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  • Etalon Admin

We Need Thoroughbreds - Kissing Spines Study Expanded

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

Update 1/21/21: Thanks to the overwhelming support from our community, we have EXTENDED the study's deadline to February 10th, 2021!

Etalon Diagnostics researchers have successfully determined a strong genetic component to Kissing Spines thanks to the success of our recent Kissing Spines study. Since so many sport horses include Thoroughbred ancestry, we feel an expanded study with a focus on Thoroughbreds is necessary. To do this well, we need to include older horses (9 years and up) with radiographs and diagnostics both horses with and without Kissing Spines (if you do a prepurchase with films and your horse is negative, please send it in)! Etalon has teamed up with the Retired Racehorse Project and New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program to spread the word - and we need your help! Do you know a Thoroughbred diagnosed with Kissing Spines? Read on to learn how to participate.


Requirements for the study:

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

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

Remember, also helpful for this study are samples of Thoroughbred horses with clean spinal x-rays (NEGATIVE for Kissing Spines)!

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 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 diagnosed with Kissing Spines? 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 also encourage those with Thoroughbred horses with clean spinal x-rays, NEGATIVE for kissing spines to send in their samples as well to assist in the study.

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_KS2” 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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