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  • Etalon Admin

We Need Controls - Kissing Spines Study Expanded

Updated: Feb 22, 2021

Update February 22nd, 2021: Deadline extended through the week! New deadline to submit samples is February 26th, 2021.

Etalon Diagnostics researchers have successfully determined a genetic component to Kissing Spines thanks to the ongoing success of our Kissing Spines study. We recently expanded the study with a focus on Thoroughbreds, and the response has been overwhelming - thank you! However, to accurately analyze the data from the Thoroughbred population, our research team still needs a number of control subjects without Kissing Spines. We need samples from Thoroughbreds with CLEAN X-Rays (preferably 9 years and up, but we will accept younger horses as well)! Do you know a Thoroughbred with clean X-rays? Read on to learn how to participate.


Requirements for the study:

- Mail in a pulled hair sample from horse (directions below)

- Include radiographs (upload them online on your horse's profile under "gallery photos", or email them to us at

Kissing Spines, officially known as “overriding dorsal spinous processes” or “spinous process impingement”, describes the touching or “kissing” of the long, thin bones that project upward from the vertebrae of the spinal column in the horse’s back. Kissing Spines can occur in any horse but seem more prevalent in Thoroughbreds, horses 5 years of age and under, and dressage horses. The radiograph below illustrates a “normal” spinal x-ray, in comparison to that of a horse diagnosed with Kissing Spines. You can note the impinged areas with narrowed spacing between the vertebrae.

In an urgent effort to grow our database and learn more about the Thoroughbred breed and its' level of susceptibility to Kissing Spines, Etalon Diagnostics is asking for your help. Do you know a Thoroughbred with CLEAN X-Rays? If so, help us by mailing in a hair sample so that we can dive deep into the genetic makeup of horses with this painful condition and try to identify associated genetic variants. We are so thankful for the number of samples we have received from Thoroughbreds WITH Kissing Spines, and are not in need of additional samples at this time. Etalon Diagnostics is working on this study in partnership with Dr. Beau Whitaker of Brazos Valley Equine Hospitals, Dr. Ben Buchanan of Brazos Valley Equine Hospitals, Dr. Kent Allen of Virginia Equine Imaging, Dr. Charlie Buchanan of Brazos Valley Equine Hospitals, and Dr. Cliff Honnas of Texas Equine Hospital.

To submit samples, visit and click “order”. Create an online profile and click “Order Testing”. Choose package “STUDY_KS_CONTROL” to send in your sample free of charge. Those whose samples are included in the study will receive follow-up information for results and publications.

Mail hair samples to: 405 El Camino Real, #234 Menlo Park, CA 94025 For more information or if you have questions, give us a call at (650) 380-2995 or send us an email at

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