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Sand rolling pit?

What kind of site prep is needed? We have clay soil so I imagine if I just had a pile of sand dumped in the field it would just sink in to the eventual mud. Do I need to create a base or just dig out the top soil? I would think if I put any kind of gravel down first it would quickly get pawed up into the sand, which kinda defeats the whole purpose as well. I have a chronically sleep deprived horse, and I’m hoping if we give him a sand pit that maybe he’ll feel inclined to stay down for a nap after a roll. I figure worst case scenario he still won’t sleep, but they will enjoy it either way.


I now have about 6 sand pits on my farm that the horses dug for themselves.
I have very sandy soil here so it was easy for them to dig down and excavate their pits.
The newer pits are only 18-24 inches deep but the older ones are3-4 ft. deep.
Besides rolling and sleeping in them every night
they use them for warmth when it’s cold and windy.
Very kind of you to build a pit for your horse.


I have sandy clay (red) mix native soil. I scraped topsoil, added red clay “packed” in via skidsteer to achieve the grade needed and then put angular sand on top. Periodically we rake it or drag it to smooth it up.

Yes, the sand is now more red than white but it isn’t the least bit muddy and brushes right off the horses.

To be fair, my property is generally mud free on its own between the climate, the grade and the native soil.


We have the type of soil that gets muddy :frowning: Now I wonder if that’s why I don’t know anyone in this area who has a sand pit in their turn-out areas :upside_down_face:

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We picked a spot they like to stand around asleep close to the house so we could watch them and dumped a load of sand on it.
Was going to spread it a bit but horses dug on it and made themselves a nice flattish hill out of it and loved to sleep there, using the higher middle for pillows:



We get mud here. I dug out a moat around our hayhut last year and put sand in (no geotextile, no grading, no gravel). That lasted about 10 months before it turned into a real moat and held water / got gross. We just topped it off with new sand which I expect to last a few months (initially we put in 16 tons, the top up was only 4.5 tons but we didn’t need to replace all the sand). I had them drop the sand in the same place as last year as the horses love using that pile too for rolling and for peeing (yay mares) while the area by the hay hut is mostly for napping (it’s deeper there). So prep or don’t prep but I’m not sure it will matter. Both of my sites had an equal amount of wash out/ mud or dirt mixed in. The most would likely have been better with more prep/ better drainage put in but it was $900 or so for the initial load of sand and about $250 for the top up so I’m not too worried about adding more in a few months (I expect 6-9 months).

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Clay soil here. I just dump a bunch of sand right on the ground at a high spot in the pasture. The problem is that my horse is such a demonstrative roller—he paws and spins, paws and spins, paws and paws… the sand right out of the nice big pile I just dumped for him. I rake it back and can’t get out of his way fast enough to not be smushed by him rolling again, and pawing, and spinning and buck-farting. He’s such a nut about rolling I could probably sell tickets. Anyway, I do this every year or so. But his antics mean I can’t keep it from developing a depression, which gathers rainwater, and which no sand could fill by raking because he has just flung it all hither and yon. Over time, the whole area has in fact developed a kind of sandy clay. Soon we can maybe get a whole new ecosystem going :grinning:


I put mine in my sacrifice paddock, so it’s on geotextile with 1/4 minus gravel under it. I live in the wetside PNW, clay/mud soil. If I hadn’t put it there, I’d have found the driest spot on a slight slope and dumped the 10 yards of sand there. I have to renew mine every two years or so, as it blows and washes away (and is carried off by old, fuzzy geldings in their wooly coats). They absolutely love their sand pile-- rolling, napping, peeing… So much peeing!

I’ve thought about putting one in my dry lots but wasn’t sure how it would work. I might have to actually try it now.

I think you have to realize that no matter what you do it will require maintenance.

I have clay soil, we just dumped sand on the soil and it has lasted quite well.

A couple of years in we had to add more sand, but in the lats 10 years it has been happy.

We have clay loam, we dumped one small dump truck load and have used the occasional tractor bucket full of sand off it to add here and there.
In 20 years we only added one extra sand load to our sand pile, here it lasts long time.
Long before that, while training race horses, we had one sand pile dumped in front of the barn and every horse was led there and let roll on it, on lead, especially after a bath.
All enjoyed their little roll, would stop if you tried to walk past that spot without letting them roll.

Someone long ago on COTH posted a picture of their sand pile, in a large pen in front of their barn.
She took about 5" off one spot, lined the edges with railroad ties and dumped sand in the middle.
She reported her horses liked it.

Is there anything you do or can do for the pee spots? I worry that it would just become completely soiled.

I just let the rain do its thing on the pee spots, honestly. It does stink a bit in the summer, which is not ideal, but they like to pee in the soft sand so it doesn’t splash. Geldings! My ‘pit’ is about 20 by 15 at this point, and they tend to pee on one side and lay in the other. When my gelding was suffering from laminitis, the sand was a literal lifesaver, too. He could lay down or stand as needed, which my vet was thrilled with. So it serves many purposes besides giving them a great scratch pad, warm napping spot in winter, soft spot to doze in the sun and a bathroom. Cheap happiness!

I put some local “sand” in a stall for a laminitic mare a while back and it worked for a few weeks before turning in to what looked like road base… because it is haha. Super angular and packs hard. I’ve just put it in a shed of mine and packed it hard, but now trying to figure out how to bed it. I’m tempted to bring in some playground sand on top so they have a comfy place to lay down. But considering how hard my winters are, it’ll be in side (rather than an outdoor rolling pit) and it will get soiled. So I’m just toying with how successful it would be to use as a bedding of sorts.