Thera-Tree® Therapy for Kissing Spine

Kissing spine,  a condition in horses where two or more of the spinous processes (the flanges of bone sticking up from each vertebra in the spine) are compressed so that they touch or rub against each other causing pain, reduced movement and other related problems. Daily Thera-Tree® therapy and the use of Smart Ride RX saddles can greatly improve the condition of kissing spine, reduce pain and increase the mobility and happiness of your horse. 


These are "before and after" x-rays of a horse named Bella with Kissing Spine taken 18 days apart. This horse was 'treated' with our Thera-Tree® and ridden in our saddle with Smart Ride Rx technology. NO OTHER THERAPIES, DRUGS OR SUPPLEMENTS WERE GIVEN. 

Here's the back story:

Horses hollow their backs to avoid the pressure of painful saddles. If this persists, over time the tips of the spinous processes become closer together. This condition is commonly known as Kissing Spine. 

Many of our customers have had great success using our saddles on horses that have been diagnosed with this condition. The technology has allowed these horses to relax their back muscles, creating more space between the tips.

We've been looking for an opportunity to showcase the effects of our technology.

These x-rays belong to Bella, a 10 year old OTTb mare diagnosed on March 8th of this year with Kissing Spine. She had become increasingly difficult to ride and had been out of work for several months. Recommended therapies included continued osteopathic manipulation, surgery or a series of injections. Euthanasia was also discussed.

Learning of her condition, Tad invited her owner, Patsy Richards, to bring Bella to his stable for a Kissing Spine Challenge: Would it be possible, using the Thera-Tree and Smart Ride Rx technology, to put Bella back in work and demonstrate, using radiographs, that her condition could be improved?

Bella received no other therapies, drugs or supplements of any kind from March 8th on.

She arrived on March 16. She spent several hours each day in the Thera-Tree® both before and after being ridden by Tad. Each day her pain level decreased and her willingness to work through her back improved.

Bella was x-rayed again on April 3 by the same veterinarian, two and half weeks after arriving. The results, plainly visible, are astonishing. The attending veterinarian confirmed that the spine was 85% back to normal condition. Again, this all happened in the course of 18 days.

Bella continues her work with Tad for another month. We will have x-rays taken again before she returns home to Patsy to be ridden in her new TC saddle.

Creating saddles that allow horses to use their backs correctly has been Tad's focus for over 25 years. It has been the driving force behind the evolution of our technology. 


The series of photos tell the before and after story of what 60 days of using the Thera-Tree® and only being ridden in Tad Coffin’s Smart Ride Rx saddle looks like. During this time Bella received no other therapies, no supplements or medications, and there was no saddle customization or change in saddle padding or shims to the pad.



Patsy Richards, Bella’s owner, wrote this: 
“Miracle. That’s all I can say as I trot my mare. This is Bella. This is the horse who had become so unrideable that two months ago I had discussed euthanasia with my vet. This is the foxhunter prospect I bought with great optimism and then carried for two and a half years of countless vet bills, supplements, saddle fittings, osteopathy, massage therapy, hock injections, consultation with horse whisperers and behavioral experts. And almost no riding. This is the horse we finally x-rayed and found had a clear case of Kissing Spine.

This is Bella moving freely and willingly under saddle. After only eighteen days of consistent use of the Thera-Tree and riding in Tad’s saddle her next set of x-rays were described by my vet as bringing her within 85 percent of normal spine function.

This is Bella now after just over two months of continued riding and Thera-Tree “therapy”. Back home and greeting the dawn in her field, lounging contentedly in her stall, heading out calmly for the morning’s work. This is Bella. Walking during the warm up not the least bit concerned about the other mare calling out, not troubled by the workmen using tools and making noise. Trotting with all the softness and confidence of the best riding partner. This is Bella who had become frantic at being left behind, who had refused to walk down to the ring, who had chewed on fences and was fearful of almost everything.

In case you have assumed that it is Olympic Gold Medal riding that explains Bella’s improvement you are wrong. I’m no Tad Coffin—I’m just an average lifelong foxhunter with no advanced or sophisticated riding skills. And this is Bella. Moving just as comfortably under saddle with me back home as she did in Ruckersville with Tad. It’s not the rider—it’s the combination of Thera-Tree and saddle. There is no question that Tad’s excellence in riding played a critical role. Each time he rode he urged Bella to explore bending and moving her body in ways that had previously generated pain. In doing this she learned to forget the pain and regained her confidence. But in truth, with a Thera-Tree and Coffin Performance Saddle any of us can achieve a similar result. It may take a bit longer but it’s equipment not the rider.

We’ve all heard testimonials that challenge credulity—I’m now riding and enjoying one every day. This is Bella. And this is Thera-Tree and SmartRideRx.” -Patsy Richards




This spring we featured a series of posts about a mare named Bella and her treatment for the condition known as kissing spine. For 60 days during the "Kissing Spine Challenge" Bella was treated daily with the Thera-Tree® and ridden in our saddle with SmartRide Rx technology. No other therapies, drugs, or supplements were given. See the post below for radiographs before and during her treatment.

Here's the latest about Bella from her owner:

"The new normal. This is the phase Bella and I now inhabit. It is mid-August, which puts us exactly three months out from the day she came home to Marshall from Ruckersville. I can tell you of so many wonderful rides and special events that have spooled out around us over this period. This has been the summer of magic and contentment.

There was the day we literally had to ride up and chase a bald eagle off of a wooden hand gate so we could ride through. There was Bella totally unconcerned a few minutes earlier when that same eagle had flown down low and long across her head to land on the gate.

There have been countless long, happy, bold striding rides cross country with just the two of us. There have been hours spent in the ring learning to trot and work together again. There have been deer and butterflies and squirrels and red foxes running away from us. And not a worry or concern on Bella’s part.

There have been so many different times we have gotten into the trailer to go off on one adventure or another to ride in small groups. And there have been so many times when she has self-loaded and learned to travel peaceably when I have been amazed at how that compares to her refusals to load and the episodes of drenching sweat while trailering in the past. My new larger trailer has clearly made this easier for her, but Bella’s attitude adjustment was all her own doing.

We pulled into the farm one day and stopped so I could get the newspaper. When I looked in on her she was calmly eating hay and looked up totally without concern. This was another red letter day. Perhaps a small thing to be eating hay on the way home but hugely significant when compared with the Bella of not very long ago.

Two other examples. Bella used to refuse to walk out of her stall into the aisle. And we used to have to back her into the wash stall. Early on when she first came home I had left her stall door open to gather up tack for a ride. I turned around and saw Bella walk out of her stall and into the aisle and stop exactly where the crossties would be attached. That same week when we returned from riding I had pulled tack off and left her standing without a halter in the aisle. I stood and watched in amazement as she walked herself down and into the wash stall. That has now become one of our party tricks. The other one is sidling up to the box at the front of the farm and waiting while I lean down and put in the gate code. The new normal….Bella with a sense of humor and no worries.

I can tell you that one of the most unexpected delights has been watching Bella’s personality relax and unfold. We all know on some intellectual level that pain changes behavior. What I absolutely had not appreciated was the extent to which the absence of pain can un-change that behavior. Bella has always been a sweet mare and the kind of horse who will persevere no matter what. And that can be deceptive because it masks stress and unhappiness.

Now that the pain and fear are gone, what has been stunning is the outpouring of emotion, particularly when she first came home. I now regularly experience expressions of companionship and affection that were never there before. Think big brown dog wagging its tail. Think barn cat asking to be petted. Think small child wanting one more hug. That’s today’s Bella. The new normal." -Patsy Richards