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Kissing Spines Study a Success

Thanks to you and your help, we did it! The Kissing Spines study has become a success story. While there is still work to be done and details to sort through, our community's contribution has been key in this success. We can not thank you enough for sharing our message far and wide, encouraging horse people from all over the world to send in samples and X-Rays and take part in this important study.

The official release of the Kissing Spines study initial results was presented to veterinarians at the AAEP Virtual Convention & Trade Show by Etalon Advisors Beau Whitaker, DVM, and Samantha Brooks, Ph.D. This presentation, titled "Identification of Genomic Loci Associated with Performance-Limiting Kissing Spines in Quarter Horses and Warmbloods", was released beginning Tuesday, December 1st. Watch the video above to preview the study's initial results from Dr. Whitaker and Dr. Brooks.

For folks who have tested their horses for this genetic risk variant below is the the results interpretations key:

n/n - Decreased Kissing Spines Susceptibility (KSS) variants detected. Horse has lower risk for developing kissing spines, falling into the category of grade of 0 (evenly spaced) to 1 (narrowing of the interspinal space).


KSS/n - Moderate Kissing Spines Grade Susceptibility (KSS) variant detected. Horse has moderate risk for developing higher grade kissing spines, falling into the category of grade of 2 (densification of the margins), and has a 50% chance of passing variant to any offspring.


KSS/KSS - Increased Kissing Spines Grade Susceptibility (KSS) variants detected. Horse has increased risk for developing higher grade kissing spines, falling into the category of grade of 3 (bone lysis adjacent to the margins) to 4 (severe remodeling), and has a 100% chance of passing variant to any offspring.

Keep in mind that these are genetic risk variants and not causative variants. This means the genetic variants detected are not an indication that your horse has or has had Kissing Spines. They are a risk variant indicating that if your horse does become affected and is diagnosed with Kissing Spines, the severity of the disorder is likely to be more or less severe in alignment with your horse's genetics. 

This study is ongoing as we continue to follow and expand on our horse population. It is our hope that, with the collaboration of the horse owners, trainers and veterinary experts, we can identify more closely the cause of this painful condition and prevent it going forward.

Ask the vets a question about the presentation!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Is Kissing Spines heritable or acquired?

A: While we believe that Kissing Spines is due to some combination of the two, the results of this study indicate a very strong genetic component for Kissing Spines. 

Q: Are there any specific risk factors for Kissing Spines for horse owners to be on the lookout for?

A: Our research indicates that height is a universal risk factor. Sex and age are NOT universal risk factors.


Q: Will we ever be able to predict if a horse will have Kissing Spines?

A: Models to predict Kissing Spines are on the way! We are working hard on the back-end to provide horse owners with tools to help predict a horse's susceptibility to Kissing Spines. 

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