Making a sand pile for rolling

And, as we venture ever deeper into the territory of First World Horse Care/I-can’t-get-out-to-ride-tonight-and-am-overcompensating-for-my-guilt… does anyone have any advice re: putting in a sand pile for senior horse to enjoy his morning roll? As in, do I want angular sand or other sand or does it not matter one whit? How much sand makes a good pile?

I have a sand pile (left over sand from some work) and my guys won’t roll in it :no:, they want the rocky hard ground to flop down on. I think they get their itchys scratched better on the rough ground.

I live in the desert and the sand my horses like most is plaster sand. It’s soft and retains it’s softness even if it gets wet. Not sure if they have it where you are.

1 Like

Yes, you are overcompensating.

Sand to roll in? That’s the same as providing a run-in shed for bad weather. “Thanks for the thought, but we prefer rolling outside, particularly following a bath or cold hosing. We greatly prefer standing in the rain at the round bale.”

We have an indoor with 16,000 square feet of sand. Usually 40-50 horses on the farm between the lesson group and the boarders. Maybe as many as a half dozen might roll in there occasionally, assuming they can sniff out an adequate location. My horse likes the hard spots in their turnout. If he can grind his winter coat into a muddy blob he’s happier. It is what it is, as they say. Try the Epona Flexible Glossy Groomer.

I got a full dumptruck (I think it was 16ton?) since you’re paying the same price for the truck delivery regardless how much sand you get. That created a pile that was about the size of a VW Beetle. We pushed it around a bit to level it, and over the years it’s been even more distributed by hooves and rain. My horses definitely like to roll and nap in the sand, especially in winter since it remains soft despite freezing temps.


I once rode in a barn (overseas) where there was no turn out and it was customary to take the horses for a roll in the sand pile after a ride (post-saddle removal, pre-grooming). They all new the drill, they loved it and most went down within 60 seconds, and I suspect would not have been so keen for a roll on a different surface.

In terms of actual advice, I thought I remember seeing on here someone who actually dug a 12’x12’ pit maybe a foot deep, then filled with sand to try and get it to stay in one place rather than scatter about. Something to consider if you want it to stay put over the long term.

1 Like

When we were training race horses, we had a sand pile outside the barn.
After washing horses we would lead them to the sand pile and they would drop and roll to their heart’s content, on lead.
Every one seem to really enjoy some minutes of digging and rolling.

Our sand piles are a smaller dump truck load of regular, clean “river sand”.
We use some for other places, like adding a soft spot in some pens, for the round pen or arena, getting it from their regular sand pile.
I think that maybe once every ten years we get another load dumped on that spot.

I would not use the really fine sand, it will blow away and maybe be so fine it could irritate a horse’s skin or eyes, or maybe not.

1 Like

And that is exactly why I haven’t already done the sand pile! :slight_smile: The fella has worn a nice horse-size depression in the hard, stoney ground, due to always rolling in the same spot. The sensible owner would interpret this as proof that he likes stoney ground and does not need a sand pile. But, he also loves to roll in sand – preferably someone’s else’s freshly raked sand arena with beautiful patterns just laid down. I figure the pile of organic free-range yuppie dressage-prince sand would be dumped near but not on top of the hard-stoney-ground-with-occasional-poop-ball rolling spot.

1 Like

Trust me, he’ll love it. Same experience as Bluey and FeatheredFeet, after taking the saddle off I let them go roll and they really, really seem to enjoy it. Total sand-gasm :lol:


Put sand in that hole he rolls in now and he will sigh and wonder why it took you so long to get the message.:wink:


I have a sand pile, and put about a third of it in one of my stalls (getting ready for mats). My filly goes in that stall the minute I open the door (it’s not hers, and she knows it, but…), immediately starts pawing, then lays down and rolls, feet straight up in an oh-lord-hope-she-doesn’t-cast-herself display of thrashing about, and then gets up, shakes off, and walks out. I swear she stands at the door just waiting for me to let her in so she can have her nightly sand-gasm (thanks for that word, HH!). The outside pile would be so much safer, but I have never seen her roll in that one! Maybe it’s because the dogs like to play king of the hill on it :rolleyes:.

…You’re not planning on putting mats over sand, are you?

I’ve had that (was here when we moved in) and it was a TOTAL mess. Highly do not recommend :eek: :no:

I already have three stalls with mats over compacted sand, and they have held up really well - been down for several years now and none of them have moved, lifted, or anything. But then again, I don’t keep my horses stalled unless they really need it (very short duration, usually), so that probably makes a huge difference. This fourth stall was kept natural for an easily stressed and very messy gelding I had (late onset blindness had him perpetually on edge), but he has passed on and we’re going to mat that one now as well. He would have demolished the mats had we put them down for him. But my girls are calm, quiet and easy-going, content to hang out under the fans when they’re confined - so, so far, so good.

But yes, under different circumstances, I would have used something more solid as a base.

Ha! In Central Florida the horses create their own sand rolling spots. No need for human intervention. :slight_smile:

This is a great thread and love the inputs. I want a sand pile as part of my new barn build and fence. How many feet from fence would you have this pile? And are you all putting these sand piles on drylots (all weather surface)? OR are any of you creating it on a grass area? Can we see pictures of ya’s piles?

I put in a sand pile 2 years ago-- ordered the cheapest local sand- had 6 yards delivered and dumped in the biggest of my two sacrifice paddocks. The center of the pile is 8 feet from the fence. I used the wee tractor FEL to spread the big pile out a little flatter so it now covers an area about 12 x 14. The horses are both aged retired geldings. It is now the rolly-itch-my-belly-take-a-nap-and-a-pee spot. My paddocks are footed in 1/4 minus gravel over geotextile and this sand is the ultimate resting spot. One gelding NEVER lay down or rolled before we dumped that sand and now he will!! My gelding takes long, groany naps in it, as well as nightly in his well-bedded stall. Both enjoy using it as their pee spot–one edge of it–to avoid splashing. Best decision I made! I added 3 yards of sand this summer to replenish what gets washed and blown away here in our windy, wet location.

Someone had a small pen in front of their stalls and had framed a square with wood and dumped sand in there.
Her horses used it to roll and nap, looked like a nice setup.

I went ahead with the sand pile! The amount of sand I got is perfect, the texture of the sand is perfect, and the dump truck put it in the perfect spot.

Obviously, it will be no surprise to Cayeuse and WalkTrot that the fella has not touched the sand pile. :slight_smile: The foxes seem to be enjoying it, though; at least, something with fox-sized paws is having fun with it. And it’s very comfortable for me to sit in when I’m hanging out in the paddock.


hi Neighbor (waves)-

Just noticed my old creaky guy has started his winter sand hole, where he excavates down 3 or 4 ft. deep huge hole to sleep in.
I’ve only had one other horse who ever did this and he was a youngin’. They say it keeps them warm in winter cause you know we get such chilly weather here (not). The new hole this year is big enough for his girlfriend to sleep in too. Sure enough the weatherman says nights in the 50’s next week.

1 Like