to see what changes the Thera-Tree and our saddle with Smart Ride Rx therapy can affect.

This is the first in a multi part series. In sharing this mare's story, we hope to create an alternative narrative on how the issue of Kissing Spine is being addressed. 
For more information, visit and, or give Tad a call at 434-989-3229.

Melissa Holland, DVM, DACVA

Melissa Holland, DVM, DACVA

This thing is just too intriguing for words!   As with all things new, there will be naysayers and skeptics.  I’m one myself.  But here’s the thing that I think I forget sometimes:  My chiropractor teachers told us that just because the animals don’t speak your language doesn’t mean they are not talking.  You just aren’t listening.  You think you know your horse and his quirks until something that you change makes you realize that it’s not the horse with the quirks.  Quirks are just compensation for the rider not getting through with his message.  This saddle feels like a translator.   And, if you are listening, the horse is telling you what he’s hearing.  It’s a revelation.  You just never know what will cross your path when all you want to do is improve your horse’s life, even if you are not quite sure it needs improving.  Something is just nagging at you, so you go searching.