benefits of dry lots for horses

The benefits of dry lots as turnout for horses.

  • You may have a turn out that is just, well, dirt. You may call it a dry lot, a dirt paddock, a sacrifice paddock, the back 40, whatever. But in a nutshell, it’s an area of your farm that is basically dirt, fenced in for your horses to hang out in. It may seem like a dry lot is a waste of space, and you should convert it into something useful, green, and pretty. But really – you should keep it.


For many horses and farm owners/managers, dry lots are awesome, easy, and a breeze to clean!



shady sandy dry lot turnout paddock

Sand is a great footing choice for some climates.


  • Let your “metabolically challenged” horses hang outside all day and night! If you have a horse with insulin resistance, Cushing’s, or past laminitis, a dry lot is the perfect grass-free zone for getting turnout, sunshine, and bonding with buddies.


  • Give your pastures a rest! If you are lucky enough to have pastures, you likely have a rotation so that the grass can replenish. Using dry lots for your pastures lets the good grass come back.


  • You may be battling major drought (and therefore yucky pasture) situations, and having a good dry lot gives your some horse turnout management options.



Dry lot with run in shed attached

This dry lot is more like super fine gravel, great for wet climates that need lots of drainage.


Make the most of a dry lot for horses

  • They are super easy to clean, much easier to remove manure from dirt than grass! You can even bring your tractor in to give a good scrape if needed. Or a good till to get the dirt softened up!


  • Have shade or shelter, in case your horses want to get out of the sun for a bit.


  • Add some slow feeders to mimic grazing behaviors.


  • If the footing is horrid, consider adding some well-cured compost, bring your tractor in for a spin, or even add a thin layer of sand. You may also find that after rain, the footing in a sandy dry lot is safer than a grass pasture.


  • You could add a few bags of shavings or wood pellets to an area for a rolling spot.


dry lot with a feed tub for slow feeder

Add a feed bin to occupy your horse!



How have you spiffed up a dirt lot for your horses?