What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Manure has Visible Sand in It


You notice sand particles in your horse's manure, or you found sand by testing your horse's manure using the Sand Sediment Test (see linked Skill).

Noticeable sand particles in the manure of horses stabled in a sandy environment generally means they are ingesting a fairly large quantity of sand.

The presence of significant sand in the gastro-intestinal tract of a seemingly healthy horse is a warning sign. Something must be done to stop the intake of sand or a costly and life-threatening intestinal crisis will eventually develop.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours
    • If you notice signs of colic, along with this sign.
  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If the horse seems otherwise normal and you are confident this is not colic.

your role


What To Do

Know your soil type. Sand accumulation is normally only a problem in true sandy soils. In our varied terrain, there are differences in soil types within just a few meters.

Assess your horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), perform the Sand Sediment Test and listen to their gut sounds (especially listening for sand). Pay particular attention to whether the horse is showing any signs of abdominal pain (colic), loss of appetite or change in attitude.

If you notice sand particles in a horse's manure, either from initial inspection or as a result of the sand sediment test, and the horse is exhibiting signs of abdominal pain (colic) or any other abnormality, promptly contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

What Not To Do

Do not ignore this finding. You should take immediate action to stop the horse from ingesting sand.

your vet's role

If your horse is showing other signs of abdominal pain, your vet may recommend that they examine the horse.

If you happen to find sand in the manure of an otherwise healthy horse, your vet may help you develop a plan to rid the horse of sand while stopping further intake. They can also help you develop an overall management plan for all your horses.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Does the horse have diarrhea or loose manure?
  • Have you seen any signs of abdominal pain (colic)?
  • How much sand did you detect on a float of manure?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP