Kissing spine is considered un-fixable by most – but I strongly disagree.
Kissing spine happens because the horse is arching their back the wrong way, sagging like a saggy mattress with the human sitting on the saggy bit. And the angles of the sag have the bones of the back wearing in ways it was not designed to do.
My horse Bobby had it. With Bobby I did that damage a long time ago – before the days of writing Bobby’s Diaries even. It’s lovely to think that he actually wanted to come back and be ridden after that and that as he lifted his back properly (no more saggy mattress!) he could carry me comfortably and with strength.
There’s a bunch of things that can make a horse sag his back when we ride.
• Poor saddle fit.
• Being out of their comfort zone – a horse IN their comfort zone lifts his back and carries us with strength and power and soft rhythm.
• Our riding posture not being as good as it should be.
I have done the hard yards with all of these issues, making the “mistakes”, learning from them and teaching other people how to avoid them.
Zen Connection with Horses is a darned good place to start in learning how to help your horse find his comfort zone and in helping him to release the trauma behind it and start to heal. There are specific ways of healing in that book, ways of healing where the person can help their horse with releasing old trauma.
I have seen even really bad spinal stuff start changing visibly to the naked eye in a one week clinic. If you really get into that work, you will be able to watch their back starting to change in the first week of the Zen Connection work.
Yes, that is what I am saying – doing emotional work can actually help your horse’s back physically heal. It’s like the old emotional crap blocks the body’s ability to heal the way it was designed to. So when you release the emotions, the body can get on with the job of healing.
The lady who made this original enquiry with me, from the UK, was offering her horse verge side herbs, comfrey and a joint supplement – the horse picks and chooses what she would like for her recovery. I thought that was an excellent idea.
Full recovery is not an overnight thing.
The only other thing I have heard of to treat kissing spine, is maybe acupuncture and injecting something like Pentosan into the joints.
And even then, you STILL have to change the horse’s saggy back way of carrying themselves, otherwise you will have wasted all your time and money. (Not to mention the horses unhappiness!)
Re the riding, I would be looking for more muscle build up around the spine before I would ask her if I could sit on, personally. Bobby had a lot of back muscle before I sat back on him again.
The spinal bones are damaged, so it will take very good muscles around the spine to hold the bones so they don’t grind against each other painfully (which is what kissing spine does.) So the trauma releasing work and the herbs are working at the same time you are building the muscles up and eventually – voila!
And I would be asking the horse when they is ready to be ridden, because they will know when they are ready.
So – lots of elevated back, free liberty work in a big space (NOT a round yard and NOT lunging – they are both VERY bad for this problem!) The BIG key to this being useful in building their back up is that you work their comfort zone. You can learn about how to work the comfort zone in the free gift lessons The Six Keys to Happiness with Your Horse. You will find registration for them at the top of this page on the right hand side.
Keeping your horse mostly in their comfort zone will develop their back muscles and make it possible to start thinking about carrying you. Walk, trot canter in BIG spaces – the two of you learning how to communicate together and have fun before you ride – then that good stuff will transfer to their back when they are physically ready.
And you will be beautifully surprised at how much fun you can have with a horse at liberty. Google “liberty horse”, look at some Youtubes for some creative ideas on having fun while you are building up their back muscles so that they can carry you happily.
Very important – get your saddle checked by someone who does not have an ulterior motive in selling you a new saddle.
And Peggy Cummings connected riding work is THE BEST posture work I have ever seen (Google her she has other instructors around the world) – it blew me away. I am going to be teaching that posture in our virtual on line clinic that I sent you the email about this morning. In fact we’re going to be covering all this stuff including saddle fit in the on line course if that idea appealed to you.
Come back here to the comment section and let us know how you go!